80 Washington Square East, NYU

Cooper Union

Art and Catastrophe – Unpredictable, Unbelievable, Unprecedented

December 11, 2019 – February 23, 2020

Broadway Windows

Today, there are those who believe that a new literature and a new aesthetics are needed to open people's eyes to the climate crisis. I think they are wrong. There is already enough good art and literature that have given shape to the human predicament in the face of climate change. We just need to learn how to look through the right lens.
– Bjorn Wiman, What if it was the weather that made Hamlet crazy? 

I have come to recognize that the challenges that climate change poses for the contemporary writer, although specific in some respects, are also products of something broader and older; that they derive ultimately from the grid of literary forms and conventions that came to shape the narrative imagination in precisely that period when the accumulation of carbon in the atmosphere was rewriting the destiny of the earth.
– Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement,

What kind of aesthetics and language do we need to develop as artists working in Catastrophic times? Do catastrophic events demand catastrophic responses? This seminar will approach and work through ideas around making art in a time of extreme ecological crisis. Ecology is here referring to more inclusive interdependent systems than the classic notions of nature. Ecology includes entangled phenomena on all scales of life: mental, social, and cosmic, such as mental states, material histories, social corporeal exchanges, labor conditions, global value and information flows. How can we engage these scales into our work? How can we critique work that is made from this position? 

Students: Leeza Belkina, Ashton Carless, Julian Chen, River Friedman, Juan Garcia, Izzy Jerome, Marsden Joy, Mack Lagoy, Wilson Miller, Eleven Muldrow, Stephanie Olguin, Sean Pearl, Yumi Rodriquez, Bryce Snyder, Maya Van Bael, Demauni. Professor: Fia Backström.