Hans Kalliwoda

conceptual, experimental, intervention artist, curator, thinker, doer


Lectures on sustainability, ecology and society in the context of art interventions
If pictures could speak volumes,
and shapes and colours act like perfumes,
what still needs to be clarified?
That art and science in alliance,
show us the way to new horizons.
Then, pioneering for Climate-Refugees,
now, the ‘RefuBees’, nature and diversities,
see and hear the artist as the agent of change,
his aesthetics and his wit,
passé ideas to derange,
go ask him to convey his secret,
his depth, his dreams, his rage,
because he is didactically fit!

invite to a lecture -> press here

Symposium on the symbiosis of art, architecture, science and sustainability

V2 (Institute for Unstable Media, Rotterdam), 2010

with Ute Meta-Bauer (curator MIT), Han Brezet (Sustainability Prof. TUDelft), Rob Zwijenberg (Prof. Art & Science University Leiden)

Ute Meta-Bauer: ‘I recommend (the TUDelft) giving Hans Kalliwoda an honorary degree, … I mean that seriously, to respect and also to recognize stimulating inspirations, that very often comes from not exactly the fields where we expect them to come from’.

Symposium The Polliniferous Project
‘Project Anywhere’

Parsons Fine Art N.Y. N.Y., 2014

Presentation on the correlation between ecology and social cohesion for human sustainability as part of my doctoral thesis and research through artistic practice at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands.

Lectures on the subject of swarm intelligence for inspiration

World in a Shell – Polliniferous Project 2016

Series of 10 lectures on swarm intelligence to inspire top executives from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment.

Interventionsprojekt „The future pollination Lab“ at „Europe by People“



BeeTotems for RefuBees

I am very happy that after more than four years of dedication, exploration and effort in experimentations, I can finally come forward to expose a deeper insight and practically introduce to you the first BeeTotem and artificial underground nesting-place for the RefuBees. In 2011, I co-initiated the BeeCare Amsterdam art project with the idea of contributing essential resolutions to our great challenge, in my opinion, probably the largest that has ever existed in human history. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse.


Art in public space and methodologies to create Inner Cities as Nature Reserve

In 2014, I initiated the symposium the ‘Inner Cities as Nature Reserve’, bringing together three progressive people; an environmental academic, a sociologist and a local policy maker. In this scholarly event, the framework for another art intervention and research on new methodologies for an urban and societal transformation was set. The intervention had to be a crossover in knowledge production for and with the collective, while engaging them into reinventing the commons and additionally, the most exigent of all, in an interspecies context.

Over time, probably because of its unsolicited and permanent intervention nature, opposed to temporary public interventions, it became evident that the project had another, even more complex but also sinister political dimension to it. Some public servants with public space tasks and ecologists employed by the city, perceive these ideas as threat and ‘competition in their domain’, resulting in nasty power games by for instance delaying or obscuring efforts and progress. To avoid getting sidetracked into practicing institutional critiques, it needs an initial clear mandate.

Totemism; an academic, project-based research

Over the last decades and with my artistic interventions in public and semi-public space, I have inspired, educated and engaged many people within sustainability and ecology issues. Obviously, these attributes are reflected in BeeTotem for RefuBees, which combines ecological thinking with social and environmental justice principles. Within this intrinsic framework of values, I re-invented and custom-tailored the concept of totemism, which fascinates me as a phenomenon for some time already.

We don’t know exactly how long it has been since the first totem was created, maybe even at the time when people were drawing on walls in caves. But certainly, before religions were invented and people were still so-called ‘pagans’. The spirituality and beliefs of these pagans were mostly shaped by natural phenomena and that they are part of the natural environment. This can still be seen today in the example of indigenous peoples. The religions have sold us that we humans are above nature.

We all know totems from the North-American indigenous people, famous for their ‘Totem-pole’ and possible the ‘Maibaum’, found in North and Central Europe predominantly in parts of Germany, especially in Bavaria and Austria. However, these are only small examples, because if one searches on this topic in other parts of the world and in other cultural settings, one will find many different forms of expressions. One will be amazed to what great variety of totems humans have developed the original concept over millennia.

I am convinced that all of these manifestations of totems are not static, but rather go through developmental processes – just like my BeeTotems. All totems have one thing in common, they are objects in public space for people to gather and create social cohesion. Totemism as methodology has great potentials in the context of interventions and I see the need for me to develop it further, including its applications in society. In alliance with 3D upcycling processes suits my artistic practice entirety.

Foto: Ernst van Deursen

A local approach to a global problem

We have slowly but surely evolved into hyper-individuals and loners, and our social cohesion has plummeted, to put it mildly. What I personally feel very sorry for is our general dealings with the natural environment and even worse, when combined with greed, selfishness and the lack of empathy.

We all know the result now. The whole world is in crisis and it’s burning everywhere. But how is that possible, because I also very much believe that everyone is good at heart? Maybe it’s so confusing that we don’t know where to start a change anymore? So, I thought to myself: at my front door. I also realized that a healthy social cohesion is actually the precondition for a sustainable ecology. And I remembered Buckminster Fuller saying, ‘If you want to change how someone thinks, give it up; you cannot change how another thinks. Give them a tool, the use of which will lead them to think differently.’

And then, I had this lightbulb moment, it is possible with totemism and simple actions that allow us all to look in the same direction, to do something really useful and to make a difference by installing simple rituals. When we do that, we can rediscover our spiritual side. This spiritual side that connects us with the natural environment including all the insects and plants associated with it. The insanely beautiful thing that we have apparently forgotten in the last 3,000 years. That we are only a small part of this beauty and that we cannot survive on our own, because we can only do it together.

‘The art must be settling there, where the defect is.’
(Bertolt Brecht)

Since 1990 we have lost 80% of the biomass of all flying insects. How many petitions have we signed in the past ten years to protect bees and insects? Scientists have been ringing alarm bells for years about symptoms of biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, but far too little has happened. Unfortunately, ecologists are not specialized in finding a remedy for the causes: selfishness, greed and a lack of empathy. I believe that art has the power to change this, at least it can create awareness to stimulate and at its best, initiate these necessary changes.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s scientifically proven that bees do much better in city centers than in the countryside. This is mainly due to contaminated ground and surface water by pesticides, monoculture and destruction of nesting sites. A recent newsletter from the University of Leiden said: How do you prevent virus outbreaks? By protecting animal health! The bee has become a refugee who needs protection and food: the RefuBee! We therefore urgently need to create viable situations to prevent further extinction. Researchers have pointed out that zoonoses like Covid 19 develops due to the loss of intact habitat and the decline in biodiversity.

The BeeTotem 2020

BeeTotems are ‘bear-sized’ vertical garden systems with a diameter of 120 centimeters. They are top restaurants for wild bees. In the middle of the totem is a tube where worms live. The local hosts feed the worms with organic kitchen waste. The worms leave the pipe through holes and urinate “worm tea”. This is a high-quality natural fertilizer that is absorbed by the plants growing in the soil. As a result, the plant produces high-quality pollen and nectar and offers it to the wild bees concerned. Each totem is dedicated to a different wild bee with its own plant preferences. Plants with high-quality nectar and pollen ensure greater growth and greater resistance for the new generation of bees.

The 3D sculpture of the wild bees in the photo is a Halictus tumulum, a specimen obtained from Naturalis (Dutch Nature Museum) and enlarged 12,500 times.

The project ‘BeeTotems for RefuBees’ started as part of BeeCare Amsterdam and was publicly awarded in 2019. It is an interdisciplinary art project that carries out sociological, ecological and educational elements through sculpture, performative activities and scientific research. There are 104 species of bees in North Holland that deserve a special and unique totem for each type of bee. Currently, four BeeTotems are being financed as a pilot project, exclusively in the city districts of Amsterdam.


Hans Kalliwoda

Since the 1980s, Hans Kalliwoda focused on the integration of spectators in his works of art, installations and interventions. His conceptual work has been exhibited in numerous international galleries, museums and public spaces.

He carried out many interventions in public and semi-public domain with a focus on identity, sustainability and ecology over the past 25 years. They all are of experimental nature, long-term, interdisciplinary and to such great complexity that they satisfied his inexhaustible pioneering spirit. The result reflects in his exceptional expertise and his mastering of creating synergies within domains that are beyond the usual.

As a co-founder of the non-profit Blindpainters Foundation, he has found a working alternative to the ‘art-business as usual’. With the Blindpainters he creates independent projects, positioned between art and activism. He was a PhDc. between 2013 and 2017 with a research through artistic practice at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.

Thanks to his curatorial experience, he invents and tests innovative mediation formats and new models of presentations and exhibition making that are relevant to contemporary times.

Lectures & Symposia (selection)

Art and Research at the outer most limits of location specificity, Parsons School of Art and Technology, NY, NY, 2014
While the Gods are Absent, Kuru Trust, D’Kar, Botswana, 2012
Radius of Art, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin, 2012
Art-Architecture-Science in Sustainability, V2_, Institute for Instable Media, Rotterdam, 2010
Blueprints of Tomorrow, Starship Earth, Designmai, Berlin, 2005

Exhibitions, solo and group (selection)

Museumpark Rotterdam, Architecture Institute and V2_, 2010 (solo)
Conflicts/resolution, OSCE, Sammlung Essel, Klosterneuburg Vienna, Austria, 2003 (group)
DeLeon White Gallery, Toronto, Canada, 1997 (solo)
Forte – Pianofabriek, Brussels, Belgium, 1997 (solo)
La Genie de Bastille, Paris, France, 1993 (solo)
Cher Gallery, Tobacco Docks, Docklands, London, UK, 1991(solo)
Winsor-Betts Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, 1989 (solo)
La Mama‘s La Galeria‘, NY, NY, USA, 1989 (solo)
Cavendish Square, Cape Town, SA, 1987 (solo)

Awards and Patronages (selection)

EU Kaleidoscope Program
ECF (European Cultural foundation)
Apex changes
Mondriaan foundation
Napa/Katuak, Greenland, research grant
Soros funds (Serbia and Hungary)
UNESCO (Paris)



It’s the most beautiful day, today


Art, architecture, science

Living in climate change

understanding polliniferoused 01

understanding polliniferoused 02