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1981
Women in Art and Science
  • ISSN: 1477-965X
  • E-ISSN: 1758-9533

Abstract

The archive produces a linear time that reaches towards ‘what could be’ by asserting ‘what has been’, providing us reassurance of our existence through the assertion of a reliably past. But the Anthropocene is an era of uncontained material ramifications, where the past juts into the future and temporality warps as change accelerates unexpectedly. As an ecological and geologic epoch, documentation of the Anthropocene inherently has a relationship to natural history museums and archives. These institutions, however, troublingly rest on what Elaine Graham calls ‘ontological hygiene’ – the separateness of the human subject from ‘nature’. The Anthropocene however, challenges the western post-Enlightenment binary of man vs. nature, as it (supposedly) naturalizes humans into an earth systems force. As such, documentation of this epoch might resist ontological sanitation. This article outlines an artistic research practice to create artefacts of the Anthropocene – one that invites material idiosyncrasies, objects-in-becoming, ephemerality, and decay. I suggest that artistic ‘anarchices’ prioritize process over objects, and resist linear and static representation in lieu of material, embodied and sensory artefacts. These include relational encounters with waste materials, reworked forms of ‘geology’, edible artefacts and multimedia works at landfills and feral sites. The anarchives are interpolated by a rejection of hegemonic logic, positivism and ‘objective’ truths about environmental phenomena; Situated, ambiguous and material knowledges are inwrought into the so-called Anthropocene (and any alternatives to this term). By focusing on waste as an analytical category, I explore some of the ontological breakdowns present in the Anthropocene and question how to unorder systems and disturb materiality.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Fellowship
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2024-01-24
2024-06-14
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