WEBINAR: On Contemporary Art and Sun Media Atmospheres. Environmental Lunchtime Discussion
How and when does a being become autonomous? What makes an environment? In this talk, Sara R. Yazdani discusses her work on how notions of the environmental have been explored in contemporary and late 20th century art: art in which new alliances and new types of environmental and affective formation have been mobilized against an anthropocentric world-view.
The talk focuses on the group exhibition Sonne München, which took place in Cologne in 1994 and included works by artists such as Wolfgang Tillmans, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Carsten Höller, and Philippe Parreno. Using the exhibition as a starting point, it investigates how artistic practices of the 1990s provoked alternative, relational approaches to visual art—approaches that mobilized the forces of matter, social alliances, and environmental formations against the anthropocentric world-view. The art object and the exhibition space alike became the means to enrich existing art discourses about what an object can do—formulated here as a speculation about the future.
Artworks were not to be regarded as autonomous or aesthetic objects in the traditional sense but rather as some sort of strange being: not alive, but capable nonetheless of creating social bonds and kinships. Based on how artists in the 1990s played with sensorial and environmental surrounds to address the intimate integration of bodies and media technologies, my argument is that Sonne München posed a series of process-ontological questions about what makes an environment and what makes a body: a perspective that, in turn, has broader implications for understanding bodies and matter in ecological and sun-atmospheric terms.
About Sara Yazdani
Sara R. Yazdani is an historian, art critic, and director for the art and research site K.O.S A. In 2019 she gained her PhD in History of Art and Media Theory from the University of Oslo. Her fields of research are modern and contemporary art with a particular focus on history and theory of photography, the relationship between art, media, technologies, theories of the Anthropocene and process philosophy. Her work is published in Art Journal (forthcoming) and a number of anthologies and catalogues on modern and contemporary art. She is currently working on her first monograph, Self-Sufficient Images. Art, Media and Ecologies in the Work of Wolfgang Tillmans, a critical history of Tillmans’ oeuvre, and the re-emergence of an ecological, processual approach to art photography. Fall 2020, she is a guest lecturer in art theory at the Oslo National Academy of the Fine Arts, Oslo (the MA Art and Public Space program).
About the event series
The OSEH Environmental Lunchtime Discussion series consists of short, 10-15 minute presentations by invited guests, followed by a discussion. We invite speakers from a wide variety of fields, both academic and beyond. The presentations are accessible and are aimed at anyone with an interest in environmental issues. All are welcome.