Why a PhD project on art imagining human-nature relations?
Studying the representation of climate change/justice/crisis and related environmental/social themes through the lens of the Environmental Humanities and by looking specifically at visual art has numerous reasons.
The visual arts have the potential to…
- Visualize abstract themes
- Be unusual, novel, unbound by existing conventions or (perhaps ineffective) narratives
- Create personal experiences turning a temporally and spatially remote topic into a directly felt experience by use of imaginative practices
- Create emotional, aesthetic experiences
- Offer reflective, contemplative experiences while other artworks convey explicit messages for action
Yet, the arts might also encounter certain challenges/limits when addressing environmental topics:
- Artwork could not be understood → bound by cultural norms?
- ‘High culture’ artworks might only reach a certain audience?
- Are artist who do not lead by example listened to?
- Art can also employ reductionist thinking, showing the same future scenario again and again
- Negative tone can lead to helplessness
- Didactic artworks might be rejected by the art world
- Artworks might not create impact .. what is impactful?
- Climate change is not solved single-handedly …what collaborations are needed?
The Environmental Humanities...
- Offer high conceptual sensitivity
- Acknowledge climate change as a human challenge
- Use collaborative modes of inquiry
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
Co-promoters: dr. P.P.L. Berkers (Erasmus University Rotterdam) / Prof.dr. K. Kwastek (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Promoter: Prof. dr. F.R.R. Vermeylen (Erasmus University Rotterdam)