[-empyre-] Welcome to October, 2017 :: Radical Aesthetics of Multispecies Worlding, Eco-Art, and Solidarity in a More-than-human Capitalocene

margaretha haughwout margaretha.anne.haughwout at gmail.com
Tue Oct 3 14:13:42 AEDT 2017

Welcome to October, 2017 on -empire- soft-skinned space!

Radical Aesthetics of Multispecies Worlding, Eco-Art, and Solidarity in a
More-than-human Capitalocene
Moderated by Margaretha Haughwout (US) with invited discussants

October 1 to 7th     Week 1:  Radical Entanglements, Radical Aesthetics,
EcoAesthetic Systems
Discussants: Valentine Cadieux (US), Lissette Olivares (US) Randall Szott
With Guest: Antonio Roman-Alcala (US)

October 8th to 14th       Week 2:  Mediated Natures, Speculative Futures
and Justice
Discussants: Julie Andreyev (CA), Grisha Coleman (US), Meredith Drum (US),
Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa (US)
With Guests Tyler Fox (US), Jordan Yerman (CA)

October 15th to 21st     Week 3: Weedy Resistance & Debt Solidarity with
the More-than-Human
Discussants: Ellie Irons (US), Christopher Kennedy (US), Max Haiven (CA),
Cassie Thornton (US)

October 22nd to 31st   Week 4: Capitalocene Times: from Entangled
Plants-People to Cheap Food-Sick Consumers
Discussants: Elaine Gan (PH,US), Jason Moore (US), Joline Blais (US)


This month, we will ask about radical aesthetics, ecological arts
practices, multispecies worldings, and the possibilities for survival in
the epoch many, including Jason W. Moore and Donna Haraway, term the
Capitalocene. Those of us who align with nonhuman others in resistance,
revolution, and recuperation [1] often rally around sociopolitical acts of
worlding; we might identify with creative arts practice; or, we might
collaborate through agroecology, urbanism, or citizen science, for example.
Undoing the modernist binary of culture and nature -- which masks the
hierarchy of human, subhuman, and nonhuman, and which fuel the engines of
capitalism and colonialism -- is of critical importance, and underlies our

Capitalocene, a term that challenges the problematic universalizing
framework of the Anthropocene, decenters "anthropos" or humanity in
general, and centers instead on regimes of power and wealth that exploit
human labor and labor beyond-the-human. Moore recognizes capitalism as an
entire way of organizing nature — "a planetary system of power, capital,
and nature". Capitalism, to Moore, is a "world-ecology" with a specific
history — occurring over the past 500 years — and perhaps, therefore,
possible to overcome. To Moore and Haraway, we need to look to the early
modern period, to see the beginning of the market system, and its resultant
colonial violence on and upheavals of humans, plants, animals, entire
ecologies. [2]

This month, [-empyre-]'s guests will extend, complicate and perhaps
occasionally answer the following questions:

Week One :: Radical Entanglements, Radical Aesthetics, EcoAesthetic Systems
What are the radical aesthetics of ecological practice? How do systems and
systems theory inform or depend on a radical aesthetics of multispecies
worlding and ecological art in the Capitalocene? How do our practices reify
or undo systems and the binaries of modernity? How does this kind of work
engage the Capitalocene?

Week Two :: Mediated Natures, Speculative Futures and Justice ::
How can we understand terms like justice, solidarity, ethics, survival,
radicality in the Capitalocene? What are the stakes, the costs and the
possible futures for different ecologies and the humans that live amongst

Week Three :: Weedy Resistance & Debt Solidarity with the More-than-Human ::
Given that art so often contributes to regime of capital, is it realistic
to think there is potential for our work to contribute to its undoing? What
are some ways that multispecies artists and multispecies worlders achieve
resistance? Can we include other engagements beyond-the-human — hauntings,
challenges to life, that can aid in revolutionary ecologies?

Week Four :: Capitalocene Times: from Entangled Plants-People to Cheap
Food-Sick Consumers::
Might attention to specific crop commodities such as sugar, rice, and
blueberries teach us alternate ways of mapping global, regional, local
economies? What kinds of temporalities and historical materialisms are
enacted or destroyed by the cultivation of particular crops? Do
revolutionary ecologies call into being other temporalities and speculative

1. Deborah Bird Rose, Reports From a Wild Country: Ethics for
Decolonization (Sidney: University of New South Wales Press, 2004).

2. Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of
Capitalism, ed.
Jason W. Moore (Oakland: PM Press, 2016).


For this month of October, 2017, I invite the –empyre– subscriber list to
make these issues come alive in our soft-skinned space along with our
incredible group of weekly discussants and guests.  I would especially like
to thank Elaine Gan and Meredith Drum, two discussants in later weeks, for
raking through ideas with me, and for offering so much great feedback and
insight. I am so energized by the candor, enthusiasm, and brilliance on
these topics of multispecies worlding that have already emerged with this
month’s discussants.



<empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>






Moderators: Margaretha Haughwout
My personal and collaborative practice operates at the intersections of
technology and wilderness in the interest of imagining the possibilities
for human and ecological survival. My “practice of survival” works across
many media, often complicating the division between the technological and
the natural. I draw from legacies found in conceptual art, socially engaged
art, and biological art to ground work that connects to biological systems
and that reaches beyond scarcity models for existence. I work
collaboratively with the Guerrilla Grafters and the Coastal Reading Group.

Weekly Guests:

Week 1:

Valentine Cadieux
Professor Valentine Cadieux is Director of Environmental Studies and
Sustainability at Hamline University. Using art and science approaches to
society-environment relations and specifically the political ecology and
moral economy of agrifood systems, she builds publicly-engaged
participatory research processes for students and members of the public to
learn together about differing ways of understanding environments, and to
practice performing and justifying environmental and food system
interventions in collaborative ways.

Her research and teaching focus on how social and environmental practices
can help people negotiate aspirations for equitable, healthy, and
sustainable food systems and residential landscapes. She has developed a
public Food and Society workshop for building collaborative knowledge tools
that help communities build food systems. These tools focus on valuing
existing community assets and capacity — and on understanding what
practices can make food chain relationships sustainable and just, and can
repair social and ecological traumas that have resulted from food
production methods.

Lissette T. Olivares
Lissette T. Olivares is the co-founder and co-director of Sin Kabeza
Productions, an activist collective of researchers who work together as
symbionts. She is a graduate of Vassar College, Peking University, the
History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa
Cruz, and the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. Between 2010 and
2012 she was an Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow at the Gallatin
School of Individualized Studies where she was supported by an NYU Provost
Postdoctoral Fellowship for Academic Diversity. In 2012 SKP produced their
first architectural intervention, SEEDBANK: An eco evo devo design fiction
in the SF Mode, designed for posthumanist research at dOCUMENTA(13), which
was published in the Lodz Museum’s Urban Ecologies program. After an
unexpected encounter with an orphaned hedgehog in Kassel Lissette became
committed to wildlife rehabilitation and multispecies architecture, and has
worked with Indian dogs, raccoons, squirrels, and white tailed deer.
Between 2015-2016 she was a research fellow at Terreform ONE where she
collaborated on the Modular Edible Cricket Farm while investigating
“Speculative architecture and design for a Post Anthropos/Anthropocene.” In
2016 Lissette was selected as a rapporteur for the Feral Technologies:
Unmaking Multispecies Dumps work group at the HKW’s Anthropocene Campus.
She was invited to present SKP’s multispecies architectural platform at the
Yinchuan Biennale Conference, while their designs were featured at the NGBK
gallery in Berlin as part of the Animal Lovers exhibition. Her
intradisciplinary research has been supported by the Fulbright Fellowship,
Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, ICI-Berlin Curatorial Fellowship, and A Blade
of Grass’ Artist Files Fellowship, which recognizes socially engaged art
production.  Lissette and SKP are currently engaged in a coevolutionary
dream that envisions a refuge, research, and rehabilitation center for
dis/placed and dis/abled wildlife that will also serve as a decolonial
laboratory for eco and bio artist activist research.

Randall Szott
Randall Szott is a writer, chef and former merchant mariner. He has an MFA
in Art Critical Practices, an MA in Creative Arts, and an interdisciplinary
BA with a minor in philosophy. He has given presentations at The San
Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the California College of the Arts, the
University of Houston, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee among
others. His writing, commentary and interviews have been published and
cited widely including the recent books Say It While You Still Mean It:
Conversations on Art and Practice, and I’m Going to Live the Life I Sing
About In My Song: How Artists Make and Live Lives of Meaning. He recently
was invited to participate in a three week National Endowment for the
Humanities summer institute: Space, Place and the Humanities. He lives in
Barnard, VT where he has been collaboratively developing a ten acre parcel
of land using a variety of regenerative agriculture techniques. There is a
small permaculture test plot on the site, as well as a dye garden, small
elderberry orchard, and a two acre vineyard. He has studied mushroom
cultivation with Tradd Cotter and regenerative agriculture with Darren J
Doherty. His work as a chef has involved farm to table restaurants, cooking
at sea, and farm to school education for a small elementary school. His
ongoing research has involved the intersection of soil + social practice.

Antonio Roman-Alcala
Antonio Roman-Alcalá is an educator, researcher, writer, and organizer
based in Berkeley, California who has worked for just sustainable food and
political systems for the past 15 years. Antonio co-founded San Francisco’s
Alemany Farm, the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance, and the
California Food Policy Council, and his 2010 documentary film, In Search of
Good Food, can be viewed free online. He holds a BA from UC Berkeley, and
an MA from ISS in The Hague. Currently, Antonio maintains the blog
antidogmatist.com, teaches with the Urban Permaculture Institute and at UC
Santa Cruz, conducts activist-scholar research, and leads the North
American Agroecology Organizing Project. He is also in search of new land
to farm – a tough prospect in the urbanized and gentrified San Francisco
Bay Area!

Week 2:

Julie Andreyev
Julie Andreyev’s art practice, called Animal Lover, www.animallover.ca,
explores more-than-human creativity using methods of ethics of care,
respect, and play. The projects are output as new media performance, video
installation, generative art, and relational aesthetics. The Animal Lover
projects have been shown internationally, and are supported by the Canada
Council for the Arts and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research
Council of Canada. Andreyev recently completed her PhD at Simon Fraser
University, Vancouver, supported by a Joseph Armand Bombardier Doctoral
Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of
Canada. Her dissertation, Biophilic Ethics and Creativity with
More-Than-Human Beings, is an interdisciplinary investigation into an
expansion of ethics for more-than-human beings, examined through
interspecies relational creativity in art processes. Andreyev is Associate
Professor in the Faculty of Design + Dynamic Media at Emily Carr University
of Art + Design.

Grisha Coleman
Grisha Coleman works as a choreographer and composer in performance and
experiential media. Her work explores relationships between our
physiological, technological and ecological systems. She currently holds
the position of Associate Professor of Movement, Computation and Digital
Media in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, and the School of Dance
at Arizona State University. Her recent art and scholarly work,
echo::system, is a springboard for re-imagining the environment,
environmental change, and environmental justice. Coleman is a New York City
native with an M.F.A. in Composition and Integrated Media from the
California Institute of the Arts. Her work has been recognized nationally
and internationally; including a 2012 National Endowment Arts in Media
Grant [NEA], the 2014 Mohr Visiting Artist at Stanford University, a
fellowship at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon
University, and grants from the Rockefeller M.A.P Fund, The Surdna
Foundation, and The Creative Capital Foundation.

Meredith Drum
With artist Rachel Stevens, Meredith Drum co-created The Oyster City
Project –  a constellation of projects and events that draw attention to
relationships between urban marine ecology, urban planning, neighborhood
life, politics, economics and environmental justice. One component of
Oyster City is an AR walking tour and game featuring 3D objects and text in
real space visible with an iOS device that highlights the history and
future of oysters in New York City. Another is the Fish Stories Community
Cookbook a collection of seafood recipes, local histories, stories,
drawings and ecological information contributed by people who live and work
in the Lower East Side of NYC. Fish Stories was commissioned by Paths to
Pier 42 in 2015.

Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa
Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa is a PhD candidate in Film and Digital Media at
University of California Santa Cruz. His dissertation "The Celluloid
Specimen: Moving Image Research of Animal Life" focuses on the animal
research films made by behavioral psychology during the 1920s, 30s, and
40s. His essay “Celluloid Specimens: Animal Origins for the Moving Image,”
is being published in the forthcoming book Viscera, Skin, and Physical
Form: Corporeality and Early Cinema. Schultz-Figueroa has curated and
screened works at such venues as Anthology Film Archives, Light Industry,
Artists’ Television Access, Northwest Film Forum, and The Shanghai
Biennial, and his writing has been published in The Brooklyn Rail, Culture
Machine, and Photomeditations Machine.

Tyler Fox
Jordan Yerman

Week Three

Ellie Irons
Ellie Irons is an artist and educator based in Brooklyn and Troy, New York.
She works in a variety of media, from video to workshops to gardening, to
reveal how human and nonhuman lives intertwine with other earth systems.
For the past five years her work and research have revolved around
spontaneous urban plants, including the co-founding of two ongoing
collaborative projects, the Next Epoch Seed Library and the Environmental
Performance Agency. Her solo and collaborative work has been part of recent
group exhibitions exploring contemporary environmental issues, including
Social Ecologies, Emergent Ecologies, and the ongoing Chance Ecologies
series. Her recent writing has appeared in Temporary Art Review, The
Brooklyn Rail, Landscape Architecture Futures and on the blog Inhabiting
the Anthropocene. She is a 2015 NYFA Fellowship recipient, a 2015
Turbulence Commission grantee and a 2017 Asian Cultural Council Fellow. She
received her BA from Scripps College in Los Angeles, where she studied
studio art and environmental science, followed by an MFA in painting and
drawing from Hunter College. After teaching at CUNY and Brown University
for several years, she is now pursuing a practice-based PhD at Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute. Her PhD research focuses on the intersection of
socially engaged art and ecology fieldwork in the form of “public
fieldwork”, a method of collaborative artistic practice designed to
decenter the human and provoke engagement with the biological and cultural
implications of weedy habitats and lifeforms.

An artist and educator based in Brooklyn and Troy, New York, Ellie Irons
works in a variety of media, from walks to WIFI to gardening, to reveal how
human and nonhuman lives intertwine with other earth systems. Her recent
work focuses on plants, people and urban ecology in the so-called
Anthropocene. Irons received her BA from Scripps College in Los Angeles,
her MFA from Hunter College, CUNY, and is currently pursing a PhD in
Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.

Christopher Lee Kennedy
Christopher Lee Kennedy is a teaching artist and organizer who creates
site-specific projects that explore relationships between the built and
natural environment, queer identity, and alternative education. These
projects generate publications, research, performances, sculptures, and
installations often in collaboration with other artists, community groups,
or youth. With a background in environmental engineering, Kennedy uses
field science techniques such as transects, specimen collecting, sampling,
and mapping, in addition to new forms of storytelling and embodied
experience to help archive and visualize complex systems. For the past few
years, Kennedy has been increasingly interested in how urban ecological
systems are adapting to global climate shifts including rising
temperatures, toxic soils, mega-droughts, flooding events, and
unprecedented urban development. His projects aim to question conventional
notions of “wilderness” and “nature,” and to re-think the value of
so-called wastelands —  vacant lots, highway medians, post-­industrial
sites and transient green spaces — as ecologically, culturally, and
politically important for both humans and non-humans.

Kennedy was born in Ocean County, New Jersey and currently lives and works
in Brooklyn, New York. He has worked collaboratively on projects shown at
the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, the North Carolina Museum of Art,
the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, the Levine Museum of the New
South, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Ackland Art Museum and
the Queens Museum. Kennedy holds a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute, a M.A. in Education from NYU, and a PhD in Education
and Cultural Studies from the University of North Carolina.

Max Haiven
Cassie Thornton
The University of the Phoenix is a premiere for-prophet learning platform
committed to teaching the dead and the living to rise up together to avenge
the crimes and cruelties of global capitalism. It organizes site- and
context-specific educational encounters towards a radical financial

We are the world’s only institution of higher education dedicated to
accumulating the human capital of the no-longer-living. This nomadic
institution offers participatory classes on the themes of finance, debt,
money and value. We also offer revenge consultancy services to those who
have been wronged by global capitalism, and sometimes teach the dead to
rise up and become stars.

The University of the Phoenix is a spectre that possesses the body of the
for-profit university and the good-natured neoliberal model of “social
practice” art. It is a free-school and research institute for the dead that
is also sometimes open to “not-yet-dead” auditors. It teaches rigorous
site-specific classes based on parapsychological local inquiry and ghoulish
interventions. It is funny, but not a joke.

The University of the Phoenix is a collaboration between Cassie Thornton
and Max Haiven at the haunted intersection of art, research and activism.

Week 4:

Joline Blais, Associate Professor of New Media at UMaine, is a mother,
educator, writer, permaculture practitioner, ecovillage founding partner,
competitive rower, avid hiker, and alpine ski coach.  She co-directs Still
Water, and co-founded LongGreenHouse, a “communiversity” project
integrating the Wassokeag K-8 school, UMaine classes, permaculture
practices, and Wabanaki Longhouse traditions. Her subsequent work at the
Belfast Ecovillage spanned 8 years and involved permaculture design, art
projects and workshops, land use governance, restorative justice
facilitation, dynamic governance, non-violent communication and transition
town training, and initial development of food forest orchards, as well as
design, construction and research of a net-zero, solar energy "passive

Her 2006 book At the Edge of Art investigates how new media art puts the
power of networks and distributed creativity into the hands of ordinary
citizens in a variety of non-art contexts. Her other publications and
creative work explore the overlap of digital culture, indigenous culture
and permaculture.  Currently she is working on Wild Difference, a project
to prevent the extinction of Wild Maine blueberries and the local culture
that support them via a lead grant for the development of a physical Wild
Blueberry Museum, and a pending NEH grant to develop the companion online
virtual museum. Her time in the forests, and on and in the water (liquid or
frozen) help maintain her own wild connection to her homeland.

Elaine Gan
Elaine Gan is Mellon Digital Humanities fellow at University of Southern
California and art director of Aarhus University Research on the
Anthropocene (AURA). Raised in the big old cities of Manila and New York,
Gan is an artist and interdisciplinary scholar who studies how human-plant
interactions situate geopolitical histories. Recent projects include
co-editing an anthology, Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and
Monsters of the Anthropocene (Minnesota 2017) and co-curating an artscience
exhibition, DUMP! Multispecies Making and Unmaking (Kunsthal Aarhus 2015).

Jason Moore
Jason W. Moore is an environmental historian and historical geographer at
Binghamton University, where he is associate professor of sociology. He is
author or editor, most recently, of Capitalism in the Web of Life (Verso,
2015), Capitalocene o Antropocene? (Ombre Corte, 2017), Anthropocene or
Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism (PM Press,
2016), and, with Raj Patel, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things
(University of California Press, 2017). His books and essays on
environmental history, capitalism, and social theory have been widely
recognized, including the Alice Hamilton Prize of the American Society for
Environmental History (2003), the Distinguished Scholarship Award of the
Section on the Political Economy of the World-System (American Sociological
Association, 2002 for articles, and 2015 for Web of Life), and the Byres
and Bernstein Prize in Agrarian Change (2011). He is chair (2017-18) of the
Political Economy of the World-System Section (ASA), and coordinates the
World-Ecology Research Network.

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