Ruderal Academy is an itinerant school of landscape interpretation, drawing, and design.
The given landscape serves as both the campus and the primary text.
Ruderal is an ecological term that refers to species that are adapted to thrive in conditions of scarcity and disturbance. Ruderal species are often called pioneer species in that they hold territory in advance of more stable species. The ruderal suggests a means of practice that begins with the given, to work from the ground up, to work fast, iteratively and with minimal means. As such, Ruderal Academy lands in sites of transition and disturbance, places with rich political, historical social, industrial and ecological contexts.
The program is open to students, professionals and local citizens from all disciplines who are interested in both gaining analytical skills and creating interpretive works in an intensive collaborative setting. Participants in Ruderal Academy programs address the particular place at the particular time, and establish a temporary community of learning, exchange and dwelling. Lectures and tours are provided by local professionals and scholars, and participants receive feedback in critiques from designers, artists, and professionals. Ruderal Academy programs are comprised of three phases:
- Site inventory, archival research and documentation
- Analysis and interpretation of research
- Development and execution of site-specific interventions, design proposals, or studio artwork
Learning at Ruderal academy has both horizontal and vertical implications; participants gain both transferable skills in landscape analysis, and an in-depth knowledge of site and situation enhances subsequent projects in the region.
Sites of investigation include: hypersaline lagoons in the San Francisco Bay, a reservoir breach in the Missouri Ozarks, a channelized industrial river in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts, and the landscape of the US-Mexico border in El Paso and Juarez.
“Stephan Dillemuth summarizes that he prefers to see the Academy:
- as self-organized and temporary.
- not as an institution but:
- as a form of communication, and
- as an activity, making academy,
- which means the reciprocity of teaching and learning,
- as a process of self-empowerment.
Stephan Dillemuth, “The Academy and The Corporate Public”. in Wesseling, Janneke. See It Again, Say It Again: The Artist As Researcher. Amsterdam: Valiz, 2011.