Whether it’s the spectacular event of an oil spill or the scarcely perceptible pollution of micro-plastics, toxicity is central to the environmental concerns of today. To exist in the world means being vulnerable to multiple forms of toxicity. Yet, conditions of vulnerability are unequal, shaped by enduring global histories of colonialism and capitalism.
This event will highlight the toxic valences of coloniality, asking how toxicity manifests and mutates with particular regard to gender across variously situated bodies, lands and waterscapes. While we are concerned with the interrelated forms of material toxicity that threaten the wellbeing of human and more-than-human communities, we also seek to facilitate dialogue around pertinent social, political and cultural discourses of toxification. Operating at the intersections of the medical and environmental humanities, and centering feminist, queer, decolonial and Indigenous paradigms, this interdisciplinary event brings together scholars and practitioners working across disciplines and employing creative and/or critical modes of enquiry to explore these topics.
Resisting Toxic Climates will feature a series of original artworks by Natasha Thembiso Ruwona and Caitlin Stobie, produced in response to the themes and setting of the event.
The programme will feature a tour of the exhibition Shipping Roots by Keg De Sousa, led by the exhibition curator Emma Nicolson.
Dr Rebecca Macklin, University of Edinburgh
Dr Alexandra Campbell, University of Glasgow
Professor Michelle Keown, University of Edinburgh
Professor Mishuana Goeman, University of Buffalo
Professor Savage Bear, McMaster University
Dr Metzli Yoalli Rodriguez, Forest Lake University
Dr Hannah Boast, University of Edinburgh
Professor Astrida Niemanis, University of British Columbia Okanagan
Dr Christine Okoth, Kings College London
Dr Treasa De Loughery, University College Dublin
Dr Dipali Mathur, Ulster University
Dr Jason Allen-Paisant, University of Manchester
Dr Thandi Loewenson, Royal College of Art
Dr Craig Santos Perez, University of Hawaii
Dr Alycia Pirmohamed, University of Cambridge
Professor Patricia Widener, Florida Atlantic University
Image: Carolina Caycedo, ‘Thanks For Hosting Us, We Are Healing our Broken Bodies / Gracias por hospedarnos. Estamos sanando nuestros cuerpos rotos’, 2019.1 channel HD Video 8:48 min, color and sound. With: Marina Magalhaes (Choreography), José Richard Aviles, Tatiana Zamir, Belle Alvarez, Bianca Medina, Isis Avalos, Patty Huerta, Celeste Tavares. Photographer: Bobby Gordon. Courtesy of the artist.
Haunted Waters: We are collecting stories, histories and material evidence from all over the world about bodies of water that are “haunted” by chemical contamination. We are now in search of people who have relationships and stories about contaminated water. We are collecting stories and also bottles with water from the contaminated sites. The bottles and the stories will be part of an archive both online and in an exhibition starting in December in Brussels.
Would you like to help us and/or have any ideas of people to invite?
“We are collecting stories, histories and material evidence from all over the world about bodies of water that are “haunted” by chemical contamination. Contaminants are substances that due to different factors have ended up in our waters. Just like ghosts, they are invisible to the naked eye, relate to local historic events and are trapped in places where they aren’t meant to be. To learn how to live with these ghosts, first, we need to get to know them and their stories.
We are attempting to make the invisible contaminants visible, and we need your help. You are invited to join forces and become a ghost hunter! Your contribution will help us visualise the invisible ghostly contaminants that will be used in an art exhibition in Brussels in 2024.
Online Lecture series: Sculpture on a Burning Planet Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts, Helsinki
Our planet is literally burning, and our present-day Neros are certainly fiddling. Distracted by war and egotistical power struggles, our leaders do nothing to effectively slow climate change. Energy shortages caused by the war in Ukraine lead to renewed exploitation of fossil fuel reserves. Weather systems have become more extreme and destructive – and not just in the usual “hurricane belt” – Europe, China, and Northern America have all seen extreme drought and flooding again this last year. These “once in a hundred years” phenomena are now the new normal. Exploration and mining for rare-earth elements for so-called “clean energy” puts increasing pressure on pristine wilderness and indigenous people’s lands. How do artists and the art world react to these developments? The international art world itself is driven by carbon-hungry practices, in the production, presentation, and marketing of artists and artworks. In this lecture series, four renowned experts (philosophers, artists, and researchers) present hopeful possibilities for future artistic practise in this age of environmental crisis.
Wednesday 21 September Elisa Aaltola: Philosophy of Love and the Nonhuman World Wednesday 5 October Pia Lindman: Chill Survive Network Wednesday 26 October mirko nikolić: After Extractivism in the Semi-periphery Wednesday 16 November Maarit Mäkelä: Working with Soil
The series is presented by Professor Andy Best, Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts, Helsinki All lectures start at 17.00 (GMT +2) and are held online using the Zoom platform. They are free and open to all. The language of presentation is English. Please remember to use the passcode to access the meeting, and keep your mic muted unless asking a question. Wednesday 21 September 2022, 17.00 – 19.00 (GMT +2, Helsinki) https://uniarts.zoom.us/j/65689597891 Passcode: 422930
Elisa Aaltola: Philosophy of Love and the Nonhuman World Discussions concerning the climate crisis often ignore nonhuman viewpoints. Yet, it is predominantly nonhuman animals, who suffer most from a warming climate, whether by undergoing agonizing deaths in forest fires, struggling due to loss of habitat or by facing species extinction. The lecture focuses on how moral love holds the potential of reminding us of other-than-human perpectives. Two philosophical definitions of love (by Plato and Iris Murdoch) will be introduced, and the role of art in evoking love toward animals will be mapped out. Can art make us fall in love with the nonhuman world? Elisa Aaltola, PhD, works as a senior researcher and adjunct professor in philosophy at the University of Turku, Finland. Her research has focused on animal philosophy and normative moral psychology. Aaltola has published 12 books on these topics, including Esseitä eläimistä (Into 2022), Varieties of Empathy: Moral Psychology and Animal Ethics (Rowman & Littlefield 2018) and Animal Suffering: Philosophy and Culture (Palgrave MacMillan 2012). In 2021 she was awarded the Pro Animalia Prize for her life’s work for animals, and in 2022 she was awarded the Reformer of the Year Prize by Maailman Kuvalehti. https://www.utu.fi/en/people/elisa-aaltola https://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisa_Aaltola Wednesday 5 October 2022, 17.00 – 19.00 (GMT +2, Helsinki)
Pia Lindman: Chill Survive Network https://uniarts.zoom.us/j/65300671383 Passcode: 024187 Chill Survive Network is a platform for mutual exchange and collaboration between researchers, curators, artists, and institutions in the North-beyond-the-global-North. We engage in human and nonhuman entanglements and the development of new strategies, tactics, methodology and language that speak to our present ecological crisis. The objective is to explore, learn, mediate, cope with the future transformations in the Arctic. The network consists of several physical and online meetings including seminars and workshops. Pia Lindman as artist and researcher works with performance art, healing-as-art, installation, microbes, architecture, painting, and sculpture. In “Nose, Ears, Eyes“ (Sao Paulo Biennale, 2016) Lindman gave treatments to members of the audience and made paintings based on the visions she saw during these treatments. As Professor of Environmental Art at Aalto University from 2013 to 2018, Lindman initiated the art/science network Chill Survive focusing on the Arctic and organised the first global Radical Relevances Conference (2018). Since 2017, Lindman is doctoral candidate at the program of Nordic Cultures and Environmental Politics at Lapland University researching her concept of the subsensorial. A result of many years of investigation into the body and its place within the cultural space, Lindman’s work now moves beyond the human body proper to multiple realms of organic and inorganic life. http://pialindman.com/ https://chillsurvive.org/ Wednesday 26 October 2022, 17.00 – 19.00 (GMT +2, Helsinki) https://uniarts.zoom.us/j/62121956520 Passcode: 813978
mirko nikolić: After Extractivism in the Semi-periphery As the climate and ecological crises escalate, the metal mining sector is attempting to position itself as a fundamental provider of materials for the “energy transition.” Never before seen quantities of minerals are projected to substitute fossil fuels in the quest for lower-carbon and cleaner energy, transport and infrastructure technologies. While possibly reducing the carbon footprint of material use, the effects of mining on water, air, human and more-than-human communities are less visible in the technocratic discourses and calculations. Well documented are mining industry’s deep relations with colonialism, imperialism and related social engineering techniques of militarisation, policing, racism and sexism. Mining as part of a larger set of strategies of large- and long-term use of “natural resources” coagulates in the logics of extractivism. The concept and discussion was born in Latin America, but has since travelled across fields and geographies to tell many histories and illuminate a multitude of alternative world-making projects. In the discussion we will explore how the evolving notions of extractivism and alternatives relate to our life, work and being. mirko nikolić (Institute for Culture & Society, Linköping University) works through text, place-based performance and organising, often in different collaborative constellations and collectives, in solidarity with climate and environmental justice efforts. Since 2015, the principal focus of activity has been tracing the impacts of “mining booms” in North and South-East Europe, and non-extractivist alternatives from below. https://minoritarianecologi.es/ https://www.hiap.fi/resident/mirko-nikolic/ https://liu.se/en/employee/mirni99 Wednesday 16 November 2022, 17.00 – 19.00 (GMT +2, Helsinki) https://uniarts.zoom.us/j/62423118318 Passcode: 576714
Maarit Mäkelä: Working with Soil Recently I spent one year in New-Zealand. Because of its volcanic nature, the place offered diverse raw materials that were suitable for ceramics making. The core of my creative practice became the natural environment and the earth samples – sand, stones, and clay – I gathered during my walks. The materials were processed further in the studio and then used as raw materials for ceramics. The lecture presents this ‘seed’ project with four interrelated projects where these practices are used in urban context. Three of the projects were conducted together with Working with soil group: first took place in Research Pavilion #3 in the context of Venice Biennale 2019; second in Design Museum Helsinki 202 0-2021; third in Espoo Museum of Modern Art EMMA 2021-2022. All the projects discuss the entangled relationship between human and soil from different perspective. The fourth project is ongoing research with the aim of learning how to use geopolymers to work with soil matters with the result of construction that would not need firing. Doctor of Arts Maarit Mäkelä is an Associate Professor of Practice-led Design Research at Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Finland, where she is leading EMPIRICA research group and Contemporary Design master programme. Her own creative practice locates in the context of contemporary ceramics. She uses her own ceramics making as an embodied, slow practice through which to (re)consider the entangled relationship between human and non-human realms in the context of soil. Her current research interest lies in collaborative creative processes, especially how craft-based practices can be used for raising critical discourse around the stage of the environment. She has published and exhibited widely in international arenas. https://www.maaritmakela.com/ https://empirica.aalto.fi/traces-from-the-anthropocene
It is our great pleasure to welcome you all to the upcoming Posthumanities Hub and The Eco- and Bioart Lab Seminar/Webinar with Prof. Thom van Dooren (University of Sydney/University of Oslo) on “The craft of poisoning: learning not to eat cane toads“
The seminar/webinar will have a hybrid format.
When: 30th May, 13:15 – 15:00 CEST
Where: Room FAROS, Tema building, Linköping University (Campus Valla) & on Zoom. For the registration link, see below.
The craft of poisoning: learning not to eat cane toads
Since their introduction in 1935, cane toads have been making their way across the top half of the Australian continent. As they’ve moved, they have left a wave of death in their wake, animals poisoned by the unfamiliar toxins that toad’s carry. All efforts to eradicate toads, or even slow their advance, have failed. In recent years, however, a new set of approaches to coexistence with cane toads have begun to emerge. These approaches centre on large scale efforts to teach native species not to eat toads through a ‘conditioned taste aversion’ that is produced with the use of nauseating toxins. This paper explores the history and ethics of these multispecies pedagogical experiments. It asks how the various toxic substances that are deployed by both toads and by scientists open up new possibilities for learning, for becoming differently together, for reshaping ecosystems and shared lives, while also carrying with them significant, and often mortal, dangers.
Thom van Dooren is Deputy Director at the Sydney Environment Institute and an Associate Professor in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry at the University of Sydney, and a Professor II in the Oslo School of Environmental Humanities at the University of Oslo. His research and writing focus on some of the many philosophical, ethical, cultural, and political issues that arise in the context of species extinctions and human entanglements with threatened species and places. He is the author of Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction (Columbia UP 2014), The Wake of Crows: Living and Dying in Shared Worlds (Columbia UP 2019), and A World in a Shell: Snail Stories for a Time of Extinctions (MIT 2022). www.thomvandooren.org
It is our great pleasure to announce our upcoming event, hosted by The Eco- and Bioart Lab and The Posthumanities Hub, and generously supported by The Seed Box and Åke Wiberg Foundation:
End of the Sea? Art and Science for Multispecies Futures Workshop takes place on 13th December 2021 at 13:15 – 17:00 – on Zoom!
For registration details – see below.
As the planet’s largest ecosystem, oceans and seas stabilise climate, produce oxygen, store CO2 and host unfathomable multitudes of creatures at a deep-time scale. In recent decades, scientific assessments have indicated that marine environments are seriously degraded to the detriment of most near-future human and nonhuman communities. This matters to us, too. Climate change, environmental destruction and diminishing biological diversity form the key pillars of the present more-than-human crisis of planetary proportions. This calls for our attention and for responses from the more-than-human humanities.
Still, a lot remains unknown at the levels of oceanic shallow waters, its depths and along coastlines. Western cultural imaginaries picture the ocean and the sea as those which wash away, neutralise, conceal and hide in their limitless volume ‘under the surface.’ The ocean and the sea are culturally marked as the spaces of ‘forgetting’: out of sight, out of mind.
‘End of the Sea? Art and Science for Multispecies Futures’ workshop, hosted by The Eco- and Bioart Lab and The Posthumanities Hub, aims to bring together artists, researchers, writers and other practitioners, who – through their critical and creative, inter- and transdisciplinary practices – explore the boundary areas of the coastline and the estuary, and their accompanying cultural and scientific meanings. The workshop will zoom in on the wrack zone – particularly in the context of the Baltic Sea – with its low-trophic communities of algae, mussels and other species not only as key actors in the polluted, warming waters of climate change, but also as catalysts for new co-creations, collaborations, creativities and environmental imaginaries. What happens at (before? after?) the end of the sea? How can humans be a more caring and attentive ecological force for multispecies futures by the edge of the sea? Join us on 13th December to find out!
The workshop has been generously supported by The Seed Box and Åke Wiberg Foundation (for ‘Havshumaniora’).
The Eco- and Bioart Lab connects artists, artistic researchers and other practitioners, as well as doctoral students whose practice and research focus on art and the environment in their broadest understanding. EBL opens up a transdisciplinary space, where artistic practice converges with philosophy, cultural theory, art studies, visual culture, queer death studies and posthumanities in synergy and as equally legitimate voices.
The Posthumanities Hub is a research group and a multi-university platform for postdisciplinary and more-than-human humanities, for philosophy, arts and sciences informed by advanced cultural critique and creativity. In our research, we specialise in the more-than-human condition and inventive feminist materialist approaches to it. We work to meet up with pressing societal challenges, across the natureculture divide and target specific cases. Curiously, creatively and critically.
The event is co-curated by Dr Marietta Radomska and Prof. Cecilia Åsberg.