Art as Speculative Fiction
Paula Burleigh, visiting assistant professor of art, Allegheny College, and director of the Allegheny Art Gallery
This lecture examines artists working in the 21st century who use strategies more familiar to the field of speculative fiction than to the visual arts. Such strategies include world building around themes such as the supernatural, magic, human-animal hybridity, and the extraterrestrial. Artists including ruby onyinyechi amanze, Amy Cutler, Fay Ku, and Wangechi Mutu respond to what some cultural theorists have described as the current situation of being post-human and post-nature. Moving beyond anthropocentric paradigms that privilege the human experience, we will discuss artists who create fantastical, sci-fi leaning narratives to picture the ways in which the fate of humans is inextricably tied to the animals, plants, and other non-human critters that co-populate our world. At least partially in response to the growing urgency of climate change, artists discussed here use a variety of media—collage, drawing, printmaking, painting—to explore the ways in which we might begin to understand humans as part of a larger, non-hierarchical network of inter-species relationships.
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