Art, Governance and the Planetary Lecture at Goldsmith’s

5 Dec., 2022

As part of the Art, Governance and the Planetary series for the MFA, the MFA Curating and the MA Art & Ecology and Art & Film departments, on Monday Dec. 5, 17:30-19:00 (UK time). Beaming in online.

Governance is typically understood as a form of human social organization made explicit via constitutional laws and/or administrative protocols. Less explicit, however, are the underlying cosmological dispositions that provide valences of orientation to justify (however morally unjust) said organizational forms. In this talk we’ll depart from Sylvia Wynter’s historico-philosophical model that accounts for the planetary path dependencies of our present: that we are now forced to contend with an environment in common, despite how uncommonly lived and experienced this environment made be – including risk distributions induced by climate catastrophe. Her model centres of the over-inflation Euro-humanist “Man” as a conceptual figure, serving as a reproductive governing code orienting hegemonic modes of human activity extending from long-Euromodernity (from 1492 onwards), and we’ll be correlating her model with equally hegemonic spatial-representational paradigms, that enabled the situated operationality of such a once, abstract, conceptual ‘humanist’ figure.

Following Gayatri Spivak’s characterization of ‘planetarity’ as a set of concrete practices of inhabitation, if the planetary turn is to be of cosmological consequence (and not mere epistemological recognition) it is imperative to grapple with the existential – that is practically lived domain – of substantial transformation. This includes modes of human self-understanding at various scales, and the representational coordination of embeddedness within an entangled, interdependent planetary present. What sorts of practices can be realizably crafted from this situation, and how may artists incite interaction with planetary valences of orientation?