21/09/2023 — 21/10/2023
Critical Moves: Research Residency and Mentorship

17/10/2023 — 21/10/2020 
School of Kindness #3 

Returning for its third edition, School of Kindness will take place from 17 – 21 October in Varna, Bulgaria in the framework of Water Histories: A Case Study of the Black Sea — a new, long-term, transnational research project that situates itself between Europe and Eurasia, across different locations (shores) along the “big round lake” that is the Black Sea.

After “kindness” (2021) and “the barbarian” (2022), in the upcoming editions the mythical yet underrepresented Black Sea will be the epicentre of our curriculum seen through the lens of migration, geopolitics, ecology and climate change. The curriculum connects several thematic topics such as territorial behaviours and water borders; (post-socialist) trade and migration; extraction and environmental injustice; aquatic life and meteorology. Not only to show that these topics are indeed related but also that they weave a web that affects human and nonhuman lives alike, both on and offshore.

Water Histories: A Case Study of the Black Sea invests in histories and narratives across waters as opposed to land, to disclose forms of cultural lineage via water that oppose the dominant narratives on how we approach geography. Research and fieldwork will be combined with performative action in locally embedded programmes/curricula, exploring the relationship between geopolitical, cultural and ecological dimensions of water. Deeply ingrained in different mythologies, water is crucial for all life, central to secular and religious cultures alike and the binding theme of our activities.

School of Kindness 2023 will take place in the Asparuhovo district of Varna, whose port and shore will be a site for connecting, exploring, learning and presenting. Participants will engage in a five-day programme of practical and theoretical experimentation – in the form of seminars and conversations, reading and writing, (body) workshops, walking, cooking and swimming (weather allowing) under the guidance of our team and four invited mentors.


Jonn Gale: London-based, queer, Bulgarian-Nigerian ethnobotanist working across botanical collections of material archives to ask questions regarding the role played by plants in imperial and colonial histories. Their current PhD research investigates the contribution of Black and Indigenous collectors and naturalists to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century natural knowledge;  

Youssef El Idrissi: self-taught artist, researcher and cultural worker based in Casablanca. Founder of the collective Kounaktif, his work focuses on the decolonisation of imaginaries and the relationship between psyche and space, technology and living beings, errors and symbiosis. He is currently leading research on the geopolitics and poetics of water; 

Petja Ivanova: Bulgarian-born, Berlin-based artist, lecturer and performer whose practice is framed by her Studio for Poetic Futures and Speculative Ecologies. Seeking to overcome the linear and binary thinking that technology carries, she introduces poetic, emotional, mycelial and psychic relations to the living world through computational art;   

Constant Léon: Brussels-based, queer sound artist, aspiring writer and co-creator of Jouïr podcast, a feminist oral archive on intimacies in Marseille, France. Since 2018 he/they have been based in Armenia as a reporter working on geopolitics and environment.  


Florian Fischer
Ayesha Ghaoul  
Nona Markarian
Slavena Petkova 
Silvia Iliyanova Koeva Popova 
Sara Svati
Lika Tarkhan-Mouravi 
Vanessa Vasic-Janekovic 

SCHOOL OF KINDNESS                                    
16/09/2022 — 25/09/2022

Mom, Am I Barbarian?
— Dedicated to Fulya Erdemci (1962-2022)

While the first edition of the School of Kindness (2021) was targeted towards unpacking the multifaceted understanding of ‘kindness,’ the second edition will focus on the notion of (the) ‘barbarian’ (arguably, two sides of the same coin).

We understand the concept of the ‘barbarian’ as someone (something) who both doesn’t meet and exceeds dominant social, cultural, or juridical norms. The aim is to delve deeper into issues of inclusion and exclusion, of citizenship and rights, of homeland, heritage and otherness.

To even pose the dialectic is to address a ‘clash of civilisations’ of sorts – between west and non-west; between classes; religions; between culture and nature; human and non-human; ownership and debt.

Subtitled Mom, Am I Barbarian?, the second edition of the School of Kindness (literally so) takes the title of the 13th Istanbul Biennial (2013) curated by the late Fulya Erdemci, who borrowed it from the eponymous book by Turkish poet Lale Müldür. Coming from the Ancient Greek βάρβαρος (‘foreigner/stranger’) ‘barbarian’ was the antonym of ‘citizen’. For her biennial, Erdemci evoked the concept of ‘barbarian’ to ask what it means to be a good citizen today.

We will take up on that question, to emphasise the relevance and urgency of it today – and to even bring it to the question what does citizenship mean today, and who acquires it?

The curriculum for the second edition of the school will explore notions of Turkish (Ottoman) heritage – often referred to as a ‘contested cultural heritage’ – and remains in Bulgaria, including atrocities against Bulgarian Turks (and other minorities) before, throughout and after socialist times; as well as connect with (Bulgarian)-Turkish diaspora in Europe. This will be not the explicit theme of the school but rather a field of attention.


Mladen Alexiev 
Bayr(y)am Bayr(y)amali 
Selin Davasse 
Slavka Karakusheva and Ivo Strahilov 
Anna Lounguine and Lisette Smits
Ania Nowak 
Tomek Pawłowski-Jarmołajew 
Sinthujan Varatharajah

Aysel Akhundova
Meryem Çakır 
Noé Campagne 
Kevin Kusal Dewasurendra (KUSAL) 
Anastasia Freygang 
Casper Innes Grub/Spirit Doll 
Mariya (Masha) Gyurova  
Kristina Nenova 
Elif Satanaya Özbay 
Öykü Özgencil 
Laura Sofie Riedl 
Sveta Shilankova 
Alexander Silaen 
Maja Smoszna 
Kleoniki Stanich 
Sena Tural 
Jelena Viskovic 
Kiki Elize van Zanten

SCHOOL OF KINDNESS                                    
23/06/2021 — 07/07/2021 

In a time when we are living on the edge, both in the so-called West and East, in real, virtual, and psychological wars, it is radical to be kind. High levels of anxiety and psycho-somatic post-states call for the need to embrace coexistence. As humans, today we are connected by the wrong ideas and the proposition of kindness is one way to deal with this contemporary default. To arrive
to kindness is to embrace friendship and kinship. This is School of kindness’s quest.

From 23rd June until 7th July 2021, we embark on a cross-disciplinary school-workshop-seminar, with 25 participants from different artistic as well as non-artistic backgrounds, in Sofia and its surrounding. In these two weeks, we will engage in a program of workshops, excursions, exercises, and seminars provided by 9 artists, writers, scholars, performers and activists from Bulgaria, other parts of Europe and the Arab region.

School of kindness starts from the urgency to create a new situation to bring together differences and to learn and work together; to share practices and knowledge between the so-called West and East. The project furthermore starts from the desire to break with the negative connotations of migration – a topic so ubiquitous in today’s reality – to instead, promote the idea of migration as a human condition, as a human right, and as a human potential. Migration has become the trauma of our humanity, where bodies, to survive, are imposed to do something against
their own will. In the program, the idea of the body as a living currency, under both contemporary and historical ideological/economical regimes, is being dismantled, and empowering narrative of migration embraced.

In the School of kindness, the body is taken central stage, as both the site and means
of trans-generational memory, identity, knowledge, and creativity. We will explore cultural, economic, and political migration through real, virtual, mythological, juridical, and politica bodies. Migration is broadly understood here, from a life as migrant to life in transition.

The program consists of workshops, reading seminars, film screenings, communal meals, and excursions. We will explore corporeal and social effects of displacement and loss; we will engage with the precarious bodies of migrants and laborers, different-abled and non-normative bodies; and we will revalue mind-body relations, cross-cultural, and more-than-human knowledge.

School of kindness will take place in the context of a set of interrelated issues that
overwhelmingly permeate daily life in Bulgaria: political transformation and living in the post-socialist state; labor migration; debt and poverty; the rise of nationalism and racism; the environmental crisis; depopulation. Through all of this, the program looks at historical and contemporary forms of conviviality – to take inspiration from what typifies the Balkan, as the crossing point between West and East, across Christian and Islamic influences.


Mladen Alexiev
Farah Barqawi
Angelo Custódio
Sorour Darabi
Ismail Fayed
Neda Genova
Tania Reytan-Marincheshka
Tomek Pawłowski-Jarmołajew
Voin de Voin and Lisette Smits 


Julie-Céline Bernadac
Tsvetomira Borisova
Antonin Bouchy 
Irish Joy Deocampo
Anto López Espinosa
Gvantsa Jgushia 
Aya Kurteva 
Han Li 
Yen Chun Lin 
Anna Lounguine 
Yiou Penelope Peng 
Venuri Perera 
Galena Sardamova
Valentina Sciarra 
Rayna Teneva 
Olga Vereli 
Sofie Verraest 

all images and content © School of Kindness, 2022
background images:map of the Black Sea,Piri Reis, originally composed in 932 AH/AD 1525 and dedicated to Sultan Süleyman, it is now part of the The Walters Art Museum Collection and Map of the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean,Joan Martines, Portolan Atlas, Italy, ca. 1578