Everything is broken. We have become lethargic, complacent, consumptive, elegiac: completely disenchanted. Through multi-disciplinary visual art work, Zurkow seeks to explore enchantment and haunting as a way of challenging and changing our environmental relations. Citing influences such as science studies philosopher Bruno Latour, ecocrotic Timothy Morton, and social scientist Jane Bennett, for her RPI presentation Zurkow will frame several recent art projects that explore human entanglement with non-human/animal agents. In order to question common perceptions of friends and enemies, and the environmental polemics that still centralize the human/nature split, Zurkow explores topics such as invasive species, hydrocarbons, and thelivestock/predator conflict on Western United States public lands. Zurkow’s works include Heraldic Crests for Invasive Species, The PetroleumManga, Gila 2.0: Warding Off the Wolf, the Mesocosm series of 144-hour long animated ecosystems, and associated performative and participatory food events that bring research and mediated materials more intimately to one’s senses.
Crossing multiple disciplines with her practice, Marina Zurkow builds animations and participatory environments that are centered on humans and their relationship to animals, plants and the weather. Engaging audiences using film and video, sculpture, print graphics and public interventions, Zurkow’s work is by turns humorous and contemplative. Through the experience of her projects it is clear that nature has long been a stage upon which we project ourselves, making ourselves other.
In 2011 a solo exhibition of Zurkow’s work was featured at the Montclair Art Museum. Past exhibitions of her work have also been featured at FACT, Liverpool; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Wave Hill, New York; National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.; Bennington College, Vermont; Borusan Collection, Istanbul; Pacific Northwest College of Art, Oregon; Marian Spore, New York; 01SJ Biennial, San Jose; Brooklyn Academy of Music; Museum of the Moving Image, New York; Creative Time, New York; The Kitchen, New York; Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria; Transmediale, Berlin; Eyebeam, New York; Sundance Film Festival, Utah; Rotterdam Film Festival, The Netherlands; and the Seoul Media City Biennial, Korea, among others. She is represented by bitforms gallery in New York.
Marina Zurkow is the recipient of a 2011 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. She has also been granted awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Creative Capital. She is on faculty at ITP at Tisch School of the Arts, NYU.
Executive Director, Audubon New York and
Vice President, National Audubon Society
Erin was Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation from 2001-2005, and the first woman to lead this agency of over 3,300 professional staff and a nearly $1 billion annual budget. During her tenure, Erin led the first in the nation eleven state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), to develop a cap and trade program for power plant carbon dioxide emissions, which is now a national model and oversaw the largest land conservation agreement to protect more than 260,000 acres of former International Paper property in the Adirondacks. Erin also led the negotiations of the historic New York City Watershed Agreement, and helped develop the toughest in the nation regulations on power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide – precursors to acid rain.
She has served as the Director of State and Community Relations for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) acting as the University’s primary liaison to State and local government, businesses and non-profits. Erin has been recognized for her conservation leadership, including the New York State Bar Association’s Environmental Law Section award, Audubon’s Long Island Sound Guardian Award, the Adirondack Council’s Conservationist of the Year. She was profiled in the National Journal’s May 2004 Special Report for her work to combat climate change.
Erin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Russell Sage College and a Master of Science in Urban and Environmental Studies from RPI.
In this talk, historian of science Mike Fortun (Rensselaer) describes how scientists came to understand (and design studies to further understand) the vital role of environment in the working of genes, bodies and health. Fortun is author of Promising Genomics: Icleand and deCODE Genetics in a World of Speculation (2008).
Speaker Will Potter is an award-winning journalist and TED Fellow based in Washington, D.C.. His writing and public speaking focus on the animal rights and environmental movements, and civil liberties post-9/11. Potter testified before the U.S. Congress about his reporting, as the only witness opposing the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
This symposium will include lectures by internationally reknown art historians Steve Baker and Monika Bakke, supported by the Vollmer Fries Distinguished Lecture Series.
Steve Baker (Emeritus Professor of Art History at the University of Central Lancashire) is author of Artist|Animal (2013), which has been praised for its “deep understanding of the nuance, intricacy, and contradictions in how artists work today.” Baker’s lecture, The Redescription of the World, will examine how art engages with questions of animal life, building on Niklas Luhmann’s observation that “the function of art is to make the world appear within the world.”
Monika Bakke (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland) is author of Bio-transfigurations: Art and Aesthetics of Posthumanism (2010) and editor of The Life of Air: Dwelling, Communicating, Manipulating (2011). Bakke’s lecture, And the Plant Responded, explores the complex, sensual, and arguably cognitive lives of plants, questioning how art projects and ethical frameworks can address plants as active and autonomous beings that perceive the world in ways we still know so little about.
In this talk Cameron Tonkinwise (Carnegie Mellon University) examines the practices of everyday life, and how habitual practices work against sustainable consumption. He also describes how his work in the field of Design Studies advances understanding of everyday practices, the force of convenience, and how convenience can be redesigned to enable transitions to more sustainable practices.
Ben Greene, founder of the Farmery, an urban farm, market and cafe, will talk about his vision for a grocery and cafe that grows and sells food at the same site. The Farmery consolidates the entire food distribution system into a single site, creating a new standard for local food. At the Farmery, customers can witness and participate in the growth and harvest of their food as they shop.
Terike Haapoja is a Finnish -born visual artist, currently based in Berlin. Having a specific focus in how the non-human world and its inhabitants are represented in our society, Haapoja’s installations, writings and research investigate the concepts of otherness, community and corporeality. Haapoja’s work has been widely exhibited internationally, and she represented Finland in the Venice biennale 2013.
In her talk Haapoja will discuss two ongoing projects that look at the status and visibility of non-human perspectives in the society.
The History of Others, a collaboration with writer Laura Gustafsson, is a large scale art and research project investigating cultural history from the perspective of other species.
The first part of the project, The Museum of the History of Cattle, was launched in 2013, followed by a publication in the fall 2014. The museum is the first ethnographic museum portraying the cultural history or a non-human species. Existing in the borderline between art and reality, the installation aims at transforming reality into a place where non-human perspectives are acknowledged, while at the same time making visible the human-centeredness of history itself.
The absence of non-human perspective in our society becomes visible when looking at the existing legislation and the way in which non-humans are described in law. The Trial is a participatory performance, directed by Haapoja & Gustafsson, that investigates animals in legislation. Built as a trial where the spectators play different roles, the performance re-enacts criminal cases involving animals by giving them legal representation. The performance looks at the history of the development of a legal subject as a key concept of a modern state, medieval animal trials, and the relationship of the rights of animals with the battles for rights for slaves, women or other repressed groups.
More information: www.terikehaapoja.net
Sponsored by Rensselaer, iEAR Presents, NYSCA
Futurefarmers is a group of diverse practitioners aligned through an interest in making work that is relevant to the time and place surrounding us. Founded in 1995, the design studio serves as a platform to support art projects, an artist in residence program and our research interests. They are artists, researchers, designers, architects, scientists and farmers with a common interest in creating frameworks for exchange that catalyze moments of “not knowing”.
While they collaborate with scientists and are interested in scientific inquiry, they want to ask questions more openly. Through participatory projects, they create spaces and experiences where the logic of a situation disappears – encounters occur that broaden, rather than narrow perspectives, i.e. reductionist science.
They use various media to create work that has the potential to destabilize logics of “certainty”. They deconstruct systems such as food policies, public transportation and rural farming networks to visualize and understand their intrinsic logics. Through this disassembly new narratives emerge that reconfigure the principles that once dominated these systems. Their work often provides a playful entry point and tools for participants to gain insight into deeper fields of inquiry- not only to imagine, but to participate in and initiate change in the places we live. – http://www.futurefarmers.com/#about
Sponsored by Rensselaer, iEAR Presents, NYSCA, NEA, The Sanctuary for Independent Media
From airplanes to medical technologies to the containers that surround food shipped from across the world to our phones and computers, so many of the intimate and extraneous objects of our contemporary lives are made of plastic. This material is so ubiquitous that it belies its recent creation. As many critics have argued, we are now living in the age of plastic. Indeed, it has become the material substrate of advanced capitalism, the medium through which our dependency on oil permeates into the fabric of our everyday lives, surrounding and enveloping us with its smooth touch.
This talk will address the historical emergence of plastic and the ways in which it shapes advanced capitalism. Thinking of plastic as a medium through which we can understand globalization and our relationship with oil, I will trace plastic’s ethology, its movements and behaviors in the world to begin to untangle these interconnections.
Heather Davis is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Pennsylvania State University. She is working on a project that traces the materiality of plastic as it relates to the philosophical divide of the subject and object. She is the editor of Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Politics, Aesthetics, Environment and Epistemology (Ann Arbor: Open Humanities Press, forthcoming 2014) and has written widely for art and academic journals. Her writing is collected at: heathermdavis.com.
Sponsored by Rensselaer, iEAR Presents, NYSCA, NEA, The Sanctuary for Independent Media