History of Art


Eco-Aesthetics: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology

Saturday 2 March 2013, 2-7pm

Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, UCL

Third Text 120, cover

The Eco-Aesthetics conference marks the release of Third Text no. 120 (January 2013), dedicated to the subject of "Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology," guest-edited by TJ Demos. The event will include numerous contributors to the special issue, which investigates eco-aesthetics in a postcolonial framework-from global warming in the arctic to oil industry environmental damage in Nigeria's delta, from conflicts between mining corporations and tribals in rural India to the ecological effects of industrial development in the port of Bahia Blanca, Argentina, from urban farming in Detroit to the Occupy movement's development of a post-media social ecology. The special issue and conference seek to link international and interdisciplinary researchers, artists, and critical theorists in order to consider the questions of how such politico-ecological developments have been recently analyzed, mediated, and negotiated within the visual cultural of art and activism.

The conference is free and no registration is required.


2:00-2:10     Introduction: TJ Demos

2:15-3:45     Panel 1: Nonhuman Agency / Rights of Nature / Postcolonial Social Justice
T.J. Demos (moderator)
Nabil Ahmed
Subhankar Banerjee
Berin Golonu

3:45-4:00     Break

4:00-5:30     Panel 2: Post-Media Ecology / Institutional Critique / Eco-Activism
Terri Weissman (moderator)
Christoph Brunner
Luke Skrebowski
Liberate Tate

5:30-7:00    Panel 3: Intra-Agential Action / Collective Practice / Transnational Networks
Emily Eliza Scott (moderator)
Anne Sophie Witzke
Helge Mooshammer
Peter Mörtenböck


Nabil Ahmed is a Bangladeshi artist based in London. His work has appeared on Resonance FM, no.w.here, the Centre for Possible Studies and SAVAC in Toronto. He is co-founder of Call & Response, a sound art collective. He is a member of the Roundtable Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Subhankar Banerjee is an Indian-born American photographer, writer, and activist who for the past decade has worked for the conservation of ecoculturally significant areas of the Arctic and with issues of indigenous human rights and climate change. He is editor of Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point (2012). He has held academic posts at Princeton and Fordham Universities, lectured and exhibited widely, and participated in the 18th Biennale of Sydney. He has received numerous environmental awards and was named an Arctic Hero by the Alaska Wilderness League.

Christoph Brunner works in the Department of Art and Media at Zurich University of the Arts. He deals with questions of collectivity and ecologies of relation in aesthetic practices. He is member of the SenseLab (Montreal) and part of the editorial collective of Inflexions: A Journal for Research-Creation. His book Practices of Experimentation: Research and Teaching in the Arts Today was published in 2012.

T.J. Demos is a Reader in the Art History Department at University College London. He writes widely on modern and contemporary art, politics, and ecology, and is the author, most recently, of Return to the Postcolony: Spectres of Colonialism in Contemporary Art (Sternberg Press, 2013); and The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary during Global Crisis (Duke University Press, 2013).

Berin Golonu, born in Istanbul, is a doctoral student on the Visual and Cultural Studies programme at the University of Rochester, New York, completing a dissertation on the history of landscape painting in the Middle East. Her articles and reviews have appeared in publications including Afterimage, Aperture, Art in America, Art on Paper, Art Papers, Frieze, Modern Painters, Sculpture and Zing Magazine. She co-edited a book project, Recipes for an Encounter, released in 2010 and presented as an exhibition at the Dorsky Gallery, Long Island City.

Liberate Tate is an art collective exploring the role of creative intervention in social change,especially in relation to the oil and culture industries. They have a focus on Tate, the UK's leading art museum, and its sponsorship deal with BP. Multiple Liberate Tate performances have taken place at Tate Modern and Tate Britain, also the sites of their Tate a Tate Audio Tour, available at www.tateatate.org.

Helge Mooshammer is a theorist of visual and spatial culture, whose research is concerned with changing forms of urban sociality, processes of transnationalization and newly emerging regimes of governance. Based at Goldsmiths, University of London and the Technische Universität Vienna, his current research Other Markets engages a worldwide collaboration on an atlas of informal markets.

Peter Mörtenböck is Research Fellow in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is also Professor of Visual Culture at the Vienna University of Technology. His recent books include Networked Cultures: Parallel Architectures and the Politics of Space (2008), Space (Re)Solutions (2011) and OCCUPY (2012).

Emily Eliza Scott is an interdisciplinary scholar focused on artistic practices that illuminate-interrogate pressing ecological and/or geopolitical issues. Engaged in postdoctoral work in the architecture department at ETH (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule) Zürich, she is currently co-editing a volume on contemporary art and land use politics. She is co-founder of the Los Angeles Urban Rangers (2004-) and holds a doctorate in Art History from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Luke Skrebowski is University Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Cambridge. He is co-editor of Aesthetics and Contemporary Art (2011) and is currently at work on a book project entitled The Politics of Anti-Aesthetics: Conceptual Art After 1968. His work has appeared in Art History, Grey Room, Manifesta Journal, Tate Papers and Third Text.

Terri Weissman, is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she teaches Modern and Contemporary Art, and the History of Photography. Her essay for Third Text 120 examines Detroit's urban gardening movement, and is part of her current project on the visual culture of protest movements. She is also the author of The Realisms of Berenice Abbott: Documentary Photography and Political Action (2011).

Anne Sophie Witzke (DK) is PhD fellow at Digital Aesthetics Research Centre, Aarhus University, Denmark. She researches within digital aesthetics, ecology, sustainability, climate change and digital art. She is also a new media art curator. In 2009 she curated 'Enter Action - digital art now' at ARoS museum, Aarhus. The same year she was project leader and co-curator at the Nordic Exhibition 'RETHINK - Contemporary Art and Climate Change', which was shown in Copenhagen during COP15 and in Stockholm and Stavanger in 2010.

The Eco-Aesthetics conference has been made possible by generous grants from the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art, UCL, and Third Text. (Cover image: George Osodi, Gas Flare, 2006, from the series Oil Rich Niger Delta, 2003 - 2007)