Festoon // NOUN

1. a fabric suspended, draped, and bound at intervals to form graceful loops or scalloped folds // a decorative representation of this, as in architectural work.

2. a lacework of bees hanging together, leg-to-leg, between the frames of comb. The behavior is called Festooning. Some say bees can only produce wax from the festooning position.

Festooning the Inflatable Beehive, a conceptual collaboration between Maria Molteni and Colette Aliman, takes many forms. Referencing primarily its application to beekeeping (strands of bees festoon to bridge frames of comb) as well its structural decor (gathered/scalloped material), FESTOONING hinges on the idea that individual parts may link together to form more complex and energized systems. It may also be a tool for interdisciplinary learning, social interaction, and celebration.

Festooning banner

photos above by Dana Clancy

Over several months we have built a giant inflatable shelter, accommodating 10-15 human beeings inside, while thoroughly documenting our design and construction process. Based on the form of an iconic skep beehive, this portable structure will be a home base for hosting lectures, demonstrations, and performances related to honey bees and social infrastructures. During more intimate neuro-festooning sessions participants will entangle to share thoughts and skills, offering entomology, lore, philosophy, and devotion. We have programed performances and lectures in order to discuss, celebrate, and study honeybees, to contemplate their response to environmental changes, and to consider the beehive’s influence on social structures throughout history.

This project encourages regenerative research and open discussion rather than the pursuit of stylish hardline truths. Your two cents are a welcome supplement to today’s most progressive artistic and environmental perspectives.

Why Inflate?

We would like to blow issues TO their due proportion and appropriate scale rather than blowing myth and media OUT OF proportion. Upon entering the space participants may become aware of the realities of consumption as they are literally consumed by such physicality. This cyclical process, also illustrated by solar power and airflow, reflects natural processes and humanity’s impact on them. We’d also like to recognize the pedagogical context in which inflatables have historically been used. Pneumatic forms create an alternate universe, a hub or think tank for conversation, education, and brainstorming.

Addressing Sustainability

Here are a few ways that sustainability may be defined and how we address these aspects:

1. Ability to endure
– we are building with durable materials, rather than polyethylene, so that our structure will last
– this structure will be adaptable and portable

2. Long-term maintenance of responsibility
– we will discuss responsibility especially in terms of bees and their independence from as well as current dependence on human beeings
– we will be sure to perform maintenance on our durable structure if need be

3. Management of resources
– library
– solar-powered blower
– network of knowledgeable beekeepers and environmentalists

4. Biological & conceptual systems remain diverse
– environmental and social
– mono-cultures in nature or academia, for example, are never sustainable!

– Circular template mirrors environmental, social, and economic cycles (you gain back what you put in)
– This circle also suggests cyclical and regenerative research and investigation, hopefully more contemporary than the patriarchal scientific method or something that moves in a straight line with a hard conclusion
– Skeps are the man-made traditional basket-style woven containers that are designed based on nature but not actually made by bees.
– Humans build an informed infrastructure that allows them to interact with nature in a more responsible way. Sometimes their designs are harmonious and other times destructive- we can discuss the history of the skep and beekeeping- the problematic practices of burning bees out of a skep to gather honey and the implications of today’s common Langstroth hive as a geometric file cabinet for bees, but one that observes their behavior over their natural shape- can also discuss Top-bar and Warre over time.

– we are taking on bee-like role of builders/maintainers, building to our own scale as bees do
FESTOONING —> apiculture > bees   AS   architecture > humans
Both make use of the power of parabolic and hexagonal shapes and structures.


One comment

  1. Amazing article, thank you, I will visit again soon.

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