Mutating Ecologies In Contemporary Art III

Mutating Ecologies In Contemporary Art III: Posthuman Becomings

3rd International Symposium

January 30, 2019, Barcelona, Catalonia

Organizing Team

Production and organization: AGI | Art Globalization Interculturality, Universitat de Barcelona
Coordinator / Moderator: Christian Alonso, Universitat de Barcelona
In partnership with: MACBA | Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona

Special Guest Speaker:
Rick Dolphijn, PhD., Utrecht University

Image credit:
“Fruit Belt” (detail), Martin Llavaneras, 2017. Courtesy of the artist.

Program

REGISTRATION
8:30 – 9:00 am

WELCOME
Anna Maria Guasch
9:00 – 9:10 am

PRESENTATION & INTRODUCTION
9:10 – 9:30 am

KEYNOTE TALK
The Earth Needs the Necropolitics of Art
Rick Dolphijn
9:30 – 10:30 am

DISCUSSION
10:30 – 11:00 am

BREAK
11:00 – 11:30 am

PRESENTATIONS
11:30 am – 1:00 pm

Our Bodies Have Turned to Gold
Kristiina Koskentola

Medicane
Martin Llavaneras

Unfamiliarizing artistic refrains
Christian Alonso

DISCUSSION
1:00 – 1:30 pm

LUNCH BREAK
1:30 – 3:00 pm

PRESENTATIONS
3:00 – 4:30 pm

The “Camanchaca” Fog and the “Catancura” Stone: Dialogues between prophetic materialities, folded temporalities, ontological tensions and political potentialities of the surfaces
Francisco Navarrete Sitja

Social Ecologies of Speculation
Theo Reeves-Evison

The Plantocene, a story about the Anthropocene from a para-human point of view
Paula Bruna

DISCUSSION
14:30 – 5:00 pm

BREAK
5:00 – 5:15 pm

PRESENTATIONS
5:15 – 6:45 pm

A River with Standing: Indigenous Rights and Artistic Interventions as the Last Line of Defence Against Ecological Crisis
Mercedes Vicente

Time Is Running In
Raffael Lomas

The SeaChange Voyage
Kevin Buckland & Amaranta Herrero

FINAL DISCUSSION
6:45 – 7:15 pm

How can we grasp the systemic crises shacking our present from the point of view of a general crises of subjectivity, as the side effect of a reductionist conception of being and a totalitarian dominance of language and the signifier? What tools the philosophy of immanence are putting forth to think a semiotic and ontological pluralism engendered by social, analytical and aesthetic practices? How might a new sense of finitude, accountability and acceleration in our technologically mediated societies effectively evict the eternal and universal consistency of the self, of social relations and value systems? How can this fuel a procedural elaboration in relation to alterity and difference, in an elemental shift from individuality to transversality, into the production of more-than human assemblages? In what way artistic, pedagogical, urban, and activist practices may be contributing to a revolutionary reconstruction of sensibility that would enable the transformation of the state of things?

Traversing the philosophy of creation of Félix Guattari singly and together with Gilles Deleuze, these questions will be the point of departure of the III Symposium Mutating ecologies in contemporary art. MECA III seeks to deepen on the value and the effectiveness of the philosophy of immanence as a non-dualist model of political ecology that enables ways to imagine alternative forms of relation and political action. This model of thought nourish artistic imagination, modulating compounds made of forces and materials imbuing proposals that provide new ways of understanding, interrogating and transforming our relation with the planet and all living entities. They do so by visual, discursive and sensual strategies, experimenting with disciplinary confinements and generating posthuman ethics, politics, and becomings.

Followed by selected communications, the Symposium will be articulated around the opening talk of Dr. Rick Dolphijn, Utrecht University. “The earth needs the necropolitics of art” will focus on the question “what, of art, belongs to the present?” This question arises from the fact that art has no present since, on the one hand, it does not fit into the economic, social and political realities of the day. Yet, on the other hand, it always already challenges the present, offers it another history and another future. Following Deleuze and Guattari’s motto “The present… is what we are, and thereby, what already we are ceasing to be”, we could say that art is never present, but rather belongs to what we are ceasing to be. Art is necessarily a necropolitics at work within the margins of life, luring us into many ways of dying. An affirmative reading help us understanding how all of these little ways of dying are proposing us a way out of the present, enabling thusly an exploration of another world and another human being. The times of crisis in which we live, the necessity of this necropolitics is more urgent than ever. Only art, and art of the highest kind, has the power to explore the margins of the present, to question the dualisms that organize it and the blindness that determines it. Between the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Sixth Extinction, it is through art that we need to search for different techniques and different strategies, that we can ask ourselves what life is, what death, pain and madness do to it, and how another life is possible. We will explore in what way the subjects and the objects of the present need to die from art. The Age of the Anthropocene has to reveal itself as the Age of Art. It’s our only aim at survival.

Abstracts Booklet

Rick Dolphijn

The Earth Needs the Necropolitics of Art

This presentation will focus on the question “what of art belongs to the present?” This question arises from the fact that art has no present since, on the one hand, it does not fit into the economic, social and political realities of the day, while, on the other, it always already challenges the present, offering it another history and another future. Following Deleuze and Guattari’s motto “The present… is what we are, and thereby, what already we are ceasing to be”, we could say that art is never present, but rather belongs to what we are ceasing to be. Art is necessarily a necropolitics at work within the margins of life, luring us into many ways of dying. An affirmative reading helps us understand how all these little ways of dying propose a way out of the present, thus enabling an exploration of another world and another human being. The times of crisis in which we live, make this necropolitics more urgent than ever. Only art, and art of the highest kind, has the power to explore the margins of the present, to question the dualisms that organize it and the blindness that determines it. Between the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Sixth Extinction, it is through art that we need to search for different techniques and different strategies, that we can ask ourselves what life is, what death, pain and madness do to it, and how another life is possible. We will explore in what way the subjects and the objects of the present need to die from art. The Age of the Anthropocene has to reveal itself as the Age of Art. It is our only chance of survival.

Rick Dolphijn is Professor at the Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University. He has published widely on continental philosophy and the contemporary arts. His books are Foodscapes (2004); New Materialism (2012, with Iris van der Tuin); This Deleuzian Century (2014, ed. with Rosi Braidotti); Philosophy After Nature (2017 ed., with Rosi Braidotti); Michel Serres and the Crises of the Contemporary (2018). He holds an Honorary Professorship at Hong Kong University (2017–2020).

Kristiina Koskentola

Our Bodies Have Turned to Gold

Recent mass evictions and demolitions between the fifth and sixth ring roads in Beijing have affected many lives. Simultaneously, the many burial sites in the area—both ancient and present-day—have been destroyed, disrupting the cultural practices of burial and the peace of spirits. Focusing on a specific demolished urban village burial site, the essay-film Our Bodies Have Turned to Gold explores this devastation from the position of the dead and beyond. Before the destruction, the villagers dug up their ancestors’ and family members’ urns to avoid bad luck. The video reflects on this condition speculatively in relation to becoming more than human, necropolitics, spirituality, temporality, social politics, and global capitalism. Exploring modes of collaboration and opening a transcultural dialogue, this multivocal and intersubjective project draws broadly on meditations on the site by the Daoist Master Wu Dangfeng, exchanges with the spiritual scholar Li Chunyuan, writings by the philosopher and feminist theorist Rosi Braidotti, and the philosopher Gilles Deleuze, alongside local knowledge and lived experiences. In this presentation, I will screen Our Bodies Have Turned to Gold and discuss it through posthuman and new materialist notions entangled with Chinese thought: what might this mean and what might it generate? I will focus particularly on non-human subjects, such as spectral or spiritual ones, and look at how and what kind of active political and ethical agency and resistance they can perform in local and global social, ecological, and economic systems.

Kristiina Koskentola is a visual artist and lecturer. She holds a PhD from Chelsea College of Art and Design, CCW Graduate School, University of the Arts, London. Finnish-born Koskentola lives and works in Amsterdam and Beijing. Her work spans across media including video, photography, materials, stories, objects, interactive performative projects, publications, and lectures. In her recent projects she explores modes of knowledge production, subjectivity, and the agency of multiple co-actors, human and non-human. Transcultural, otherworldly, and monistic perspectives are central to her ethically and socio-politically driven practice. Recently, in collaboration with the Institute for Provocation in Beijing, she initiated and curated, the seminar Soils, Séances, Sciences, and Politics: On the Posthuman and New Materialism with, among others, philosopher Rick Dolphijn and researcher You Mi (Goethe-Institut, Beijing, 2017). The seminar was followed by a publication that she edited (published by the Institute for Provocation and Ran Dian, 2018). Koskentola has exhibited and given talks, screenings, lectures, and workshops in diverse venues and contexts including the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing, Gallery Lumen Travo in Amsterdam, Zendai MoMA in Shanghai, the Skaftfel Centre for Visual Arts in Iceland, Gallery Hippolyte in Helsinki, the Gothe-Institut in Beijing, Museum De Lakenhal/Scheltema in Leiden, Huangbian Station/ Times Museum in Guangzhou, the 4th Baku Biennial of Conceptual Art in Azerbaijan, the Central Academy in Beijing, the Finnish Academy of Art in Helsinki, the University of the Arts in London, the University of New Hampshire, the Dutch Art Institute, the University of Pittsburgh, the Himalayas’ Art Museum in Shanghai, General Public in Berlin, and the Dushanbe Art Ground in Tajikistan.

Martin Llavaneras

Medicane

What distinguishes an apple from a piece of plastic in a world where apples are modified, produced, adapted and are thus closer to the demands of their commodity status than to their biological past, in a world where plastic has been with us for so long and is so ubiquitous as waste that it has almost become a new mineral of the earth’s crust? In this new world, the terms that formerly established the differences between natural and artificial are obsolete. Now, as it has always been, the definition of these terms or realities comes down to the question of whether Nature and the Synthetic are concepts or whether they exist per se, regardless of who formulates them. The articulating voice of the anthropocentric man, who distinguishes between the course of nature and that of his own species, is conscientiously shifting. He is now starting to recognize himself as an active element in juxtaposed systems and to understand that in influencing them he causes disruptions that are affecting his own capacity to survive. Around this discursive basis, I will present a “reading in off” on the collisions of industrial logistics (processes responsible for the circulation of raw materials) and artistic practice as “overflow” and “performatization” of materials and information flows. This “reading in off” will be embodied in a visual essay in which the specificities of the topic will emerge as a matter of form.

Christian Alonso

Artistic Refrains for Non-human Becomings

The aim of this talk is to think the encounter of the work of Perejaume and Félix Guattari’s ethical-aesthetic paradigm as engendering an understanding of art as being of sensation actively engaging in the production of a posthuman subjectivity. I will discern the way the way in which the real materializes in the experience of the aesthetic creation beyond representation, into a subjective cristallization of alterification. Key questions such as the affect, the refrain and sensation will be considered within a particular conception of modernity and in accordance with the finite and infinite dimensión of art. We argue that the affect constitutes a force of disorganization, of becoming-animal and of heterogenesis in which art and life remain enmeshed, where art can be defined as a non-organic politics of life.

 

Christian Alonso is a curator, researcher and teacher at the Department of Art History of the University of Barcelona, where he develops his PhD Thesis centred in the analysis of critical artistic and curatorial practices from the perspective of both environmental and social sustainability. As general coordinator of the research group AGI (Art, Globalization, Interculturality), University of Barcelona, he has organized a large number of conferences, symposia and seminars on contemporary art and critical thought. Coordinator of the five edition of the program on curatorial studies On Mediation (2013-18). Mediator in residence at Can Castells (Laboratori d’Art Comunitari, Sant Boi Llobregat, 2017; 2018), Can Felipa Cultural Centre (2017) and Sala d’Art Jove (2016). Curator of the group exhibition Pati de llums (Can Castells, 2017); Eulàlia Valldosera: Plastic Mantra (Loop City Screen, 2017), curator and artistic director of the exhibition and publication project Machinic Recompositions (Can Felipa, 2017). Co-founder of the non-profit cultural organization Càlam: art, education and sustainability. Caosmosis.net

Francisco Navarrete Sitja

The “Camanchaca” Fog and the “Catancura” Stone: Dialogues Between Prophetic Materialities, Folded Temporalities, Ontological Tensions and Political Potentialities of the Surfaces

An exploration that articulates a network of relationships and reflections between two processes of artistic research based on material expressions—the “Camanchaca” Fog and the “Catancura” Stone—in socio-ecological spaces affected by the extractivism of intensive mining and the construction of large hydraulic works in Chile.

 

The process of the artistic research Devices for a Soft Territory (2014–2015) reflected on the configuration of the gaze and the intense spoliation in the Atacama Desert (Chile), establishing links between the materiality of the light and industrial infrastructures and the material quality of the digital image and the materiality of the climatic phenomenon of the “Camanacha” Fog This evokes tensions over a socio-ecological space that had been subject to intervention and had become invisible, exploring the symbolic uncertainty that falls on the future of the desert ecosystem due to the expansion of technical thinking. On the other hand, Your Matter Is the Place Where All Things Meet (2016–2017) was an artistic research process that linked the eradication of the families that lived in the flooded areas after the construction of the Machicura Reservoir (Chile), with the materiality and geographic displacement of the rocks that give shape to one of the walls of the reservoir. The proposal speculated on the origin of the name of the Machicura Reservoir—which in Mapudungun means “stone of machi” (spirit woman, healer, revealer)—and infiltrated a multiple and subjective reading of the history of the hydraulic construction, relating the materiality and representation of the rocks, the journey of the displaced peasants and the search for a possible “Machi Stone” or “Catancura” (perforated Stone) that will transform the future of the town of Colbún.

In this sense, being interested in the material qualities and multiplicity of forces of matter in socio-ecological contexts affected by extractivism and developmentalism, I wanted to bring together both artistic research projects, with the intention of raising questions and reflections around the prophetic character, temporal folds, ontological tensions and political potentialities of the

“Camanchaca” Fog and the “Catancura” Stone.

Theo Reeves-Evison

Social Ecologies of Speculation

In the 1970s, the American futurist Alvin Toffler called for a new approach to the use of forecasting techniques. In his vision, “social future assemblies” would create forums through which speculation could become more participatory and democratic. In 2003, the Pentagon office partly realized this ambition by establishing an online platform to facilitate the prediction of economic, civil and military futures. While Toffler imagined his social future assemblies as wide ranging, the Pentagon’s scheme would focus mainly on the relationship between the US and the Arab world. Drawing on research showing the effectiveness of market trading as a tool for predicting fluctuations in the sale of commodities, the resulting Policy Analysis Market sought to formalize socially distributed predictions into a trading platform that could serve the interests of both investors and US foreign policy. Quickly nicknamed the “terrorism futures market” because it allowed investors to speculate on future attacks, assassinations and coups, the platform was promptly shut down in the interests of good taste.

 

From Toffler to terrorism futures and beyond, this talk will chart a series of shifts in the futurological methods that are used to think and plan ahead. As the planning tools of the post-war era lose their predictive edge, new forecasting techniques come to exert influence in a world dominated by the uncertainties of environmental catastrophe. More than just neutral methods, such techniques constitute social technologies that shape the scenarios they imagine. As the Policy Analysis Market demonstrates, they are also increasingly saturated with financial logics, which filter our images of the future through a particular prism. Against the monetized futures of financial speculation, the social futurity of a handful of contemporary artworks stands out. Projects by Amy Balkin and others will be discussed as examples of how to broaden the arts of speculation. Artworks such as these generate alternative images of the future, but crucially they also generate new methods by which such images are conceptualized and produced.

 

Theo Reeves-Evison is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Birmingham School of Art, where he is working on a research project entitled Speculative Natures: Contemporary Art and Interventionist Ecology. The project investigates how processes of speculation and storytelling have the capacity to organize environmental activities around imagined futures, and his research will manifest in several events, presentations and publications over the next three years. He is the editor, together with Jon K. Shaw of Fiction as Method (Sternberg, 2017), and has published articles in magazines and journals such as Frieze, Paragrana and Parallax. In 2018 he edited a special issue of the journal Third Text with Mark Rainey on the theme of ‘ethico-aesthetic repairs’, and his monograph Ethics of Contemporary Art: In the Shadow of Transgression is to be published in 2019 by Bloomsbury Academic Press.

Paula Bruna

The Plantocene: A Story About the Anthropocene from a Para-human Point of View

Understanding the ecosphere and the complex relationships that take place in it requires placing ourselves in other, non-human points of view. As Timothy Morton argues in Dark Ecology (2017), only through an awareness of the existence of other temporalities, other spatial scales, and other protagonists, can we approach ecognosis, or ecological awareness. The idea of the Plantocene emerges from this premise as a story about the conflicts of the Anthropocene explained from another point of view, in a more extensive ecosystemic conception. This story is based on an invented yet feasible geological era, understanding of which requires getting out of ourselves and our leading role in the conception of the world. The name of Plantocene arises in opposition to the Anthropocene (the recently differentiated geological epoch whose protagonist is the human being and its impacts on the planet). Considering the effects of photosynthesis in the composition of the planet, why not consider our planet from a Plantocene perspective, getting away from our traditional anthropocenic view? At a formal level, the Plantocene begins as an artistic research project about the confrontation between the plant kingdom and human society, which questions the hegemony of our species. The exercise of placing the point of view beyond humanity has led me to progressively open the artistic processes to the participation of other living beings. This change in procedure implies my adaptation to other rhythms, scales, and processes. My role becomes that of an initiator of organic processes that occur in a non-anthropic timescale, and in which uncontrolled agents intervene, generating forms of post- or para-human mutant landscapes. It is in this para-human conception of the world where the Plantocene is aligned with the philosophical theories of speculative realism (Brassier, Hamilton Grant, Meillassoux and Harman) about the existence of reality beyond what is accessible to humans.

 

Paula Bruna (Barcelona, 1978) holds a degree in environmental sciences from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, a degree in fine arts from the University of Barcelona, and a master’s degree in ecology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. She combines her profession as an environmentalist (specialist in ecology, environmental policies and sustainability) with artistic research, with particular interest in the interaction between society and environment. She is currently an artist in residence at the Hangar centre for production and research in visual arts in Barcelona and is doing a PhD about art and political ecology at the University of Barcelona. Her project Processes of the Plantocene has recently been awarded the Guasch Coranty artistic creation scholarship.

Mercedes Vicente

A River with Standing: Indigenous Rights and Artistic Interventions as the Last Line of Defence Against Ecological Crisis

What does it mean for a river to have standing? Last year the Whanganui River in Aotearoa, New Zealand, became the first river in the world to be granted with the same rights as a person, in recognition of the local Māori tribe’s kinship to the river which they see as their ancestor. This alignment of indigenous and legal realms shifts traditional anthropocentric legislation based on human sovereignty over nature to one assuming a biocentric integration of humans with their environment. This law not only redresses Māori sovereignty and protects the river, but it identifies a new epistemic order that extends the social contract that had excluded nature, establishing, in Michel Serres’ terms, a “natural contract”. The idea of granting rights to non-human entities is not new (in 1972, Christopher Stone asked, Should Trees Have Standing?), but only now has it been achieved, setting a legal precedent. India subsequently granted rights to the Ganges and the Yamuna rivers. Furthermore, granting rights to a specific natural feature has a greater impact in terms of enforcement than the existing broad and indiscriminate “rights of nature” in the constitutions of Ecuador and Bolivia. The Treaty of Waitangi (1840), the country’s foundational document between Māori tribes and the Crown, plays a pivotal role. Environmentalists are joining in support of indigenous struggles over land rights and their natural resources as these rights, argues Naomi Klein, represent “the last line of defence” and “some of the most robust tools available to prevent the ecological crisis”. The growing political impact of indigenous activism is key in advocating for a political ecology that recognizes the values of social and climate justice and counters the “environmentalism of affluence” of the Global North, contributing to the thinking of ecology from the Global South. This research acknowledges the contribution of the speculative turn of theories in their attempt to transcend the anthropocentric perspective and imagine reality in posthuman and postnatural terms. However, these have withdrawn from the social and political sphere of human activities and lack a structural critique of neoliberalism. While this project recognizes the influence of posthuman approaches (Bruno Latour, Tim Morton) in ecological discourses in the arts and humanities, these tend to depoliticize ecology and ignore non-Western traditions, including indigenous ones, which were never anthropocentric in the first place. This research draws from postcolonial, anti-capitalist and Marxist perspectives in defining political ecology (David Harvey, Jason Moore, Vandana Shiva). Colonialism is embedded in disciplines of knowledge and research methodologies, argues Māori scholar Linda Tihuwai Smith, and thus, attention will focus on how the research is conceptualized and designed by adopting epistemologies and methodologies rooted in the histories of Māori struggles, ecological wisdom and cosmologies. What do indigenous cosmologies contribute to the current posthuman philosophical debates? This research maps the philosophical, legal, epistemic and political conditions for, and the impact of indigenous peoples on, defining a political ecology. It explores the implications of this case study methodologically through discursive, artistic and activist practices that are ethico-politically responsive and environmentally engaged and that bear, in T. J. Demos’ words, “the potential to both rethink politics and politicize art’s relation to ecology”. While the project focuses on the specificities of its geopolitical context, it establishes links across and contributes to ongoing ecological debates and struggles of indigenous peoples around the world.

Mercedes Vicente is a curator, writer and researcher. She holds a PhD from the Royal College of Art and an MA in Curatorial Studies at Bard College, and was Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program. Vicente has held institutional positions as Director of Education and Public Programmes at Whitechapel Gallery in London, Curator of Contemporary Art at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Zealand and Research Curatorial Assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. She has curated numerous exhibitions on New-Zealand video pioneer artist Darcy Lange at institutions such as the Tate Modern, NTU CCA Singapore, Ikon Gallery, Camera Austria, Cabinet, Yale University and Espai d’Art Contemporari de Castelló (EACC). Her extensive writing and editorial credits include books, exhibition catalogues and art journals. She is the editor of Darcy Lange: Study of an Artist at Work (Govett-Brewster and Ikon Gallery, 2008; EACC, 2012).

Raffael Lomas

Time Is Running In

In my presentation, I will share two parallel paths and consider the ways that they perhaps intervene. In my personal creative practice, I will try to show, on the one hand, why good art is always ahead of its time, and, on the other how, in the artistic process itself, the spark of creativity contains past, present and future simultaneously. I will share my sculptural language method of working within the object, without adding or subtracting material from the original object, arriving at a situation of endless possibilities within limitation, a position we are not familiar with mi our everyday life. (see The Wheel Series at www.raffaellomas.net), clearly emphasizing the gap between creativity in its artistic form and the mundane. The second path is the attempt to use the tools or knowledge that I would like to believe were gained via and through my studio work for social change. I will discuss two projects: working with South Sudan refugees deported from Israel to Uganda, which developed into establishing Refugee Artists In Residence for Syrian Refugees in San Diego, and the 9/11 Growing Memorial Project, which combines metal from the Twin Towers and coordinating workshops for family members of this tragedy to design their own memorial based on my artistic language of growing upside down trees (a short documentary is available at https://vimeo.com/274140900). Both demonstrate the incredible capacity and potential of creative artistic projects in the social realm, despite the limitations, obstacles and doubts that arise.

 

Another aspect I would like to include relates to the title of my presentation Time Is Running In. It is the name of an exhibition in 2012 born of a collaboration between scientists and artists regarding the notion of time. I will focus on the Ichair Project (www.ichairproject.com), a collaboration with the Barcelona-based photographer (and my son) Tai Lomas. Beginning as an attempt to use photography to reveal hidden layers of the sculptural language, the project developed into translating movement into objects. Some of the chair sculptures are chairs that I have cut in such a way that each half chair stands by itself (in a way finding the atom of the chair). This creates the situation of a sculpture with no concrete size, a property that is a fundamental aspect of an object. We invited dancers to investigate what kind of gravity there is in the split, leading us to sketch their movements with a 3D camera and then 3D-print those sketches into sculptures. The ability to convert one creative medium into another and the understanding that they all accrue simultaneously is significant and is made possible by current achievements in technology. I believe that the ability to translate movements into objects may have many implications beyond artistic expression. This could be a unique example were art leads and pushes practical achievements, closing the gap between science and art, making it relevant to the present.

Kevin Buckland & Amaranta Herrero

The SeaChange Voyage

Motivated by the desire to undertake a project that focused on the concept of “water as commons”, in 2015 the Brooklyn-based artist collective Mare Liberum joined forces with Barcelona-based artivists Amaranta Herrero and Kevin Buckland to conceive of the first “SeaChange Voyage”. Together, they built a flotilla of papier-mâché canoes (resurrecting a forgotten technology from Troy, NY) and embarked on a three-week journey to Manhattan, following the transport of fracked crude oil along the Hudson River. Their project embodied the poetry of the Anthropocene—unlikely vessels travelling rough and unknown waters. Along the way, they wove together stories of those working to protect the river, as well as the great dangers it faced. In 2017, Herrero and Buckland returned to the “river that flows both ways”, this time aboard a 12 metre, fully solar-powered boat and accompanied by three local indigenous Mohawk artivists from the unceded territories between New York and Canada. This second journey linked the transport of fracked crude oil with its site of origin: near to the Standing Rock Reservation and protest camp that has reframed American activism with its centring on ceremony and the idea that “water is sacred”. The 2017 voyage was conceived of as a “Floating Residency” that mixed ceremony, performance, protest and storytelling to lift-up stories of indigenous resistance and decolonial resistance. During both journeys, the SeaChange Voyage convened performances, presentations and community feasts at each town they visited—the effect was an embodied storytelling project constructed around the river, the voyagers travelled. The SeaChange Voyage focused on the intersection of problems and solutions—where the way we oppose itself becomes transformative; where resistance becomes resilience. The project provides a clear example of how artists can actively engage in the eco-social fabric that they journey through, rather than merely pass judgement or critique on it.

Venue

MACBA, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Meier Auditorium
Plaça Joan Coromines, 08001 Barcelona
www.macba.cat

Image credit:
“Fruit Belt” (detail), Martin Llavaneras, 2017

Registration is required, limited capacity