Laboratory Statement, November 2017, Copenhagen / Berlin / Amsterdam

Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology works in an inter- multi- transdisciplinary field of blasphemous couplings and more-than-human companionships.

Untrue to genre, we roam blasted fields of multispecies sufferings and their complex webs of histories / herstories, attempting to stay with the trouble of more-than-human (re)presentations, chimeric storytellings as practices of potential healing on a wounded earth.

We believe in the power of poetry, aesthetics, storytelling and fiction as world-making practices and potentialities. We believe in the storying of worlds, in the wor(l)dings of stories, in the material and very real consequences of narration. As Western scientific skepticism repeatedly engages in dis/proving the existence of various non-verifiable phenomena, we insist on attuning to stories however non-logical, -factual or -knowable these may be. We believe in the urgency of redoing scientific methodologies and opening scientific practices towards the intuitive, the poetic. In this, we take part in the thick web of speculative fabulation.

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Though eager to deconstruct human(ist) identities, our work is focused on careful, speculative construction, on the building of, engagement in, and commitment to multispecies worlds, however precarious, temporary and non-innocent these may be.

Born with white privilege, raised within a racist and phallocentric structure and schooled in the blatant euro-centrism of western academia, we continually attempt to unlearn. We pledge to do it better, and acknowledge our repeated failures to do so.

We admit to the steep linguistic im/possibilities in entering a field of multispecies wor(l)ding with a language full of universals, full of violent histories of naming. Our discourse is caught in arrogant, western generalizations such as wo/man, human, animal, healthy/sick, etc. Unlearning these means redoing identity from our particular, situated point of view (humanism, white feminism, western science).

The same kind of arrogance has prompted the widely used term 'the Anthropocene', yet another example of western science assuming generality on behalf of the human race, shamelessly appointing the Human as such as responsible for global, climate break-down, while wholeheartedly ignoring the crucial importance of holding situated destructive practices accountable, and admit to the differences at stake, not to mention the different stakes in negotiating restorative practices in global ecological catastrophes. 

As a consequence, we commit to ecologically oriented work - however abstract, speculative, theoretical – confronting, critically examining and / or tentatively proposing alternatives for neoliberal wor(l)dings, anthropocentrism (and too often its inherent white supremacy), scarcity-based economies, destructive discourses and toxic masculinities. In this, we must proceed with outmost care for our unalike partners in precarious collectives with acute self-awareness.


Our work is a resistance to destructive and oppressive capitalist and colonialist structures that define and diagnose what counts as the healthy and the sick, the normal and the abnormal. In a time of environmental suffering, trauma and distress across bodies and landscapes, we protest capitalism’s never ending strive for production, growth and progress. 

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We work with and towards the slow, the pointless, the inclusive, the common, the non-competitive, the non-avantgarde, the non-groundbreaking. We do not need to break more grounds, we need to heal wounds.

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We commit to matters of care, we insist on the importance of affective relations, non-damaging working methods and nurturing communities in the fields of science, theory and art.

We cannot stress enough that ecological thinkings and doings cannot be content with smug, privileged  so-called green consumerism. Instead, we must teach ourselves how to not be consumers, to undo capitalist identities and their inherent equally poor (non)choices.

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Ecological thinking urges us to dream big, while staying with the trouble of the minor; of the particular and very real lives at stake in any given environment in any given timespace.

Ecological thinking urges us to self-examine, to ask: who do we want to be and become on the verge of global climate break-down?

Ecological thinking urges us to turn towards common sense, towards non-institutional knowledges, towards the wise women brewing their remedies throughout histories in the margins of authorized sciences, silenced by sanctioned ignorances and state bigotry.

Ecological thinking demands that we stand in solidarity with the struggles of indigenous cultures, of systematically underrepresented people and their kin all over the world to protect their lands from capitalist abuse and exploitation, their cultural practices and cosmologies from cultural appropriation.

Ecological thinking stops our singular conversations and attunes us to the layers of conversations going on continuously all around us, across more-than-human time and space.

We unfold our activities in the space between the dystopic and the utopic; between the fragile biotopes that currently outline the basic terms for our existence, and our utopias, hopes and ideas for how we might also in the future survive together. Somewhere in between what has already been lost and what we still might hope to achieve. A hope for planetary becoming.

 

 

Laboratory Statement, Summer 2015, Berlin / Copenhagen

It is scientifically accepted to refer to the present time as the age of the anthropocene; characterised by irrecoverable human-made impacts on the eco-systems of the earth. In the anthropocene, the (self)destructive activities of the human are irrevocably encased in the geological data of the earth; a sinister signature to recover even millenia after our civilisation has taken its last breath.

The anthropocene addresses a speculative scenario of the post-apocalyptic: it forces us to reconcile with the idea of a world without humans. Ironically, this radically ‘human time’ thus confronts us with the non-human that constitutes ‘our’ world. Here, we are forced to take the otherseriously. The things there are too many of (CO2, plastic bottles, factory farms, etc.), as well as the things there are too few of (ice capes, Schaus Swallowtail, the bumblebee, etc.). We are confronted with the innumerable alliances and entanglements between us and the others in this world. The anthropocene calls for attempts to dislocate from the anthropocentric vantage point that sees the human as Archimedean point for being, knowledge and agency. In the anthropocene, it suddenly becomes clear that Man is a dangerous fantasy, and that our grammatical categories need a critical update. ‘I’ am a colonization of a vast ‘we’ – an assembly of others, of bacteria, fungi and cells that compose ‘our’ bodies, but do not carry the same genetic code as ourselves. ‘We have never been human’ as Donna Haraway puts it: ‘To be one is always to become with many’.

Our planet is buzzing with various forms of life, dwelling places and biotopes that all offer other stories of (im)possible strategies for managing existence: That movement and development can be prompted by something else than linear growth and internal competition and that trans-species symbiosis and interdependence, rather than ‘survival of the fittest’ is the name of the game for the majority of the agents in the organic materiality we call ‘nature’.

Laboratory for Aesthetic and Ecology believe in the potential for art and literature to create open, experimental spaces allowing us to make inquiries into the planetary others without assimilating their responses to pre-given structures. Spaces where alternative means of knowing and communicating refute human(istic) authority by accepting indeterminacy and contingency in those ontological apparatuses that define and secure the differences between human and non-human. Eccentric spaces for planetary becoming.

We believe in a speculative practice not afraid to be flawed by error, daring to approach the inevitable epistemological challenges inherent in a strange and thoroughly queer multiverse. We believe in an art that takes the imperative of the anthropocene serious, and work to build new phantasmagoric and tentative relations to the others of the planet; a radical reconfiguration of existence on the verge of man-made catastrophe(s).

With Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology, we wish to launch and support investigations into the unknown others that inhabit this world with us. We want a radical renegotiation of the concept of a public that legally, linguistically and politically is able to involve the non-human. The Laboratory does not subscribe to a romanticising - ultimately anthropocentric - idea of an ahistorical and unitary Nature. We believe that any eco-aesthetic attempt must plunge into an epistemological abyss of semiotic-material entanglements and complications in an assembly of strangers – a cacophony of different and often indecipherable voices.

Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology is a multidisciplinary platform, an ongoinginvestigation inviting an array of (im)possible agents to take part in the experiment of moving beyond Anthropos. The Laboratory unfolds its activities in the space between the dystopic and the utopic; between the fragile biotopes that currently outline the basic terms for our existence, and our utopias, hopes and ideas for how we might also in the future survive together. Somewhere in between what has already been lost and what we still might hope to achieve.