Royal College Of Art

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.

For more information click here 

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Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

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New metaphors for sustainability: the Fetch (of a wavelength; to collect)

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

Our series of new metaphors for sustainability continues with Annie Cattrell’s two meanings for ‘Fetch’. A visual artist, born in Glasgow, living and working in London, Annie is a tutor at the Royal College of Art and a senior research fellow in Fine Art at DeMontfort University. She was on the 2011 Cape Farewell Scottish Islands Expedition.

I was first introduced to the oceanographic term the ‘Fetch’ while visiting I.C.I.T (International Centre for Island Technology) on Orkney during a residency I undertook hosted by the Pier Arts Centre in Stromness during 2010.

The Fetch (length) of a wave can be incredibly long. For example, it could stretch from the east coast of the United States, where it might originate, and travel uninterrupted by land mass across the Atlantic Ocean, arriving on the shores of the west coast of Scotland, in particular the Orkneys, where it would then be forced to break against the coastline.

The simple equation relating to this phenomena is that the length of a wave determines the power and energy of it.

As a consequence scientists and technologists based in Orkney are trying to harness the waves to create renewable energies for the future.

The uninterrupted ‘Fetch’ length of a wave seems like a strong natural metaphor for cause and effect. The behaviour of oceans, seas and weather generally would appear to override any political or territorial boundaries and constraints, reminding us of the larger rhythms of earth systems that can so easily be damaged and altered by different types of human made pollutants.

‘Fetch’ can also mean to go and collect and is to some extent predictive and about a future intention. Collecting and harnessing ideas and ways of living more sustainably would seem to be navigating in the right direction!

If not now, when?, Primo Levi

 

“ashdenizen blog and twitter are consistently among the best sources for information and reflection on developments in the field of arts and climate change in the UK” (2020 Network)

ashdenizen is edited by Robert Butler, and is the blog associated with the Ashden Directory, a website focusing on environment and performance.
The Ashden Directory is edited by Robert Butler and Wallace Heim, with associate editor Kellie Gutman. The Directory includes features, interviews, news, a timeline and a database of ecologically – themed productions since 1893 in the United Kingdom. Our own projects include ‘New Metaphors for Sustainability’, ‘Flowers Onstage’ and ‘Six ways to look at climate change and theatre’.

The Directory has been live since 2000.

Go to The Ashden Directory

Designing out Waste – panel discussion at the Royal College of Art

On Monday 7 November, Arcola participated in an exciting discussion about designing out waste in the art and design sector. It was organised by the London Community Resource Network with speakers from TRAID  and the East London Furniture Project; it was an exploration of how artists and designers can ensure sustainability in the first place by Designing Out Waste.

The talk was part of the Sustain series of talks at the RCA. For more information, see HERE

Go to Arcola Energy

Design and ecology: Julia Lohmann

Design tends to think of the environment in only terms of materials and processes; how do we make things in a way that harms the environment least. So it was great to come across the work of designer Julia Lohmann. I met her about a year ago to write a piece about her in the New York Times.

Anyway. To the p0int. Lohmann is famous for her Cow Benches – uncomfortable pieces of furniture that consist of a single cow hide stretched over a skeletal frame to form a headless, legless shape that looks uncomfortably like a sitting cow. On one level it’s a kind of riposte to the DFS leather sofa, forcing us to think about the materials that the things we sit on are made of.

At first glance her use of animals appears repulsive and callous. Her graduation show at The Royal College of Art included a piece called Flock – a series of lamps made from sheep’s stomachs. She outraged fellow designers a couple of years ago with another seat shape calledThe Lasting Void, a sleek, futuristic pod that turned out to have been moulded from the inside of a slaughtered cow’s body cavity.

In fact they’re quite the opposite – a way of forcing us to think about our disconnection from the animals we slaughter. In fact there’s a tenderness about her pieces that’s more visible with the second glance. Raised in small-town Germany with a love of animals, who worked on farms in Iceland, she believes that if we kill animals we have a responsibility to know what we do, and to use every part of the carcass respectfully. As a student she had been fascinated by the reaction to Damien Hirst’s Mother and Child Divided: “You kill and cut up a cow and people are outraged,” Lohmann says. “Yet we do that every day. And what percentage of that meat is being thrown away?” Lohmann’s work is an attempt to create something useful – or at least respectful – from every piece of the dead carcass – even the cavity.

Unlike most design, Lohmann’s pieces leave you with a very clear question. If your reaction to her work is still that it is frivolous and unethical to use dead animals to make her pieces, then what else about the way we use animals is frivolous?

Julia Lohmann in the New York Times

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology