Symposium Climate Realism – Aesthetics and Politics of Climate

Climate Realism © privat

vr 10–05–2019

15:00 uur t/m 18:00 uur

Goethe-Institut Amsterdam

Climate Realism is an ongoing research project consisting of international colloquiums, conference panels, and both a forthcoming journal issue of Resilience (2020) and book on Routledge (2019). The concept names the challenge of representing and conceptualizing climate in the era of climate change. Climate has traditionally referenced the weather it gathers, the mood it creates, and the settings it casts. In the era of the Anthropocene – the contemporary epoch in which geologic conditions and processes are overwhelmingly shaped by human activity – climate indexes not only atmospheric forces but the whole of human history: the fuels we use, the lifestyles we cultivate, the industrial infrastructures and supply chains we build, and the possible futures we may encounter. In other words, with every weather event, we have become acutely aware that the forces indexed by climate are as much social, cultural, and economic as they are environmental, natural, and physical. By starting with this fundamental insight, this book intervenes in the well-established political and scientific discourses of climate change by catalyzing and consolidating the emerging aesthetic and conceptual project of mediating the various forces embedded in climate.

Climate Realism is an occasion to rethink the aesthetics and politics of climate in its myriad forms; to capture climates capacity to express embedded histories; to map the formal strategies of representation that have turned climate into cultural content; and to index embodied currents of past and future climates.  How is realism – in both the aesthetic history of representation and the philosophical tradition that underwrites it – transformed by contending with our new experience of climate in the Anthropocene? What, if anything, separates first and second nature in an age contoured by climate crisis, and what does this mean for a history of philosophy premised on their difference? In order to temper climate change – to apprehend its complexity, to address its short- and long-term consequences, to mitigate its many sources – Climate Realism boldly claims we must develop new aesthetic theories and projects.
Amanda Boetzkes is Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Guelph. Her research focuses on the intersection of artistic practices with the life sciences and global systems of energy use. She is the author of Plastic Capitalism: Contemporary Art and the Drive to Waste (MIT Press, 2019), The Ethics of Earth Art (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), and is co-editor of Heidegger and the Work of Art History (Ashgate, 2014). She has published in the journals Postmodern Culture, Art History, Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, RACAR, Antennae: The Journal of Nature and Visual Culture, Eflux  and She has contributed chapters to numerous books and catalogs, including Marxism and the Critique of Energy (MCM, 2018); Petrocultures: Oil, Politics, Culture (McGill Queen's Press, 2017),  Fueling Culture: 101 Words for Energy and Environment (Fordham University Press, 2016); The Edinburgh Companion for Animal Studies (Edinburgh University Press, 2017); West of Center: Art and the Countercultural Experiment in America, 1965-77 (University of Minnesota Press, 2011). Her current project, Ecologicity, Vision and Art for a World to Come considers modes of visualizing environments with a special focus on Arctic landscapes. She is currently a Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich, Germany.

Graeme Macdonald is Professor at the University of Warwick, and teaches on the English and Comparative Literary Studies program. MA (Jt Hons in Literature and Sociology) Aberdeen; PhD (Glasgow); (PGCHE) Warwick. He recently edited a new edition of John McGrath's play The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil (2015) and is currently preparing a monograph, Petrofiction – Oil and World Literature. He is a member of WreC (Warwick Research Collective), whose members work on new ways to think about World Literature/Literature in the World. They have published a co-written monograph on peripheral modernism and world literature: Combined and Uneven Development – Toward a New Theory of World Literature (Liverpool University Press, 2015). He is at present co-investigator on the RSE Research Network, Connecting with a Low Carbon Scotland (2016-18). He is presently CI on the research project Climaginaries: Narrating Socio-Cultural Transitions to a Post-Fossil Society

Jeff Diamanti teaches Literary and Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. In 2016-17 he was the Media@McGill Postdoctoral Fellow in Media and the Environment where he co-convened the international colloquium on Climate Realism. His work tracks the political and media ecology of fossil fuels, and has appeared in the journals Radical Philosophy, Postmodern Culture, Mediations, Western American Literature, Krisis, and Reviews in Cultural Theory, as well as the books Fueling Culture (Fordham UP) and A Companion to Critical and Cultural Studies (Wiley-Blackwell). Diamanti has edited a number of book and journal collections including Contemporary Marxist Theory (Bloomsbury 2014), Materialism and the Critique of Energy (MCM Press 2018), and the forthcoming Energy Culture (West Virginia University Press 2019) and Bloomsbury Companion to Marx (2018), as well as a special issue of Reviews in Cultural Theory on Energy Humanities and a double issue of Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities on Climate Realism. He is working on a book called Terminal Landscapes: Climate, Energy Culture and the Infrastructures of Postindustrial Capital.

The speakers all have forthcoming essays in Climate Realism (Routledge 2019). The panel will be followed by a screening of Shezad Dawood's ongoing film cycle, Leviathan, and a roundtable discussion with Dawood and the panelists on the politics and aesthetics of climate.

Shezad Dawood works across disciplines film, painting, neon, sculpture and more recently virtual reality to deconstruct systems of image, language, site and narrative. Using the editing process as a method to explore both meanings and forms, his practice often involves collaboration and knowledge exchange, mapping across geographic borders and communities. Through a fascination with the esoteric, otherness and science-fiction, Dawood interweaves histories, realities and symbolism to create richly layered artworks.


• 15:00-15:20: Introduction: Jeff Diamanti
• 15:20-16:50: Panel discussion: Amanda Boetzkes and Graeme Macdonald
• 16:50-17:00: Break
• 17:00-17:20: Film screening of Leviathan
• 17:20-18:00: Roundtable discussion with Amanda Boetzkes, Graeme Macdonald, Shezad Dawood and Jeff Diamanti

Goethe-Institut Niederlande i.s.m. de Universiteit van Amsterdam, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis en het Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis.