Academics are a leading source of knowledge about ecosystems and about societies. They are also highly unified advocates for societal change to confront ecological crisis. However, academics rarely turn to their own practices with the same transformational demands. Why shouldn’t biologists, sociologists, or, to take up my own case, art historians fundamentally alter how they work to do better with respect to what their own inquiries tell them about humanity and the planet?
[With this post we begin a series in which we will offer some responses to the pandemic now unfolding across the globe, disrupting everyone’s lives. As we do on this blog we will speak from our own disciplinary positions, in the hope that people from other fields might find their own attempts to understand this crisis enriched.]
Pandemics, like climate change, are strange combinations of human activity and other natural processes. We make pandemics through all that we do — moving, touching, caring, talking, and so forth — because Continue reading
Let me emphasize something from the start: I mean “small r” republican—this post (and another to follow) will have nothing to do with the “capital r” American political party. I’ll consider some ideas associated with Continue reading
I actually prefer plastic as a material because it is a material for our times. It represents the now. Ironically it is also ‘archival’, meaning in terms of its longevity it lasts over 100 years. This means that for art, it is a great material.
Claudia Hart (artist/sculptor), “Resolution, Reification,
and Resistance,” 3d Additivist Cookbook.
Not so long ago I had a conversation with a respected curator and gallery director about my research on Continue reading
This coming June, I will give a talk at the “Art in the Anthropocene” conference at Trinity College, Dublin about the sculptural theory of the German artist Joseph Beuys. I will discuss the theory’s implications for the politics and ethics of human action in the Anthropocene, implications imbricated with accusations that Beuys, a pilot in the Luftwaffe during World War II, harbored fascist tendencies in his working methods, which often involve the marshaling of large numbers of people in projects that Beuys grouped under the rubric “social sculpture.” Key for this talk, and for this post, will be a remark Beuys made in 1975 about plastic, so I wanted to use the occasion of this post to further some of my thinking about Beuys, particularly where it most intersects with our present focus on plastic.
This is the first in a series of posts on Perceiving the Anthropocene.
After escaping Polyphemus’s cave, Odysseus, ignoring protests from his men, shouts back in anger at the giant:
Cyclops! If any mortal asks you how
your eye was mutilated and made blind,
say that Odysseus, the city-sacker,
Laertes’ son, who lives in Ithaca,
Destroyed your sight.
— Homer, The Odyssey, IX.502-506, Emily Wilson, trans.
Odysseus’s announcement functions like a signature Continue reading