Social Scientists

Cartographies Of Hope: Change Narratives

This post comes to you from Cultura21

Gallery DOX – Prague – Nov. 2012 to Feb. 2013

“In the last few years we have witnessed how the corrosion of the three main modes of social imaginary that defined modernity – the market economy, the public sphere, and the self-government of citizens – has reached a critical point. As a result, the increasing number of people in different fields, social scientists, artists, public intellectuals, and activists are calling for rethinking and reinventing social change. Such voices, however, are too often fragmented in their respective boundaries, and, consequently, they have not yet been able to articulate a compelling alternative metanarrative that the public would identify with and which would thus result in a major positive change.

The project Cartographies of Hope: Change Narratives was born out of the sense of urgency and the effort to address this situation. It seeks to bring attention to this condition and to call for joint effort to identify alternatives we can agree. The premise of the project is that narratives of social imaginary play a key role in generating positive changes. Social change is always seen as a certain story, which then becomes an important driver of the change itself. This double function of reflection and agency constitutes a methodological core of the project.”

More information on the project webpage

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

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

Go to Cultura21

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Urban Sustainability by Jessica Kimmel, ecoartspace intern 2011-2012

This post comes to you from EcoArtSpace

The Urban Sustainability program at Antioch University in Los Angeles encourages a multi-disciplinary approach to solving issues of scientific and societal importance. The core requirements for the degree include courses in systems thinking, environmental literacy, social justice and a hands-on approach to fieldwork. The program also provides graduate study in urban ecosystem science, activism and advocacy, environmental education, sustainable practices, and research methods. A large component is our fieldwork studies– contributing an opportunity to explore and develop skills to our rigorous studies and the experience to prepare for our ambitious futures. In my first semester of fieldwork in 2011, I selected two site projects including ecoartspacewith Patricia Watts and Green Public Art with Rebecca Ansert, both out of Los Angeles.

During the 36-unit degree program, I am participating in a series of residencies that consist of classroom instruction, guest lectures and elective seminars. Antioch has a long-standing commitment to social justice in the community that has allowed me to consider utilizing methods and theories of social sciences toward solving complex sustainability related concerns. The class has toured the port of Los Angeles, examined L.A.’s publiclands struggle the beach in Malibu and hiked through Ramirez Canyon, toured Venice on bikes with Bikerowave, and visited the Burbank Recycling Center and Puente Hills Landfill. These tours have created a really valuable platform for the free exchange of ideas pertaining to making our contribution more sustainable.

Antioch’sUrban Sustainability program will operate as a vehicle for the study of urbanization and its ecosystemic impacts. As social scientists, educators and communicators, I believe we must similarly examine how environmental hardship is socio-economically distributed. Environmental justice, climate change and land use provide us with excellent context. In the multi-disciplinary tradition, I have long studied and admired leading environmental artists suchas Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter. I applaud how progressive-intellectuals have successfully used various mediums to communicate complex ideas in accessible terms. Adams used photography to capture the beauty of the American landscape and bring awareness to the necessity of its protection. Photography is one of my academic and personal concentrations and as a master’s student my hope is to create an intersection of creativity and activism to initiate lasting changes.

This year was also my first experience curating an art show. I was the student organizer of this years annual ArtisticUprisingat Antioch, which took place on November 18, 2011. It was such an incredible experience for me to have and has allowed me to grow in ways I never dreamed of. Working on a project of such importance to the campus and AULA community, continuing the tradition as the fourth annual exhibit, and leading my peers through a successful show has given me a sense of fulfillment and validated the direction I’ve chosen. The art show was started by Cindy Short in 2008. Proceeds from art sales and other activities at the event benefit The Bridge Program. Bridge provides a college education for low-income adults in the Los Angeles area, at no cost to the student. The program pays their tuition for 15 college credits with all other necessary expenses included: books,supplies, bus tokens, and even meals on the evenings of classes.

Through the opportunities Antioch has given me, I have been able to witness first-hand the impacts and influence art can have in support of a sustainable existence on the goals of urban sustainability. It is my hope to contribute my efforts to mobilize artists in the pursuit of spreading the message of environmental consciousness. I will also be exposed to professionals outside of science and academia that are working to promote the goals of sustainability by participating in the environmental movement. My goal is to encourage environmental discourse in the local community and solidify artists as relevant stakeholders in the environmental dialogue. Through project management, artist interaction and social media, I have a unique opportunity to contribute toecoartspace’s operation, success and continued legacy as an invaluable and effective environmental resource. I admire what ecoartspace stands for and am thrilled by their initiatives for promoting and reaching sustainability. I am excited to be a member of their team and hope that our efforts together can transcend social, economic and political boundaries.

 

ecoartapace is one of the leading international organizations in a growing community of artists, scientists, curators, writers, nonprofits and businesses who are developing creative and innovative strategies to address our global environmental issues. We promote a diverse range of artworks that are participatory, collaborative, interdisciplinary and uniquely educational. Our philosophy embodies a broader concept of art in its relationship to the world and seeks to connect human beings aesthetically with the awareness of larger ecological systems.

Founded in 1997 by Tricia Watts as an art and nature center in development, ecoartspace was one of the first websites online dedicated to art and environmental issues. New York City curator Amy Lipton joined Watts in 1999, and together they have curated numerous exhibitions, participated on panels, given lectures at universities, developed programs and curricula, ad written essays for publications from both the East and West Coasts. They advocate for international artists whose projects range from scientifically based ecological restoration to product based functional artworks, from temporal works created outdoors with nature to eco-social interventions in the urban public sphere, as well as more traditional art objects.

ecoartspace has been a project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in
Los Angeles since 1999.
Go to EcoArtSpace

CONEXIONES IMPROBABLES

The international call is open for artists and social scientists to collaborate with the following nine organisations located in the Basque Country and Salamanca, as part of the 2011 edition of Improbable Connections: DeustoTech (Institute of Technology at the University of Deusto), Fagor Electrodomésticos (household appliances cooperative group), Anesvad Foundation (cooperation NGO), Germán Sánchez Ruipérez Foundation (dedicated to promoting reading), i68 Group (software engineering company), Lauaxeta Ikastola (school), Obe Hettich (furniture solutions company), Tknika (vocational training innovation centre) and Uribe Kosta (group of 10 City Councils in the Bilbao metropolitan area).

Deadline: 9am on 28 March 2011.

Collaboration period: May 2011 – January 2012.

Payment: 12,000 euros + VAT (including travel and accommodation).

More information: CONEXIONES IMPROBABLES.

ashdenizen: representing the unrepresentable

In this guest post, Kellie Payne, reports on Bruno Latour's recent talk at the Tate.

The French sociologist Bruno Latour gave the keynote address at this month's Tate Britain’s symposium Beyond the Academy: Research as Exhibition. His address considered the environmental crisis as a particular challenge which would require natural history, art museums and academia to join forces. The challenge, he said, was that “climate change is currently unrepresentable”.

In an effort to address this, Latour has embarked on a number of projects. One is the School of Political Arts at the Sciences Po in Paris. The school, which will be formally launched this year, will bring together young professionals in the social sciences and arts to attempt to represent the political problem of climate change. Latour says the school will “not join science, art and politics together, but rather disassemble them first and, unfamiliar and renewed, take them up again afterwards, but differently.”

Latour is also working on establishing a new type of Biennale in Venice, which will incorporate social scientists into artistic production. By bringing together social scientists and artists, Latour wants to address these issues in new ways. He expressed interest in Avatar, calling it the first ‘Gaia’ film, beginning this task of rethinking the ecological crisis and exploring ways of making it representable.

His engagement with climate change includes his participation in the Nordic Exhibition of the year Rethink: Contemporary Art and Climate Change which was staged in Copenhagen during COP15. He contributed to the Rethink exhibition catalogue with the essay “It's Development, Stupid” Or: How To Modernize Modernization. It is a response to Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, Break Through – From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility. In this essay, Latour argues that the separation of the subjective from the real into dichotomies such as 'nature' and 'culture' must end. In order to begin to tackle the challenges we are facing, we must acknowledge just how closely human and nature are entwined. He has given a lecture on ‘Politics and Nature’ at the Rethink The Implicit venue at the Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art.

Latour spent most of his Tate talk discussing two of his previous exhibition projects which combined the talents of artists and social scientists. Both exhibits were produced with Peter Weibel at ZKM Centre for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany. The first, Iconoclash (2002), which brought together a team of curators, including Hans Ulrich Obrist from the Serpentine Gallery, examined how iconoclasts are represented in art, religion and science. The second, Making Things Public, partnered artists with social scientists to create individual exhibits. The exhibition was centred on a number of themes: Assembling or Disassembling; Which Cosmos for which Cosmopolitics; The Problem of Composition; From Objects to Things; From Laboratory to Public Proofs; The Great Pan is Dead!; Reshuffling Religious Assemblies; The Parliaments of Nature. The exhibition sought to materialise the concept of a ‘Parliament of Things’.

Latour conceptualised his exhibitions as thought experiments, but found the exhibitions themselves to be failures, saying that most of the individual projects within the exhibition failed as works of art. The books that accompanied the exhibitions, in particular, Making Things Public, a large book created after the exhibition, were more successful.

This was one of the themes that emerged from the day at Tate: whether certain exhibitions work better as books. Latour said that working on exhibitions has been one of the most interesting parts of his academic life. Exhibitions, he said, have a different rhythm and intensity of work and creating the ‘thing in the space’ adds to intellectual life. But creating an exhibition must be different to writing. When exhibitions merely illustrate a point, no gain is made.

Latour’s interests have now moved towards ecology and the role of the arts in representing our environmental challenges and the need for artists and social scientists to collaborate on these issues. He said he himself is writing a play on climate change.

Kellie Payne is a PhD student in the Geography department at the Open University researching culture and climate change.

via ashdenizen: representing the unrepresentable.