A vast set of associations surrounds both popular and academic ideas of what art actually entails. Art is assumed to be expression, experience, and intention — and often at the same time. Intentionis a difficult concept; it might feel conscious, rational, or substantiated, but is that really the case? The human mind is a notoriously unreliable piece of equipment and hardly capable of understanding its own intentions. In order to discard the assumptions that one has to be conscious to make art, one could hark back to surrealism and place art in the domain of the sub- or un-conscience. But then what’s to keep us from stretching things a little bit further, proclaiming non-human natural entities to be capable of art, of authorship?

This event stems from the research project and exhibition ‘Reading by Osmosis’ (Amsterdam, Zone2Source/Het Glazen Huis, 16 February – 28 April 2019, curated by Semâ Bekirović), focusing on artworks made by non-human artists — by animals, trees, the wind, and other entities and processes. Bekirović’s project focuses in particular on works that are inspired by the human domain, or deploy humans or man-made objects as tools and material and has resulted in the book Reading by Osmosis – Nature Interprets Us.

After a short presentation of Bekirović’s project, the evening will begin with a lecture:

Michael Marder, 'Art’s Articulations'

In this talk, Michael Marder interprets the activity and role of art as an articulation of things, words, and worlds. Upon taking a look at two regimes of articulation — the spatial and the verbal —, he discusses it as a tool for imagining, bringing about, or simply discovering art without humans. Finally, to illustrate this point, Marder turns to plants, those consummate artists of existence, at every moment articulating and rearticulating themselves, organic and inorganic beings around them, and the world.

The lecture will be followed by a discussion

with ICI Fellows Daniel Liu and Alison Sperling on the possibility and consequences of non-human art production

Michael Marder is IKERBASQUE Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU), Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. His writings span the fields of phenomenology, political thought, and environmental philosophy. He is the author of numerous articles and fourteen monographs, including Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life (2013); Phenomena — Critique — Logos: The Project of Critical Phenomenology (2014); The Philosopher’s Plant: An Intellectual Herbarium (2014); Pyropolitics: When the World Is Ablaze (2015), Dust (2016), Energy Dreams (2017), Heidegger: Phenomenology, Ecology, Politics (2018) and Political Categories (2019).

Semâ Bekirović is a visual artist and curator. She studied at the Rietveld Academie and the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Her work has been exhibited at De Appel (Amsterdam), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Hayward Gallery Project Space (London), the Dutch Culture Institute (Shanghai), and on Times Square (NYC).

Daniel Liu is a historian of the life and physical sciences, who writes about cell theory, scientific materialism, colloids, and the uses of images in scientific exploration. Before his current position as a fellow at the ICI Berlin, he has been a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Biohumanities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an MBL McDonnell Scholar at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, as well as a Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

Alison Sperling received her Ph.D. in literature and cultural theory in 2017. She researches weird American 20th and 21st century literature, the Anthropocene, and feminist and queer theory. She is currently working on her first book manuscript Weird Modernisms.

In English
With

Michael Marder

and
Semâ Bekirović
Daniel Liu
Alison Sperling

Organized by

Semâ Bekirović and ICI Berlin in cooperation with the ZK/U, supported by Mondriaan Fund

The event, like all events at the ICI Berlin, is open to the public, free of charge. The audience is presumed to consent to a possible recording on the part of the ICI Berlin. If you would like to attend the event yet might require assistance, please contact Event Management.

© Photograph by Sander Tiedema
The crow’s nest made of clothes hangers was borrowed from the birds nest collection of Mamoru Suzuki