Natures that Matter in Activism and Art
At a time when the interrelatedness of ecological crisis is becoming ever more tangible, it has almost become commonplace to state that the distinction between nature and culture cannot be made.
This relates strangely to saying “Nature will survive without us.” Does this mean that nature is indifferent to ecological degradation, does this mean that humans –nature ourselves– are indifferent, or should be? The lecture Natures that Matter looks at notions of nature, challenging indifference and the cultivation of not-knowing in art.
Additional reading materials
Artist talk and workshop by
Daniela Paes Leão
Tools towards Utopia
Many around the globe are convinced that 2020 is a pivotal year for our and earth’s future in terms of countering catastrophic climate collapse.
To tackle this issue in an effective and just way, artist Daniela Paes Leão believes that our economical, political and social systems need to change drastically and urgently. How to contribute to this change from an artistic position? Can art act as an accelerator when blended with activist strategies?
Having received a classical art education from the University of Porto, where other fields of study such as sociology, psychology and philosophy were an intrinsic and mandatory part of the 5-year curriculum, Paes Leão in this presentation will explore the value of combining art with other scientific disciplines in her work. She will also look into the many ways in which ‘time’ has played a crucial role in shaping her artistic practice and output and why her earlier social art practice failed at bringing about effective social change. She will discuss the turning point in her career and her journey from an egocentric artistic position to an eco-centric approach of reality. More specifically the artist will present how the notion that ‘today’s utopia is tomorrow’s reality’ gained concrete shape and form in her current work with the Fossil Free Culture artist collective.
This workshop will further explore how to apply specific tools in a socially and politically engaged art practice to bring about the societal change so desperately needed.
These tools are coming from the most opposite domains one can imagine: the activist sphere and the corporate world. Drawing on the experience of fighting artwashing within the Dutch cultural sector, Daniela Paes Leão will share the ‘behind the scene’ thinking that ultimately made the Van Gogh Museum drop its sponsor Royal Dutch Shell.
Daniela Paes Leão (b. Coimbra, 1974) graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Porto, works across film, photography, drawing, performance and new media. Her work has been exhibited at Guimarães – European Capital of Cultural 2012, Tate Britain (London), Cube Project Space (Taipei) and W139 (Amsterdam) among others. She has received grants from inter alia the European Cultural Foundation, Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian, Mondriaan Fund and DOEN Foundation. Currently, she lives and works in Amsterdam.
Vulnerability, Community, Animality –
The Art of Being Here With Others
The year 2020 opens as a landscape of deepening polarisation in the political sphere as well as between people, and between people and earth’s other inhabitants. At the core of these voids is a question of who is the “we” of political community, traditionally defined as “we the people”. On the other side of the void looms white nationalism, closing borders and rising (eco)facsism, on the other side rights of nature and decolonial demands to dismantle the state apparatus. This void hides underneath it legal divides between things and persons, and ontological divides between subjects and objects: gendered and racialized mechanisms of making killable and making sovereign. How these divides have been constructed and how we could rethink them is at the core of artist Terike Haapoja’s interdisciplinary work. Taking her collaborative art projects as a starting point, Haapoja will approach questions of animalization, law, interspecies communality, vulnerability and ethics in relationship to art and its role in political change.
Terike Haapoja is a visual artist based in New York. Her large scale installation work, writing and political projects investigate the mechanics of othering with a specific focus on issues arising from the anthropocentric world view of western modernism. The question of animality and the possibility of a community of difference are re-occurring themes. Terike represented Finland in the 55 Venice Biennale with a solo show in the Nordic Pavilion, and her work has been awarded with ANTI prize for Live Art (2016), Dukaatti-prize (2008), Ars Fennica prize nomination, Finnish State Media art award (2016) and Kiila-prize (2013). Her work has been exhibited widely in solo and group shows internationally including Taipei Biennale, Momentum Biennale, Museum of Modern Art in China, Chronus Art Center Shanghai, ISCP New York, House of Electronic Arts Basel and ZKM, Germany. Terike Haapoja is an adjunct professor at Parsons Fine Arts and NYU, New York.