Artistic Practices, Discursive Contexts and Environmental Humanities in the Age of the Anthropocene

Christian Alonso


The hypothesis of the Anthropocene signals human activity, particularly the social, political and economic sphere, as the new biogeophysical force whose impact allows the scientific community to speak about a new era in the geological time-scale. The assertion of the abandonment of the Holocene implies not only access to a new physical, but also a cultural space that has not yet been experienced. However, while contributions from the field of natural sciences to the analysis of the phenomenon have been significant, literature generated from the Humanities and Social Sciences shows that much work remains to be done. In this current scenario where increased global connectivity operates as the ground for interconnected large-scale risks and shocks, we are compelled to take into account transversal thinking across different ideas, meanings and fields that can help understanding the social, the economic and the political relations at stake.

Drawing from recent investigations from the field of Environmental Humanities, this paper explores the role of artistic, theoretical and curatorial practice in understanding, conforming and interrogating our position in the world under the conditions of the Anthropocene. It shall do this by focusing on the analysis of projects gathered in the group exhibition 7 MIL MILLONES (EACC Castelló, 2014) as a case study. We argue that experimental artistic practice – which emphasizes a new combination of aesthetics and ethics and the ecological and the social – can provide interesting models in helping societies adapt to this new territory. We finally suggest that the curatorial statement fails to address the complex critical potential of the gathered projects insofar as it constrains the theoretical context to a particular classical formulation of sustainable development and an omission of their consideration as artifacts for political imagination.

anthropocene societies, ecosophy, sustainability, cultural ecology, environmental aesthetics, postcolonial environmentalism