About the PhD Research

PhD Research Overview

Humanity has entered a new era, often labelled the Anthropocene -the human epoch- or Capitalocene -the era of capital*. Humanity and its exploitative relations of capitalism pose a significant threat to the ecological integrity of the planet, particularly through human-caused climate change. The abstract and complex nature of climate change makes it a topic that is often framed and visualized in scientific and negative ways. This research studies a promising alternative approach for imagining climate change from the visual arts in the 21st century. The visual arts have the potential to visualize the invisible or insensible, to render the remote proximate, to bring delayed impacts into presence, to foster human-nature relations. The visual arts also face certain challenges. The emerging and innovative field of the Environmental Humanities has started to investigate the role of the visual arts in addressing climate change. This PhD research will expand this important work by asking:

  1. How is exhibited, climate-related art covered in news media? (focusing on activist and non-activist art)
  2. What are the main ecological messages of highly covered artists and exhibitions?
  3. How are climate-related visual artworks imagining climate topics?
  4. What ‘impact’ can climate-related visual art have on our relation to nature and aesthetic experience?

* The terms ‘Anthropocene’ or ‘Capitalocene’ are widely used, yet not officially defined as geological epochs. Technically, we currently live in the Holocene.

Environmental Humanities perspective


Academic and societal relevance


Overview of the studies

This PhD project received funding from the PhD in the Humanities programme of NWO, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.

Project number: PGW.19.010/8366

Promoter: Prof. dr. F.R.R. Vermeylen (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Co-promoters: dr. P.P.L. Berkers (Erasmus University Rotterdam) / Prof.dr. K. Kwastek (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

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