Valentina Karga


The Institute for Spontaneous Generation


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The GRUB shareholder’s bonding procession

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Active Shareholders Acquisition (photos: Eoin Carey)

The Wealth of Scotland Grows as The Dialogue Soars 

Established only five years ago in the sunburnt summer of 2017, many critics initially believed that The Institute for Spontaneous Generation (ISG) was merely a silly conceptual project developed by a bunch of idealistic artists, designers and activists. Today, exactly five years on, in the climatically challenging summer of 2022, the seed of thought developed during that historic summer school has come to change our very notion of what wealth, value, and communication mean.

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The Institute’s economic research projects under the manifesto ‘The currency is dialogue’. 

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The Institute’s Logo

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Inside the Institute’s Headquarters housed at the Civic House. 

Although a simple idea in practice, the shift in our collective understanding that money is a fiction spread like maggots after the activities of Test Unit 2017. The new manifesto, “The Currency is Dialogue” helped people to understand that conversations and communication are the only means to generate real wealth: stronger relationships and resilient communities. With their name taken from the the ancient scientific theory that life (i.e. maggots) can spontaneously generate from sterile environments and non-living matter, The Institute went on to explore what new events and activities can spontaneously generate new forms of dialogue. The first of these projects, The Grub Economy, showed the bonds that can be formed and then shared among people when they talk to one another and exchange stories. Immaterial yet more important wealth is created spontaneously in unexpected ways when dialogue is the currency.


Hot Stuff mini – Holidays version







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In Our Coming Community, Valentina Karga addresses the future shape and shared values of a local community by creating a collective totem consisting of a ceramic sculpture and video. The project is a response to the current situation of global crises and financialized abstraction, where the lack of concrete values, of a tangible commons seems to crumble the foundations of modern western culture. The totem symbolises the community’s shared values, giving them a material form. It is a conceptual pillar that will break through the fear of change, and support ‘our coming community’.

The sculpture was created at the ceramics workshop of Saunabaari community centre, where the participants met to sculpt and glaze their own totem modules, and to share their values in video speeches. Also recorded on the video is the community centre’s sing-along group, performing the quintessential Finnish tango ‘ the Fabled Land’ whose lyrics long for a better world beyond the sea.

— Minna Tarka

The project has been produced by m-cult, with the support of Collaborative Arts Partnership Programe and Helsinki city.

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Bringing fire back into the public realm, Berlin-based artist and architect Valentina Karga introduces HOT STUFF in the university city of Witten, Germany. Composed of two rocket stoves and a mass heater, the installation is the first of its kind to be built in a shared open space, offering the possibility to spend more time outdoors in the winter, while keeping cosy and warm.



(photos: Viviana Abelson/USR)


A residency on Planet B


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Cosmic Energy Accelerator

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Cosmic Energy Accelerator – ceramics, detail

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Cosmic Energy Accelerator – the banana experiment and the Tesla experiment, detail

Planet B is an exhibition at the NRW-Forum in Düsseldorf curated by artistic director Alain Bieber and Joanna Szlauderbach. The exhibition is far from static; it is growing while artists are invited to live inside a Rocket (created by Labor Fou). Together with Lars Zimmerman, I spent 10 days in there, researching on the topic ‘alternative economies’ and sharing the process with the public. My take was that the first thing to take place on Planet B is healing ourselves from the traumas of late Planet A. Through this healing process we might learn something about letting go of pats structures and institutions that are not relevant any longer, and with a clear, ‘new’ mind, come up with some truly new ideas. Therefore, we practiced everyday active meditation, Yoga, drove to Nordenau to pick up some healing water and did a guided slime meditation. I also installed a DIY Cosmic Energy Accelerator for the peoples of Planet B. Planet B is a state of mind and it is available right here and right now.

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Rocket and Cosmic Energy Accelerator 


The gigantic Jelly-Blob


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 The gigantic Jelly-Blob at transmediale/conversation piece

 The gigantic Jelly-Blob is part of a larger investigation into the creation, validation, and dissemination of art in the immaterial economy. The uncontrollable, diffuse monsters of financialization and precarity invade not only our work ethics but also the most personal corners of our lives. What is the role of the artist in a financialized (art) world? The viewer is invited to participate in a lecture-performance with Karga in which they will shape an immaterial sculpture, creating thus a space for communication, togetherness, and embodiment of ideas. Using fiction and metaphors, they are looking across a capitalist horizon and share their findings, reflections, and ideas. No particular knowledge or skills are required. The performance includes a sound intervention by sound artist Dimitris Papadatos.

Special thanks to Dimitris Papadatos, Till Wittwer and Pieterjan Grandry. 


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at transmediale/conversation piece

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at transmediale/conversation piece


Market for Immaterial Value


The video-pitch


Market For Immaterial Value at SixtyEight Art Institute in Copenhagen, 2017

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Market For Immaterial Value at transmediale/conversation piece, 2016

Market For Immaterial Value is an investigation on creating, validating and disseminating art in the era of immaterial economy. Art cannot be oblivious to its own conditions of creation and exchange. Valentina and Pieter, two young artists, are looking over a capitalist horizon and share their findings, reflections, ideas, personal utopias and fears of dystopias. What is the role of the artist in a financialized (art)world? They create spaces, online and offline, to research through discussions, which they consider to be collaborations. 


The Agar Banquet: a gel-related credit system


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A participatory performance @ A Soft Tragedy, a spatial storytelling project by Lorenzo Sandoval.  Photos: Ethan Hayes-Chute

In Odyssey, feasting represents a kind of heroic attitude towards life. To be a hero is to live life fully, spending your excess energy in a lavish manner, regaining surplus from this activity. However, a little be too much and the heroic attitude becomes gluttony. This is part of the story of what happened to us and why there are no heroes anymore. Thirty or forty years ago, in every settlement, city or village, one could find heaps of a sweet gelatinous substance, containing berries, herbs, flowers and milk or other ingredients typical for the region.There was not too much of it, but plenty enough for a festive meal once in a while. But then we discovered how to artificially reproduce it, or import it from other far-away lands, leaving them deprived from their right to the jelly. The punishment for gluttony came from the ultimate glutton, a giant with enormous appetite. He ate so much jelly that became jelly himself; so huge that covered the whole planet. This giant jelly-blob contains now everything: people -us-, houses, cities, villages, cars, markets, the seas and the forests. Even the air is nowjelly-like.We don’t feel it anymore; the transformation happened so gradually that if felt normal, and our bodies, mindsets, and even memory adapted to it. We eat it and shit it out, caught in an endless exercise of swallowing without digestion. Instead of gaining surplus energy, we are moving towards exhaustion.


The construction of fire and other stories


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Installation view from  the exhibition Fireworks out of Season —Riviera, curated by Galini Notti in January 2015. Photo: Mariza Nikolaou


When we make a map it is not only a metonymic substitution but also an ethical statement about the world . . . [it] is a political issue.

— J. B. HarLey, “Cartography, ethics, and social theory”

The construction of fire and other stories is an edition of 15 copies of 20 risograph prints, that can be viewed as publication or as wall installation. The starting point for this work was to construct an archive of events that involve fire and architecture. Fire as of the uncontrollable or the unknown; the mysterious power of the creation of the universe that is still beyond our comprehension. Architecture as of the whole of anthropogenic processes, the ultimate man-made form, that became so dominant that started to change the course of geological forces. The archive is an attempt to document ‘the eternal conflict between chaos and form'; mankind’s attempts to recreate the ultimate power, the uncontrollable, the birth of the universe. An observer of the archive might notice that such attempts always come at cost of humanity, a cost that is splendidly manifested in the material environment, architecture and cities,  driven by the immaterial and unseen infrastructures and forces that constitute the world order, such as economy and (geo)politics.  (more…)

30 days in the garden / 15 days on Mars


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What does an urban garden in a European metropolis have to do with a Mars simulation base in the desert in the USA? The two stories recounted in this twofold work unfold in antipodal places and contexts. They have, however, something in common. Self-sufficiency is a field of various interests, from individuals or small communities wanting to be autonomous for economical, ecological or political motives to the military and its desire to conquer new extra-terrestrial territories.

Using myself as subject for experiencing two alternative modes of living, in one case, I am building a system for self-sufficient living in Berlin, and on the other hand I am visiting the Mars Dessert Research Station in Utah. There is a striking similarity between the two systems for the city and for outer space; they both are based in the idea of closed-loop, regenerating energy from waste and sun while the human user is necessary part of the system.


projects summary




A project by Collective Disaster

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Temple of Holy Shit is a public compost toilet and terra-preta sanitation system at Parckdesign 2014 in Brussels, whose purpose is to convert the bio-waste and bodily wasteproduced by the park and its visitors into a rich type of soil (terra-preta) for the gardens in and around the area.

One of the events we organised  around the temple was SATURNALIA, a revival of an ancient Roman pagan feast dedicated to Saturn, the god of agriculture and toilets. Saturnalia was celebrated in ancient Rome with a public banquet, followed by gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere in a state of social egalitarianism. (more…)

Exercises in Walking and Talking


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On May 3rd 2014, during the opening of the exhibition A THOUSAND DOORS, I released the following Open Call. For the following four weeks, I engaged in ‘walking and talking’ on the theme of education every afternoon with visitors of the exhibition and the library, or people that work for the participating institutions and some of the participating artists, around the library’s gardens. The engagement of walking as a meditative act, one that will help us focus on our real time communication and also on our inner knowledge, was precisely the essence of the exercise, which was performed freely and was every time unique. To complete the exercise, we revisited our conversation, by recalling and synthesizing key points discussed in a typewritten transcription of the dialogue. Using carbon paper, the typewriter can produce two copies of the transcriptions; the original and its imprint. The original scripts of the conversation are with the participants; scattered among the homes of the ones that participated, becoming their personal, co-authored proof of the work of art, which exists solely in their memory and my memory. The duplicate copies of the transcriptions are gathered in a second work of art. The publication has entered the library’s collection indefinitely for people to find it there, among the over 120,000 books and rare bindings, archives, manuscripts, and works of art.

The exhibition ‘A THOUSAND DOORS’ was an initiative of NEON Foundation in cooperation with the Whitechapel Gallery and has been curated by Iwona Blazwick. The work Exercises in Walking and Talking was a commission by NEON Foundation. @ Gennadius Library, American School of Classical Studies

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Installation view of ‘A Thousand Doors’ exhibition at The Gennadius Library, American School of Classical Studies in Athens, 2014

Courtesy NEON and Whitechapel Gallery. Photo credit: Nikos Markou


Temple of Holy Shit


A project by Collective Disaster

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Temple of Holy Shit (Usine du Trésor Noir) at Parckdesign 2014


Temple of Holy Shit (Usine du Trésor Noir) is a public compost toilet and terra-preta sanitation system, whose purpose is to convert the biowaste and bodily waste produced by the park and its visitors into a rich type of soil (terra-preta) for the gardens in and around the area. The project has been selected for Parckdesign2014, which is a biennial dedicated to public space planning initiated by the Brussels Ministry for Environment, Energy and Urban Renovation (IBGE) and runs as a pilot project in the neighborhood for six months in 2014. Parckdesign2014 is taking place near Thurn&Taxi transforming urban wasteland into a temporary Farmpark creating an opportunity to test another method of city making. Parckdesign2014, adopted a more inclusive process for achieving the activation of wasted urban spaces than in other years, by involving local citizens in the making of the project through the facilitation of neighborhood meetings.

The original concept of the ‘Temple’ used metaphors from the milieu of religion to communicate the idea of the transformation of the secular miasma (body and bio-waste) into a holy substance (terra-preta soil) that has the ability to regenerate life. However, the local muslim community found the use of the religious element offensive and, after public voting, we renamed the project into Usine du Trésor Noir (Factory of the Black Gold). It was worthed to sacrifice the initial concept into something that the neighborhood can more easily understand, because after all, the value of this work lies in its ability to communicate the concept of terra-preta and compost and its potentiality to create more sustainable mindsets, while, at the same time, offering a social space for the neighborhood.

Temple of Holy Shit is a project by Collective Disaster.


Valentina and Pieter invest in themselves




“Homo oeconomicus is an entrepreneur, an entrepreneur of himself […] being for himself his own capital, being for himself his own producer, being for himself the source of [his] earnings”.

Foucault, The birth of Biopolitics.

“Valentina and Pieter invest in themselves” is a piece by Valentina Karga and Pieterjan Grandry in which they question the future of their own art practice. Inspired by Valentina’s mother who converted her life savings into gold,  the dialog extends into the idea of self-investment and the act of transforming a golden coin into an art object, obeying in this way capitalism’s frantic mania to subsume everything, also aesthetics. With a relaxed and humorous attitude, the two artists give in to the exploitation which they put on display. The resulting coin is seen as an investment in the market value of the material as well as in its own artistic value.

presented at the Athens Biennial: AGORA


Summer school for applied Autonomy


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The realization of complete source depletion has led to an energetic hysteria, which, together with the economic crisis and the questioning of capitalism and neo-liberalism, has brought self-sufficiency into a broader discussion. The latter, a phenomenon that used to be connected to the rural world, today is finding its way in the city. The commons are cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society; nowadays, due to the internet, we have an interesting mixture of natural and digital commons while the new commons are considered to be communication, knowledge and cooperation. By combining self-sufficiency and the new commons, we may detect the beginning of a society that reuses old methods and institutions in new ways with the help of new tools and technology.

The Summer school for Applied Autonomy is a research initiative interested in capturing the complexity of the technical know-how but also the social, political and affective aspects involved in autonomous living. Its functioning is largely self-sufficient, tending towards environmental sustainability, and it is based on feedback loop circuits where its different outputs (from garbage to words) become inputs that re-feed the social and material body of the garden. Exploration of thematic fields such as self-sufficiency, open source knowledge, collaboration, self-reflection, urban development and exchange and gift economy is at the very base of the curriculum. The school welcomes everyone, but its capacity is small; it can support only two residents per rotation. Residents must engage for a stay of one or two weeks. After the end of each rotation and the beginning of the other, the two groups overlap for one day, so that the first group transfers their knowledge to the next one. The days are structured via tasks and lessons, while each person is free to propose his own topic of research.


Self-sufficiency in the era of the new Commons


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Semester Seminar at Studium Generale, Universität der Kunste, Berlin


30 days in the garden/ 15 days on Mars : the publication



The artist Valentina Karga shares her diaries from her adventures in search of self-sufficiency:

What does an urban garden in a European metropolis have to do with a Mars simulation base in the desert in the USA? The two stories recounted in this book unfold in antipodal places and contexts. They have, however, something in common.
Self-sufficiency is a field of various interests, from individuals or small communities wanting to be autonomous for economical, ecological or political motives to the military and its desire to conquer new extra-terrestrial territories.

With contributions from Joseph Redwood-Martinez and Sandra Teitge.

Published by Crap is good publications

Order here


this ever-whirling engine


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This ever-whirling engine is a lecture-performance and workshop presented at  Graduale 12.

With an interest in self-sufficiency, DIY and biochemistry, Valentina Karga constructs low-tech “machines” that transform matter. Together with solar engineer Brian Edlefsen Lasch she will explain how to produce solar energy in a workshop.  Together with the participants they will build a small mobile unit for urban applications and will create a step-by-step tutorial to contribute to open source knowledge. The second event questions the existence of of waste and how contemporary society deals with it’s own organic waste. Attendants will learn how to built a simple biogas digestor and will detect processes of recycling.


The super rocket-stove cook off


the super rocket stove cook off from Berlin Farm Lab on Vimeo.

the institute of placemaking



The Institute of Placemaking is knowledge exchange center and a public institution that gives spatial possibilities to people who desire a place for new ideas and new encounters within the city.

An office-cabin and a table are the simple architectural elements around which workshops, dinners and collective gatherings happen. The Institute acts as an infrastructure that ‘grows’ through a series of curated workshops dealing with public action, knowledge exchange and experimentation with do-it-yourself methods of production, which extends to building, making, cooking, using and re-using. Workshops are focused around the looped system of resources, and particular attention is paid to what is commonly neglected in the production cycle of materials or goods: waste. The Institute proposes a 6 workshops that begin to treat the city and its byproducts as a resource.

The Institute of Placemaking took place at Eme3 international architecture festival, Barcelona, 2012, and it was a collaboration between Valentina Karga, Jia Gu, Pieterjan Grandry and Rosario Talevi. More info at:


machine for sustainable living



The project “Greenwasher, active sustainable chamber” is a research on a DIY contemporary lifestyle.   The first part is a manual of “how to make yourself” a complete system to produce at home all goods for contemporary living, such as electricity, biogas, food and biodiesel while collecting heat from the sun and rainwater. The following characteristics make the system the perfect solution for global sustainability: low-budget for broad application, local production and reuse of materials and therefore less energy required in the process, biologic food production and green energy production. The second part is an application of the manual in a one person’s habitat. The aim is to minimize use of natural resources and co2 emissions during the building and living process. The idea for creating the manual began with the collection of systems aimed at an ecologically bearable conscious contemporary lifestyle. Next step was the restriction of the system to “do it yourself” version. For this reason we studied «how to» and «Do It yourself» youtube videos and websites that offer such expertise to ease of manufacture and low cost.  Adaptations were made in the way of building the systems with emphasis on the implementation of used items. Changes or adjustments of the use of objects are possible. Finally, we combined all segments in a single system in a “nothing is wasted” concept. Special feature is the excessive economy. In other case would be characterized meanness. With neurotic patience, the user utilizes the water through a hierarchy system of value, until that evaporates. Moreover, by simple chemical processes, produces useful goods from useless garbage, while producing no waste, since he re-uses everything. One could describe the model as a concentrated version of the complexity of gathering the goods of modern life. As regard the aesthetic issue, we can talk about a new species of architecture that is free of the question about form; the appearance is simply what derives from the collection and assemblage of existing systems and elements. The project seems to be the perfect sustainable solution on building and living. However, the personal motivation, time and effort required, opens the discussion about changes that could be done in the society, political and economic system to make this lifestyle possible for everyone. (more…)

small catastrophe enchiridion




Real time and representation time

The initial intention of the research was the creation of an archive/ catalog about fire. Archives are evolvable and can possibly refresh themselves persistently. Thus, the archive´s concept can possibly be redefined.

This should have happened, in a manner of speaking, simultaneously with some representation of the same process, the one we call file-lodgment. The lodgment’s order is not the same with the chronic order that the files had emerged at the time of investigation. Besides, representation does not happen in autonomic real time, but invokes observer’s time. Thus, the distortion of the chronic relations facilitates some kind of “distortion” of the accuracy of the file lodgment procedure. In addition, this is not that important. What is important is the transmission of some, not-that-clear yet, sensation that fire and architecture are related to each other. Finally, the selection and lodgment of the “fire fragments” request to reveal some abstract relation to architecture.