What’s Left of Nature: Art and Wilderness in the Anthropocene

cecyliamalik,sixrivers_mdOpen call for participation in an Experimental Reading Room seminar to be held at Translocal Institute February-May 2015.

The seminar on What’s Left of Nature: Art and Wilderness in the Anthropocene at Translocal Institute is organised as part of the Experimental Reading Room, an ongoing series of public seminars and guest lectures on art and ecology. A number of places are available for the seminar group which will meet on alternative Mondays beginning on 9 February and those wishing to participate are invited to send a short motivation letter to the organisers.

At a time in which nature appears thoroughly exploited, subjugated and managed, reflecting an anthropocene era in which humans have usurped planetary processes and used technology to turn their dreams of mastery over nature into a nightmarish prospect, a counter urge to reconnect with what is left of wild nature is beginning to emerge. Challenging the supremacy of science over the study of nature, drawing on the insights of both the new transdisciplinary field of the posthumanities and the non-anthropocentric knowledge of indigenous peoples, and unlocking the radicalism of the ecological paradigm, contemporary art and theory are on the lookout for avenues to where wilderness remains.

For more details see:


A wide ranging article on sustainability in the context of artist residencies by Laura Kenisns published in the Canadian art journal C Magazine in autumn 2013 and entitled ‘Escapists and Jet-Setters: Residencies and Sustainability’:

The idea of the artist colony emerged in the early 19th century alongside Romanticism, and the idea of artists going into the wilderness or to a place free from societal restraints persists in today’s residencies, whether they be urban or rural…These early artist colonies were established as utopias of sorts, a place where experiencing natural beauty and creating work could be artists’ primary concerns. In these spaces, artists could be free from many of the usual restraints of everyday life and everyday behaviour. Much like these colonies, today’s residency centre is a sort of permanent temporary community where individual members may change, but one can always find a community of artists.

For the whole text see the online issue of C Magazine:


Art and Sustainability

ImageChapter by Maja and Reuben Fowkes on Art and Sustainability in Enough for All Forever: A Handbook for Learning about Sustainability, eds Joy Morray, et. al. (Common Ground:Champaign, Illinois, 2012)

‘The relevance of sustainability for contemporary art can be approached from two distinct angles. On the one hand, we may consider the role of art in highlighting environmental issues, expressing criticism towards unsustainable factors in society, and offering imaginative ideas for how to achieve sustainability. The other approach is to turn eco-criticism back towards the art world itself, to examine the environmental impact of the production of art works, the functioning of art institutions, or, for example, the phenomenon of international art biennials that have mushroomed around the world in recent decades.’

See Translocal.org for more.

Peak Oil, Peak Art

Reading the announcement for artist Heath Bunting’s ‘festival of not-surviving’ (see below), which highlights the crisis in energy, economy and ecology and suggests that since c.2007 we’ve been living in a strangely different post-peak world, it might be worth mentioning that there are also implications here for contemporary art, which in a way also ‘ended’ at the same time as cheap oil production peaked, with a tempering of enthusiasm about the global and the bursting of the unsustainable art-hype bubble.

festival of not surviving
2012 nov dec 2013 jan

the meaning of life for individual human beings can be defined as:

‘compulsory individual survival, with optional social reproduction’

currently, humanity is faced with three simultaneous challenges, each of which alone is enough to end life as we know it:

1. energy crisis

since 1950’s, our societies have been based on cheap oil

this oil took 120 million years to create and 60 years to deplete

we reached peak cheap oil production in 2007 and (with careful management) will now return towards 1900 energy consumption levels (a contraction of a factor of 20)

careful management doesn’t appear to be in action though

2. economy

since the 1950’s, our societies have been based on cheap money

this money took thousands of years to create and 60 years to debase

we reached peak money value in 2007 and (with careful management) will now return towards 1960’s money value levels (a contraction of a factor of 25)

careful management doesn’t appear to be in action though

3. ecology

since 1950’s, our societies have been based on unsustainable resource extraction

if we ignore climate change, for us to return to sustainable relationship with nature (with careful management), the extinction rate should drop from 50,000 species to 5,000 species (a contraction of a factor of 10)

careful management doesn’t appear to be in action though

if we consider climate change, then we are facing an species extinction event (a contraction of a factor of at minimum 6)

extinction events occur in factors of roughly 60 million years

with these challenges combined, we are facing the extinction of the human species and any land mammal larger than a squirrel

individually, we generally die alone, but we are now facing the prospect of dieing with our species

the death of our species should be a moment of reflection and peace instead of delusion and panic

without a firm link to nature, our descent will be far from graceful

festival of not surviving intends to equip participants with the knowledge and skills to fully experience the death of themselves and their species

Not “Sustainable Art”, Sustainability of Art (interview)

An interview with Maja and Reuben Fowkes published in the Turkish magazine ECOIQ in June 2012:

As in all areas, wind blows towards sustainability in art also. Thus a new concept was born: Sustainable Art. This concept consists of social justice, direct democracy and antiviolence in addition to environmental issues. We discussed the history, present and tomorrow of Sustainable Art with contemporary art historian and curator couple: Maja-Reuben Fowkes.

For the Turkish version click here, or for English follow the link below: