What is a Non-Human?

Mar 06 2024 Wednesday
07:00 PM - 08:30 PM
Diriyah Riyadh - Auditorium get directions
Age Group Adults
Add to Calendar 03/06/2024 07:00 PM 03/06/2024 08:30 PM Asia/Riyadh What is a Non-Human?

We are surrounded by other-than-human life-forms that make up to 99.9% of life on the planet. Do non-human species have consciousness, and do they experience embodiment? How do they communicate and make decisions so that they can survive in any condition? There are alternative forms of experiencing the world that we should take into consideration. Are we at the end of human exceptionalism? 

A conversation between plant neuroscientist Paco Calvo and visual artist Ayman Zedani. Moderated by program creator Anna Kirikova. 


OTHER MINDS is a cross-disciplinary program centered around the ways of thinking and seeing in more-than-human ways. It has been created in response to the curatorial vision of Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale 2024, After Rain, which embodies revitalization and renewal. It situates itself within a wider narrative of the co-existence of humans and non-humans.

Neuroscience has proved that the human brain cannot grasp the world as it is. If the objective world exists, how can we even come close to discovering it? 

The scientific and culturological tools developed to date allow for an experience of the “other”, or alternative ways of perceiving the world. With OTHER MINDS, we have assembled an array of scientists, thinkers, and artists to elaborate on plant-animal-microorganism-human relations through the new findings in neurosciences, biology, and anthropology, as well as through the metaphorical findings of the artworks presented at the Biennale. 

We will look closer at how non-human beings interact with reality, communicate, and create fascinating entanglements through their relationship with others, including humans. By receiving theoretical and practical insights from the program’s contributors, we might probably be able to see the world around us a bit closer to what it is — a world where all life is thoughtful life. 

The program was created in collaboration with Anna Kirikova and Daria Ozerskaya.

Diriyah Riyadh - Auditorium
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Paco Calvo

Paco Calvo (Ph.D., University of Glasgow, 2000) is a Professor of Philosophy of Science, and Principal Investigator of the Minimal Intelligence Laboratory (MINTLAB) at the University of Murcia (Spain). His research interests range broadly within the cognitive sciences, with special emphasis on plant intelligence, ecological psychology and embodied cognitive science, robotics, and AI. He uses time-lapse photography to explore perception-action and learning in plants. His scientific articles have appeared in Annals of Botany, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Frontiers in Neurorobotics, Frontiers in Robotics and AI, Journal of the Royal Society, Plant, Cell & Environment, Plant Signaling & Behavior, Scientific Reports, and Trends in Plant Science, among other journals. He is the author of the popular best-selling book Planta Sapiens (Norton 2023, with Natalie Lawrence).

Anna Kirikova

Anna Kirikova is an independent curator and cultural projects developer based in Paris. Between 2018 and 2022, she was the Director of the International Programme at The Manege Central Exhibition Hall in St. Petersburg, where she commissioned and organized programming for exhibitions and other cultural events. Her most notable projects at The Manege include Éspirits by Christian Boltanski, Utopia Saved by Lee Bul, As They See Us in collaboration with Magnum Photos, and NEW NOW – a research project delving into ideas of the present moment and exploring potential scenarios for our shared future. As a result of the collaboration with the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, Anna has created and is co-presenting a major public program, Other Minds, at the 2024 Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale.

Ayman Zedani

Ayman Zedani’s investigative practice works to upend our comprehension of the past and challenge our acceptance of the future. His work includes videos, installations and immersive environments that consider the future of the Gulf. His resultant projects are platforms to invite audiences to observe human-nonhuman symbiosis, leaving his narratives open to a multitude of interpretations and questions. His arc of inquiry highlights the interactions and relationships of humans in the more-than-human world, framing his practices and projects as extended animism.


Image COPYRIGHT: Desert Hyacinth (Cistanche tubulosa), Saudi Arabia © Saudi Arabia Twitter/X account