The Garden and the Dump

Between the garden and the dump: the crux of our situation (and of that of St. Hildegard von Bingen)
15 Sep 2021
6pm–7pm (CET)
In this talk, I reflect on the garden and the dump as the poles of my thinking over the last few years. Noting surprising commonalities between the two, I consider what Hildegard von Bingen can teach us about the vacillation of matter and spirit (of spiritual matter and material spirit) between the corresponding antipodal phenomena of viriditas and ariditas. In the context of the eco-theological drama she stages, I ask what it means to be in the middle—not only between these two formally opposite positions, but also in the middle of the cosmic dump, in which we find ourselves.

Michael Marder
University of the Basque Country


Event, Time, Trauma: Perambulations in and around the Anthropocenic Zone
16 Sep 2021
3.40pm–4.10pm (CET)
The Anthropocene, or the Anthro-Colonial-Capitalocene (ACCene, for short), is not a time so much as it is a Zone, which enfolds and circles around the hyper-Event of climate trauma. We humans are positioned at various stages in relation to this Event: pre-traumatic (for those who have managed to shelter themselves so far), becoming-traumatic (for those facing loss of shelter and bearings in a readily imaginable future), already-traumatic (for current refugees, both physical and existential), and continuously-post-traumatic (for those for whom this merely continues centuries of world-destroying trauma). How we engage with these layers of the Zone will dictate how successfully we might navigate through it. I propose three temporal paths for engaging this relationship: Chronos, or causal determination (and fatedness to pass); Aion, or imaginative constitution (and fatedness to meaning); and Kairos, or presence to rupture (and fatedness to act).

You can read Ivakhiv's Shadowing the Anthropocene: Eco-Realism for Turbulent Times online for free here.

Adrian Ivakhiv
University of Vermont


Ecologies of Ecstasy: Mysticism, Agency and the More-than-Human
16 Sep 2021
4.40pm–5.10pm (CET)
Mysticism is often described in terms of nonhuman ways of living, becoming "attentive…like a plant," to borrow a phrase from one anonymous seventeenth-century manual. This is the experience of ecstasy, of "standing away from the self," and it introduces alongside the voluntarist, self-willed Enlightenment subject an alternative model for thinking about agency, a model that I describe as a "slowing down" of agency. Unlike its fast-paced relation, attention, attentiveness takes time. One needs to be patient in order to notice. It is through this slowing down (rather than dissolution) of agency that, I argue, ecstasy points toward ecologies. That is to say, ecstasy offers good house-holding rules for the inhabitants of Terra (taking "ecology" in its etymological sense, "domestic precept").

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Simone Kotva
University of Oslo

Ecologies of Ecstasy: Mysticism, Agency and the More-than-Human
Simone Kotva
Mysticism is often described in terms of nonhuman ways of living, becoming "attentive…like a plant," to borrow a phrase from one anonymous seventeenth-century manual. This is the experience of ecstasy, of "standing away from the self," and it introduces alongside the voluntarist, self-willed Enlightenment subject an alternative model for thinking about agency, a model that I describe as a "slowing down" of agency. Unlike its fast-paced relation, attention, attentiveness takes time. One needs to be patient in order to notice. It is through this slowing down (rather than dissolution) of agency that, I argue, ecstasy points toward ecologies. That is to say, ecstasy offers good house-holding rules for the inhabitants of Terra (taking "ecology" in its etymological sense, "domestic precept").

Noticing, attending, being alert to the possibility of "what may lurk" (Isabelle Stengers): these are indispensable guidelines for getting along and living well together. But the common way of referring to ecstasy, either as an extraordinary (and fleeting) state, or else as something abnormal, pathological and even un-natural, makes it easy to overlook the significance of ecstasy to a world where the survival of everyday lifeworlds are now what is at stake. In this talk I want to worry the assumption that mysticism aspires either to perfect nature (the idea of ecstasy as "peak experience") or escape its bonds for a spiritual realm beyond what is "natural." So in what follows the otherwise important question of askesis or training will not take centre stage. What is at stake is not so much – or not only – the task of investigating the many instructions and ascetic prescriptions, prayer schedules and diets, feats of individual endurances and solitary confinements, through which ecstasy becomes theorised, especially in the Christian texts, as something separated from or else superior to ordinary life. Rather, it is first of all a matter of understanding the attitude of receptivity and openness that all these extravagant practices are supposed to facilitate. It is a question, in other words, of everyday ethics and the art of living.




Thesis Seminar:
Cinematic Waesthetics
16 Sep 2021
2.20pm–3.30 (CET)
In this seminar, Nicolai Skiveren will present an outline of his dissertation, Cinematic Wasthetics, which examines the role of waste in contemporary cinema and film. Drawing on ecocriticism/ecomedia theory, waste studies, new materialism, and film studies, Skiveren explores the structures of feeling embodied by cinematic waste(lands) and discusses the potential of moving images to retrain our perception of and response-ability toward waste.

The seminar will also feature a response from professor John Parham, who will offer feedback on the presentation and selected written excerpts (available below). Anyone interested in participating in the discussion is welcome to do so.

Nicolai Skiveren
Aarhus University

The Mating Call
16 Sep 2021
4.10pm – 4.30pm (CET)
"On the internet, as you probably know, there was a copy of a South Seas island where everything was rendered in natural size, and so lifelike that it looked like the genuine thing.

The real island is one of the prettiest in the world. A landscape of swaying palm trees, white-sand beaches, teeming coral reefs under an azure sea, and so far away, and so difficult to reach, that only the very rich can get there. That is precisely why the art collector com- missioned the copy. He wanted everyone to see it, even the poor who never have a chance to travel..."

Join us as Mikkel will read an excerpt from his essay "The Mating Call" published by McSweeney's, Vagant (Norway) and Atlas (Denmark). You can also read the full essay ahead of the conference by clicking the button below.

Mikkel Rosengaard
Writer


Thesis Seminar: On the Vegetal Sublime in Hilma af Klint's Work
16 Sep 2021
1pm–2.10pm (CET)
In this seminar, Aliya Say will present an excerpt from her draft dissertation, concerned with the notion of plant-thinking and the botanical explorations of twentieth-century women artists-mystics, such as Hilma af Klint and Emma Kunz. Her project aims to provide new insights about their unique artistic contribution, as much as the healing and ecological potential of their ecstatic experiences.

The seminar will feature a response from Prof. Michael Marder and Dr. Simone Kotva, who will offer their respective feedback on the presentation and selected writing (available below).

Aliya Say
Aarhus University


The Garden of Privatised Delights
16 Sep 2021
5.15pm – 6pm (CET)
The Garden of Privatised Delights challenges the polarisation of private and public spaces within our cities, which often leads to divisions within society. Taking their exhibition for the 2021 British Pavilion at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale as a starting point, Madeleine and Manijeh will explore the urgent need to rethink privatised public space to be more inclusive, accessible, and locally specific, for humans and non-humans alike.

The exhibition takes inspiration from Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights which uses the format of a triptych to show the utopia of the garden of Eden or Heaven, the dystopia of Hell, with the middle ground of earth as the subject of the painting that is framed in the middle. The Garden of Privatised Delights, translates the three panels into the utopia of the commons before the Enclosures Act of the 18th Century, the dystopia of total privatisation, and the middle ground which addresses the issue of privatised public space as an urgent opportunity to create more inclusive programmed and inhabited spaces. Here, the garden becomes a space for humans and non-humans alike to inhabit, looking at how we can encourage a wider and wilder ecology in our cities. Through the painting, exhibition and research, the talk will ask, why can't all public spaces be designed as gardens of delight?

The Garden of Privatised Delights is an exhibition at the British Pavilion for the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, running from 22 May – 21 November 2021.


Manijeh Verghese and Madeleine Kessler
Curators