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Non-Western Technologies for the Good Life

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Non-Western Technologies for the Good Life

The experimental course Non-Western Technologies for the Good Life (November 2023 - May 2024) celebrates as its starting point the anniversary of 50 years since the publication of Tools for Conviviality, considering that Ivan Illich’s call is as relevant as ever.

Modernization is an all-conquering force, yet it is never enough. The climate crisis looms large, while extractivism and the war against life are pressing on. Illich called for a “multidimensional balance of human life”, for finding a balanced scale to the growth of anything, and for identifying the convivial tools needed to rethink technology and the relation to the world. Relying on convivial tools would enable communities and societies to exit the trap of the paradigm of infinite accumulation, to develop self-sufficiency outside globalization, and to regain an ethical life outside extractivism, exploitation and impoverishment.

The course also responds to the new articulations of hope that have been woven more recently in the Global South, in particular through the surge of indigenous knowledges and of a new generation of congenial practitioners from all over the world.

The freestanding course is hosted by The Experimental Station for Research on Art and Life, in the village of Siliştea Snagovului, Romania, and challenges a growing community of diverse practitioners to observe the forces of modern destitution, to re-orient sensibilities by relating to indigenous philosophies of the good life, to engage in a process of grounding thought in a relational world, and to develop practices of renewal.

The coursants – artists, students, professionals - are invited to give themselves the time of slow growth and re-orientation of sensibilities which tends to be forbidden by the rhythm of productivity of the school, the university, the gallery, and the modern work. Each session goes through a process of collective reading in voice, and of receiving and offering tasks outside the space of the course, while keeping a diary of the encounters and a vernacular vocabulary of the learnings.

Online sessions alternate with in-person encounters, which are events that are gradually gaining in complexity.

Five encounters have already taken place in 2023, with a participation ranging around twenty people each: 11 November, Distance and Conviviality, in person meeting at the Experimental Station; followed by 4 online meetings, on: 18 November, Indifference and Conviviality;
25 November, Wetiko and Conviviality; 8 December, Displacement and Conviviality; and 17 December, Groups and Conviviality.

Each of the sessions has created a collective space in which the coursants are discussing the forces of separation that are standing in the way of conviviality according to their own life experience and historical observations, while learning about practices of communal and ecological restoration from Abya Yala.

The 6th encounter, Adaptation and Conviviality, took place on 12-14 January 2024, at, Romania. The encounter started with a mottto from Ivan Illich: "Only the person who imagines a bygone reality as something real and possible, is also able to confront the present as a distinct period in history".

The event brought coursants and participants from Iaşi, Bucharest, Cluj, Timisoara, Urziceni, Chisinau, London and Vienna to the city of Iaşi. The first day was dedicated to a multi-civilizational guided tour of Iaşi, including a trip to an archeological site of the Cucuteni culture, a visit to the University museum of the Cucuteni culture, and to medieval-to-modern landmarks such as the fortified monastery Cetăţuia, site of the first printing press and a refuge for the scholars of the day who were connecting Iaşi to Venice and Jerusalem.

The second day was dedicated to the practice of collective reading in voice, further contextualizing the relationship to the predecessors of other historical times, and connecting to indigenous climate studies focused on the current dystopia and concrete adaptation efforts.

Freestanding Course at the Experimental Station For Research on Art and Life, Siliștea Snagovului, and in other places, Romania, 2023-2024.

Course leader: Ovidiu Tichindeleanu

The course pursues an ongoing collaboration with Weaving Pluriversities (Aldo Ramos and Yu Chen) and the Maria Lugones Decolonial Summer School at Van AbbeMuseum Eindhoven. The course takes place within the Museum of the Commons project of the confederation L’Internationale ( and is open to exchanges of experience with the partners from the confederation.

Museum of the Commons is co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.

Erste Foundation is the main partner of