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Floral Collectivism, Maja and Reuben Fowkes

When: Thursday, May 30, 2024, 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Hear from the art historians, curators and directors of the Postsocialist Art Centre (PACT) at the Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL

In this presentation Maja and Reuben Fowkes will discuss artistic engagements with the crisis of the forest that identify the causes of deforestation in systems of exploitation and extraction rooted in colonialism and capitalism and activate practices of solidarity and care by looking to Indigenous, traditional and ecosocialist epistemologies.

How do depictions of the delicately balanced lifeworlds of the climax rainforest summon activist responses to the threats posed by extractive inroads, urbanisation and climate change to tropical ecosystems? Should newcomer plants in hybrid, post-industrial secondary forests, which in a pre-climate emergency world were rejected as invasive species, be embraced as worldmakers of the new wild in the postanthropocene? At a time of cascading planetary crisis, when arboreal beings are exposed more than ever to the ravages of deforestation and forest fires, developmentalist and political agendas, anthropogenic transformations and climate devastation, how might we draw on the speculative epistemologies of the Socialist Anthropocene to reimagine silva-centric futures?

This lecture will be followed by a social event.

Maja and Reuben Fowkes are art historians, curators and directors of the Postsocialist Art Centre (PACT) at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London. Their publications include Art and Climate Change (Thames & Hudson, 2022), Ilona Németh: Eastern Sugar (Sternberg Press, 2021) and The Green Bloc: Neo-avant-garde Art and Ecology under Socialism (CEU Press, 2015). Recent curatorial projects include the exhibitions Colliding Epistemes at Bozar Brussels (2022) and Potential Agrarianism at Kunsthalle Bratislava (2021). Their Horizon Europe research project into the Socialist Anthropocene in the Visual Arts (SAVA) is supported by UKRI and they are co-founders of the Translocal Institute for Contemporary Art.

This event is part of the Environmental Futures series, a two-year research and public engagement programme about the roles of plants in imagining the future. The programme is funded by the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences and led by Dr Giulia Carabelli.

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