Jurij Krpan: On plant emancipation and the future of food

Jurij Krpan, architect, artistic director of Kapelica Gallery from Nova Gorica. On Sunday, he gave the last guided tour in Ljubljana’s Cukrarna before the closing of the interesting and high-profile exhibition konSekvence ≡ Fragments of a Possible Ecosystem, where he announced in front of the “plant” wall that he will prepare the project Future of Food for the European Capital of Culture 2025 in Nova Gorica.


“We humans don’t have the time, the will or the perfect knowledge to take care of plants all the time, radically, so we have equipped them with sensors for humidity, temperature and light, so that the plants themselves decide when to be watered. By removing humans from the watering system, plants have in a conceptual way emancipated themselves from humans,” said Krpan, standing next to a wall where a robot climbed like a spider and watered the greenery as it pleased. “We imagine that this emancipation will go so far that we will only eat as many plants as they let us. In this intercognition between plant and machine, we will develop an algorithm that will give me food exactly when and as much as I can eat it,” he says, pointing to the hyper-production of consumer society, which produces hunger on the one hand and abundance on the other, and to the great ethical quandary of humans eating other living beings.


We need a change of mindset, a different attitude towards plants, Krpan believes, and he proposes a shift from “precision farming” to “precision gardening”, where we will decide when and how many plants belong to us, with the help of imaginative technology that will get information from the sensors and eyes of the whole planet. This project, which is currently at prototype level, is to be developed in the framework of ECOC 2025.


Jurij Krpan, as the artistic director of the Kersnikova Ljubljana Institute, focuses on contemporary research arts that thematise the impact of new technologies on the individual and society as a whole. He is an advocate of the culturalisation of technology, which emancipates and empowers people to sovereignly use modern technology. He is leading the establishment of the Laboratory for Speculative Innovation (https://kons-platforma.org/en/?lab=praksa), where the arts can help achieve speculative/predictable/radical social and productive innovation by integrating artistic thinking and design thinking into the innovation process, facilitated by innovation catalysts. The konSekvence are part of the konS Platform for Contemporary Investigative Arts, of which Xcenter Nova Gorica, a project of our European Capital of Culture, is a partner.


He has participated as a curator and selector in numerous national and international festivals; in 2003 in the Slovenian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, between 2005 and 2009 in the Cosinus BRX project in the European Commission building in Brussels, in 2006 he curated U3 – the fifth Triennial of Contemporary Art in Slovenia at the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana, and in 2009 he curated the largest intermedia exhibition in Slovenia, Arzenal Depo 2K9. In 2008 he was the curator of the Kapelica Gallery at the Ars Electronica in Linz. At this festival he was on the jury for the hybrid art in 2010, ’13, ’15, ’16 and ’17. In 2014 he co-curated the Slovenian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture.