Art History, Theory and Practice for an Ecological Emergency

Session Convenors:

Andrew Patrizio (Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh)

Lucy Whelan (Humboldt University of Berlin)

Please email your paper proposal to the session convenors using the Paper Proposal Form


How can we align art theory, history, and practice with an ontology that refuses to see human life as fundamentally set apart from nature? Art historians have recently started to respond to global environmental concerns with eco-critical approaches. Yet with the effects of abrupt climate breakdown already apparent, art history can afford neither to repeat the theoretical debates over the representation of nature explored in literary studies since the 1990s, nor to conceive the ecological as a transitory ‘turn’ or an additional category of analysis. Instead, a global existential crisis demands a wholescale rethinking of how art historians and practitioners write, curate, make, and teach. This interdisciplinary session builds on recent work by TJ Demos, Anna Tsing, Kathryn Yusoff and others, in moving towards an integrated ecological art history that is oriented towards the future, even as it examines the past. Key questions to explore may include:

  • Faced with the reality of environmental breakdown, how can different approaches to realism attend to the more-than-human reality always constraining and exceeding human constructions?
  • Taking a global, holistic approach, what new insights may be revealed by situating historical categories such as gender, race, or class in relation to the environment?
  • In turning our attentionto ‘deep’ or geological time, or conversely to the critically shallow time left to reduce emissions, how might we change our approach to art’s temporality?
  • While some major museums have recently divested from fossil fuels, how can the art institution go further in resisting norms that are damaging the planet?

Submit a paper

Please email your paper proposals direct to the session convenors above, using the Paper Proposal Form

You need to provide a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 25-minute paper (unless otherwise specified), your name and institutional affiliation (if any).

Please make sure the title is concise and reflects the contents of the paper because the title is what appears online, in social media and in the printed programme.

You should receive an acknowledgement receipt of your submission within two weeks from the session convenors.

Deadline for submissions: Monday 21 October 2019

BACK TO 2020 Annual Conference