Art and Our Surrounds: Emergent and Residual Languages
This essay undertakes a review of recent books by T.J. Demos (Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology (2016) and Against the Anthropocene: Visual Culture and Environment Today (2017)) and Jens Andermann (Tierras en trance: Arte y naturaleza después del paisaje (Lands Entranced: Art and Nature after Landscape, 2018)). Demos and Andermann participate in the paradigm shift taking place under the name of eco-criticism, forging connections between the debates around environmental crisis and the fields in which they have written and published previously – art criticism and visual culture and Latin American literary and cultural studies, respectively. Both authors take on the challenge of thinking through the perceptual and conceptual habits that have dominated a relationship to our environment under capitalist modernity (such as the concept of landscape) and how artistic practices might be said to rework those habits. While Demos maps recent efforts to engage ecological concerns and “decolonize nature” across the globe, Andermann looks back to the twentieth century Latin American archive, constructing a local genealogy that harbors an ecological and political thinking that anticipates what is now lived as global crisis; their projects intersect in contemporary Latin American activist art that has gained enough attention to figure as part of a global circuit. The review considers the overlapping points as well as the striking disjuncture in both projects in relation to the different knowledge formations, archives and languages from which each author speaks.
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