Next week is a busy time for me in Galway. I posted last week about giving a talk about my interest in the absence of cultural policy for the environmental emergency I’m giving next Tuesday 14 May.
However, later in the week I was awarded a bursary to give a short paper also in Galway for the EUGeo 2019 Congress, for Art and Geography Panel: Art, Activism and Social Engagement in the Age of the Capitalocene, NUIG O’Donoghue Theatre on Thursday 16 May, 9- 10.30am. This latter talk is available only to attendees of the conference.
The theme for the 2019 congress is Re-Imagining Europe’s Future Society and Landscapes. ‘The theme focuses on the centrality of the concepts of society and landscape within the Discipline of Geography and the importance of the relationship that exists between the physical and cultural landscape.’
My thanks to Dr. Nessa Cronin (NUIG) and Prof Karen Till (Maynooth Univ.) for alerting me to this opportunity. Thanks also Dr Frances Fahy and Dr. Kathy Reilly (EUGEO Conference Co-Chairs and organisers for the bursary that I was awarded.
My talk below is an attempt to frame my eco-social art forest practice and ecological forestry, for ideas of the Symbiocene, a new ecological concept developed by farmer-philosopher Dr. Glenn Albrecht in Australia. I have previously spoken about this concept, see my academia page here: Entering the Symbiocene: A Transversal Ecosophy-Action Research Framework to Reverse Silent Spring. For the PLACE International and Land2 doctoral research conference: Being in Place: The Highs and Lows of Sited Practice, University of Dundee, Scotland, 25-6 Nov, 2016
Good-Bye Anthropocene – Hello Symbiocene: articulating eco-social art practices that promote ecoliteracy and agency to help us move beyond 10,000 years of ecocide
For many becoming aware of the planetary eco-social emergency, the Anthropocene and similar concepts like ‘Plantationocene’ (Haraway, 2015) and ‘Capitalocene’ (Haraway, 2015; Moore, 2016), usefully focus attention to the systemic, eco-social catastrophe that an extractive, globalized hyper-capitalistic society inflicts across the Earth and towards its inhabitants. However, exploring the Anthropocene epoch reveals a profoundly enduring cultural crisis of Western civilization. Human supremacism as promoted in Western culture over millennia (Jensen, 2016) results in today’s ‘sociopathic society’ (Derber, 2014) divorced from understanding what constitutes a thriving Earth. Scientists (IPCC, 2018) now argue a near-impossible short 12-year time-frame to prevent irreversible environmental breakdown. To say goodbye to the ecocide of the Anthropocene necessitates an urgent societal shift toward ecological values of the Symbiocene, where all life thrives (Albrecht, 2016). A shift to ecological life-sustaining values will require the work of cultural agents to engage diverse communities across society (Dean Moore, 2014). As Plumwood argues (Robin and Rose, 2004), the two main projects [for the Symbiocene] require the expansion of values to ‘re-situate humans within ecological systems, and to re-situate nonhumans in ethical terms.’ Such efforts are evident in Earth-aligned practices developing on the margins of contemporary art practice. Through the example of her efforts to transform a monoculture tree plantation and contribute to new sustainable forest policy, Cathy Fitzgerald offers a framework to articulate how localised practices of art and non-art activities and social exchange foster ecoliteracy and agency for change, for creative practitioners and their audiences. Cathy’s ecological art activism is proudly part of “Generation S” (for the Symbiocene]’, and is contributing to local and global conversations towards the values that constitute an ‘honourable forestry’ (Dean Moore, 2018).
ALBRECHT, Glenn (2019) Earth Emotions: New Words for a New World. New York, Cornell University Press.
ALBRECHT, Glenn (2016) ‘Exiting the Anthropocene and Entering the Symbiocene’. Minding Nature, 9 (2), 12-16.
DEAN MOORE, Kathleen (2014) ‘Questions for a Resilient Future’. What does the Earth Ask of Us Series: US Centre for Humans and Nature. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6fMiCm-4dU [Accessed 11 November, 2014].
DEAN MOORE, Kathleen (2018) ‘What role can imagination play in our efforts to achieve a sustainable world?’ BiFrost video https://youtu.be/VgTxD0mQ9GM
DERBER, Charles (2013) Sociopathic Society: A People’s Sociology of the United States. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.
Haraway, Donna (2015) Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin’ Environmental Humanities, Vol. 6, 2015, pp. 159-165.
IPCC (2018) Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [V. Masson-Delmotte, P. Zhai, H. O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J. B. R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M. I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, T. Waterfield (eds.)].
JENSEN, Derrick (2016) The Myth of Human Supremacy. New York: Seven Stories Press.
Moore, Jason (ed.) (2016) Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism. Oakland: PM Press, 2016.
Rose, D & Robin, L (2004) ‘The Ecological Humanities in Action: An invitation.’ Australian Humanities Review. 31-32, April.
Video of a Great Spotted Woodpecker – I’m hoping to get a photo of our visitor soon!