IN CONTEMPORARY ART
Ist International Symposium
December 1, 2016
Meier Auditorium (MACBA, Plaça Joan Coromines, Barcelona)
ART AND ECOLOGY IN TIMES OF DEVIANT DEMOCRACY
Keynote: Maja & Reuben Fowkes (Translocal Institute, Budapest)
Maja and Reuben Fowkes are curators, art historians and co-directors of the Translocal Institute for Contemporary Art, a centre for transnational research into East European art and ecology based in Budapest that operates across the disciplinary boundaries of art history, contemporary art and ecological thought. Their work has focused on the theory and aesthetics of East European art from the art production of the socialist era to contemporary artistic practices, while their interests within the field of art and ecology have entailed investigation of environmental art history under socialism, visual cultures of the Anthropocene, the position of art within the environmental humanities, and the intersections of contemporary art with plants, animals, rewilding, the biosphere and beyond-human anthropology.
They hold PhDs from University College London and Essex University respectively, and work on the art history of Eastern Europe since 1945, environmental art history, as well as contemporary art and ecological thought. Recent publications include MajaFowkes’sThe Green Bloc: Neo-Avantgarde Art and Ecology under Socialism (CEU Press, 2015) and River Ecologies: Contemporary Art and Environmental Humanities on the Danube (Translocal Institute, 2015). Reuben Fowkes is an editor of Third Text, and currently preparing a special issue on East European art of the 1960s and 70s. Their forthcoming contributions include a chapter on alternative art of the 1980s in Eastern Europe for the Afterall Exhibition Histories series and a journal article on the Danube and contemporary art for Geo-Humanities. Their curatorial projects include the Experimental Reading Room (2014-6), the River School (2013-15) and the exhibition Walking without Footprints (2016). They are currently visiting lecturers at Central European University where they teach a course on Visual Cultures of the Anthropocene for the Environmental Humanities Initiative.
NEW ENCOUNTERS WITH TIME AND TEMPORALITY
Keynote: Anna Maria Hällgreen (Stockholm University)
Within contemporary art today, several artists experiment with anthropocentric notions of time. By stretching time, reversing it or by speeding it up, artists such as Daniel Crooks, Adriane Wachholtz or Michael Weasley creates new encounters with time and temporality. How could these experiments be understood?
Recently, the concept of the Anthropocene has inspired many scholars and scientists to rethink notions of time and temporality. If we choose to recognize human dependency on, and agency within, geological processes; if we de-center her and recognize the agency of non-human matter as well, then we also need a somewhat more flexible understanding of time and temporality. The artists who experiment with anthropocentric notions of time offer us precisely that.
Anna-Maria Hällgren (1983) holds a PhD in Art History and is currently a post doctorial researcher at Stockholm University, Sweden. In her ongoing project, “Unfolding the velocity of time: Experiments with the Anthropocentric notion of time”, she explores how dominating notions of time are being rethought and redone within contemporary art today. She has previous been working as a lecturer at the University of Stockholm, the University of Uppsala and at Södertörn University, specialized in visual studies, urban culture and media studies.
As a visual artist, she is also exploring the connections between academic research and artistic practice, most recently as an artist in residence at Zentrum für Kultur und Urbanistik in Berlin, Germany. Her artistic production involves diverse formats such as sculpture, drawing and trans-disciplinary mediums and touches upon questions about knowledge, memory and the notion of truth.
ANECDOTES OF A LIFE AND APHORISMS OF THOUGHT
Keynote: Mitra Azar (Artist)
While studying philosophy and cinema, I came to realize how my need for expression was not fully satisfied by a rigorous philosophical approach, but that it needed something closer to where concepts had originally arisen from, something able to reduce the gap between thoughts and actions. Deleuze’s Nietzschean-rooted reflection on how “the anecdotes of a life [become] the aphorisms of thought” (Deleuze, 1962), suggested me the possibility of approaching that gap, while his way of looking at artists and filmmakers as philosophers did the rest.
The idea of border as fluid, flexible, amorphous entity and the political role of artistic expression within the frame of an aesthetic of crisis and of mass events have been until now the framework of my practice based research. Since almost ten years, I’ve been living as a nomade and I’ve been building an archive of site-specific works in some of the most controversial areas of the Planet, in the context of social, cultural and ecological struggles, mainly through the lens of visual anthropology, art, and media philosophy. In the context of MECA conference, I would like to address the core process of my practice, which is the transformation of a philosophical position into a ‘life form’ (Agamben, 2000), of a ‘life form’ into a creative practice, and of a creative practice into artistic research. This circuit will be associated with concepts such as nomadism (Deleuze, 1987) and schizo-creativity (Guattari, 1992), and put in dialogue with a personal performative approach towards philosophy which aims at rethinking the relational fabric of both creative practice and identity, and which is breaking with the white-box formalization of the Duchampian revolutionary gesture of bringing non- art into the realm of art. Moreover, the anti-platonic working method which I refer to as ‘concepts mining’ adopted in the development of my works will be investigated in relation to the neologism ‘ARThropology’ and ‘ARThropocene’ I propose to address my research methodology at large.The explanations of the theoretical knots outlined in the proposal will be addressed through the screenings of samples from my long term research project about borders, with a special focus on the works where the inquiry about borders overlaps with socio- ecological struggles.
Mitra Azar is an eclectic schizo-nomadic video-squotter and ARTthropologist with a background in aesthetic philosophy. Mitra admits to be haunted by images and by the relational-performative-philosophical aspect of engaging with them.The idea of border as fluid, flexible, amorphous entity and the political role of art and digital technologies within the frame of an aesthetic of crisis and of mass events have been the framework of his practice based research. Since almost 10 years Mitra has been living as a nomad and has been building an archive of site specific works in some of the most controversial areas of the planet, in the context of socio-political, cultural and ecological struggles, mainly through the lens of visual anthropology, art, and media philosophy. The materials of his research have been exhibited worldwide as single pieces or in the frame of live cinema performances.
ART, INFORMATION FLOWS & CO2
Keynote: Joana Moll (Hangar – VIT / VIC)
CO2GLE  and DEFOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOREST  are two net based pieces that speculate on the material impact of the Internet on the ecosystems. While CO2GLE displays the amount of CO2 generated by the global visits to google.com every second, DEFOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOREST shows the number of trees needed to absorb the amount of CO2 derived from the overall visits to the search engine per second.
This project has been created with the aim to explore visual strategies able to trigger thoughts and actions capable to highlight the invisible connections between actions and consequences when using digital communication technologies.
Although it is intensively engaged in the logic of networks, the networked society has so far failed to transpose the logic of networking into daily life. We lazily assume that “everything is connected”, but in fact we must remember that “everything is not connected”, as Graham Harman stated. While humans are becoming increasingly machinelike and dependent on data, the connection between humans and their life giving natural habitats, is hastily fading away. We seem to have withdrawn into a machinic vacuum of reality which blinds us to the complexities of the world. Therefore, it is necessary to continuously trace the connections that exist between things in order to acquire a complex understanding of the world.
Google.com is the most visited site on the Internet. The site has an average of 52.000 visits per second  and weights around 2MB, resulting into an estimated amount of 500kg of CO2 emissions every second . On average a tree can absorb 21,77kg of CO2 per year . Thus, in order to counteract the amount of CO2 emissions derived by the global visits to google.com, every second, we would need an approximate amount of 23 trees/second.
The actual configuration of technology reinforces cultural dynamics (rituals) that stress disconnectedness. In our contemporary algorithmic decision-making society, ecosystems are being increasingly considered as mere economic externalities. How can we rearticulate our relationship with the world if we are unable to see the actual impact of our actions in the concrete world? What can be the role of media art in the reinforcement of such process? What fundamental shifts need to occur in the sphere of art in order to reveal the connections between actions and consequences, especially when those actions are mediated by technology? I believe it is crucial to set the environment as a main political agent within the networked society art discourse and to create mechanisms that might stimulate and re-appropriate subjectivity, an essential process in the generation of critical thought about the true nature of technology, and in the imagination of alternative techno-paradigms which may coherently respond to our environmental and human conditions.
Keywords: Internet, Google, Anthropocene, CO2.
Joana Moll is an artist and researcher. Her work critically explores the way post-capitalist narratives affect the alphabetization of machines, humans and ecosystems. Her main research topics include communication technologies and CO2 emissions, virtual civil surveillance and language. She has presented her work in several venues and publications around the world. Furthermore, she is a member of the transdisciplinary research project Antiatlas des Frontières and co-founder of The Institute for the Advancement of popular automatisms. She has collaborated with several art-science research projects at IMÉRA, Aix-Marseille Université and Universitat Pompeu Fabra amongst others. Currently she is a researcher in residence at HANGAR and a visiting lecturer at VIT lab in Vic, Barcelona.
MONISM, IMMANENCE AND BIOHACKING. HACKING DUALISTIC VIOLENCE
Keynote: Laura Benítez (EINA, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
Monism, Immanence and Biohacking. Hacking dualistic violence, proposes to develop a research on the potentia of Monism, in terms of Spinoza, applied to biohacking practices. Some biohacking proposal confront us to evaluate the relations between Science(s), Art(s), (bio)Ethics, (bio)Politics and Society(ies), developing new approaches, methods and methodologies for research, from the interaction between artistic practices and biology in an academic and non-academic context.
The aim of this proposal is to work in common on the possibilities of connecting with the others, from a posthuman condition perspective, but specifically related to post-anthropocentrism. Biomaterials let us to re-think “traditional” dualisms, but artworks or artistic projects give us the chance to re-think the dualisms giving special attention to matter, giving a special attention to the process of materialization. Monism, Immanence and Biohacking. Hacking dualistic violence is a proposal to work on the following questions: How are (bio)technological artifacts embodied, transformed, assimilated and appropriated in biohacking practices? How to introduce desire into thought, into discourse, into action? Is possible to decolonize Hegemonic Narratives on Identity, Aesthetic Categories and Art History(ies) hacking biomaterials and artifacts? How to develop action, thought and desires by proliferation, juxtaposition and disjunction and not by subdivision and pyramidal hierarchization? How matters comes to constitutive matter in the nature-culture continuum through bio-mediation? Can we consider that a renewed agency could be an extended and distributed agency? A sort of Spinozean-Deleuzian agency, distributed but not suspended? An agency that belongs to the amount of others that compound the non-unitarian post-anthropocentric subjectivity?
Laura Benítez Valero is member of the teaching staff of EHEA Official Master’s: Research Master in Art and Design (EINA), researcher and independent curator based in Barcelona. She holds a PhD in Philosophy, specialised in Bioart. Over the past six years she has worked as a teaching fellow and researcher, being a member of various R & D projects. She has collaborated with HANGAR in the document of the Protocol for Interdisciplinary Research. Currently she is developing a research project on bio-resistance, and has curated a seminar entitled Bio-resistance, Transversality and Emancipation on contestational practises and bio-hacking (MACBA, December 2015). Recently she has conducted the course Bioart. The Human Condition in the Contemporary Art as part of public programs of +HUMANS exhibition (CCCB 2016). Her research is focused on disturbances, contestational practices and theories, where Ethics, Identity, Gender, Subjectivity or Politics, are understood as not pre-determined but always changing and unfolding.
EMBODYING SUSTAINABILITY: INSIGHTS AND REFLECTIONS FROM EMPIRICAL EXPERIENCE
Keynote: María Heras (ICTA, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
In face of the challenges posed by the Anthropocene, participatory sustainability science emerges as a transdisciplinary strategic scientific approach linking multiple sources of knowledge with action in specific contexts to foster learning processes and transitions towards sustainability. Processes of social learning leading to the transformation of social-ecological interactions emerge, thus, as a crucial requirement to navigate transitions towards sustainability (Kates et al. 2001, Blackstock et al. 2007, Jäger 2011). Such learning processes include, among others, the recognition, articulation and negotiation of the diverse identities, perspectives, values and interests that configure both sustainability problems and pathways towards more sustainable futures. In this regard, sustainability needs to be understood as a performative concept: it becomes alive in specific performance, as a dynamic and evolving system property emerging from specific social-ecological practices (Robinson 2008, O’Shea 2012).
The arts play an essential role in transforming human consciousness by refining the senses –as the primary resource through which the qualitative environment is experienced, and enlarging the imagination –the key to reinventing and projecting ourselves in the future (Eisner 2002). It is, thus, not surprising to witness the emergence in recent years of diverse arts-sciences hybrid experiences, contributing to the creation of ‘blurred genres’ in academia which seek to co-produce accessible and meaningful research for diverse audiences beyond academic peers (Cahnmann-Taylor 2008). Through this talk, I would like to introduce insights and reflections related to two very different art-based research experiences merging performance and action research.
In the first one, we facilitated a participatory process with young people living within a Biosphere Reserve, through which visions of future and future scenarios were performed and enacted. By bringing to life different futures, visions of future were connected to collective meaning and embodied action, allowing us to move away from the conventional understanding of scenario-making by exploring the question of ‘what role can I play in this future?’. The second experience is the creation of The Bond You Hold, a physical theatre performance overlaid with pattern projections and music embodying the dynamic relation between climate and humans, in a world beyond 2oC warming. The Bond You Hold is the result of a compound process that integrated cutting-edge climate change knowledge through a knitted series of collaborations with an international group of climate and social scientists within the EU-funded project Impressions, leading to the development of a multi-sensorial physical theatre performance.
María Heras is a sustainability researcher at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB) and a participatory theatre practitioner. She holds a PhD in Environmental Sciences and Technology, through which she explored the potential of participatory theatre for sustainability transformations and research. Her research interests focus on social learning, participatory action-research methods and the potentials of Art/Science hybrid experiences for transdisciplinary dialogues and sustainability transformations. She has also research experience on the fields of food sovereignty and the agro-industrial food system conflict, sustainable consumption and lifestyle changes towards more sustainable futures. As a theatre practitioner, she’s been trained in the techniques of Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, social theatre, experimental theatre, poetic body and corporeal mime. She is currently working in the PERFORM H2020 research project exploring the impact of participatory educational processes based in performing arts in students’ learning about and engagement in science. She is also actress and coordinator of the theatre company Projecta Teatre Social (Barcelona, Spain), since 2008.
HOW TO DEAL WITH TOXIC LIVES?
Keynote: Aleksandra Jach (Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, University of Warsaw)
In reflecting on environmental problems, one of the difficulties is to draw a line between healthy or acceptable conditions and toxic or polluted. How to measure the scale and quality of changes which happen on a global and local level? How to situate individual, subjective testimonies and affect within collective narrations or those which are imposed by the state or even, more often, – by corporations?
In this context it is worth asking about toxicity discourse, the product of postindustrial imagination and environmental apocalypticism (Lawrence Buell), which survived the Cold War and evolved in the „risk society” (Ulrich Beck). What does it mean to fight for toxic consciousness for well-educated, mostly white middle-class and how is it different from the perspective of underprivileged groups? There are often common definitions of environmental problems, but also a lot of moments that can generate social tensions (for example, part of the debate around air pollution in Poland makes poor people guilty of burning trash for heat), an issue elaborated brilliantly by Rob Nixon in his concept of „slow violence”.
In the „Invisible Toxicities” project, which I am curating with Irma Allen (KTH Stockholm), we would like to re-think how curatorial, artistic, anthropological practices, help us to think in more complex (material-discursive) ways about the environment and post-humanity. Haraway’s approach „staying with the trouble” does not allow us to take easy moral positions nor patronize others about environmental dangers. That is why we draw on posthumanism, environmental history and political ecology simultaneously. We are interested in narrations and figures that practice critical and feminist environmental data visualization (Catherine d’Ignazio), problematize ideologies of wellness (Institute for New Feeling), shift resource-related debates from a market driven domain to open platforms for engaged public discourse (The World of Matter), and pull out environmental diseases from medical discourse to re-think it as a production of subjectivities (Kate Brown, Nina Lykke, Felix Guattari).
The word “toxicity” is very often abused in the context of modern, over-hygienic life, but at the same time, it is difficult to imagine many environmental actions which are not using the term, trying to show that the limit of pollution has been crossed and lives are in danger. Toxicity, read through visualized statistics, medical anthropology, new materialism, is always in trouble, somewhere between what is considered as objective and subjective, individual or collective, local and global. How to deal with toxic lives then, if they are different than ours, they are far or organised according to rules we don’t understand or accept? Can art deal with it?
Aleksandra Jach works as a curator at Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź. She is also PhD candidate in Environmental Humanities at University of Warsaw. Recent exhibition projects include “Cleaning Carpet” (with Maciej Cholewiński, 2011); “Construction in Process 1981: A Community That Came?” (with Anna Saciuk-Gąsowska, 2011); “Eyes Looking for a Head to Inhabit” (with Katarzyna Słoboda, Joanna Sokołowska, and Magdalena Ziółkowska, 2011); “Testing (re)production” (with Katarzyna Słoboda, Magdalena Ziółkowska, 2013); “Labour in a Single Shot: A Project by Antje Ehmann and Harun Farocki” (with Joanna Sokołowska, 2013); “If Only the Eyes Could Lie,” Krakow International Festival of Theatrical Reminiscences, 2013; “Apple. An Introduction. (Over and over again): Antje Majewski, Paweł Freisler and Fundacja Transformacja, feat. Jimmie Durham, Grzegorz Hodun, Kooperatywa Spożywcza w Łodzi, Miejskie Darcie Pierza, Agnieszka Polska, Piotr Życieński” (with Joanna Sokołowska, 2014); “Avant-garde and Socrealism” (with Marta Olejniczak, Piotr Olkusz); and “Everything Is Connected to Everything Else,” Festival of Literary Translators in Gdańsk (2015).
LIKE A ROLLING STONE. TRACES AND TRANSMUTATIONS OF THE MINERAL IN ARTISTIC PRACTICES
Keynote: Marta Dahó (University of Barcelona)
Over recent decades, the attention paid to geology and the mineral world has grown exponentially in the field of artistic research. From Robert Smithson’s rundowns to the nitrate routes addressed by Xavier Ribas or the roadblocks photographed in the West Bank by Sophie Ristelhueber, stone, in all its materiality, acquires a new prominence in most recent projects characterised by a wide range of approaches. Dealing with the need to create a map of circumstances that will help us consider what, in terms of research, is traced by this increasing resource to the mineral and, more specifically, the visualisation of its transformations and fluxes, in this article we intend to examine the epistemological approaches that have prevailed in this visualisation, focusing on three specific recently made works: Geografías del cobre (2010-2015), by Ignacio Acosta, Tudela (2014), by Jorge Yeregui, and Symptom (2013), by Regina de Miguel. The cross-analysis of these three works and their research processes weaves a fabric of intersections sufficiently meaningful for us to reconsider the representational parameters that announce them, as well as our disorientation as viewers.
If the key reference in Geografías del cobre and Symptom derives from the transformation of metal from its mineral origin and the extractive industry to its multiple uses in communication technologies, its global scale and the traces it has left in territorial, social and psychological ecology, Jorge Yeregui’s work challenges the consequences of an instance of ‘artificial renaturation’ as a paradigmatic example of what needs to be addressed in order to consider the destructive effects of mass building, as well as the contradictions and tensions generated regarding the philosophy behind landscape projects imposed by dubious greenwashing policies.
Marta Dahó (Milan, Italy, 1969) is freelance curator, researcher and teacher of History of Photography. BA in History of Art from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (1995) and MA in Advanced Studies in Art History from Universitat de Barcelona (2012). Marta Dahó is currently working on her PhD thesis, a study of photographic practices related to the visibility and understanding of territory. She is an associate researcher at the Universitat de Barcelona Art Globalization and Interculturality (AGI) research group.
Since 1995 she has curated a significant number of exhibitions and editorial projects for internationally renowned institutions. As a freelance curator, she has worked on a large retrospective of Stephen Shore’s work for the Mapfre Foundation in 2014 (http://exposiciones.fundacionmapfre.org/stephenshore/es/), and the Graciela Iturbide retrospective (http://exposiciones.fundacionmapfre.org/gracielaiturbide/) in 2009, both widely toured in prestigious museums in Europe and Latinoamerica (Fotomuseum Winterthur, C/O Berlin, Huis Marseille, Pinacoteca São Paulo, the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico. Other curatorial projects also developed in the last years are Agroperifèrics (Centro Huarte), or proposals for festivals such as An Idea of Europe (FotoFreo, Australia), Talent Latent ’08 for Scan (Tarragona, Spain), Joy ¿? Joy. Spanish Contemporary Photography for the Festival di Fotografia di Roma.
ONTO/AESTHICS OF TRANS/MUTATION. EMBRYO-METALLIC POTENTIALITIES IN ART-WORKS OF ALINA SZAPOCZNIKOW, MAREK KONIECZNY AND JERZY LUDWIŃSKI
Keynote: Radek Przedpelski (Trinity College, Dublin)
The present paper seeks to trace a novel aesthetics of bodily, cellular and ecological transmutation in works of the Polish artists whose practices span three decades of Polish art, from the 1960s to the 1980s.
My argument is that artists as diverse as the sculptress Alina Szapocznikow, the neo-avant-garde artist Marek Konieczny and the creator of diagrams of art’s ontogenetic forces Jerzy Ludwiński, all put forward a vision of art as a non-representational ecology of material forcefields and their affects. Szapocznikow’s reduplicating tumorous provisional organs cast in bronze, polyurethane and resin, Konieczny’s metallic prostheses, flickering screens and vast expanses of metallic bas-reliefs, Ludwinski’s vectors of imperceptible eruptions and scattering art multiplicities—all those practices express Riegl’s Kunstwollen that crystallises around a resonant tensile surface filled with metastable zones of potential. The presentation will in this respect draw on the Deleuzo-Baerian understanding of communication between heterogeneous series as an embryonic life that can sustain torsions unlivable for fully formed organisms, ‘the augmentation of free surfaces, stretching of cellular layers, invagination by folding, regional displacement of groups’ (Deleuze 1994: 214).
Furthermore, contrary to the Polish tradition of Critical Art that advocates a type of art that conveys an explicitly political message and deconstructive critique of the state ideology, the present paper accords the practices in question the potent ethical and political force of resistance to the dominant state-sponsored communist ideology of Scientific-Technical Revolution (STR). It will be argued that art-works of Szapocznikow, Konieczny and Rogiński articulate what might be termed here an ‘ontogenetic aesthetics’. Such non-figurative strategies counter STR’s unitary vision of the communist future and its quantative universes of prefabrication by operating on the level of what might be called, after Erin Manning ‘minor gesture’, or, after Klara Kemp-Welch, ‘anti-politics’.
Works Cited: Deleuze, Gilles. (1994) Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton, NY: Columbia University Press.
Radek Przedpelski is a final-year PhD student in Digital Arts and Humanities at Trinity College Dublin. Together with Prof. Steve Wilmer he organised a hugely successful conference on Deleuze and art. Radek’s doctoral research probes onto-aesthetic thresholds of emergence, rhizomatic multiplicities and nonhuman mutations in neo-avant-garde practices of the 1970s via the process-oriented philosophies of Deleuze, Guattari, Simondon, Spinoza, Bergson, the seventeenth-century Polish Baroque and prehistoric artists of the Great Steppe. The key research question formulated in his PhD dissertation titled “Becoming-Sarmatian, Becoming-Steppe. Deleuzoguattarian Multiplicities | Thresholds | Potentialities and the Art-work of Marek Konieczny” is how we can articulate a politics of art and unleash its potential for metamorphosis. Radek holds an MA in Digital Media from DIT, where he specialised in Sound Design, as well an MA degree in Anglophone Literature and Culture from Nicolas Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland, where he specialized in Critical Theory. He is a freelance photographer and sound artist. His other research interests include aesthetics of inhumanism, metabolic germinal life and metallic vitalism in contemporary art practices, as well as (in) the Polish-Jewish avant-blues and the Lipka-Tatar rubaiyyat.
THE CHTHULU’S CALL: ART OF AFFECTIONS AND EVERYDAY POLITICS AFTER THE CHTHULUCENE MANIFESTO FROM SANTA CRUZ
Keynote: Helena Torres (Researcher)
In her last manifesto, Donna Haraway sends us a new call for action. From a point of view that understands the Earth as Gaia, close to Stenger’s perspective, Haraway unfolds a cosmopolitical proposal that affirms the need of multispecies entanglements for a continuity of life in the planet (and when she means life she is not talking about human lives only) in a temporality that is a past, a present and a time yet to come. From there, the Chthulucene Manifesto talks about human response/ability and a myriad of tentacular powers that “surge through all that are terra” in a destructive and at the same time generative action. These, as she calls them, chthonic powers call for different kinds of relationalities that do not practise double death for a living.
From this perspective, I propose taking the figure of the Idiot (borrowed from Stengers who borrowed from Deleuze who borrowed from Dostoyevsky), that character who asks us to slow down, even in these times of urgency, specially in these periods of upheaval and procrastination, of quick and short time decisions, not because he thinks we are wrong, but because he knows that “there is something more important” and also that we do not “possess the meaning of what we know”.
With the idiot figure in mind, I will ask questions around everyday politics and ways of affections, trying to draw other kinds of relationalities, proposing affective practices as a form of art. Through figures and stories, I suggest to understand love as a practice of interest (what is in between, what is important) and relationality as an art whose tools are collaboration and tuning (subjects that build each other mutually by being together) and not empathy (the squatting of the other).
Trabajo desde puntos de vista queer y decoloniales en la articulación entre lenguaje, arte y política. Estudié ciencias políticas en Argentina, hice un máster en cooperación y desarrollo en la UB y el doctorado en sociología en la UAB, a partir del cual obtuve un máster en investigación, habiendo presentado la tesina sobre un marco teórico basado en la figura del cyborg para entender la exclusión social de mujeres con diversidad funcional. Entre 2000 y 2005 trabajé como investigadora en el Departamento de Psicología Social de la UAB, y entre 2005 y 2009 coordiné proyectos socioeducativos con jóvenes y adolescentes basados en la utilización del arte y las nuevas tecnologías como herramientas de auto-construcción identitaria.
He traducido al castellano el Testigo_Modesto@Segundo_Milenio (D. Haraway, Ed. UOC, 2004) y el Manifiesto Chthuluceno (Laboratory Planet, 2016), y he coordinado diversos seminarios de postgrado sobre Haraway y Vinciane Despret.
Mi trabajo está profundamente inspirado en la figura del ciborg, a partir de la cual he desarrollado indicadores de exclusión social; narrativas espaciales, que son relatos sonoros localizados que se escuchan mientras recorremos el espacio (Serendipia, Laboral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, 2012; “Camino de ArtropoCode” Summerlab ArtropoCode, 2013); y un juego de rol e interacciones urbanas (Palimpsesto, residencia Art i Territori/Cal Gras, 2014).
Trabajo en el ámbito de la edición y la escritura (Autopsia de una Langosta, Melusina, 2009; Relatos marranos. Pol·len, 2014 ; Ciutat Morta. Crónica del caso 4F, 2016) y he realizado diversos talleres de escritura creativa y de ciencia ficción feminista. Actualmente coordino un grupo de lectura con artistas, activistas y pensadoras alrededor del Manifiesto Chthuluceno, con el fin de impulsar descendencias colectivas bastardas, la primera de las cuales será una performance en los encuentros Bandits-Mages/2016, Bourges.
CLOUD ECOLOGIES: WEATHER, POLLUTION, TIME AND DATA
Keynote: Fiona Curran (Royal College of Art, London)
Craigie Horsfield’s 2008 tapestries, Above the road east toward Taibique, El Hierro, 15 minutes and 16 minutes 25 seconds, February 2002, re-present two woven images of clouds taken from film stills. El Hierro is the smallest and most Western of the Canary Islands and sits at what was once known as the “edge of the world” between Europe, Africa and the Americas. Prior to the 1884 shift of the prime meridian line to Greenwich in London it was the southern tip of El Hierro that marked the zero line of longitude on the map, the point from which the Europeans crossed frontiers to navigate their ships on to the ‘new’ world. This paper will consider the mutating ecologies of the cloud as it slips between references to the weather, pollution, time and data.
Clouds drift. From the old world frontiers of El Hierro to the new frontiers of the technosphere, reaching out into ‘open’ space is shown to be a powerful imaginary that seeks to obscure how “offensives are connected back to the source after a certain processing time”(Sloterdijk, 2014, 11). This “processing time” is now being coded in more explicitly geological terms as a consequence of theories of the Anthropocene. The Earth and the atmosphere have a memory. Behind the informatic clouds accessed at the touch of a screen lies a world of material traces, social and environmental consequences and slow violence, from networks of cables to server farms, orbiting satellites, rare earth mineral mining, factory assembly lines and mountains of toxic e-waste. The cloud’s ecology mutates becoming natural and artificial, located and dispersed, material and immaterial.
Peter Sloterdijk, In The World Interior of Capital, Trans. Wieland Hoban, (Cambridge: Polity, 2014)
Fiona Curran is an artist based in London and a Senior Tutor in the School of Material at the Royal College of Art, she is currently completing a PhD at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL titled: “Towards a Fractured Topography of the Present: Art, Ecology and The Political Economy of Speed.” Fiona’s work explores the poetics, politics, and materialities of landscape space across the making of objects for exhibition, site-related installation, writing and teaching. Fiona has exhibited her work widely in the UK and Internationally. Recent commissions include: The grass seemed darker than ever, for Kielder Forest in Northumberland, UK; An accident looking for somewhere to happen, for Art Across the City in Swansea, UK and This time next year things are going to be different for The Tatton Park Biennial, UK. Recent exhibitions include No Matter, New Matter, Ed.Varie, New York; Promise of Palm Trees, Breese Little, London; Beach Fatigue, Carslaw St* Lukes, London; Situation, RMIT, Melbourne; Detail, H Projects, Bangkok and Riff, Baltic39, Newcastle.
Keynote: Christine Mackey (Artist)
Seed Matter (2010-2013) developed as a series of evolving art-works and exhibitions that culminated as a publication, which took at the core of its research the politics of seeds. The project investigated through four significant developments in the way in which plants are regarded and researched socially and culturally; namely human-plant geographies, critical plant studies, cultural botany and environmental change.
Key to this research is the relationships among peoples perception of seeds, and their contemporary and historical role in society. Under consideration is how artists respond to the idea of vegetal beings with social efficacy that underlines an ethical friction between aesthetics and environmental activism. The material generated during this project aimed to expand new directions in my art practice based on the ‘agency of seeds’ and the entangled narratives and often antagonistic relationships between human and non-human relations. The development of the work stemmed from recorded conversations and interviews, photographic reportage, international and national archival research that included a research visit to the Svaldbard Seed Bank. I actively invited and developed contact with a range of participants from different backgrounds (Seed Ambassadors Sarah Kleegar and Andrew Still who had visited the Vavilov Research Institute in Russia – the oldest living seed bank in the world, and Sanaa – Al Sheick from the Iraqi Seed Bank.), which involved carefully orchestrated and recorded conversations around such issues as plant hunting, allotments, indigenous agricultural practices relative to national and international concerns with regards too environmental issues, land-use, and plant resources. It was my intention to make visible complex exchanges in an attempt to connect common matters of concern across diverse disciplines through our universal attachment to plants as a source of energy and from which all life begins.
Christine Mackey employs a diverse range of creative disciplines, subject matter and tactics to explore the interactive potential of art as a research and pedagogical tool that informs social and environmental change. She has participated on a range of international and national residency/exhibition programmes including: As Above So Below, ACA, Allenheads/MigAA, Berlin; Delfina Foundation, London; Agora Collective, Berlin and Utopiana Genève, Switzerland (2015). Recent solo exhibitions include Provisional AC Institute, New York (2015) and SEED MATTER, Limerick City Gallery of Art (2013). Group exhibitions include Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris; Delfina Foundation, London; and Oriel Myrddin Gallery, Wales (2015). Mackey has been in receipt of Individual Artists Bursary Awards from the Arts Council of Ireland, Leitrim County Council and Culture Ireland.
ANTHROPOCENE, CAPITALOCENE, CHTHULUCENE, STAYING WITH THE TROUBLE IN FUKUSHIMA
Keynote: Pablo de Soto (Researcher)
In the space-time of environmental devastation announced by the Anthropocene, nuclear catastrophe is a type of fuzzy boundaries trouble that challenges our capacity for understanding. We know from Günther Anders that it operates in the supraliminary sphere, so large that it cannot be seen or imagined, which causes cognitive paralysis. By Ulrich Beck that produces an anthropological shock, the transformation of the consciousness of the subjects in relation to the experience of insecurity and uncertainty in the face of an invisible threat. By Svetlana Alexeivich that is characterized by vagueness and indefinition, which produces a war without enemies. And by Olga Kuchinskaya that generates a politics of invisibility regarding public knowledge of its consequences for life.
As Chernobyl before, the Fukushima disaster has reached the maximum level in the scale of accidents, when several nuclear reactors melted down 200 kilometers from the most populous metropolitan area of the planet. The dangerous radionuclides, once enclosed between concrete and steel walls, began to blend intimately with the biosphere. Before this mutant ecology, the artists have responded from the first moments. Through photography, guerrilla art, dance, video art or fiction narrative, this artistic response to the nuclear crisis has faced a double invisibility: the one of ionizing radiation and the institutional invisibility – the affirmation of the authorities that the problem “is under control”.
Taking as a theoretical framework the interdisciplinary discussion of the Anthropocene and its critical epistemologies, such as Jason Moore’s Capitalocene and Donna Haraway’s Chthulucene, we investigate how artists are staying with the trouble in Fukushima. Recalibrating our sensory systems to adjust them to the contradiction and volatility of industrial advances, we explore the ability of art to construct an ontology complementary to hegemonic technoscience, one that allows us a more in-depth understanding of what nature and we humans has become in the Anthropocene.
Pablo de Soto is a researcher and artist. He holds a PhD in Communication and Culture from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (2016), with the thesis entitled “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene, staying with the trouble in Fukushima”, based on a field work conducted as an artist in residence in Tokyo Wonder Site, thanks to a grant by Hangar Art Center Barcelona. He holds a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Editor of the books Fadaiat : freedom of movement, freedom of knowledge, and Situation Room: designing a prototype of a citizen’s situation room. Co-author of the Critical Cartography of the Strait of Gibraltar, exhibited internationally. Winner of the LAB_Cyberspaces and LAB_ExperimentaJoven awards by LABoral Art Center of Gijón. During the 2000s he was cofounder of hackitectura.net, exhibiting their works in the Seville Biennial, ZKM Center for Art and Media and LABoral. Coordinator of the projects dronehackademy.net and mappingthecommons.net, awarded the Elinor Ostrom Prize in research on commons by the University of Buenos Aires. Artist in residency grant Townhouse Gallery Cairo. He is coeditor of the video book AfterVideo:assemblages to be published at the end of this year by Open Humanities Press London.
AFFECTIVE LANDSCAPES/EMPATHIC OBJECTS: DIGITAL DOCUMENTARY AND NON-HUMAN ECOLOGIES
Keynote: Ila Nicole Sheren (Washington University in Sant Louis)
“Affective Landscapes/Empathic Objects: Digital Documentary and Non-human Ecologies” analyzes two documentaries – Leviathan (2012), by Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, and the interactive web-based Bear 71 (2012), by Leanne Allison and Jeremy Mendes. Leviathan and Plastic Bag both present a quasi-documentary narrative told from the point of view of non-humans: fish on a commercial fishing boat and a bear in Banff National Park, Alberta. By placing the viewer in the role of the nonhuman, these works forge a connection with what were initially props in the human story. Ultimately, such projects encourage consideration of the economic and ecological roles that non-humans play, engaging with the discourses of post-humanism and new materialism. In particular, the work of Bruno Latour and Donna Haraway guides this study, as it engages Latour’s idea of the collective and Haraway’s thoughtful considerations of interspecies communication. My contention is that digital art (although relying upon the very technologies that environmental activism seeks to expose or curtail) allows for a re-envisioning of the landscape – freed from material constraints and the political import of that physicality – that allows the genre to engage critical discourses on climate change, human-nonhuman interaction, and political ecology.
Leviathan does so by destabilizing the dominant point of view. The film, shot on seemingly indestructible GoPro cameras, veers between roiling underwater footage, fish-eye views, detached aerial perspectives, and, most disturbingly, the cold, unwavering gaze of the stationary lens. Rather than understanding the workings of a commercial fishing trawler as a whole, the viewer receives the information in disjointed parts. I will argue that Castaing-Taylor and Paravel work on an aesthetic and sensorial register that intertwines the human with the animal (and, ultimately, the non-human), visualizing how the boundary between human and non-human is porous and subject to the arbitrary demarcations of industrial capital.
In Bear 71, the viewer navigates this digital landscape while the documentary plays in the background; he or she may toggle between video feeds of the film, as well as security camera footage showing the other inhabitants of Banff. The paring down of the landscape serves both to disorient the viewer and to subvert the human impulse to romanticize nature. The disorientation occurs precisely because the landscape has been coded into a matrix of symbols, colors, and icons. We cannot wax rhapsodic about the abstracted digital landscape in the same way that we can the mimetically encoded photograph, or, even better, the park itself. It is not enough to reveal this unbalance, however; the true work of the film is to illustrate the extent of human intervention. In doing so, Allison and Mendes ask us to renegotiate our relationship with the environment. Ultimately, it is through a digitally-enabled exchange of properties between human and non-human, the blurring of boundaries and erasing of a subject-object distinction, that a true political ecology can form.
Ila Nicole Sheren is Assistant Professor of Art History in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Washington University in St. Louis. She received her doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Architecture in 2011. Prof. Sheren’s research considers the intersections of contemporary art and political issues, and her first book, Portable Borders: Performance Art and Politics on the U.S. Frontera since 1984, was published by the University of Texas Press in 2015. Her current project, Mediated Landscapes: Eco-Art between the Virtual and the Material, takes up the question of digital art and environmentalism, placing recent eco-art interventions in dialogue with new materialist, postcolonial, and post-human theory.
Attendance to the event is free of charge but registration is required.