On the Horizon: Toward a Revisioning of Environmentally-Engaged Arts Practices

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Carlesimo, Teresa
Visual art , Political economy , Environment , Ecology
This research-creation thesis explores the intersecting themes of art and environmental crisis. It attempts to underscore the imbalances of power and agency throughout both the human and non-human worlds, which have driven the phenomenon that has been termed the Anthropocene. I begin with a consideration of the Anthropocene thesis and the ways in which it is treated by the natural sciences and humanities. Periodization is of particular importance, and I take a longer view of this new epoch locating its beginning alongside first contact and the birth of capital. While this thesis does not break new ground here, this view better allows us to consider social and political dimensions often lost in methodologies used in the sciences. I then follow a loosely chronological analysis of the social, political, and economic dimensions of the unfolding ecological crisis. I embrace 1950 as an important marker for the Anthropocene, not as the start of this new era, but as representing an acceleration of processes already underway. Throughout my analysis, I continually return to contemporary artists who, while not considered environmental artists, nevertheless offer an expanded view of the unfolding environmental catastrophe. They focus not on narrow, discrete contributors to climate change, such as fuel sources, but address a complex network of social issues that have been developing over centuries. I conclude with an interview between Carina Magazzeni and myself, where my work similarly attempts to contribute to this broadening of what is considered environmental art.
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