Ecology and Ideology: In Search of an Antidote in Contemporary Art

VERGE no.1 (February 2010)

Sustainability has become a buzzword of politics and commerce, and with its spread from the field of environmentalism into society there has been some dilution of its radical implications. Ecological sustainability is also mentioned with increasing frequency in discussions of contemporary art and there is a parallel lack of awareness of the history of environmental thought, which in many accounts begins and ends with the early 60s classic of poetic, anti-pollution literature, The Silent Spring. If we begin with an understanding of sustainability derived from green capitalism, then the widespread belief amongst critical theorists that sustainability was invented by big corporations to create new markets for environmentally-friendly products seems a logical conclusion. Unravelling the confusion between ecological sustainability and greenwash, in other words between the solution and part of the problem, requires revisiting theoretical debates within the field of ecology, in order to open up our understanding of sustainability and its relevance for both society and contemporary art (full text here).