EMPACT Landmark Seminar

“The art of thinking like a mountain” Empathy for nature and non-human beings

Three days of “Empathy & Sustainability: The art of thinking like a mountain” have been successfully completed within the framework of EMPACT: a European program which will last 24 – months and is co-funded by the European Union’s Creative Europe program.

The work of EMPACT adopts an innovative approach in supporting actions opposed to the environmental crisis. The approach at hand distills the idea of the use of empathy as a means to enlighten the way we comprehend and asses the meaning of sustainability within the arts.

Within the three-day seminar “Empathy & Sustainability: The art of thinking like a mountain”, guests, organizers and audience, participated in a productive and creative dialogue at the Main Building of the Fine Arts Department of CUT. Located in the heart of the city, the space was carefully curated to facilitate the seminars actions and the approximately 120 participants.

The first day, Friday, January 27, started with a presentation of the EMPACT program at large and its aims by Project Manager – Danae Ioannou. In continuation Assistant Professor, Efi Kyprianidou presented and analyzed the meaning of empathy followed by a presentation by CUT PhD candidate Myrto Voreakou, within the theme of Empathy and Ecological Aesthetics. The day concluded with a screening of the award-winning documentary “La Panthère des Neiges / The Velvet Queen (2021)” and an open discussion with Alberto Vasquez on behalf of the organization Espacio Rojo.

The second day of the seminar, Saturday, January 28, begun with presentations that were delivered by Associate Professor in Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art of the University of Crete, Katerina Bantinaki focusing on Empathy for the environment through Art, and by Assistant Professor in Phenomenology of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Fotini Vasileiou, focusing on Phenomenological approaches to Empathy. Following that, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University Professor, Nico Carpentier, presented his artistic research “To look into the eyes of the non-human other: The Wolf Talks”, Researcher and Anthropologist Theodoros Kouros presented his research on the technique of Guerilla Gardening in the city of Limassol, and Assistant Professor Yiannis Christidis showcased his research entitled “I’m just sitting here”, dwelling and documenting the everydayness as an empathic approach towards nature. Lastly, the penultimate presentation was proposed by Composer and Researcher, Dimitris Savva in regards to the documentation, composition and artistic production of sounds of nature, summing up with Sotira Couvaras, representing Wisefour Innovation Company, who presented the European Programs best practices in the creative and cultural sectors. Finally, the day concluded with an improvised audiovisual presentation by Yiannis Christidis, Kyriakos Kousoulides and Dimitris Savva.

The last day of the seminar, Sunday, January 29, began with presentations from Artist and Assistant Professor, Vicky Pericleous in regards to Modalities and Spaces of Empathy, while also from Artist Fani Boudouroglou, Artist Rania Emmanouilidou, Artist Lia Psoma and Artist and CUT Special Teaching Staff Andreas Savva, whose presentation centered on Empathy, Memory and the Past. The day reached its conclusion with an artistic workshop which was curated by Fani Boudouroglou, Rania Emmanoulidou and Lia Psoma, pertaining the use of sustainable artistic practices and materials, and participation from CUT students and independent from the university artists whose focal points intersect with the workshops incentives.

This seminar marked the starting point of the programmed actions that will take place within the framework of the EMPACT project within the next 20 months on a Pan-European scale.
The upcoming activities will be implemented with the collaboration of seven other European organizations that boast a wide range of experience and expertise (Fondazione Lamberto PuggeliItaly, Espacio RojoSpain, National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts NATFA “Kr. SarafocBulgaria, Nature, Art & Habitat NAHRItaly, Umetnostna Galerija MariborSlovenia, WisefourCyprus and Vorres MuseumGreece).