Apian is an ongoing research project by artist Aladin Borioli exploring the relationship humans have developed with bees. Using a wide range of materials and technologies his work aims to find alternative ways of living and interacting with bees on a more egalitarian basis.
This project consists of a rich variety of research methods and diverse bodies of work encompassing text, photography, video and audio. The exhibition, on display in the Eranda Studio, features Borioli’s book Hives 2400 B.C.E. – 1852 C.E., the website The Intimacy Machine, the Hiss cassette, the Inzerki photographic series and The Beehive Methapor work, consisting of sculptures and photographs. These five interconnected strands will also be shown through the newly created Apian Index, an online archive in which all the materials will be available for visitors to explore.
Hives 2400 B.C.E. – 1852 C.E uncovers how the standardised modern beehive design, patented in 1852, undermined previous alternative beekeeping techniques in the name of efficiency and homogenization. The book uses an array of archival images of the forgotten and overlooked history in hive innovation, offering a renewed perspective to challenge conventional narratives and encourage reader speculation.
The Intimacy Machine brings together scientific research projects – in the form of videos, graphics, photographs, audios and more – using digital apparatuses and algorithms to monitor, track and record bee behaviour in order to help beekeepers develop less invasive and time-consuming practices. The website is an online archive that aims offer a space for encountering bees, and challenge assumptions at play in the development of so-called ‘smart hives’.
Hiss is an audio ethnographic work created in collaboration with musician Laurent Güdel and beekeeper Souaf Hassan based in Inzerki. The work centres on Hassan's beehive and his ability to monitor and predict bee behaviour through the analysis and recognition of specific noises made by them. Building upon a conversation which discusses his ‘sonic skills’, Hiss interweaves recordings of honeybees together with Laurent’s electronic music.
Inzerki is a photographic investigation into one of the few remaining migratory and communal apiaries in the world, located in a small village in Morocco. The series of photographs record this particular, endangered ecology, based on a circular and sustainable economy co-constructed with a specific species of honeybees.
Lastly, The Beehive Metaphor intertwines the ties between beekeeping and architecture, departing from the artist's grandfather's beekeeping practice and his own passion for 20th century science fiction. Using both sculptures and photographs, this body of work mixes speculative new models of hives, ready-made traditional hives with documentary images of manmade architecture.
Born in 1988 in Switzerland, Aladin Borioli lives and work between Bevaix, Switzerland, and London. He holds a BA in Photography at the Ecole Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne and a MA in Visual and Media Anthropology from the Freie Universität Berlin. He is currently pursuing a certificate programme in Critical Philosophy at The New Centre for Research and Practice. His work borrows methods from anthropology and philosophy and combines them with the practice of art and beekeeping. Since 2014 he has been building a self-proclaimed ministry of bees called Apian, which explores the age-old interspecies relationship between bees and humans. The results are polymorphous ethnographies, which mix different media such as text, photography, sound, videos. Apian also aims to be collaborative and has been a site for meeting around shared sensibilities, for example with the biologist and zoologist Randolf Menzel and the artists Laurent Güdel and Ellen Lapper. This project has recently been exhibited at Eyebeam 2021, Images Vevey 2020, ICA London 2020 or CTM Festival Berlin 2019, among others. In 2020, the book Hives / Ruches (RVB/Images Vevey, 2020), a visual atlas of the beehive, was published.