Ecologies of Death: Environment, Body and Ethics in Contemporary Art

Ecologies of Death
Ecologies of Death Marietta Radomska

In the contemporary context of the ecological crisis, the degradation of natural resources renders certain habitats unliveable and leads to the death of individual organisms, populations and species extinction.

While bioscience emphasises interdependency as a key characteristics of life shared by all organisms, Western cultural imaginaries tend to draw a thick dividing line between the human and nonhuman others, particularly evident in our approaches to death. Simultaneously, human/nonhuman relationality and the destruction of life on Earth, form some of the major concerns in contemporary art practices and emerging philosophies of extinction.

The aim of this interdisciplinary project is to examine how contemporary art explores the relations between human and environment in the context of death and extinction. This is done through visual, textual, conceptual and discourse analyses of artworks, theoretical texts and scientific reports. By bringing into dialogue five key areas of enquiry – art, environmental humanities, feminist theory, death studies, and science – the project investigates art’s approach to the materiality and processuality of death and its potential for mobilising a more nuanced ethics of death that could account for the irreducible and multiplex character of human/nonhuman ecologies, especially needed in the context of the current environmental crisis.

The project is funded by The Swedish Research Council.