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36ème Congrès du CIHA - Lyon 2024

Parrainé par le Ministère de la Culture,
le Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche,
le Ministère de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères

Down to Earth: A Geological Turn in Art History?

Jessica Ullrich 1, Kassandra Nakas 2, Matthieu Duperrex 3
University Of Fine Arts - Münster (Germany), 2Leuphana Universität Lüneburg (Germany), 3Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture de Marseille (France)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

In the light of debates on the Chthulucene or Plantationocene (Haraway 2016), ever more artists have recently been dealing with the basic matter of these concepts, and with the geological footing of Gaia (Lovelock/Margulis 1974) itself: with soil.

Soil forms the world we live from and in. It is the foundation of all life, provides food and fuel, shapes landscapes and cities. It is an "inscribed body" and "scarred terrain" (Agudio/Boschen 2019), teaching us about the Earth's past. According to many anthropogenic myths, humans emerged from soil, and eventually all life becomes soil. Its condition, however, is precarious: pollution, degradation, contamination, over-fertilisation, exploitation, (neo-colonial) extractivism add to eco-political distress and hardship for the land and its people (Sheikh/Gray 2018). The Geological has become inextricably linked with the Political (de la Cadena 2015; Povinelli 2016; Tsing et al. 2017; César 2018, Demos 2020).

Today, artists reflect upon the precarious status of soil, its compounds, produces and political implications. They tackle social and environmental, mythological and personal issues, and delve into soil’s cultural imaginaries and conceptualisations. Artists build and sculpt with mud, map and display territories, metabolise and listen to it; they collect and create fertile soils, narrate their stories and explore their sensual qualities (Toland et al. 2018). Soil care in the arts becomes a feminist and anti-colonial practice, and a gesture of solidarity with the non- human (Puig de la Bellacasa 2017).

This session provides a platform for the critical discussion of aesthetic and political negotiations and transformations of soil(s) and their methodological and ontological implications for art historical discourse. Taking into account Non-Western and indigenous perspectives, it stimulates an intercultural and interdisciplinary dialogue about the epistemological potential of an artistic ‘geology’ and its repercussions in political agendas; in short, it considers and explores the capacities and predicaments of a ‘Geological Turn’ in art history.