[ISEA2011] Panel: Lisa E. Bloom – Con­tem­po­rary Art and Cli­mate Change: The Aes­thet­ics of Dis­ap­pear­ance at the Poles

Panel Statement

Panel: New Environmental Art Practices on Landscapes of the Polar Regions; Politics, Emotion and Culture (FARFIELD 1)

Cli­mate change pre­sents us with one of the great nar­ra­tives to emerge over the last twenty years. The re­lated uni­ver­sal dis­course raises an apoc­a­lyp­tic storm that em­braces every place, every­one and every­thing. It sur­rounds us on a global scale that is so in­tractable and is so ex­ceed­ingly hard to rep­re­sent, be­cause it cries out for a myr­iad of re­sponses and change at all lev­els of ex­is­tence. Given the enor­mous scale of cli­mate change en­com­pass­ing the en­tire earth one of the tasks of this paper is to ques­tion the way cli­mate change is rep­re­sented at the polar re­gions and to point out the ways it is per­ceived so that new de­f­i­n­i­tions of re­lated art, sci­ence and pol­i­tics can be formed and put to more ef­fec­tive use. Fo­cus­ing on the work of con­tem­po­rary artists, I ques­tion the un-rep­re­sentable of cli­mate change not only be­cause many of the ef­fects of cli­mate change are in­vis­i­ble but also be­cause the cli­mate con­tro­versy it­self has made clear that many en­tan­gled in­ter­ests im­pact its rep­re­sen­ta­tion. The strug­gle to put an image on cli­mate change often hap­pens in spite of and some­times against var­i­ous gov­ern­ment con­trols, oil and gas in­dus­try pres­sure and var­ied pop­u­lar rep­re­sen­ta­tions. In the con­text of this po­lit­i­cal con­tro­versy, I ask what are the modes of rep­re­sen­ta­tion of cli­mate change. How can cli­mate change be rep­re­sented? How should it be rep­re­sented? What kinds of eth­i­cal ques­tions should we con­sider in the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of cli­mate change? What and whose ex­pe­ri­ence is rep­re­sented? This paper dis­cusses a shift in rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the polar re­gions from the older aes­thetic tra­di­tion of the sub­lime as pure heroic wilder­ness to the aes­thetic of the con­tem­po­rary sub­lime wherein cat­e­gories of both na­ture and civ­i­liza­tion are un­done be­cause ex­treme na­ture is dis­ap­pear­ing. By fo­cus­ing on the work of three artists-Ed­ward Bur­tyn­sky, Anne Noble and Con­nie Sama­ras-this talk asks: What new sto­ries and im­ages are being pro­duced through re­cent at­tempts to re-vi­su­al­ize the Arc­tic and Antarc­tic? What im­pact have the gen­res of lit­er­ary fic­tion, sci­ence fic­tion and hor­ror, as well as the older aes­thetic tra­di­tions of the sub­lime and the con­tem­po­rary sub­lime, had on their work?  All three artists in­ter­ro­gate land­scape prac­tices and the role of pho­tog­ra­phy and new media in the con­struc­tion of vi­sual knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing of Antarc­tica.

  • Lisa E. Bloom‘s in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary re­search and ped­a­gog­i­cal in­ter­ests cut across nu­mer­ous fields in­clud­ing crit­i­cal gen­der stud­ies, vi­sual cul­ture, art his­tory, sci­ence stud­ies, pho­tog­ra­phy, and cul­tural stud­ies. She is the au­thor of Gen­der on Ice: Amer­i­can Ide­olo­gies of Polar Ex­pe­di­tions (Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota Press, 1993), which is the first crit­i­cal book to date on the Arc­tic and Antarc­tic writ­ten from a fem­i­nist per­spec­tive, and an edited an­thol­ogy en­ti­tled With Other Eyes: Look­ing at Race and Gen­der in Vi­sual Cul­ture (Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota Press, 1999) that was also trans­lated into Japan­ese. Her third book,  en­ti­tled Jew­ish Iden­ti­ties in U.S. Fem­i­nist Art: Ghosts of Eth­nic­ity (Rout­ledge, Lon­don, 2006)  ex­plores the place of Jew­ish­ness in fem­i­nist art in the United States. Her more re­cent ar­ti­cles in­clude a re­view of the Is­tan­bul Bi­en­nial 2009 for a British In­ter­na­tional Fem­i­nist Art Jour­nal, n.?paradoxa that was co-writ­ten with Betti-Sue Hertz of the Yerba Buena Cen­ter, and Dis­ap­pear­ing Ice and Miss­ing Data: Vi­sual Cul­ture of the Polar Re­gions and Cli­mate Change, that was co-writ­ten with Elena Glas­berg that will be pub­lished in Far Fields: Dig­i­tal Cul­ture, Cli­mate Change, and the Poles (edited by An­drea Polli and Jane Marsching) forth­com­ing 2011. Lisa E. Bloom’s es­says have ap­peared in The Scholar and the Fem­i­nist, n.?paradoxa, and Con­fig­u­ra­tions; ex­hi­bi­tion cat­a­logues on Isaac Julien and Eleanor Antin, and an­tholo­gies in­clud­ing The Vi­sual Cul­ture Reader, Per­form­ing the Body/Per­form­ing the Text, Jew­ish Iden­tity and Art His­tory, Jews and Sex, Writ­ing Sci­ence, and Every­day eBay, Col­lect­ing and De­sir­ing. She has both an M.F.A. from the Vi­sual Stud­ies Work­shop and Rochester In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (1985) and a Ph. D. from the His­tory of Con­scious­ness Board at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Santa Cruz (1990). She cur­rently teaches in the Vi­sual Arts De­part­ment at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Diego (US). lisabloom.net or lisaebloom.com

Full text (PDF) p. 222-227  [different title!]