Creative Ecologies
TAKE on art|January - June 2017

Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Husband it and it will grow our food, our fuel, and our shelter and surround us with beauty. Abuse it and the soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it.

TJ Demos

How can art — as a site of creative construction, of the imaginative building of alternative worlds and potential futures — contribute to a great transformation toward a radically different form of life, one beyond the environmental violence and social destructiveness of advanced capitalism? To grow requires a healthy medium. Take soil. Damage, we know, is the result of industrial agriculture, leading to a crisis of food provisions. Conventional farming’s use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides destroys soil’s health, diminishing its fertility. The situation is dire: the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation informs us that farmers have only sixty more years of growing crops, owing to soil depletion and erosion—in other words, only about a hundred harvests left, even as world population is expected to grow substantially. Farming becomes mining, a mode of extraction, when it withdraws value from the earth and transforms it into commercial profit, rather than replenishing it as a creative ecology with long-term benefits. How can this latter sense of environmental health be legitimised and dignified within the arts? With the current cultural turn toward investigating multi species and post anthropocentric ways of knowing and being, propelled further by the threat of catastrophic climate change in the age of the Anthropocene, these questions could not be more urgent, nor solutions more readily available.

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