The proliferation of plastics in terrestrial, aquatic and marine environments is not only transforming the ecology of the planet, but also altering the biochemical makeup of living organisms through food consumption, drinking water and micro-particles in the air. In the age of plastic, the dispersal and infiltration of synthetic components raises environmental as well as chronic biopolitical questions that are entangled with the terminal infrastructures of carbon capitalism, with its cycle of resource extraction, mass production, inbuilt obsolescence and disposal. How have artists utilized the materiality of plastics to investigate the breakdown of the division between the synthetic and the natural, the emergence of hybrid forms and the extent of the adaptability of living organisms to plasticized environments? In what ways has contemporary art disclosed the centrality of plastic to consumerism-driven economic systems since the mid-twentieth century and contested the culture of overproduction and waste that it represents? What are the most viable options in meeting the ecological and biopolitical challenges of life in the plastisphere?
Panel discussion exploring artistic interventions in a plasticized world, with presentations by art historian Amanda Boetzkes (University of Guelph, Canada), author of Plastic Capitalism: Contemporary Art and the Drive to Waste (MIT Press, 2019) and Polish artist Diana Lelonek, creator of the Centre for Living Things (2016-ongoing), a response by Wood Roberdeau (Critical Ecologies, Goldsmiths), moderated by Maja and Reuben Fowkes (Institute for Advanced Studies, UCL).
24 January 2020