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School of Modern Languages & Cultures Research Lecture 2022

SMLC Annual Distinguished Lecture: Jens Andermann, New York University, "Alliances of survival: Ala Plástica, thislandyourland, and the arts of entanglement''

Wednesday May 4, 5.30 pm - 7.00 pm (Teams event)
Alliances of survival: Ala Plástica, thislandyourland, and the arts of entanglement
Can art help us survive the end of the world? Absurd as the question sounds, it has nonetheless loomed large in recent scholarship asking for the work the aesthetic can do as we confront the end of planetary life as a historical prospect. In this talk, I want to shift this conversation by championing the “unspecific arts” as an at once aesthetic and (cosmo-)political answer to this existential challenge. Rather than to focus on recent visual, filmic, literary or even mixed-media works that address the unfolding ecological catastrophe as their subject matter, by “unspecific arts” I refer to practice-based modes of action that, while taking advantage of the arts’ imaginative, world-making capacity, also involve diverse existents, human and more-than-human alike. In the work of Brazilian artist duo thislandyourland and Argentine artist/activist collective Ala Plástica’s, plants, liquids and earth participate as gathering agents that prompt emerging collectives to imagine what I call “alliances of survival”: modes of togetherness that thrive only in the measure that they are capable of including humans and nonhumans alike. How, I ask following T. J. Demos’s lead, “might the world-generating activity of aesthetics become a multinatural, multispecies affair, and not simply the reserve of human exceptionalism?”
To join the event on Teams, click here (we would be grateful if you could join 5 or 10 minutes before the talk begins so that we can allow you in from the virtual lobby)