2013, Sat, Jan 12

Island: Gardens

With smudge studio: Elizabeth Ellsworth (School of Media Studies, New School for Public Engagement, New York) and Jamie Kruse (artist, designer, New York), Emma Marris (writer, Columbia), Michael Taussig (Department of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York), Will Steffen (Climate Change Institute, Australian National University, Canberra). Moderation: Christian Schwägerl (science journalist and author, Berlin)


As man-made interventions that aim to construct an experiential landscape from within nature, gardens reveal the constantly mutating human confrontation with the environment. This island unfolds the negotiation between nature and culture, artificial and natural, subject and object. Where are we in the Anthropocene? The vision of the world as a garden carries a Romantic utopian history, as a site of retreat and reflection; “spiritual” imaginations also play a role, such as visions of a post-apocalyptic Paradise. Gardens may also be agricultural venues, tended, tilled, taken care of, meant to sustain small households (or even, large-scale communities). Who works the garden, what role could it play in an Anthropocenic approach to environmental and urban landscaping? Who decides the boundaries of the planetary garden? When does the wild and free-growing give way to the tame and cultivated?



Emma Marris (Columbia, MI) is an environmental writer and reporter. She writes on evolution, energy, agriculture, food, language, books, and film. Her stories have appeared in Conservation, Wired, Nature Medicine, OnEarth, and Nature, where she worked for several years. In 2011, Marris published her first book, "Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World", which explores the riotous ecologies created by human interventions in the process once called “nature.”


Christian Schwägerl (Berlin) is a journalist and writer, focusing on transformations in science and ecology and their consequences for60politics and society. The author of Menschenzeit (2010) and 11 drohende Kriege (2012), he has been awarded the Georg von Holtzbrinck Preis für Wissenschaftsjournalismus and the Econsense-Journalistenpreis. He is a project director and curator in the anthropocene Project.


smudge studio (New York) is a nonprofit media arts collaboration between Jamie Kruse (artist, designer, New York) and Elizabeth Ellsworth (professor for media studies at the 58 New School, New York), co-founded in 2006. Their project meets at sites and moments where the geologic and the human converge. They creatively respond to the complex of forces they encounter there: the natural, built, historic, social, strategic and the imagined. They are co-editing a collection of essays, "Making the Geologic Now: Material Conditions of Contemporary Life" (2012).


Will Steffen (Canberra)is based at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National university (ANu) Climate Change Institute, and is also an associate researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Hehas written on adapting land use to climate change, bringing human processes into the modeling and analysis of the earth system, and the history of and future prospects for the relationship between the natural world and humans. AlongsidePaul Crutzen, Steffen has been a prominent advocate of the concept of the Anthropocene.


Michael Taussig (New York) lehrt Kulturanthropologie an der Columbia University in New York. Er schreibt über Gewalt, Terror, die Abschaffung der Sklaverei, Schamanismus, Mimesis, Mimesis und Alterität, Farbe, Ikonoklasmus, Georges Bataille und Walter Benjamins Grab.


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