T.J. Demos
The Politics and Aesthetics of Climate Emergency
, 19:00


For Extinction Rebellion, reducing atmospheric carbon is a global urgency; for green neoliberals, it’s entrepreneurial, a time of economic opportunity; for Indigenous communities, the emergency continues centuries of colonial violence and genocide; for authoritarian nationalists, it’s a migration threat best addressed through military security. How might one’s emergency erase or empower another’s?

By considering the becoming-activist of aesthetics in relation to both climate mobilizations and the weaponized atmospheres of militarized borderzones (highlighted in the Whitney Museum’s “teargas” biennial and corresponding protests), this presentation considers the complexity of emergency politics, as well as how emergency might give way to the emergence of emancipated futures through interconnected social movements.

T.J. Demos is Professor in the Department of the History of Art and Visual Culture at University of California, Santa Cruz, and Founder and Director of its Center for Creative Ecologies. He writes widely on the intersection of contemporary art, global politics, and ecology and is the author of numerous books, including “Against the Anthropocene: Visual Culture and Environment Today” (Sternberg Press, 2017); “Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology” (Sternberg Press, 2016); “The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary During Global Crisis” (Duke University Press, 2013)—winner of the College Art Association’s 2014 Frank Jewett Mather Award—and “Return to the Postcolony: Specters of Colonialism in Contemporary Art” (Sternberg Press, 2013).

Demos co-curated “Rights of Nature: Art and Ecology in the Americas”, at Nottingham Contemporary in January 2015, and organized “Specters: A Ciné-Politics of Haunting”, at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid in 2014. He’s currently working on a Mellon-funded research project, art exhibition, and book project dedicated to the questions “What comes after the end of the world?” and “How can we cultivate futures of social justice within capitalist ruins?”

The presentation of the lecture has received funding from the City of Bergen. Volt’s programme in 2019 has received funding from Arts Council Norway, the City of Bergen, Hordaland County Council (KUP) and Public Art Norway (URO).

We’re told we’re in a climate emergency—but whose is it?