Artificial Nature is the title of this year’s edition of the conference series Overgaden LECTURES, focusing on the ways art extends into the domain of nature and our relationship to nature today.
Nature and art have always been connected to some degree, but during recent decades nature has had a direct impact on art and a marked presence in a wide range of contemporary art practises. These all share a fascination with nature, but are often characterised by a critical approach addressing the problematic relationship of humankind to nature and the environment: a relationship based on a Western belief that humans and nature are distinct entities, and that we therefore have to either dominate or be subject to the forces of nature.
In current debates a rising number of researchers and opinion makers claim that we have now entered a new geological age called the Anthropocene. Central to the geological understanding of this epoch, is that humans have become the predominant force of change on earth, something that has far-reaching and alarming consequences for the future, for existence, and for the evolution of humankind and planet earth. Basically, the concept of the Anthropocene refers to nature being shaped by humans to such an extent that it no longer exists in any kind of ‘natural’ state. As a concept, the Anthropocene has been subject to hype as well as criticism – also in the art world – but regardless of people’s standpoint, it has opened new avenues to discuss the issues, as well as launching a current of cross-disciplinary thinking on the human impact on and relationship to the world, nature and the environment.
Turning to the landscape of art, a rising number of contemporary artists and cultural institutions are engaging with the theme of nature in numerous ways. With presentations by artists, researchers and art professionals, this year’s conference investigates the relationship between art, culture and nature from a cross-disciplinary perspective, exploring the ways nature can be approached from an artistic, philosophical and ecological perspective. Key questions include whether the concept of the Anthropocene contributes anything radically new – and in what sense does it possess a critical and transformative potential? What understandings of nature are prevalent in artistic and curatorial practises, and is it possible – or even useful – to distinguish between nature and culture?
These are the issues at the core of this year’s Overgaden LECTURES, which consists of two sessions. The first session in October includes presentations by theorists and artists discussing the concepts of nature and the Anthropocene and their relationship to art, as well as examples of how nature is incorporated aesthetically and interpreted in contemporary art. The second session in November focuses on curatorial views of nature, and also probes the significance of artists and cultural institutions tackling the urgent environmental challenges facing society today.
The conference is moderated by MSc in biology Hanne Strager, former Head of Exhibitions at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, and organized by Alexander Clausen.
Programme session 1:
14.00: Welcome and introduction
14.10-14.50: Jacob Wamberg, Professor in Art History, Aarhus University, DK
15.00-15.35: Mickey Gjerris, Associate Professor in bioethics, University of Copenhagen, DK
16.00-16.30: Simon Starling, Artist, UK
16.35-17.05: Cecilia Jonsson, Artist, SE/NO
17.40-18.20: TJ Demos, Professor in Visual Culture and History of Art, University of Santa Cruz, US (Live video connection)
18.25-18.55: Andreas Malm, Senior Associate Lecturer in Human Ecology, Lund Universitet, SE
NB: Changes in the programme might occur.
Overgaden LECTURES is kindly supported by Bikubenfonden.