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Biennale of Western Balkans, Ioannina, Greece

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Illustration Christos Kotsinis, CC BY-SA 4.0 Biennale of Western Balkans

Art Pluriverse.
A Community Science Series

Intangible & Natural Heritage
· Art · Open Knowledge

Art Pluriverse aims to promote intangible & natural heritage in the Balkans, collaborating with local communities of practice and co-documenting traditional knowledge in open, educative and participatory ways, together with artists and researchers

The Biennale of Western Balkans presents Art Pluriverse, a community science series that is held annually as part of BoWB’s year-round programme. Art Pluriverse focuses on communities that are holders of traditional knowledge and safeguard intangible heritage practices in the Balkans, inviting artists and researchers to work together and co-document the living heritage through contemporary art media and digital community archives.

Illustration Christos Kotsinis, CC BY-SA 4.0 Biennale of Western Balkans

Art Pluriverse II
Community Science Series on Intangible & Natural Heritage in the Balkans

On Folk Medicine & Phytogeography

The Biennale of Western Balkans presents Art Pluriverse II, the 2nd edition of the annual Community Science Series for Intangible & Natural Heritage in the Balkans, under the title Iatrosophia: On folk medicine and phytogeography. The programme aims to explore and document folk medicinal traditions and local botanical knowledge in the Balkans, empowering living and past communities who are holders of biocultural memory. The Art Pluriverse open call invites international artists and researchers to collaborate with local communities of practice in the Balkans and co-document traditional knowledge under two tracks: the Artist-Community Synergies and the FAIR & CARE Community Archives course.
Meet the


Local communities safeguarding folk medicinal practices and phytogeographical knowledge, participating in Art Pluriverse II

Our community exists unofficially since 1970 and officially since 1980. The activities of our community range from preservation and dissemination of local traditions from dance, to tsakonian dialect to textiles. We are also responsible for the curation and presentation of […]

The community garden “Bostanie” is a recent community in the making, with beginnings in 2019, when the civic organization “The Green Ark” set off to design and develop the community garden within the project “Development of The First Urban Garden […]

PELITI is a Greek Non-Profit Organization for the protection and dissemination of Traditional Seeds. These are freely reproducible Common Goods belonging to the Public Domain. Its main actions include seed collection and distribution, a seed bank, annual Peliti & Olympic […]

The Green Team Bulgaria is a volunteer formation, that has started its environmental activities and events in 2009. The main project, called “1 million” aims at the planting of 1 million trees by volunteers without any financial support. Another significant […]

Eparkeia started as a meeting of people in 2010. Its aim is to create actions to meet the needs of nutrition, housing and creative expression (art). The trigger is made in the context of the action to create a cob […]

Meet the


5 selected artists participating in Art Pluriverse II

Antigoni Cheilari is a pharmacist and holds a PhD in Pharmacy/ Pharmacognosy from the University of Innsbruck, Austria. Currently, she is a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratory of Pharmacognosy and Natural Products Chemistry at the National and Kapodistrian University of […]

Eirini Vlavianou (b. 1994, Athens) is a multidisciplinary artist and researcher. By employing the principles of intake, transformation and exchange, her practice is a search of the self within the ambiguous where languages, symbols and practices are reintroduced in order […]

Chiara Dellerba is an artist based between the UK and Italy. Her work focuses on ecology, slow down and collective-care practices and their civic impact on society. She makes installations, interactive performances, collaborative-based works and books as toolkits to investigate […]

Theo Prodromidis (b. 1979, Thessaloniki, Greece) is a visual artist and director based in Αthens, Greece. He studied Contemporary Media Practice at the University of Westminster and was awarded an MFA in Fine Art by Goldsmiths, University of London in […]

I am an artist working on solo and participatory projects as a result of long-term research projects, initiatives and experiences that have a wide range of topics such as socio-scientific, scientific achievements, consumerism and ecology by use of different materials […]

Meet the


5 selected researchers participating in Art Pluriverse II

The current work of Baiba Pruse is linked to local ecological knowledge regarding wild plant uses, environmental changes, citizen engagement and she is strongly supporting the research strategy of transdisciplinarity and collaborative work between artists. She is eager to learn […]

I am an independent creative producer and curator with experience in the private sector and non-governmental organizations on projects in the area of contemporary and performative art, sustainable and participatory practices and heritage interpretation. After an MA in Art History, […]

Veroniki Korakidou is a media art theorist and researcher. She has been an Adjunct Professor at the Hellenic Open University, School of Applied Arts, since 2016. She is also an Academic Fellow at the University of Thessaly, Department of Culture, […]

Nina Vurdelja is a performance researcher and cultural worker active across geographies, disciplines and mediums. Her research is based on exploring cultural practices of relating to environment, with a special interest in bodily knowledge and how non-human nature is experienced […]

Dimitra Tsiaouskoglou is an art historian, curator and cultural manager based in Athens. Her postgraduate studies include Art History (Aristotle University), Curating (École du MAGASIN, Grenoble), and Socially Engaged Practices in Museums and Galleries (Leicester University, UK). She’s received grants […]

See the

Art Documentation

Within the Artist-Community Synergies, each artist cooperates with a community who is holder of local knowledge in the Balkans, co-documenting the community's heritage, biocultural memory and history through research-based contemporary art practices

Artist duo: Eirini Vlavianou & Labrini Rizaki
Community: Eparkeia

Artist: Chiara Dellerba
Community: Green Team Bulgaria

Artist: Zorica Zafirovska
Community: The Green Ark

Artist duo: Nikos Voyiatzis & Antigoni Cheilari
Community: Cultural Association Pera Melana

Artist: Theo Prodromidis
Community: Peliti

See the

Community Archives

Within the FAIR & CARE Community Archives Course, the participating researchers create open-access digital community archives for the local communities, co-documenting and connecting their content to Wikimedia and Europeana

FAIR & CARE Community Archives Course

Presentations and workshops of the course, shared as Open Educational Resources

Illustration Christos Kotsinis, CC BY-SA 4.0 Biennale of Western Balkans

Explaining Art Pluriverse.

Towards a deeper understanding

[A living document]

Art Pluriverse is a community science series for intangible & natural heritage in the Balkans that envisions a boundary spanning approach to intangible cultural heritage (ICH) through art and open knowledge. Art Pluriverse is inspired by the concept of pluriversality as expressed in the recent publication “Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary” (Kothari et al., 2019), where traditional knowledge is extended to eco-cultural relations of locality, biocultural memory and grassroots collectivity.

The programme intends to situate ICH in an intercultural applied context, drawing on the anthropological theory of Manuela Carneiro da Cunha that brings a deeper understanding on the concept of reflexivity when diverse cultures coexist (da Cunha, 2009). It actively follows the development of the Declaration on Open Access for Cultural Heritage (Heidel & Wallace, 2020), which aims to inform towards equitable and consistent practices around open access, including emerging questions in areas such as decolonization, indigenisation and ICH. It is further motivated by the call on a community-centred approach for ICH’s continuity (Aikawa-Faure, 2009) and inspired by Aboriginal new media art research as published in “Transference, Tradition, Technology” (Claxton et al., 2006).

Art Pluriverse seeks to uplift cultural knowledge systems identified as traditional, local, indigenous or folk, aiming to draw attention towards diverse epistemologies of knowledge co-production. ICH describes living cultural practices that are community-based and collectively experienced, e.g. from shared aesthetic traditions to communal resource management. ICH’s multivalent manifestations often deviate from object-centred approaches and materialities, allowing the mapping of more event-based, performative and symbolic states. Through the community science series we envision to further explore ICH and its ecosystem of related concepts, as cultural expressions, collective memory, living heritage and ephemera, up to digital folklore, genetic resources (WIPO, 2020) and commoning through movements and livelihoods that value traditional social systems (Varvarousis, 2019).

We acknowledge that processes of globalisation and cross-cultural hybridisation can often revive rather than endanger cultural heritage, allowing it to respond to contemporary multifaceted social and cultural environments (Alivizatou, 2016). In this context, we aim to foster convivial spaces of digital co-existence that bring together past and contemporary intangible cultural practices, while advocating for inclusive community participation of regionally active groups and small collectives, including LGBTQ, BIPOC, diasporic, cross-border and common interest or common needs communities. Art Pluriverse is conceived as a field in the making, an educational and participatory project exploring intangible and natural heritage in the Balkans within the humanities, arts, and social sciences discourse.


Aikawa-Faure, Noriko. “From the Proclamation of Masterpieces to the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.” Intangible Heritage. (2009): 13-44.

Alivizatou, Marilena. Intangible Heritage and the Museum: New Perspectives on Cultural Preservation. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press, 2016.

Claxton, Townsend, Stephen Loft, Melanie Townsend. Transference, Tradition, Technology: Native New Media Exploring Visual & Digital Culture. Banff, Alberta: Walter Phillips Gallery Editions, 2005.

Cunha, Manuela C. “Culture” and Culture: Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Rights. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2009.

Heidel, Evelin & Andrea Wallace. Declaration Draft. Open GLAM. 2020.

Kothari, Ashish, Ariel Salleh, Arturo Escobar, Federico Demaria, and Alberto Acosta. Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary. New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2019.

Varvarousis, Angelos. “Who is Afraid of Change?.” Consider Journal Issue No1, Societe Publishing New Zealand. (2019):56-65. (Ιllustrations by Sir John Tenniel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865. Artwork and Graphic Design by Christina Biliouri.)

WIPO, Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions. Switzerland, 2015/2020.

Art Pluriverse II


On folk medicine and phytogeography

Illustration Christos Kotsinis, CC BY-SA 4.0 Biennale of Western BalkansFolk, traditional or popular medicine is understood as a sociοcultural process of community transferred knowledge that is based on a variety of grassroots health care practices (Hionidou 2016), including but not limited to, the use of plant and herbal species, natural elements, technology as well as oral and performative rituals. Folk medicine reflected the applied use of local wisdom for communal well-being, forming a part of socio-ecological livelihoods and their everyday culture.

Balkans have a long history of medical culture (Živković et al. 2020) related to the ethnobotanical knowledge and phytogeography of the region. Plants’ medicinal, economic and anthropological importance is reflected in the sound knowledge of their diversity and use (Jarić et al. 2018), providing a deep understanding of how socio-ecological microsystems work and affect the human environment-biota relations (Pieroni 2014). The folklore documentation of plant and herbal records, their traditional local names and uses, real and symbolic, have been collected in songs, fairy tales, traditions, proverbs and other forms and elements of popular discourse (Karamanes 2012). From spiritual healing and ritualistic practices to folk phytotherapy and herbal remedies, such practices continue to be a part of the collective wisdom and popular cosmology, which are retained and transmitted to contemporary holders (Kerewsky-Halpern 1985).

The phytogeography of the Balkans and the empirical scholarship of local floristics constitute a major part of the local traditional environmental or ecological knowledge (TEK), which has been culturally transmitted through generations. It is a cumulative body of knowledge and practices of indigenous, native peoples and moving populations, evolving over time in reciprocal and mutualistic relationships with the earth (Kimmerer 2012). Originating mainly from a preindustrial era and often outside the Western scientific canon (Martin et al. 2010), TEK includes folk health systems of alternative epistemologies (Hufford 1997), which can be valuable in contemporary contexts in such fields as sustainable resource management, pharmacopoeia, and ecological design.Illustration Christos Kotsinis, CC BY-SA 4.0 Biennale of Western Balkans

Folk medicinal cultures of past and present communities of practice are being mapped further in policy and cultural information management frameworks. TEK practices have been acknowledged as intangible assets within the Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions by WIPO (2001). On this basis, many traditional knowledge holding communities have developed open online databases and registries, documenting the ancient and often oral roots of their folk medical knowledge, which include dictionaries with native terms, classification systems with local phytogeographic references, and digitised manuscript records. The open-access UNESCO Thesaurus (1995) includes traditional medicine as one of the five systems of medicine, related to the concepts of cultural anthropology and traditional technology. More participatory approaches applying “minimal computing” and open-source software are currently being developed together with local communities to preserve indigenous botanical knowledge at risk (ExCiteS, 2019).

Iatrosophia aims to explore anew the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of transgenerational folk medicine and phytogeography in the Balkans, through participatory art-based research and digital community archiving. The programme is further inspired by museum collections linking herbaria to art such as the Museum of Medicine in Crete, Greece, art studies like the publication “Medicines to Help Us” by indigenous artist Christi Belcourt on traditional Métis plant use (2007), and curatorial works as the exhibition “Folk Remedies” by curator Ksenija Orelj at MMSU, Croatia (2019). Folk medicine, under a variety of cultural and ethnographic influences, is reinterpreted as a channel between the human connection with nature and its therapeutic agency against illness and evil. Safeguarding such traditional practices does not attempt to evaluate the credibility of the gathered traditional practices, but rather to recollect and uplift a herbal Imaginarium of local ancestral practices.

Belcourt, C., Flamand, R., Whitford, O., Burnouf, L., Richardson, R., & Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research. (2007). Medicines to help us: Traditional Métis plant use: study prints & resource guide. Saskatoon: Gabriel Dumont Institute.

ExCiteS. (2019, May 29). Citizen science and b­otanic knowledge among herders and farmers in Kenya [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Hionidou, V. (2016). Popular Medicine and Empirics in Greece, 1900–1950: An Oral History Approach. Med. Hist, 60(4), 492–513.

Hufford, D. (1998). Folklore Studies Applied to Health. Journal of Folklore Research, 35(3), 295–313.

Jarić, S. Kostić, O. Mataruga, Z. Pavlović, D. Pavlović M. Mitrović, M. & Pavlović, P. (2018). Traditional wound-healing plants used in the Balkan region (Southeast Europe), Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 211, 311-328.

Καραμανές, Ε. (2012). Βότανα στην λαϊκή θεραπευτική: λαογραφική έρευνα και τεκμηρίωση της πολιτισμικής διάστασης των φαρμακευτικών και αρωματικών φυτών. Πανελλήνιο Επιστημονικό Συνέδριο: Λαϊκή ιατρική και Ιατρική επιστήμη. Σχέσεις αμφίδρομες. Αθήνα: Κέντρον Ερεύνης της Ελληνικής Λαογραφίας της Ακαδημίας Αθηνών.

Κerewsky-Halpern, B. (1985). Trust, talk and touch in Balkan folk healing. Social Science & Medicine. 21(3), 319-325.

Kimmerer, R.W. (2012). Searching for synergy: integrating traditional and scientific ecological knowledge in environmental science education. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. 2, 317–323.

Martin, J. F., Roy, E. D., Diemont, S. A. W., & Ferguson, B. G. (2010). Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK): Ideas, inspiration, and designs for ecological engineering. Ecological Engineering, 36(7), 839.

Orelj, K. (2019). Folk Remedies Exhibition, The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Rijeka. Retrieved from

Pieroni, A., & In Quave, C. L. (2014). Ethnobotany and biocultural diversities in the Balkans: Perspectives on sustainable rural development and reconciliation. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1492-0.

Unesco. (1995). UNESCO thesaurus =: Thesaurus de l’UNESCO = Tesauro de la UNESCO. Paris: Unesco Pub. Retrieved from

World Intellectual Property Organization. (2001). Intellectual property needs and expectations of traditional knowledge holders: WIPO report on fact-finding missions on intellectual property and traditional knowledge (1998-1999). Geneva: WIPO.

Živković J, Ilić M, Šavikin K, Zdunić G, Ilić A and Stojković D (2020). Traditional Use of Medicinal Plants in South-Eastern Serbia (Pčinja District): Ethnopharmacological Investigation on the Current Status and Comparison With Half a Century Old Data. Front. Pharmacol. 11, 1020.

Want to know more about the terms & concept?

Community Science

Communities and people can come together and create new knowledge in do-it-together research activities. The programme is engaging artists and researchers with communities of practice focused on the Balkan region, in order to collectively explore, experience and share local knowledge and living heritage.

Art Pluriverse

Inspired by the concept of pluriversality as expressed in the recent publication “Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary” (Kothari et al., 2019), where local knowledge is extended to biocultural memory and grassroots collectivity. We aspire to gradually form its meaning through annual editions, each focusing on and intangible heritage practice.

Open knowledge

Defines how data and content can be openly accessed, modified, reused and shared by all. We advocate for openness and cultural data mindfulness, fostering open access publishing, creative commons and open data governance. Open knowledge is the overarching practice for the Art Pluriverse Community Science Series.

Deadline:  18 Dec 2021, 24h00 (UTC)

Illustration Christos Kotsinis, CC BY-SA 4.0 Biennale of Western Balkans

November 2021 – February 2022

Art Pluriverse Partners

Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports · History of Art Laboratory, School of Fine Arts, University of Ioannina · National Documentation Centre · European Citizen Science Association · Creative Commons · Balkan Museum Network · Wikimedia Community User Group Greece · The Athens Zine Bibliotheque · inDICEs Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports · History of Art Laboratory, School of Fine Arts, University of Ioannina · National Documentation Centre · European Citizen Science Association · Creative Commons · Balkan Museum Network · Wikimedia Community User Group Greece · The Athens Zine Bibliotheque · inDICEs


Creative Commons License
The texts (by BoWB) and illustrations (by Christos Kotsinis) of this webpage are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Art Pluriverse: Community Science Series for Intangible and Natural Heritage in the Balkans is an annual project conceived by the Biennale of Western Balkans