The Art & Ecology research group hosts a broad cluster of artistic research at the intersection of ecology, art and activism. This highly interdisciplinary field offers a multitude of perspectives, including social and political engagement, (eco)feminism, scientific perspectives and artistic activism. Insights from Posthumanism and New Materialism play an important reference point here.
From a commitment to art and ecology, the research group wishes to play a meaningful role in the recognition of contemporary art as a vital, connecting, investigative and regenerative force within society and within local natural and (cultural) historical givens. With exemplary policies, it aims to help the development of equitable and sustainable alternatives for a positive future.
Ecological art constitutes a highly pluralistic artistic discipline that has been around for decades, but for a long time remained relatively invisible and on the margins of more dominant art movements. At the beginning of the new millennium, the movement seems to have rapidly gained renewed momentum, visibility and a (young) following. Among the numerous topics addressed within eco-art are the representation of ‘nature’, sustainability, the Anthropocene, climate change, species extinction, the finite nature of fossil fuels, colonialism, waste, species contact, taxonomy and classification, food, indicator species, water management, genetic engineering, and ecosystem restoration.
The Art & Ecology research group stems from the research group Body and Material Reinvented (2015-2022). Partly because of stormy debates and pioneering research in the field of body and matter, and from the need to give ecology a permanent place within the Academy, in recent years the group has felt the need to define its field of research more specifically.
Unlike in the United States, academies in Europe have few, if any, eco-art programs. The new Art & Ecology research group at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp wants to develop a substantive program of pioneering research, teaching, lectures and publications around art and ecology, to showcase the great multiplicity and thematic variety of eco-art, canonize relatively unknown artists, and help to write the history of an artistic discipline that has hitherto barely been charted. With these spearheads, the group wishes to position itself as a laboratory for critical, interdisciplinary research into sustainable alternatives for the future, merging artistic and scientific modes of knowledge production with other areas of research.
(image: development of the Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility in Petaluma, California (2000-2009), by American eco-artist Patricia Johanson)