March 17—April 28, 2017
Climate change is real. The earth is imperiled, but the future is unwritten. Every crisis provokes new ways of being–waves of resistance, hope, and possibility usher in a world beyond recognition. We must believe in the immanence of this world in order for it to be.
Resistance After Nature presents multiple approaches to art and activism in the Anthropocene, where “nature” is understood as a force majeure increasingly propelled, but not controlled, by certain human activities–namely capitalism, colonialism, corporatism, nuclear proliferation, and the extractive industries. Though we are all at risk, climate change reinforces societal inequalities. Those least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions are most susceptible to climate chaos. Forced migration, pollution- related death and illness, and natural disasters unevenly disrupt the lives of those in a “risk society,” while habitat loss and mass extinction decimate animal and plant life.
With so much at stake, what can art do? We argue that the artists in this exhibition powerfully push back against the geopolitical forces endangering the health of our planet and its most vulnerable inhabitants through critique, engagement, litigation, data collection, representation, direct action, and intervention. Reproducing nature and natural systems through diverse means, the assembled artistic practices powerfully subvert how the environment is perceived, constructed, managed, governed, and conserved on a global scale.
This work animates the entanglement between human and nonhuman subjects by granting agency to water, animals, minerals, plants, seeds, petroleum, and even ocean plastics. Leveling the ontological playing field, it upsets the order of Western exceptionalism that underwrites the exploitation of our planet for profit. The artists draw on legacies ranging from Land Art to intersectional feminism, anti-colonialism to Indigenous sovereignty, and grassroots organizing to public science. Their radical, collaborative, and visionary work feeds and fuels a cultural current of interrelated resistance movements.
Here, environmental art and activism act as platforms for the recalibration of broad social, political, economic, and ecological values. The actions taken by these artists to defend water rights, divest from the fossil economy, and protect the biodiversity of oceans and forests not only call for an end to the exploitation of our planet, but also for the fulfilment of a more just society. Resistance After Nature brings together forms of insurgent environmental art that assert that another world is possible: indeed, it is already here. We are making it together even now.
The exhibition is curated by Dylan Gauthier and Kendra Sullivan, and made possible by support from the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and is organized in conjunction with the Hurford Center’s 2016-17 Faculty Seminar, “Environmental Design, Sustainability, and Artistic Intervention,” led by Markus Baenziger (Fine Arts) and Joshua Milton Moses (Anthropology/Environmental Studies).
Opening Talk & Reception:
Friday, March 17, 2017