Turba Tol
Turba Tol
Turba Tol

Chilean Pavilion
Biennale Arte 2022
04/23 - 11/27

HOL-HOL TOL in the Selk'nam language is the "heart of the peatlands.”

Peatlands are in urgent need of conservation. All over this increasingly hot and arid world, these wetlands are imperiled. Their conservation is intrinsically linked to the future wellbeing of humankind and, in Patagonia, to the rebirth of the Selk'nam people. Peat bogs are clamoring to be represented as a living body, as the Selk'nam people are also clamoring to be recognized as a living culture. Together, we are claiming a society of mutual care: peatlands and bog people are indivisible.


What are peatlands?

South America’s peatland marshes represent approximately 11% of the world’s peat reservoirs. They are largely intact and therefore have significant carbon-trapping potential, being situated in sparsely populated areas such as Patagonia.

Peatlands in Chilean Patagonia, for example, contain approximately 4,800 million tons of carbon accumulated over ~18,000 years, which represents ~4.7 more carbon than the air biomass of the entire country’s forests. Peatlands in Argentina complement and expand these numbers, especially in Tierra del Fuego, which (according to existing data) contains 95% of this country’s peatlands, concentrated on the eastern side of the island. In both Argentina and Chile, these peatlands provide water services that are critical at a local level and are substantial contributions for mitigating climate change. At a local scale, peatlands represent massive water reserves and play a fundamental role in maintaining these basins’ hydrological cycles, in addition to being a habitat for diverse species of animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms.


Selk'nam Culture

The Selk’nam people lived for over ten thousand years on Tierra del Fuego’s Isla Grande, located at the south of the planet. People’s existence there was due to the balance and harmony with which they coexisted with nature and their surroundings.

The Selk’nam were migrating hunter-gatherers. They were divided into harowen, or family clans, and they maintained an egalitarian social organization with defined roles. There was no chief or leader of the clan, rather, the respected figures were those of the xo’on, or doctor and the elderly.


An Eco-Æsthetics

Less representations than resonances.
Echoes passed along
as vibrating rumors
of bodies engaged
in ancient and new conversations.
We sway to make room
for what has already been here
attentive to what they express.

Maybe feel this image to see it:
a room full of echoes, dripping with traces
from times combined
waters meet waters
shiver together
with muddy thoughts and perceptions
weaving threads futurepast
right where the apparently small unfurl their depths.
Do you notice the moss?

Creative processes

Ensayos’ Patagonian peatland research began some years before TurbaTol Hol-Hol Tol was conceived, but once the project was officially selected to represent Chile at the 59th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia it took on a life of its own—inspired by the Ensayos platform and informed by new participants and visions.


Smell the Peatlands

From our limited verticality and perception, we can usually only experience a fragment of peatlands from their watery surface. The bogs and fens of Australia, North America, and Norway are diverse in their ecologies, cultural meanings, and conservation status. They were sites of inquiry, connection, and meditation during Ensayos residencies with artists, indigenous activists, and scientists. As a result of this creative fieldwork, three international Ensayos “pods” conjured gifts of scent from their local peatlands to contribute to the multisensory experience of Turba Tol Hol-Hol Tol.



SphagnumLAB is a functional scientific experiment within Turba Tol Hol-Hol Tol that builds on research undertaken at the Greifswald Mire Centre (GMC), the world’s leading peatland research institution.


Peat Force

We are the Peat Force,

We are the bodies that lovingly step on the peatlands in Tierra del Fuego and now travel with conviction to gossip about interspecies care and romances. Our mission within Turba Tol Hol-Hol Tol is to narrate a story of ecological intimacies.

We are holistic wardens; like the wind, we push forward insinuations from the ancestral to the natural. In the name of peat, we will be a multilingual ritual to convene subterranean, damp, and sensitive sensations.


Carbon consciousness

Eco-cultural research into peatlands inevitably leads to the study of carbon cycles and to a careful reflection on our own carbon footprint.


The Venice Agreement

The Venice Agreement - signed during a historic assembly on June 2, 2022 - represents a commitment by peatland custodians from around the world to change the trajectory of the ecological and cultural management of these wetland ecosystems towards effective conservation. By taking a bottom-up approach that recognizes local initiatives as key collaborators in the international process of peatland conservation, The Venice Agreement sets a new standard for the valuation and practice of protecting and restoring our planet’s peatlands at the local level.


Turba Tol Hol-Hol the Book

Turba Tol Hol-Hol the book is a compendium of the extensive eco-cultural thought of Latin American authors who center their attention on struggles, ways of doing, and experiences of care from the South.