Academic Session 8: Edinburgh 2016

AAH2016 Annual Conference and Bookfair
University of Edinburgh
7 - 9 April 2016

At the World’s End: Contemporary art, visual culture and extinction studies


Andrés David Montenegro Rosero, Bridgewater State University,

According to recent reports, Earth is on the verge of a cataclysmic climactic change that threatens the existence of all life in the planet. As explored by the Extinction Marathon – a two-day multidisciplinary encounter of artists, scientists, filmmakers, theorists, and other cultural practitioners organised by the Serpentine Gallery and artist Gustav Metzger in 2014 – if the age fuelled by fossil extraction continues unchecked we will be headed towards a collapse on a planetary scale. Other important contributions to the topic have been the exhibitions Radical Nature (2009), Animism (2012), Rights of Nature (2015), or Metzger’s Mass (2014); the artistic practices of Tue Greenfort, Bill Burns, Subhankar Banerjee, Pieter Hugo, Eduardo Kac, Patricia Piccinini, Newton Harrison and Helen Mayer Harrison, Ravi Agarwal, or George Osodi, among others.

This panel explores the role that culture plays in relation to today’s manifold ecological crises. Facing this grim future head-on, it investigates how contemporary exhibitions, installations, and works of art have confronted the politics of climate change, the continuous destruction of ecosystems, habitat and species loss, and global warming. How have varied cultural products critically engaged biotechnology and the impending catastrophe? How has contemporary art and visual culture contributed to the study of the relationship between the Rights of Nature and Human Rights?

Papers critically explore how extinction studies, animism, post-natural philosophy, eco-aesthetics, speculative realism, environmental studies, or political ecology, inform the production, circulation and interpretation of global contemporary art and visual culture.

Click here to download a .pdf of this session's paper abstracts

Jasmine Inglis (Carleton University) A Catalyst for Change: The work of Lawrence Paul Yuxwelptun

Fae (Fay) Brauer (University of East London) Confronting Extinction: Superevolution, transspeciation, and Patricia Piccininni’s transgenic species

Paul Thomas Rubery (Stony Brook University) Ancestral Bellows: Sound art at the end of Anthropocene

Dornith Doherty (University of North Texas) Doomsday Vaults, Suspended Animation, and Cultural Anxiety in the Anthropocene

Megan Bissonnette (Valdosta State University) Examining Ruin Lust in the Visual Landscape of Recent Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Films

Peter Bengtsen (Lund University) Street Art and Visual Ecocriticism