Art, Architecture and Visual Culture

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Andrew Patrizio

Following directly on many of the ideas implicit in the previous chapter, this chapter explores the potential to open art history, as a humanities discipline, into the discourses of posthumanism. This involves drawing on productive earlier histories that, like recent counterparts, offer a critique of anthropocentric perspectives which dominate mainstream art history. Both Guattari’s notion of ‘the three ecologies’, and Braidotti’s work are key in this regard, as is the radical scientific philosophy of Barad and other critics of normative ways of parcelling up knowledge and ontology. The chapter also looks at the challenges posed by the enormity of scale in aligning the humanities with environmental concern, as well as intersubjectivity as a useful term to help shape future art historical approaches.

in The ecological eye
Techniques, materials, land, energy, environments
Andrew Patrizio

This chapter assesses art historical perspectives in relation to writing about Land Art and environmental art movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and the work that continues in this vein. Without discussing case studies of art practice, it examines ideas and ideological framing that emerge from a more theoretical position. Contemporary art historical accounts are discussed, identifying the ideological and methodological possibilities they offer for the discipline of art history. As a complement to discussions of ‘expanded sculpture’, the literature of environmental aesthetics and psychology is assessed for its relevance to ecocritical art history approaches. The chapter also examines a seemingly tangential area normally ghettoised as ‘technical art history’ – including the study of the chemical, material and historical aspects of art within an ecological frame of reference, boosted by a new-found interest in more philosophical aspects of materialism.

in The ecological eye
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Paying attention – environmental justice and ecocritical art history
Andrew Patrizio
in The ecological eye
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Assembling an ecocritical art history
Author: Andrew Patrizio

The ecological eye aims to align the discipline of art history with ecology, climate change, the Anthropocene and the range of politics and theoretical positions that will help to ground such an approach. It looks both backwards and forwards in order to promote the capacities of close attention, vital materialism, nonhierarchy, care and political ecology. The book seeks to place the history of art alongside its ecocritical colleagues in other humanities disciplines. Three main directions are discussed: the diverse histories of art history itself, for evidence of exemplary work already available; the politics of social ecology, Marxist ecologies and anarchy, showing its largely untapped relevance for work in art history and visual culture; and finally, emerging work in posthumanism and new materialism, that challenges unhelpful hierarchies across the human, animal, botanical and geological spheres. The ecological eye concludes with an appeal to the discipline to respond positively to the environmental justice movement.

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Political, cultural, green
Andrew Patrizio

This chapter finds support for a cultural politics of nonhierarchies, networks and flows in writings that follow from early anarchist and social ecology contributions and in more general works on green political thought. The chapter calls attention to the resurgence of nonhierarchical political formations from various perspectives and how they have shaped artistic practices and art historical methodologies. What ends up foregrounded are the transversal, interlinked and mutually influencing parts of our social body. Drawing on some of the content in Part I and the Conclusion, this chapter analyses these approaches methodologically and speculates on how the discipline of art history might productively continue to adopt scholarly rich, egalitarian political positions, and inform a fully ‘green’ political ideology.

in The ecological eye
Andrew Patrizio

Building on canonical, largely male writers thus far discussed, this chapter shows the rich vein of theory, political philosophy and activism in ecofeminism and queer theory. It explores the relatively under-discussed intellectual boundary between the major scholars in ecofeminism and those in feminist art history. Pioneering work in ecofeminism becomes powerful in understanding the themes of domination and hierarchy that lie at the heart of The ecological eye. Queer theory too stands as a productive extension of the challenge to domination and hierarchy that runs throughout the book and so helps to delineate rich territory for supporting a transversal ecological imaginary in art history.

in The ecological eye
Andrew Patrizio

This chapter draws on the work of many canonical art historians and weighs their contribution, implied or explicit, to an ecocritical art history. It looks at the standard introductions to art historical theory and method that are in circulation, mining them for ecological potential and seeking out a positive case for environmental concerns of various types nascent within the discipline. Yet is also problematises the fact that none of these introductions explicitly asserts ecological imperatives. The conclusion of this chapter is that art history is well placed to expand into a critical environmental humanities whilst drawing selectively on existing work in the discipline.

in The ecological eye
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Andrew Patrizio
in The ecological eye
Andrew Patrizio

Much anarchist and social ecologist writing argues for a degree of connectedness between other animal life and insensate bodies and materials on earth. In this vein, a new strand of nonhierarchical, vitalist political ontology, termed ‘new materialism’, takes mutualism and ethics more radically beyond the human. This chapter looks briefly at prehistories, within vitalist traditions, before turning to recent contributions to this dynamic field such as by Barad, Bennett, Grosz and in the anthology by Coole and Frost, New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics (2010) among many others. New materialism seeks to take politics and philosophy to new levels of nonhierarchical awareness. This chapter argues for its potential (along with its variants) within the history of art, given new materialism’s apparent productive encounters within other humanities disciplines. The perhaps surprising conclusion for art history, as a discipline dominated by hierarchies, markets, monetisation and value systems, is that this is an intellectual trajectory that art historians should positively engage with and make their own contributions.

in The ecological eye
Andrew Patrizio
in The ecological eye