SYMPOSIUM: Listening to the Plants

Curated by Judit Angel & Lýdia Pribišová

The symposium respondsThe symposium responds to recent developments in social sciences, humanities, and contemporary art which have questioned our long-established understanding of plants. While ancient, indigenous cultures respected plants as lively, autonomous, active beings, modernity and colonialism have reduced them to mere servants of humanity’s interests. A different, liberating and collaborative vision of plants has lately emerged within the current „vegetal turn” which seeks to rehabilitate plants by drawing attention to their complex meanings outside the utilitarian / instrumental realm, and calls for a new ethics of human – plant relationships and the recognition of our dependence on plants in our ecological survival. 

Alongside feminist, queer and decolonial scholarship, contemporary art and visual culture have played an important role in re-envisioning our relationship to the vegetal world, the land, and ecosystems. In particular, contemporary artists have contributed to shaping new conceptions of plants by employing de-objectifying aesthetic strategies, resorting to situated intersectional approaches, and concentrating on human – non-human connections defining life on the planet. The artists participating in the symposium highlight the agency of symbiotic human – plant bodies and the role of indigenous knowledge and ancient rituals in caring about ecosystems; address medicinal plants and their entanglements with history and politics; strive to undermine stereotypes connected with the rootedness / mobility of plants; and analyze cultural and political projections on ornamental flowers and their role in urban gardening. Through the lecture, workshop, screening, botanical walk, and performances, the goal of the symposium is to to reconsider plants and their activity at a time when devising new modes of co-existence have become crucial for the environment.

Organized by and Kunsthalle Bratislava, within the framework of A Plant programme

Activities of the symposium are in English and Slovak/Czech

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