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The Fundació Joan Miró opens Beehave, a project that draws on contemporary artists' interest in honey bees
With its Beehave project, the Fundació Joan Miró addresses the current survival crisis of honey bees and other insect pollinators, while also examining the state of urban beekeeping in Barcelona in the open, visionary language of artists.

BARCELONA.- According to the experts, bees are so sensitive to environmental changes that they are considered natural indicators of our planet’s health. These small insects play a key role in the balance of the Earth’s ecosystems; bees are essential for preserving biodiversity and pollinating the crops that feed humankind. However, they are now facing many dangers, such as climate change caused by global warming, the use of pesticides and other chemicals, parasites such as the varroa mite and foreign species like the Asian hornet. In response to these threats, in recent years there has been a growing interest in what is referred to as urban beekeeping, which makes use of a variety of city spaces – such as rooftops and public parks – to install hives and renaturalise urban environments. Major cities such as London, San Francisco, Paris and Melbourne have legalized this practice; New York has nests in places as iconic as the terrace of the Waldorf Astoria hotel, Battery Park and Central Park.

With its Beehave project, the Fundació Joan Miró addresses the current survival crisis of honey bees and other insect pollinators, while also examining the state of urban beekeeping in Barcelona in the open, visionary language of artists. To quote Martina Millà, the curator for the project, ‘We wanted to explore the past of urban beekeeping in Barcelona and examine its present status in an effort to spark a citizen debate that could have an effect on the future of this practice and start up a new stage in the history of the coexistence between humans and bees in our city.’

The title of the project – proposed by Luis Bisbe, one of the participating artists – a pun merging bees with behaviour, highlights the aim of raising awareness about the key role that bees play in environmental balance and of educating so that we can know more and develop a better relationship with these insects. With this goal in mind, Beehave combines a contemporary art show in the temporary exhibition spaces at the Fundació Joan Miró and a public art programme that spans the entire city of Barcelona from March to June – during the spring, the most active period in the natural life cycle of bees.

A total of 24 artists, both local and international, have built a veritable creative colony in close collaboration with an entire hive of different agents ranging from beekeepers to biologists, historians, gardeners, botanists, therapists, herbalists and chandlers, among many others. ‘The webs we have woven and the bridges we have built have been some of the most rewarding and profound aspects of the project. It has been an exceptional pollinating experience’, says Millà. This is also the character of the outcome shown at the Fundació from February to May this year and at fifteen other locations throughout the city from 15 March on. There are close to sixty works altogether – most of them specifically produced for this project – including paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, urban and landscape interventions, multimedia devices, architectural installations, community projects and performances.

The Fundació Joan Miró’s Director Marko Daniel associates this new show, which explores the intersections between art, ecology and bee studies, with ‘the tradition of exhibitions that place art at the centre of contemporary debate and invite the public to participate in reflection and dialogue on urgent topics whose relevance to our lives is beyond question.’

Beehave has been made possible thanks to the collaboration of the Fundació Banc Sabadell and support from the Institut de Cultura de Barcelona (ICUB), which have enabled it to unfold in its urban dimension. Beehave has also relied on the support of Kunsthaus Baselland, the Swiss art centre that will be hosting the exhibition as of September.

Participating artists: Joan Bennàssar, Luis Bisbe, Alfonso Borragán, Joana Cera, Gemma Draper, GOIG (Pol Esteve & Miquel Mariné) & Max Celar, Vadim Grigoryan & Marcos Lutyens, Jerónimo Hagerman, Marine Hugonnier, Anne Marie Maes, Melliferopolis (Ulla Taipale & Christina Stadlbauer), Joan Miró, Anna Moreno, Àlex Muñoz & Xavi Manzanares, Luis Fernando Ramírez Celis, Toni Serra (Abu Ali), Ulla Taipale, Andrés Vial, Pep Vidal and Philip Wiegard.

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