Anthropology and Environment Society
Oral Presentation Session
Contemporary art has responded to our era of rapid, radical and irrevocable ecological change in a world of imminent extinctions, runaway climate change and the depletion of biodiversity and resources. Philosopher Santiago Zabala, echoing Heidegger, warns, "The greatest emergency is the absence of emergency." He proposes that contemporary art has a unique capacity to meet this challenge by disrupting the status quo, energizing radical democratic action, making visible the invisible, and activating intervention.
Contemporary art plays a crucial role in discourse on the Anthropocene, upending traditional ways of thinking about nature and culture. Crossing genres, disciplines and species, artists investigate the interconnections and interactions of the material world. They attune us to new realities, helping us to see through the eyes of others and dismantle the binaries of life/matter, human/animal/ organic/inorganic. Their work is inspired and informed by diverse cultures and indigenous cosmologies. Despite the challenges of disaster and denial, artists respond with resistance, imagination and new ways of seeing and thinking about the world to come. They defy human mastery over nature, expose environmental devastation, seek justice and ignite action. Artists re-vision the bond of humans to non-human life. In this way they sustain an openness, wonder and curiosity, keeping optimism in check and nihilism at bay.