ecoartscotland

BD Owens reviews ‘Assuming the Ecosexual Position’ by Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle

Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle have taught us all more about ecosexuality than perhaps any other artists. Their new book Assuming the Ecosexual Position: The Earth As Lover, reviewed by BD Owens, opens up their development of this practice in new, joyful ways. BD’s review of their film Water Makes Us Wet has been very widely read and reposted, so we asked him to give us the low down on this important new publication. He also highlights Beth and Annie’s installation as part of the NEoN Festival in collaboration with Sharing not Hoarding. BD draws on his reading of academics who make art, poetry and writing which is firmly positioned in decolonial thinking.


2021 Guggenheim Fellowship recipients Beth Stephens & Annie Sprinkle have written, with Jennie Klein, an extraordinary new book. Assuming the Ecosexual Position: The Earth as Lover (University of Minnesota Press)is a romping chronicle of love, art and research collaborative practice. It weaves together: memoir, art texts, photo collage, artwork archives, self-reflective criticism, theory, and stories of love, care, grief, threat, censorship and nail bitingly exciting mischief. Even before I had finished reading Una Chaudhuri’s immensely delightful forward, titled “Foreplay”, I had already cuddled this book. Thank you, Una Chaudhuri, for encouraging me to cuddle it again! Being dyslexic I am a slow reader, but this has been an advantage. Spending time with these packed pages has been hugely pleasurable. By the time I had read Paul B. Preciado’s “Afterward” and Linda Mary Montano’s “Postscript” I found myself having a dreamy and cathartic wee greet.

Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle’s collaborative art and activism practice has reached a broad range of audiences through their feature length films Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Ecosexual Love Story (2014) and Water Makes Us Wet: An Ecosexual Adventure(2017). Their performance works, and happenings, have been presented at documenta 14, the Venice Biennale and many other art festivals, galleries and venues across the Earth. Their socially engaged performances have included: â€œEcosexual Wedding” extravaganzas“Sidewalk Sex Clinics”“Ecosex Walking Tours”“Cuddle” sessions and â€œExtreme Kissing”. The stories in Assuming the Ecosexual Position: The Earth as Lover detail some of their behind-the-scenes adventures while making these projects. Readers from Scotland will be thrilled that the Glasgay! Festival (and the Centre for Contemporary Art in Glasgow) played a “juicy” part in their love story. Stephens and Sprinkle have been in a relationship, and collaborating, since 2002. The founders of the E.A.R.T.H. Lab at UCSC, describe themselves as, “two ecosexual artists in love, in a relationship with each other as well as with the Sky, Sea, Appalachian Mountains, Lake Kallavasi in Finland, the soil in Austria, the Sun, the Moon, Coal, [their] late dog Bob and current dog Butch, and other nonhuman and human entities.” Although they acknowledge the long-established position framing the Earth as mother, they assert that the Earth can also be a lover. Reconsidering the Earth as a lover, creates a shift in the dynamics of responsibility and mutual respect.

Sprinkle and Stephens tread gently and respectfully when addressing serious subject matter; especially since at the core of the “Ecosexual Position” is a conversation about climate crisis and ecological devastation. However, for some, it can be difficult to absorb the hard truth of things. With that in mind, using the device of comic relief, the authors have planted puns, playful semiotics and outrageously high camp throughout. In this way, they are using humour as a desirable pathway into territory that may be challenging or unfamiliar to some readers. Joy is central to Stephens and Sprinkle’s ecosexual practice, process and purpose. It was Paul B. Preciado who “introduced [them] to the work of the Argentinian social activist and conceptual artist Roberto Jacoby, who advocated for what he called “strategies of joy”: small actions that face down and confront the fear in people’s minds.”

In the early chapters, Sprinkle and Stephens answer some burning questions: What were the circumstances that led them to meet in the first place? How did they end up in artistic collaboration? How did ACT UP and “third-wave, sex-positive feminism” influence their thinking? What was the genesis for the seven year project â€œLove Art Laboratory”? How did they cope behind the scenes of the â€œBreast Cancer Ballet”? Why did they choose to make performance art weddings to marry the “more-than-human”? What sparked their interest in developing Ecosexual and Sexecology research? And, what shaped Beth and Annie’s childhoods? As a rural Queer myself, I very much related to Beth’s account of her adventures while growing up in Appalachia. “The mountains and woods inspired [her] ecosexual desires. The hills were the commons where food was free if you could find it and the water was so clean that you could count the fish for dinner while they were still swimming.” Even before Beth and Annie had unearthed ecosexual orientation through their art practice research, it had always been there. In the same chapter, Annie recollects her early love of swimming. “I took in the sound of the splash and then the silence of being underwater. I became one with the water.” Reading their “Ecosexual Herstories”, a quote from Mary Oliver’s Upstream comes to mind, “Attention is the beginning of devotion.”

In their devotion to “Theoretical Ground”, the authors draw upon theory and scholarly illumination from Greta GaardBruno LatourDonna Haraway and Kim TallBear(amongst others). Donna Haraway’s book Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, and “[her] ideas about science, posthumanism, new materialism and contemporary ecofeminism have been tremendously influential for [Stephens and Sprinkle] as [they] have formulated ecosexuality and sexecology.” Stephens and Sprinkle interview Haraway in their film Water Makes Us Wet. Kim TallBear “has also been generative to [Stephens and Sprinkle in the] formulating of [their] theories of ecosexuality.” TallBear’s “work examines the historical and ongoing roles of technosciencein the colonising and subjugation of Indigenous peoples.” In the chapter “Between the Covers: Related and Recommended Books and Movies”, Stephens and Sprinkle have provided an extensive list of scholarly writing from the aforementioned thinkers (and many more). I was thrilled to see the essay â€œImagination and Empathy: Artists with Trees” by Glasgow based artists Tim Collins and Reiko Goto -Collins in “Between the Covers”. For additional reading on decolonial thinking, I would also recommend the work of Zoe ToddBilly-Ray Belcourt and Sebastian De Line.

In addition to working with Annie and Beth on this book, art historian Jennie Klein (Ohio University) organised The Purple Wedding to the Appalachian Mountains on the university campus in Athens, Ohio. Some readers may be familiar with Klein’s work through her collaboration with Deirdre Heddon, University of Glasgow, co-editing the book Histories and Practices of Live Art (2012). From an art historical perspective, I found Assuming the Ecosexual Position to be a web of delights. One of the things that I hugely appreciate about Beth and Annie’s feminist practice is that they generously platform all who contributed to the performances and projects. The book opens with a very sweet dedication “to two beloveds”, Madison Young, curator and performer, and Paul B. Preciado, curator, writer and Queer theorist. In most chapters, there are cascades of credited project collaborators including: curators, artists, designers, directors, performers, writers, musicians, sexperts, scientists, academics, activists, Radical Faeries and technicians.

They pay tribute to notable artists who have shaped their approach to their practice such as Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Linda Mary Montano and Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison. Significantly, Geoffrey Hendricks and Martha Rosler were two of Beth’s professors while she was pursuing her MFA at Rutgers. It is remarkable that, even before Beth and Annie met, they both had mentorship from different Fluxus artists, a chosen Fluxus family tree of sorts. Willem de Ridder on Annie’s branch of the family tree and Geoffrey Hendricks on Beth’s branch.

Throughout the book, the project-related texts give great insights into the blossoming of the Ecosexual Position. These texts could stand alone for use in classroom or group discussions, they include: artist statements, manifestos, wedding vows, wedding homilies, how-to-guides, lyrics (by Peaches), protest chants and protest signs with slogans such as: “FUCK DON’T FRACK!”, “COMPOSTING IS SO HOT!”, DIRTY & PROUD”, “ECOSEXUALS UNITE!”. In another kind of protest, readers who are firmly against marriage will be pleased to see Barbara Carrellas’s Top Ten Reasons Why Marriage Should Be Abolished!!! included with the account of the Red Wedding. Furthermore, the selection of full-colour archive images, and the diagram of the “Sprinkle/Stephens Scale: How Ecosexual are you?” will also be revealing to the uninitiated.

Another section that greatly amused me is the “Ecosexual Glossary” which ends with an invitation to the reader to add to the collection. This glossary reminds me a bit of Alec Finlay’s chapter ‘From A Place-Aware Dictionary’ in the Antlers of Water anthology, but Annie and Beth’s “Dirty Words” are a newly fabricated lexicon, and certainly more tongue in cheek than Finlay’s. Traveling through the pages, there are many behind-the-scenes stories from their projects including some things that didn’t quite go according to plan, but they tell us how they rolled with it. Reading their accounts of rolling around in earth during their performances Dirty Sexecology at Bone II—A Performance Saga: Encounters with Women Pioneers of Performance Art (Bern), Dirt Bed at Emmetrop (Bourges), and their Dirty Wedding to the Soil at Donau Fest (Krems), brought the last line from Love Poem: Centaur by Donika Kelly into my head. “Love, I pound the earth for you. I pound the earth.”

It appears that Scotland is a hotbed of fertile earth for ecosexual art practice and poetry.

Rachel Plummer’s poems Titan Arum and Iris, the oldest particle physicist at CERNbreathe sexecology and “part-tickle theory” into the LGBTQIAE+ community.

Meanwhile, Kate Clayton’s glamorous performance character Pearl Compost stars in a new film Pearl & Theory Make Compost. It “is a soil-based, earthbound, intergenerational collaboration between Kate Clayton and Sophie Seita.”

Cloudberry MacLean also has a new film in post-production. In Low Rent, MacLean examines the politics of land ownership, drawing on her experience of living secretly in her community garden allotment for the duration of the pagan calendar year. Both of these films contain scenes of nude garden-frolicking, demonstrating that gardening in Scotland can be political, intellectual, glamorous, sensuous and sexy.

In November, Nosheen Khwaja showed Invocations for Love and Loss as part of the RotU Collective (en)countering crisis + re:making futures exhibition series. If you didn’t get a chance to see the RotU series, watch out for Nosheen Khwaja’s upcoming expanded version of Invocations for Love and Loss in Newcastle, 2022.

Meanwhile, Alberta Whittle, who will represent Scotland at the Venice Biennale, currently has her work featured in the marvelous Sex Ecologies exhibition (and exciting MIT Press publication) at Kunsthall, Trondheim until March 9th, 2022.

This year, curators in Scotland have been programming Stephens and Sprinkle’s projects. NEoN Festival 2021, entitled Wired Women*, presented the Assuming the Ecosexual Position exhibition in both an online gallery space, and also as a public art poster installation in collaboration with Sharing Not Hoarding at Slessor Gardens in Dundee (there is a great slide show if you follow this link – Ed.). In addition, NEoN presented a screening of Water Makes Us Wet: An Ecosexual Adventure, which included a Q&A with the filmmakers.

‘Assuming the Ecosexual Position’ posters installed on Sharing not Hoarding, Dundee. Photo: Kathryn Rattray

Earlier in the year, Glasgow Artists’ Moving Image Studios presented an outdoor screening of Goodbye Gauley Mountain with a fabulously fun short film by Emma Bowen called Feminist Economics Football: A Cooperative Game (a game created by Ailie Rutherford, Sapna Agarwal & Mandy Roberts). Feminist Economics Football highlights the “overlaps in common ground” between the 3 teams: “Decolonisation”, “Degrowth” and “Climate Activism.” It is clear by this curatorial programme that there is a recognition in Scotland that Ecosexual art & activism make a great partnership with the Feminist Economics movement!

Adding the “E” to the LGBTQIAE+ alphabet makes perfect sense to those who have felt excluded from the established environmentalist circles. Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens have created a much needed “space outside the environmental activist mainstream” where people can be themselves.

“[A] tributary alongside the mainstream where people of colour, drag kings and queens, sex workers, freaks, queers, experimental artists, punk rockers, genderqueer, trans people, and others could be part of a creative, fun, friendly, environmental justice activism community and movement together.”

In these times of compounding crises, the grief and anxiety that many people are grappling with can cause paralysing despair (or worse). This book is a reminder that there are joyful strategies for, what Donna Haraway would call, ‘staying with the trouble.’ Assuming the Ecosexual Position has the potential to encourage a wide variety of individuals (and communities) to imagine and to create hopeful possible futures.

If you missed NEoN Festival 2021, you can still see the Assuming The Ecosexual Position exhibition at Sharing Not Hoarding until January 16th, 2022.

In addition to some new vibrant artworks, the 18 installation posters feature some of the gorgeous photos, digital collages and texts from the Assuming the Ecosexual Position: The Earth as Lover book. The place, space and surroundings of the exhibition site, including the trees, sky, park space, River Tay, rolling hills and Dundee Urban Orchard’s Edible Garden, bring additional layers of interpretation to these works. For example, from a historical context, public parks are locations in which LGBTQIAE+ communities have generated a collective sense of belonging, or even a radical mindset of ownership; whether it be in parks in Dundee, Montreal, San Francisco or Istanbul. As a former resident of Dundee, I am elated to see Stephens and Sprinkle’s uplifting, humorous, ecosexy artworks embedded next to public park space at Slessor Gardens. This installation is such a fabulous companion piece to the book. Assuming the Ecosexual Position: The Earth as Lover is now in my selection of beloved books that I desire to return to over and over.


B. D. Owens is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Shandon, on the Gare Loch. Owens holds an MFA in Art, Society & Publics from DJCAD, University of Dundee, and a BFA in Sculpture from Concordia University, Montreal. Since 2012 he has shown his artwork internationally; including in festivals such as MIX NYC, NEoN Festival and Ars Electronica. His writing has been published in We Were Always Here: A Queer Words AnthologyNew Writing Scotland: Talking About Lobsterseco/art/scot/landMedia-N: The Journal of the New Media Caucus; and Bella Caledonia. He serves on the Executive of the Scottish Artists Union. 

For their 2021 festival programme, NEoN Digital Arts commissioned B. D. Owens and layla-roxanne hill to write a collaborative think piece, titled Bread, Roses, Coal, Water and the Ecosexual Position which is published by Bella Caledonia.

(Top image: Photo credit Julian Cash and Design Credit Sandra Friesen)

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

Powered by WPeMatico

Statement from Culture Declares Emergency on COP26

We are reproducing the Statement issued 7th October 2021 by Culture Declares in full. ecoartscotland fully supports this statement. We call on arts institutions, particularly the Boards and senior managements, to fully engage with the Culture Declares ‘call to action’. 


October 7, 2021

Statement from Culture Declares Emergency on COP26  

KEY MESSAGES

  • We are a growing movement of individuals and organisations in the Culture sector who have declared a climate and ecological emergency. 
  • COP26 is based on the Paris Agreement, which offers an inadequate trajectory to stabilise the climate. Most nations, including our host nation, are not even on course to keep to the Paris Agreement path. 
  • The worsening Earth crisis, both ecological damage and climate impacts, is shocking scientists and causing suffering, particularly for Most Affected Peoples and Areas.
  • In light of these failures in the face of the worsening Earth crisis, we make two urgent calls to politicians and policy-makers, and to the Culture sector.
  • We draw attention to the role of Culture: we invite politicians/policy-makers to collaborate with the Cultural sector to stimulate imagination, to generate ideas for innovation and to engage with communities. 
  • We invite Culture sector workers to join us in declaring emergency, and to make work and action plans that reach beyond COP26 to stir radical imagination and systemic change. 

OUR STATEMENT

We are a movement of arts and culture sector workers and organisations, mostly based in the UK, who have come together to declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency. This is a statement about COP26 from those active in the working groups of Culture Declares. 

We are in a time when six of nine planetary boundaries have been breached, and most of the control variables for the boundaries are moving away from the safe operating space. We have declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency, so we are taking and calling for action across all interconnected environmental issues, including biosphere degradation. Our attention this Autumn is on two international initiatives: COP15 on Biodiversity and COP26.

While the Biodiversity summit is vital, Climate Change is the most serious boundary because of its impacts across the whole Earth system and humanity. The intensity and scale of the extreme heat in America and floods in Europe have shocked climate scientists, who did not expect records to be broken this much, over such a wide area or this soon. Tipping points are being reached. For example, the Amazon rainforest now emits more CO2 than it absorbs. 

COP26, hosted by the UK in November 2021, aims to continue holding nations to account to their Paris Agreement promises, but most nations’ plans are inadequate to stabilise the temperature increase between 1.5C and 2C. The target of 2C has been wrongly seen by some as an upper safe limit and it now appears that 1.5C is not safe either, based on the intersecting impacts unfolding now at 1.2C. 

The Paris Agreement was based on the IPCC 5th Assessment which had been watered down due to pressure from high emitting nations. The actions from the Agreement are in no way adequate to mitigate or adapt to the emerging climate catastrophe in ways that will bring justice for Most Affected People and Areas. The latest evidence suggests that the Paris targets will be insufficient to prevent a Hothouse Earth pathway as impacts are ‘baked in’ from historic emissions and the most likely trajectories of mitigation. The leaked IPCC 6th Assessment report from Working Group II due in early 2022 predicts a ferocious century of climate impacts, particularly in poor countries. 

COP26 aims to hold nations to the ‘ratchet mechanism’, increasing their contributions to reduce emissions. However, ambitions to increase action will be harmed by the example of the host, the UK Government, which is not even meeting its existing promises. Also, the UK Government has cut foreign aid by £4 billion, leaving people to starve who are most affected by climate impacts and conflict in places such as Yemen, Syria, South Sudan and Congo. 

In light of these failures in the face of the worsening Earth crisis, we make the following urgent calls: 

To politicians and policy-makers:

  • We call for sustained and ramped up action to tackle the Climate and Ecological Emergency across nations, regions and sectors. This action must be greater than any plans set for COP26 and pledges based on the Paris Agreement. 
  • The Emergency, which includes the risk of pandemics like COVID-19, should be at the heart of all your thinking, at every level. This requires injections of imagination about how harmful systems and embedded inequalities can change for the better. 
  • We invite you to collaborate with the Cultural sector to stimulate this imagination, to generate ideas for innovation and to engage with communities. 

To people working in the Cultural sector*: 

  • We invite you to join us in declaring emergency if you haven’t already, and to pursue pathways that tell the truth, take action in your practice and communities, and seek global justice and decolonisation. 
  • We invite you to go beyond creating events or art to be seen and heard due to the spotlight of COP26, instead forging your own spotlights that illuminate the systemic issues that matter to you and your communities, and to make plans to keep these issues shining into the future as challenges unfold. 
  • Consider your role beyond COP26 to help people cope with grief after its inevitable failure. 

*We interpret the Cultural sector extremely broadly, to include arts, design, heritage, and personal & community creativity. 

NOTES

About Culture Declares Emergency 

We are a growing movement of individuals and organisations involved in art and culture. We declare this is a Climate and Ecological Emergency and we pledge to tell truths, take action and seek justice. Launched in April 2019, we were the first sector to form a declarer’s movement, inspired by local governments’ emergency declarations. Based in the UK, but collaborating internationally, we offer community and resources to ensure that sustained action follows a declaration. 

Please contact us on culturedeclares@gmail.com to discuss this statement, or other aspects of our work. 

Find out how to declare and get involved in the community https://www.culturedeclares.org/ 

Some creative initiatives by declarers and friends of our movement that you can get involved with include:

  • Paint the Land: In the months leading up to COP26, Writers Rebel’s Paint the Land project is teaming a handful of high-profile writers with well-loved visual artists to create landscape graffitos with a powerful ecological message. This will take the form of striking words “painted” on natural outdoor canvases. https://www.ackroydandharvey.com/ackroyd-harvey-and-ben-okri/  
  • Letters to the Earth: In collaboration with The Climate Coalition and Listening to the Land (a 500 mile pilgrimage to Glasgow), Letters to the Earth is hosting creative workshops as part of a series of nationwide community interventions to collect people’s fears and hopes for the future, in the run up to COP26. https://www.letterstotheearth.com/ 
  • Culture Takes Action: We are amplifying the actions that declarers are taking, using #CultureTakesAction and, in the run of to COP26, also #CultureCOP26. If you’d like your action or project to be shared on social media, or perhaps at one of our online events, please complete this form: https://forms.gle/CNJZ4DUgqBrPNZLQ6 


See more actions & artworks for COP26 by declarers here.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

Powered by WPeMatico

occasional papers #5 WetlandLIFE

Perceptions of wetlands vary considerably – from disease-ridden ‘swamps’ that should be drained for farmland or housing, to wildlife havens generating local employment and enjoyment for thousands of visitors. Meanwhile, the mosquitoes that live in them are typically seen as a nuisance with no useful purpose – few people champion them for their aesthetic or intrinsic value, and their contribution to the resilience of wetland ecosystems remains largely unrecognised.

(OPENING PARAGRAPH FROM THE ARTISTS’ BRIEF FOR WETLANDLIFE)

ecoartscotland published a number of articles on WetlandLIFE and the project’s work with artists Victoria Leslie, Kerry Morrison and Helmut Lemke during 2017 and 2018, including pieces from the artists as well as from other team members including Principal Investigator Tim Acott, Dave Edwards of Forest Research, and Adriana Ford.

The WetlandLIFE project focused on the multiple values of wetlands. It was part of Valuing Nature Programme which set out “…to improve understanding of the value of nature both in economic and non-economic terms, and improve the use of these valuations in decision making.”

WetlandLIFE and the contribution of artists came under scrutiny in a workshop organised by the Art and Artists in Environmental and Landscape Research Today(AALERT) as part of the AALERT4DM project

We have put together all the articles published on ecoartscotland as an issue of our series of occasional papers. We’ve also added Chris Fremantle’s piece for The Nature of Cities which provides a wider context of artists working with wetlands highlighting examples relevant to the major challenges identified by the Ramsar Conventionincluding pollution, biodiversity loss and urban development.

Download the collected articles here.

(Top photo: Tim Acott, Linear Landscape: South Swale Nature Reserve, Kent. From the photoessay ‘Wetlands, Wonder and Place‘. With permission.)

——

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

Powered by WPeMatico

Ecosystem Services and Gaelic report published Pt2

The intersection of the cultural and the ecological highlighted in the previous post, including the ways that artists and cultural practitioners engage with cultural dimensions of biodiversity, in this case manifest in language, engages the cultural sector directly with understanding and articulating ecosystem services. Ecosystem Services and the associated assessments provide a critical method used across environmental research and management. Too often the cultural dimension has been focused by tourism and the role of the arts and culture in opening up understandings of ecosystems has been overlooked.

Dave Pritchard contextualised the Ecosystem Services and the Gaelic language report(NatureScot 2021) in relation to wider policy work being done by different bodies. In terms of language and ecosystems, he highlights:

The cultural services chapter of the status & trends volume of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment places languages in the ecosystem services context – https://www.millenniumassessment.org/documents/document.286.aspx.pdf .

The UK National Ecosystem Assessment produced an excellent report on cultural services http://uknea.unep-wcmc.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=t884TkrbVbQ%3D&tabid=82 . It combines linguistics in the sense of vocabularies with linguistics in the sense of distinct languages.

In the wider context of language as part of intangible cultural heritage, Dave highlights:

The United Nations 2003 ‘Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage’.

There has been specific work to highlight the relationship between intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development (publication in English here other languages also available). UNESCO have developed an interactive interface highlighting the connections between specific exemplary intangible heritage including dance, rituals, festivals and other forms, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

UNESCO and the Convention on Biological Diversity have joint programme and have identified a range of resources https://www.cbd.int/lbcd/resources including publications on cultural and spiritual values of biodiversity. There is more information on the programme here https://www.cbd.int/lbcd/about.

According to Dave, internationally the pre-eminent organisation is Terralingua which promotes understanding and appreciation of the vital value of the world’s biocultural diversity for the thriving of all life on earth.— the diversity of life in nature and culture.

There is also the International Ecolinguistics Association, and its journal Language & Ecology – http://www.ecoling.net/ .

In a Scottish specific context he highlighted Museums Galleries Scotland’s report ‘Scoping and Mapping Intangible Cultural Heritage in Scotland Final Report (PDF)‘ from 2008 (which is on the website of the Fair Scotland, celebrating Scotland’s Show People).

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

Powered by WPeMatico

Walking Publics/Walking Arts: walking, wellbeing and community during Covid-19

Dee Heddon asked us to share this, and to encourage participation in the research through completing the survey (below). Walking is an everyday activity (more so since the shops have been closed) and also an approach used by artists, whether as part of a social or solo practice, to create personal work or as part of larger projects. Rebecca Solnit says in Wanderlust, “Walking . . . is how the body measures itself against the earth.”


Anecdotes and data alike suggest that during the past year of COVID-19, people have walked more and, when restrictions were in place, such walking was necessarily hyper-local (within a 1-mile radius) or local (with a 5-mile radius). This certainly resembles my experience. I’ve lived in Glasgow for most of my adult life, moving here to attend University at the age of 17, spending a relatively brief 7-years in Devon, and returning in 2006. I’ve only ever lived in the west of the city (Maryhill, Partick, Kelvinbridge, and Hillhead). I thought I knew this area like the back of my hand. This year has taught me that, in fact, I knew very little. As well as walking familiar routes, sometimes daily (Botanic Gardens, River Kelvin), the restrictions also prompted me to do lots of urban drifting, traversing streets not yet walked, finding new (to me) cobbled lanes and mews houses, modern builds tucked around corners and down dead ends, residents’ gardens dotted across the urban landscape, and hidden alleyways. The west end of Glasgow is much more than tenement flats. I’ve also extended my pedestrian reach to new parks, including Dawsholm and Ruchhill, the first home to astounding old woods inhabited by parakeets, the second to the largest daffodil display in Glasgow and resident woodpeckers. I’ve been quite astounded by the city that’s surfaced from beneath my feet.

Walking and Covid research project / University of Glasgow Photograph by Martin Shields Tel 07572 457000 http://www.martinshields.com Â© Martin Shields

Since 2010 I’ve been following, writing about and practicing walking as a cultural practice, first by interviewing women artists about their walking work and secondly by launching my own creative walking projects (40 Walks and The Walking Library). Now I embark on a new venture: exploring people’s experiences of walking during COVID-19, with a particular focus on felt experiences and the intersection of walking and creativity. At a time when restrictions have kept us physically distanced, the well-placed coloured stones or chalked messages seem to have been deployed artfully to keep us socially connected, and to keep our walking joyful and engaged. There are a lot of artists in the UK who identify as “Walking Artists”, and many of them have continued to create walking work this year, adapting their practice to the new landscapes within which we find ourselves. A brief scan also suggests that some artists have turned to walking as a new material for their creative practice, something that can still connect, can be convivial or restorative or attentive, and be undertaken safely. 

‘Walking Publics/Walking Arts: walking, wellbeing and community during Covid-19’ is an 18-month research project, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council. We are exploring the potential of the arts to sustain, encourage and more equitably support walking during and recovering from a pandemic. You can find out more at www.walkcreate.org 

We’ve launched the project with two surveys about walking during COVID-19, one for the general public and one for artists who have used walking in their practice.

The aim of our research is to understand more about how creative practices can be used to support more people to walk well, during and out of a pandemic. We look forward to sharing our findings, but to help us please do complete one of our surveys. 


Dee Heddon is Professor of Contemporary Performance at the University of Glasgow(UK). She is a practice-based researcher and has published articles in peer-reviewed journals, as well as academic monographs and book-chapters. She is well known for her interest in autobiographical performance, site-specific performance and walking art.

(Top photo: Dee Heddon / University of Glasgow Photograph by Martin Shields Tel 07572 457000 http://www.martinshields.com © Martin Shields)

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

Powered by WPeMatico

Ecosystems Services and Gaelic Report published

NatureScot recently published a report on the relevance of Gaelic language, place names, literature and song, tradition and folklore to assessing ecosystem services. This is a very significant development in approaching ecosystem service assessment through a cultural lens, understanding that culture is not just tourism and beauty spots, but is the articulation of values, uses and meanings.

The Gaelic heritage of Scotland, despite being largely ignored by authorities and academics concerned with land and marine management, has much to offer those who seek to analyse how Scottish ecosystems might, and do, provide services to the population of the country and beyond. The Gaelic language, and its attendant culture and heritage give a unique and informative window on the landscape and natural ecosystems, and human interactions with both, in the Scottish Highlands, over a very long period, and therefore possess relevance for the Scottish people’s collective view of their land and its management, now and in the future. In this scoping report, the author explores Gaelic toponymy, literature and oral tradition, as they impinge upon Ecosystem Services, and makes twenty recommendations for future, detailed research on these issues

RESEARCH REPORT NO. 1230 ‘ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND GAELIC: A SCOPING EXERCISE’

The next challenge is to explore how contemporary artists are involved in this. Artists across every artform as well as designers are engaged in the cultural ways of understanding ecosystems. Prof Murdo Macdonald explored Gaelic, colour and the indigenous plant life of Scotland in a paper given to the Black Wood of Rannoch Workshop, Kinloch Rannoch, 22 November 2013 organised by Collins and Goto working with Forest Research.

He concludes saying, 

To use another phrase from Gregory Bateson, ‘mind and nature’, what I have argued here is that, whether one looks at the Gaelic alphabet with its botanical references, or the landscape subtlety of Gaelic colour words, the Gaelic language facilitates the understanding of ‘mind and nature’ as integral to one another.

HTTPS://MURDOMACDONALD.WORDPRESS.COM/ALPHABET-COLOUR-GAIDHEALTACHD-AN-ECOLOGY-OF-MIND/

image from Alec Finlay/Gathering website

One example is poet and visual artist Alec Finlay – his work Gathering is just one example. 

Gathering is an innovative mapping of the Highland landscape in poems, essays, photographs, and maps, conceived by Scottish artist and poet Alec Finlay. The work guides the reader to modest and forgotten places in this complex region.

Finlay worked from Adam Watson’s published collection of names, one of the most significant modern contributions to Scottish folk-culture consisting of over 7,000 local place-names, covering every ruined farm, shieling, hill, glen, spring, burn, and wood in the region. Over a period of years, Finlay expanded Watson’s catalogue into a generous ‘ecopoetic’ and ‘place-aware’ account of the Cairngorms, accompanied by photographs showing the hills in all their seasonal variety. Essays guide the reader to names that reveal the haunts of wolves and wildcats, and cast a vivid impression of the great pinewoods that once grew there, and may again.

HTTP://GATHERING-ALECFINLAY.BLOGSPOT.COM/

screenshot from Mapping the Sea website

Another is Stephen Hurrel and Dr Ruth Brennan’s Mapping the Sea project which also focuses on place names and the seascape.

The idea of a dynamic map – to reflect intergenerational knowledge, fishermen’s ways of knowing the sea and the intangible cultural heritage* of the marine environment – had been discussed by Brennan and MacKinnon, and Hurrel proposed the idea of an interactive digital map. This was subsequently developed by Hurrel and Brennan as a way of bringing to life, and making visible, what is often invisible to most people.

HTTP://WWW.MAPPINGTHESEA.NET/BARRA/

There are many other examples of these approaches which need to inform ecosystem service assessment processes.

——

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

Powered by WPeMatico

Unfix in conversation

ecoartscotland has worked with UNFIX, the DIY festival of performance on several occasions, including in 2019 when we hosted Christiana Bisset’s embedded artist project. Chris Fremantle and Anne Douglas also performed at UNFIX 2019, with selected readings from the works of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison. 

With the next iteration of UNFIX planned for this summer, possibly with some haptic elements as well as some digital, Chris Fremantle met with Paul Michael Henry and Ane Lopez. They discussed performance as everyday life, what UNFIX stands for and how it relates to other projects that question our culture, as well as the climate emergency.

UNFIX 2021 is in partnership with The Barn in Aberdeenshire as well as CCA in Glasgow, and the Open Call for Proposals (deadline 2 April) includes opportunities to work with both those organisations.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

Powered by WPeMatico

David Haley ‘Going beyond Earthly’

Editor’s introduction:

The Barn, Banchory, has always had an environmental dimension, including allotments, a wild garden, biofuel boilers and shares the site with Buchanan’s, a slow food bistro. But as the largest rural multi-arts centre in Scotland, The Barn has used the challenges of Covid and the impact on the performing arts to rethink what it might mean to be an ecological organisation. To do that, amongst other initiatives, the team created the Becoming Earthly programme to engage with artists also interested in the question of what it means to be terrestrial. For the initial phase eleven artists/practices participated from across the visual and performing arts. This programme involved seven sessions, each led by a different person [1], and had physical, reflective as well as discussion elements. As David explains, Becoming Earthly isn’t a conventional project. It has generated its own energy and is continuing.

Chris Fremantle was an Associate Producer on the programme, and he put out a call to participants to reflect on what Becoming Earthly meant to them. This is David Haley’s response. The poem above and at the bottom is David Haley’s alternative to an image.


Reflection

This is not a review of Becoming Earthly and given the brevity of this text, much has been omitted, particularly the contributions of individuals at The Barn and each of the Session Leaders. The question is, how did Becoming Earthly influence my practice and thinking? This reflection starts with my application to Becoming Earthly:

Question: Emancipation from outmoded industrial urban infrastructures, corporate digital technologies and oppressive education is vital for human ecological resilience; how may we regenerate fundamental culture for critical recovery with Earth?

Expectation (extracts): I hope Becoming Earthly will enable me to explore and learn with others, new ways of thinking and doing to generate the critical mass for transition beyond the current straightjacket of social norms … I hope that we (will seek) timely, regenerative means of listening to others, human and non-human alike.

Together we may pursue diverse ‘capable futures’ to create the capacity to dream with passion, hope and grace.

Structure – Form – Process

Having the opportunity was very important, because it represented acceptance. Even as a mature artist, researcher and ecopedagogue, I still need assurances that the work I do is relevant, so being offered a place with Becoming Earthly (BE) was/is important. Zoom is a very particular environment to interact with others and given the ongoing pandemic, it is one that some of us accept as the ‘new normal’, some view as a great techno-communications advancement and others as a necessary evil. However, I think we must remain aware that it is not the same as meeting people face to face and it brings with it both favours and disadvantages different people’s communication and learning skills. At times, I find it difficult to contain my enthusiasm and have to rein myself in to ensure that others have space and time. Managed with care, as a co-learning dialogue, BEhelped my awareness to aim for listening in creative Zoom encounters I have created or participated in since.

Content, Relevance & Context

Given the conversational limitations of Zoom, notions of transition, transformation and regeneration did emerge and continue to do so. Some political widely/deeply cultural issues were explored beyond merely topical concerns, but overt expressions of outrage and passion are still considered unacceptable in polite society.

As for art and ecology, BE directly and indirectly touched on some aspects, particularly with John Newling’s work. While all participants seemed to be interested in his form of working and thinking, for some it seemed to be a relatively new phenomenon, so I learned that there is still a great need for further discourse on what ecological art might be and might become. Indeed, triggered by BE, the notion of ‘beginners mind’ [2] is something I have returned to.

There was some disquiet around the provision of academic texts, their relevance to artists and non-academic people. Personally, I wasn’t an academic until I, as an artist, needed to read and reflect upon complex issues. Given our contemporary, gross consumption of instant information and hyped culture of digital media, the texts provided by each session leader continue to provide good challenges and alternative perspectives for my slow thinking. It is worth noting the trust that built throughout the sessions, so maybe folk who were concerned about potential ‘academicism’ will be reassured and take the time to return to the texts.

Other Insights

Opening-up. Even as an aged, white, educated, male, artist, I thought of myself as pretty radical and empathetic to/with issues of colonialism and intersectionality, however BEopened me up to much deeper ‘acknowledgement’ – in the sense of John Coltrane’s Love Supreme, Part 1 [3] – re-examining the context in which we live, I see as essential to the process of BE. My reading has since found new paths of exploration, particularly around intersectionality, colonialism and nuances of pedagogy that previously I only saw as dialectical – rationalised arguments of political realities, now giving way to empathetic understanding. Dialogue as an art form is something I have been engaged with since the mid-90s and I immersed myself in Socratic and critical forms of dialogue, but BE expanded my capacity for feeling/experiencing perhaps, even empathising with these issues. And as personal transformative challenges, these are now embedded in my practice and engagement with others. Practically, I gained confidence and some skills to facilitate a series of Zoom, storying workshops with people experiencing stress and anxiety issues, What’s your story?.

Session 8 – BE was seven sessions, but ‘Unfinished…’ was generated by Paolo Maccagno’s initiative to self-organise. A great idea that takes the ‘what next?’ to a specific place of possible transformation, based on self-determinism. I like the idea of ‘Unfinished…’. It suggests evolutionary becoming, beyond hegemony; a dynamic to counteract many of society’s solution-led myths and takes Heidegger’s notion of daseinto that of grace (non-Christian) or becomingness [4]. If it works, it may emerge into a ‘Living Knowledge Network’; if it doesn’t, like most evolutionary events, it will at the very least have provided an opportunity…

Dreaming. Occasionally, at 3.30 in the morning, I find myself dreaming of cows at play, without guilt – an unresolved paradox that resonates from Wallace Heim’s session that found synergy between Play, Shame and Care.

Historically, emancipation takes time, sometimes a long time, for the conditions to be right. That is when ‘the most moral act of all is to create the space for life to move onwards’ [5] and when the time is right, like all revolutions, it will happen, ‘all at once and all together’ [6]. Becoming Earthy contributed generously to the former. I now await the latter; maybe a Second Becoming…?


down to earth dreaming

on becoming an artist

again and again


David Haley makes art with ecology, to inquire, learn and teach. He publishes, exhibits and works internationally with ecosystems and their inhabitants, using images, poetic texts, walking and sculptural installations to generate dialogues that question climate change, species extinction, urban development, transdisciplinarity and ‘critical recovery’ for ‘capable futures’.


Notes

[1] including Wallace Heim, Paolo Maccagno, John Newling, and Johan Siebers.

[2] Suzuki, S, (2020) Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: 50th Anniversary Edition Paperback. Boulder, Colorado: Shambhala Publications Inc.

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Pi5ZJZ07ME and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Love_Supreme

[4] Hodge, J. (1995) Heidegger and Ethics. London: Routledge

[5] Pirsig, R. (1993) Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals. London: Black Swan, 407

[6] Harrison, N (2017) On The Deep Wealth Of This Nation, Scotland. Lecture for The Barn at Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

Powered by WPeMatico

Reviewer needed: Earth Writings

Robin Wall Kimmerer helps us to understand how humans can be important parts of living systems in our interactions with other living things (Braiding Sweetgrass). Gary Snyder discusses ‘reinhabitants’. Barry Lopez identifies three qualities that are for him critical in indigenous peoples’ ways of living.

…three qualities – paying intimate attention; a storied relationship to a place rather than a solely sensory awareness of it; and living in some sort of ethical unity with a place… (Barry Lopez, ‘We are shaped by the sound of wind, the slant of sunlight’. High Country News, 1998)

ecoartscotland is looking to commission a response to or reflection on the book Earth Writings. The four practices highlighted all offer very different ways of thinking about art practice from conventional constructions. If you are interested please send a short note outlining your interest with links to two relevant pieces of your own writing to chris [at]fremantle [dotorg] .

Earth Writings (2020) is a richly illustrated arts book of essays, artwork, and exhibition vignettes that explore a range of Irish environments — Bogs, Forests, Fields, Gardens â€” through four artists creative practices. Written as an invitation to think and act differently about our current earth crises, readers learn how healthier places and worlds can be made through the work of MONICA DE BATH, CATHY FITZGERALD, PAULINE O’CONNELL and SEOIDÍN O’SULLIVAN, artists working in southwest Ireland who, to borrow Donna Haraway’s (2016) words, ‘stay with the trouble’. Scholars PATRICK BRESNIHAN, NESSA CRONIN, GERRY KEARNS and KAREN E. TILL, respectively, engaged with the artists and collaborated to write short essays that reflect upon the artists’ embedded ecological and social practices that make ‘kin in lines of inventive connections’ (Haraway, 2016). Introductions by LUCINA RUSSELL (Kildare County Council Arts Service) and Karen E. Till (Maynooth University Department of Geography), with a short inset of 2019 exhibition images and artist’s statements.

More info at earthwritings.ie

earth-writings-toc

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

Powered by WPeMatico

Top 10 Discard Studies articles of 2020

Yes, 2020 was a dumpster fire. To celebrate its end, we think back on than a year’s worth of trashy insights. Here are the top ten posts from Discard Studies in 2020 as determined by our readers! Here’s what you all read the most:

#10: A history of New York City’s solid waste management in photographs (2013)

The New York City Department of Sanitation is the largest sanitation department in the world, and the only department with both an artist-in-residence and an anthropologist-in-residence. Not only does the DSNY continue to pick up waste and snow, it is also integral as first responders in urban disasters, such as 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. This is an abbreviated history via archival photographs of NYC’s municipal waste collection history, posted in 2013 but still viewed regularly. We hear there’s a sanitation museum on the way in New York City, so readers rejoice!

One of George Waring’s White Wings cleans NYC streets, 1880s.

#9: There’s no such thing as We by Max Liboiron

The ninth most read article this year was written only two months ago. It’s about how universalism eliminates and controls crucial aspects of difference. Evoking the universal “we” is a technique of discarding through differentiation in a way that upholds dominant power dynamics. If you’ve ever been convinced by claims that “we” are destroying the planet, or “we” have failed to advert environmental catastrophe, or “we” are consuming out of control, this post is for you. 

#8: Ethnographic Refusal: A How To Guide (2016) by Alex Zahara

This article has been in the top ten since its publication in 2016. Researchers have the potential to uncover particularly sensitive information that, when revealed, may have very real social and material consequences for research participants and their communities. Examples of this could include the presence of contamination (in places, bodies or animals), access to knowledge that is considered sacred, or interview responses that are political and potentially identifying. Additionally, we might be given access to potentially painful community events and experiences. As researchers interested in justice, how do we proceed helpfully and ethically in our research in such situations? Read on.

This image of a pregnant Inuk woman was taken during a four month long dump fire that occurred in the Arctic community of Iqaluit, Nunavut. During the fire, pregnant women and women of childbearing age were warned not to go outside due to risks of dioxin contamination. The Inuktitut syllabics written on her hand read ‘Taima’ or ‘enough’, referring to decades of government underfunding that contributed to this and many other dump fires. The image is an example of refusal, as the image refuses to depict Inuit as passive victims of slow violence, instead redirecting attention towards government institutions. The image was distributed to media outlets and became the Facebook profile photo of a local ‘Stop the Dump Fires’ protest group. Photo by Shawn Inuksuk, 2014.

#7: Introduction to Rob Nixon’s Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (2015) by Anne Dance

A 2015 review with staying power! The central argument in Rob Nixon’s Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor—that there’s a long history of people and their homes being treated as disposable—is worth restating. It’s worth shouting from the rooftops. Slow Violence is also a call to spend more time with literary efforts that stretch our understanding of temporal and spatial violence while evoking empathy without complacency, works that show how communities and individuals have lived with the ongoing legacies of this violence.

#6: The Art of Mould (2012)

It was a slow day in the office in 2012 when we put together this digital gallery of mouldy art. Really, it;s just some beautiful images of artists who use mould as a medium. Something about 2020 brought viewers in. It is beauty in slow destruction, after all.

Daniele Del Nero, After Effects, paper, flour, mould.

#5: Municipal versus Industrial Waste: Questioning the 3-97 ratio (2016) by Max Liboiron

A central framing question in discard studies is about the scale of different type of waste. This article from 2016 remains a touchstone that analyzes (and links to!!) some of the central figures in waste and disard studies: the oft-quoted statistic that municipal solid waste accounts for only three percent of the waste in the United States, and the world. It’s said that the remaining 97 percent is industrial. But how is that number made? Is it reliable? We dig deep.

Chart by the author, based on figures from MacBride 2012, Royt 2007, EPA 1987.

#4: Waste is not matter out of place (2019) by Max Liboiron

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a zillion times: trash is matter out of place. Waste is dirt. Or is it? Max Liboiron doesn’t think so, for two reasons: first, they find that many, many scholars are using the idea of matter out of place in contradictory ways that have acute implications for theories of power. This is important because many of us who might self identify with the field of discard studies are dedicated to justice and good relations in our work, and conflating different theories of power may actually have effects that scholars are opposed to! That is, scholars and students may be against oppression and would like to intervene into structures of power, but their use of “matter out of place” conflates different theories of power that can actually allow techniques of power to go unnoticed, and may even contribute to naturalizing them. Secondly, when they dug into the work of uncovering the uses and circulations of “matter out of place,” the editors of Discard Studies, three seasoned scholars of discard studies, came across some surprises! In short, while “matter out of place” has been used to talk about both blue bins and concentration camps, our theories should be able to distinguish between them.

#3: Waste Colonialism (2018) by Max Liboiron

Waste colonialism describes how waste and pollution are part of the domination of one group in their homeland by another group. The concept has been gaining traction since the 1990s to explain patterns of power in wasting and pollution. Because all waste and pollution are about power by maintaining structures that designate what is valuable and what is not, understanding the role of colonialism in waste is crucial for understanding waste and power generally. 2020 is a year where new forms of waste colonialism and imperialism have taken shape during the pandemic (particularly in flows of tourism and the class and racialization of essential workers that are both heroes and disposable simultenously), and in the effects of climate change and how the gains and burdens of extreme weather and wildfires are playing out at massive scales.

#2: Toxins or Toxicants? Why the difference matters (2017) by Max Liboiron

This very short article from 2017 has been making the rounds in 2020. Toxins are poisons produced within living cells or organs of plants, animals, and bacteria. Toxicants are synthetic, human-made, toxic chemicals. The article argues that the difference is not merely one of semantics, but of justice.

#1: Map of 40 most influential environmental justice conflicts in the US (2015) by Environmental Justice Organizations, Liabilities and Trade

Our top post this year is, once again, a map. In 2016 and 2019 it was our number two. In 2017 and 2018 it was our number one and it is again this year! What staying power!  It shows the 40 most influential environmental justice conflicts in recent American history  included in a Global Atlas of Environmental Justice. In the United States, decades of research have documented a strong correlation between the location of environmental burdens and the racial/ethnic background of the most impacted residents. In an effort to choose landmark cases in the U.S. the team from University of Michigan elicited feedback from more than 200 environmental justice leaders, activists, and scholars in identifying these case studies.

“The map shows some of the most representative environmental justice conflicts in the United States. In an effort to choose landmark cases we elicited feedback from more than 200 environmental justice leaders, activists, and scholars in identifying these case studies. These cases represent a range of time periods, geographic regions, communities, and environmental challenges. However, they are only a very small subset of the many influential case studies that have contributed to the U.S. environmental justice movement past and present.”


ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

Powered by WPeMatico