Through the autumn of 2023, as the graduating cohort of the MA Art & Ecology prepared their contributions to The Journal of Art & Ecology, the necessity of linking ecology to questions of social justice has seemed more urgent than ever. The work gathered here, by Aliansyah Caniago, Sirun Chen, Rhiannon Hunter, Linnea Johnels, Jane Lawson, Sam Metz, Sohorab Rabbey, Tina Ribarits, Elizabeth Salazar and Ella Wong, asks what it means to be situated as an artist with a commitment to thinking and working ecologically in the midst of planetary turbulence. At a time when settler-colonial violence, pollution and climate change denialism are surging, what artistic sensoria, tactics and kinships might beckon towards more just and liveable forms of earthly life?
This 2023 edition of The Journal of Art & Ecology approaches dispossession and unfolding ecocide through sensorial memory, archival investigation, material sensitivity and embodied knowledge. Much of the work makes a critical challenge to the distancing techniques of extractivism and colonial taxonomy, repurposing diagramming, mapping and digital capture to ask how we might reconfigure our relations. The task of pluralising ecological knowledge and attending to its historical omissions takes us into new methodological territories – proposing autistic stimming as investigation, fungi as guides and plants as healers of the cosmic body. Western epistemologies and capitalist imperatives, which privilege certain kinds of bodies, are provincialized in assemblages that combine the organic, the mineral and the technological, taking their organisational logic from ancestral knowledge, acts of ecological care, Taoist wisdom, neuroqueer phenomenology and decolonial feminism. In some contributions the politics is outspoken, in others it appears as a haunting, in everyday gestures of conviviality, or in quiet transgressions of translation. There are perspectives that are tender and entangled, mournful and enraged, defiant and magical. It is work that is not afraid to stumble through unfamiliar languages, to linger in interstitial moments, to sit with discomfort and to recognise the radical alterity of nonhuman creatures. It is art that is extending its antennae, feeling its way towards deeper understandings of climate justice, mutuality and recuperation.
Dr Ros Gray
Programme Director, MA Art & Ecology