Tradition anew!
Biennale of Western Balkans, Ioannina, Greece

Biannual festival and year-round project that draws connections between intangible cultural heritage, art and technology.

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Explaining Art Pluriverse.

Towards a deeper understanding

BoWB 2020 - TextilesArt Pluriverse is a community science series for arts and culture 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 notions of indigenisation and reflexivity when diverse cultures coexist (da Cunha, 2009). 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-centered approaches and materialities, allowing the mapping of more processual, affective and symbolic ensembles. Through the community science series we envision to further explore ICH and its ecosystem of related concepts, as cultural expressions, community memory, living heritage and ephemera, up to digital folklore, genetic resources and the commons.

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 sustainable sharing (Harangozó, 2020) and 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, a critical apparatus for the slow exploration of intangible culture within the interdisciplinary art and cultural discourse.

The first edition focuses on textiles and their communities of practice, resulting in research-based artworks and the development of digital community archives that allow communities to “take ownership of their own historical representations as a means of empowerment” (Caswell et al., 2018). The programme is further motivated by the call for a practitioner/community-centered 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).


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. 

Caswell, Michell. Assessing the Affective Impact of Community Archives: A Toolkit. UCLA Community Archives Lab, 2018.

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.

Harangozó, Adam, Passenger Pigeon Manifesto, available at:, 14/9/2020.

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