Drawing on their expertise in ecocriticism, art-making, and activism, this panel considers how different methods and practices can shape, and reshape, choice-making and asks: How do artists, activists, scholars, curators, and communities disseminate information needed to incite large-scale movements and global change?
Ama Josephine B. Johnstone
Pollination as Praxis: The Queer Temporalities of Intimate Ecologies
Chelsea Mikael Frazier
Theorizing Red and Wounds in Wangechi Mutu’s Eco-Art
Himali Singh Soin
Pineapple Suicide + Parasol
Synchronous discussion and Q&A moderated by Elyan Hill, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities, Wolf Humanities Center.
Ama Josephine B. Johnstone is a researcher and pleasure activist whose work navigates intimate explorations of race, art, ecology, and feminism, working to activate movements that catalyze human rights, environmental evolutions, and troublesomely queered identities. Ama is a PhD candidate in Psychosocial Studies with Dr. Gail Lewis at Birkbeck. Her research takes a queer, decolonial approach to challenging climate colonialism, with a particular focus on inherently environmentalist pleasure practices in Ghana and across the Black diaspora. Ama is the 2020-21 Keith Haring Fellow in Art and Activism with BARD College, and will be based in upstate New York from January 2021.
Chelsea Mikael Frazier is a scholar working at the intersection of Black feminist literature and theory and the environmental humanities. Her scholarship, teaching, and public speaking span the fields of Black feminist literature and theory, visual culture, ecocriticism, African art and literature, political theory, science and technology studies, and Afrofuturism.
She is currently at work on her first book manuscript—an ecocritical study of contemporary Black women artists, writers, and activists. In her analyses, she probes the ways that dominant theoretical and disciplinary frameworks in environmental studies obscure the legibility of what she calls a Black feminist ecoethic as it manifests in Black women’s environmental writing, visual art, and activism across the African diaspora.
Zina Saro-Wiwa is an artist working primarily with video but also photography, sculpture, sound, and food. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York as well as running a practise in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria where she founded the contemporary art gallery Boys’ Quarters Project Space for which she regularly curates. Saro-Wiwa is one of Foreign Policy magazine’s Global Thinkers of 2016 recognized for her work in the Niger Delta. She was Artist-in-Residence at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn in 2016-2017 and in April 2017 was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Fine Arts.
Saro-Wiwa’s interest lies in mapping emotional landscapes. She often explores highly personal experiences, carefully recording their choreography, making tangible the space between internal experience and outward performance as well as bringing cross-cultural and environmental/geographic considerations to bear on these articulations. The slippery dynamics between “truth”, “reality,” and “performance” lie at the heart of her video performance work. The very idea of landscape and environment is constantly being interrogated in her video work, in the exhibitions she curates at Boys’ Quarters in Nigeria as well as in her work with food.
Since her New York debut she has been commissioned by the Menil Collection and Seattle Art Museum, has had work shown at the Pulitzer Foundation, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Stevenson Gallery, Goodman Gallery, Nikolaj Kunsthal, Tate Britain, Fowler Museum in LA, the Brooklyn Museum, and many other institutions.
Himali Singh Soin is a writer and artist based between London and Delhi. She uses metaphors from outer space and the natural environment to construct imaginary cosmologies of interferences, entanglements, deep voids, debris, delays, alienation, distance and intimacy. In doing this, she thinks through ecological loss, and the loss of home, seeking shelter somewhere in the radicality of love. Her speculations are performed in audio-visual, immersive environments. Soin’s art is shown at exhibitions such as at the Serpentine Gallery (London) or the HKW (Berlin) and she is part of the curatorial team of Momenta Biennale 2021 in Montréal. Soin is currently Writer-in-Residence at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, and has spoken on various themes such as Afro-Asian Futurisms or the question of whether the arts can affect climate change. For “Temporalities of Choice,” Soin will present the multi-limbed work “Static Range,” set around a story of a nuclear mountain in the Himalayas. In the face of extinction, her work insists on resurgence.