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Vegetal Mediations: Plant Agency in Contemporary Art and Environmental Humanities

Photo: Uriel Orlow
Friday, May 5, 2017, 3:00 pm – Saturday, May 6, 2017, 6:00 pm

Keynote speaker: Michael Marder 
Author of Plant Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life

Rather than mere passive bystanders to history, plants act as agents, mediating relations both among people and between people and their environments, knowledge, markets, and politics, as well as serving as go betweens in non-human spheres. This conference explores the response of artists, writers and theorists to manifestations of plant agency considered through vegetal non-cognitive thought and non-representational memory, plant ethics and rights, and the relationship of humans and plants in the Anthropocene. It asks whether, moving beyond an anthropocentric concern with the instrumental value of plants, the vegetal world might offer models for coexistence and planetary being with relevance for human society, politics and economics. Considering also the knowledge of indigenous and ancient traditions about plants as co-members of the natural world, the conference highlights a range of intellectual and sensorial encounters with vegetation, focussing especially on the engagements of contemporary art with plant agency.

Speakers include: Monika Bakke (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań), Isabel Hoving (Leiden University), Khadija von Zinnenberg Carroll (University of Birmingham), Patrícia Vieira (Georgetown University, USA), Uriel Orlow (artist, London), Bo Zheng (artist, Hong Kong), Špela Petrič (artist, Ljubljana), Chonja Lee (University of Bern), Åsa Sonjasdotter (artist, Berlin), Christiane Erharter (curator, Vienna), Christine Mackey (artist, Ireland), Lea Vene (curator, Zagreb) and Sendy Osmičević (environmental scientist, Zagreb), Adéla Kremplová (Czech Academy of Sciences), Tatiana Safonova (Central European University), Ágnes Bakk and Bence György Pálinkás (artists, Budapest), Stefan Voicu (Central European University), Elizabeth Loudon (Central European University) and Alan Watt (Central European University).

This conference is organised by the Environmental Arts and Humanities Initiative (EAH) at Central European University in collaboration with Translocal Institute. The Environmental arts and Humanities Initiative aims to create a common platform for academic researchers, artists, and ecological activists creatively negotiating planetary issues at the intersection between scientific and humanities-based approaches to the environment. The conference is organised by EAH members Maja Fowkes, Reuben Fowkes, Alan Watt, Guntra Aistara and Hyaesin Yoon.  

For the conference programme, abstracts, speaker biographies and registration details see: