From Unsettling to UN/making: One Settler’s Critical Methodology for Disrupting Anthropocenic Perspectives and Gestures Towards Land within the Visual Arts

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Price, Jill Angela
Anthropocene , Art , Ecology , Ethics , Aesthetics , New Materialism , Decolonial Theory , Unmaking , Research-creation
Hyper-sensitive to my settler history amidst a material culture that remains complicit in the ecological destruction of Land as a multi-species being, From Unsettling to UN/making is an interdisciplinary research-creation PhD that works at the intersections of art, ecology, ethics, and aesthetics to recognize how today’s global industrial modes of production, consumption, dissemination, and discard are neo-colonial forms of ecological, and therefore cultural genocide. Particularly unsettled by how the visual arts perpetuates anthropocenic perspectives and gestures, this thesis begins by investigating how past approaches to unmaking throughout art history often aligned with acts of destruction or self-destruction. Proposing a new interdisciplinary approach to UN/making that aligns with acts of care and repair, research and creative outputs were primarily formulated through the writing of political theorist, eco-feminist, and vital materialist Jane Bennett, as well as the writing of Unangax̂ scholar Eve Tuck, Natalie Loveless, and Natasha Myers to arrive at an assemblage actions or processes that help to prevent or redress harm. Initially driven through the deconstruction and reconfiguration of existing artworks, decolonial theory, environmental research, and new materialist thinking led to questioning the conceptual foundations of Land-based art practices and Euro-colonial aesthetics carried forward through methods, mediums, modes, and iconography of Canadian traditions of fine art. Out of a desire to understand how creatives and cultural institutions might work together to bring creative practice more into relation with the timelines, liveliness, and needs of more-than-human ontographies, my final outcomes are the result of employing different methods of dealienation, decentring, degrowth, and decolonization to arrive at an UN/making Methodology. This adaptable framework for UN/making harm is designed to help usher in more eco-ethical approaches to creative production and building community outside of accelerated, elitist, racist, and sexist capitalist systems that keep the culture industry beholden to harmful ways of thinking and doing, as well as refocus attention to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action as they pertain to the treatment and use of Land, education, and the production, presentation, and dissemination of art.
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