Is it feasible to promote new forms of living together beyond individualism and global competition, even if this objective seems almost unattainable? Are we capable of establishing links based on compromise, mutual commitment and cooperation without necessarily relinquishing our inner differences? What practical, theoretical and symbolic agencies may we imagine through art in the midst of the current socio-political context governed as it by antagonism and division?

The Shyness of the Crowns is a botanical phenomenon in which trees define the limit of their growth, thereby allowing different species their non-competitively coexistence in the canopy. Among the large body of research conducted on such awareness in trees, our point of departure is their internal communication system. Through the exchange of chemical signals, they guard against the occurrence of diseases, of environmental stress, or simply delimit their own living space in connection with other trees. These natural infrastructures within the vegetation create 'shyness gaps': gaps between the crowns of the trees slightly — if ever —touching one another which allow them to agree, for instance, on letting the light through, while preventing the intrusion of elements that are harmful to group living: such channel-like gaps are construed in this context as spaces of possibility.

The poetical observation of this phenomenon challenges some of the modern hegemonic readings around nature according to which the fittest always prevails in the fight for survival. To bring it into the human domain, this collective intelligence, this concern for the common good, could be put into perspective with our contemporaneous existence and remind us of the urgent need to take action — as members of a society — with a view to creating an ecosystem in which relationships, encounters and exchanges can still emerge from synergies. In doing so, it challenges the justification of wild competition within our current socio-economic framework.

Bearing in mind the potential of such metaphor as a starting point, this exhibition engages with artistic practices that promote or make visible heterogeneous scenarios devoted to living together and learning from one another while still accepting our otherness and our differences. To review the concept of community today, through works of art that contribute to a broader understanding of what it entails (yet without denying the existence of conflict, instability or fragility). To set out on a quest for new horizons, building on our complexities, contradictions and weaknesses to live side by side and produce more subtle and flexible bonds with others in order to become stronger together. To this end, the exhibition highlights more intuitive, poetic learning methodologies and approaches to nature beyond the limits of scientific knowledge.

The works presented at Sogn og Fjordane Kunstmuseum invite local audiences to feel the vicissitudes of human relationships, to become aware of their own bodies with relation to the others as well as to discover different forms of sharing and exchanging time, space and knowledge. The whole forms a ‘social sculpture’, which may remind us of different feelings that can be found during grass-roots sit-ins and marches, where communication with others goes beyond words and finds its fullest expression in the union of bodies. Individuals as trees emerge day to day, yet if some are not always visible. We now face the challenge of dreaming and building, in a joint effort, genuine spaces of critique, desire and transformation, while taking into account not only what brings us together but also what separates us. Why not start from a radical imaginary, or even a tale, if it provides a means to our end?

Represented artists: Lara Almarcegui, Helena Almeida, Kader Attia, Dora García, Célia Gondol, Amalia Pica, Rita Ponce de León and Tania Solomonoff, Alex Reynolds and Cecilia Vicuña.

In collaboration withMARCO, Vigo and FRAC Lorraine, Metz.

Curator: Beatriz Alonso, Spania, winner of the MARCO/ FRAC Lorraine/ SFKM Award for Young Curators 2016.

Coordinator: Ingrid Norum, SFKM

With support fromAcción Cultural Española - Programa para la Internacionalización de la Cultura Española and  L’Institut Francais Norvège (

Take a look at the exhibition catalogue here: