Material Culture

Call for Papers : “Where is our ecological art history?

This post comes to you from Cultura21

AAH_logo_CMYK_-_smallApril 10-12, 2014 : 40th Anniversary, Annual AAH Conference & Bookfair, Royal College of Art, London

Deadline for proposals : November 11th 2013

The discipline of art history has proved itself able to look various crises of culture in the face and open up the discipline to ideological struggles and debates. These debates have involved its own politics as a discipline in response to critical issues. Issues of gender, sexuality, race and social identity have strongly inflected the discipline and have importantly shaped its trajectories and characteristic preoccupations over a number of years, but what of the critical issue of our environment? There are some highly significant works which have discussed art’s and artists’ responses and interventions in the crucial area of ecology, but perhaps less talked about and made visible is art history’s disciplinary response to crises in nature and the environment throughout its history as a discipline.

AAH2014 will represent the richness and diversity of art historical debate across the broadest sweep of time and space. The conference will unite the interests of art history with those of contemporary practice, as well as a wide diversity of visual and material culture, including art, architecture and design. As it is in close collaboration with museums and galleries, most notably the V&A Museum, the RCA aims to offer a conference exploring ‘history in the making’ through engagement with practice, collections and exhibitions.

The aim of this session is to bring this ecological art history to the fore, to uncover, freshly discover and make visible examples of such an ecological art history. The session also offers the opportunity to discuss whether art history’s status as a ‘humanistic’ discipline has in the past hindered its concern for the natural world and the environment other than through strong human cultural paradigms, and consider how the discipline has started to change with further interests in ‘eco-aesthetics’ and other multi-disciplinary or inter-disciplinary approaches to the history of the environment and its critical future : “We feel that this is an extremely prescient moment for the history of art to engage more actively in this cross-disciplinary theme”, explains Andrew Patrizio, Professor of Scottish Visual Culture, School of History of Art, University of Edinburgh.

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– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

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Rising Tide Conference REPORT

I was only able to attend one day of the three day conference last weekend in the Bay Area. Entitled Rising Tide, organized by Kim Anno, and jointly hosted by California College of the Arts, San Francisco, and Stanford University, there was a diverse mix of planning, art history, contemporary art, and design/technology.

A few highlights from the early morning session entitled Remaking/Reconceiving: I learned about Form Based Zoning Codes where the public participates in a greater way to decide what goes where in communities/cities. And, I was reminded by Amy Franceschini of the great work by former Super Mayor of Bogata, Enrique Penalosa, who encouraged performance based transformations in sustainability (like using mimes to direct traffic). Here is a short video on his vision for NYC presented last summer:

In the next session,
Bonnie Sherk (creator of T
he Farm), moderated a panel called Material Culture Sustainability. Panel description: What are new materials that artists/designer/architects are experimenting with? What materials have impacts on which industries? Where are the holes in research? What is sustainable business? How is culture sustainable? Stephanie Syjuco presented her Counterfeit Crochet handbags; Lynda Grose presented the work of young designers doing Slow Fashion in her program at Sustainable Fashion Design program at CAA. And, Banny Bannerjee, Director of the Stanford Design program, talked about how human’s are always trying to defy nature, stretch its limits, mimic nature, refer to nature, flirt with nature, evoke nature. He had a great saying: Doing Things Right, Doing the Right Things.

After lunch we got a dose of “Green Capitalism” with Amy Berk presenting her work TWCDC (Together We Can Defeat Capitalism). She showed several projects where they used signage to express anti-capitalist views like a road sign that said “Stock Market Crash Ahead” from 2000; “Capitalism Stops at Nothing” at a BART Station; and STOP BUS(H) in the bus lane in Oakland. She also presented her work bed-in-for-peace project, which she conceived in 2001 in Australia (based on Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s performance). Basically her position was that true revolution is guided by true feelings of LOVE . . . . . and she proves this by driving around San Francisco in a “FRYBRID” car that runs on moonshine and represents the ethos of Marx (Capitalist production only develops the social process of production by simultaneously underminding the original process of all wealth, the soil and the worker). Next on this panel was Simon Sadler who made some great links with Steward Brand/Whole Earth Catalogue, Buckminster Fuller (design is a scientific study not an aesthetic one), and “soft tech” (the limits to growth, and small is beautiful).

In the following session entitled Futures, Amy Balkin gave a beautiful presentation on her Air Park project. She outlined how she researched carbon credits and set up her work, presenting basically signage about her conceptual dealings around who owns the air. A description of the project: Public Smog is a public park in the atmosphere that fluctuates in location and scale. Built through financial, legal, or political activities, Public Smog is subject to prevailing winds and the long-range transport of aerosols and gases. When built through the economic mechanism of emissions trading, the park opens above the region where offsets are purchased and withheld from use. Public Smog first opened briefly to the public during 2004 above California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District, and was open over the European Union through 2008. Balkin is now working on opening the park again in West Africa.

In the final panel of the day Shelia Kennedy showed her portable light project, which is going to receive a big award in May (she couldn’t tell us which), maybe the Fuller Challenge? and David Buuck shared about his project on Treasure Island in San Francisco, a tour called “Barge” looking at the paranoid landscapes of post industrial real estate.

There was a great gathering of people and it was a pleasure to finally meet Ian Garrett and see Miranda Wright again, both from Los Angeles with the Center for Sustainable Practices in the Arts who drove up for the conference.

For those of you who attended Friday and Sunday’s presentations, please comment and fill us in.

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