The Countryside of the Future

27 September – 5 October

Kazimir Malevich, Girls in a Field (1928-1929)

Cities. More than half of the world’s population currently lives in them. Since a decade or so, the influential urbanist and starchitect Rem Koolhaas regularly looks over his shoulder and turns around to study the countryside. What do the humans massively flocking to cities leave behind?

The abandonment and longtime political neglect of the countryside contrast with the nostalgic bio-imagery you can find all over the supermarket. The consumerist time travel machine shoots the urbanite back into a delusional past. Which multifaceted present lurks behind the representations of the rural? There is the great greyzone mingling the urban and the countryside; there are the ghost towns undone from their social infrastructure, the hotspots for old-globalist tourism and the neocolonial land grabs of big agrobusiness, erasing the wilderness.

The modern locus of the imagination of the future was the city. How can we move beyond the still persistent political divide between urban ‘progressives’ and rural ‘conservatives’ and imagine possible ways to (re-)inhabit the countryside? Should we do without large scale management, without a further digitization and automation of agriculture? What to learn from the low-tech eco villages mushrooming in the wake of a climate breakdown? Which opportunities for rewilding appear with human withdrawal?

To imagine possible future countrysides, an exploration of aesthetics on the borders between nature, culture and the wild, innovations and eroding traditions, beyond nostalgia and with the toxic and the impure is key.

The Countryside of the Future aims to kickstart a regionally rooted reflection around these issues at MASSIA, itself an abandoned school in the Estonian countryside turned into a platform for radical change. In the course of eight days, we will research and speculate together, drawing inspiration from Skype-conversations with architect and researcher Samir Bantal (Office for Metropolitan Architecture/OMA), artist Luigi Coppola (Casa Delle Agriculture), scientist Ülo Mander (Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, Tartu University), a.o., late night screenings of Soviet countryside-movies, early walks & talks hosted by Massiaru residents, a discussion with Extinction Rebellion Estonia, collective readings of poetry by Galina Rymbu, texts by Rem Koolhaas, stories by Octavia Butler, theories by Andreas Mälm, a.o., – not to forget collective writing, making and gardening. Participants are invited to share their own references, materials and practices.

Curated by Rydra Wong & Sébastien Hendrickx

Think before you fly: if it is doable in terms of finances and time to travel by car, train and/or bus to MASSIA, thank you for considering one of these options.


Practical information.
The working group will meet at MASSIA. The program starts on 28th and runs until the 5th of October. 27th of September will be for arrivals. You can join at any moment, stay longer or leave earlier.

Cooking will be collectively organised and cost around 8 euro pp/pd.

MASSIA is an independent self-organised space: To stay you must become a member for 12 euros (valid for 12 months). Accommodation costs 10 euro/night per person, if staying more than 4 nights. If staying under 5 nights the price is 11 euro/night per person). If you’d like to join please send an email with your dates: