ART AS RESEARCH: UNTANGLING THE ECOLOGICAL CITIZEN
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In this thesis, Lisa Figge analyzes the political space of ecological citizenship by theorizing her art practice. Beginning with an Arendtian lens, Figge creates projects in the vein of New Genre Public Art, to trace the qualitatively-distinct activities of the public sphere, in which ecological citizens appear. The art practices of Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Colette Urban, Pat Aylesworth, Helen and Newton Harrison help move this critique along. Then, taking Judith Butler’s thinking on the bond between speech and action, or speech acts, Figge situates her art practice and thesis writing as an account of herself as an ecological citizen. Figge is interested in finding ways to multiply opportunities, for her and others, to perform concerned engagement with the world. In order to begin this process Figge acts out and analyses her three art interventions: Madame E and her suit of environmentally conscious a(r)mour, Ecological Citizen in Training, and 86 Hands on Wolfe Island. In giving an account of herself, she shows how our aptitude for sorting things should not be used to override our capacity to make a meaningful life. The art exhibition Dust to Dust, 2010 is the twin of this accounting, which was held at Queen’s University’s Union Gallery.