Animism & Ecopolitics

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The rationale that spawned the concept for this installation is informed by the work of researchers who attempted to break away from human exceptionalism, the idea that humans occupy a differentiated and unique place in the hierarchy of beings,  to explore ways of being and thinking beyond the human. Some of those scholars were inspired by ontological models they encountered in their geographical areas of study, for example, indigenous groups in the Amazon region who attribute souls to animals and plants, hunters who see the non-humans as persons and hunting as reciprocal exchange in Canada, or urban followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion who grant intent and personality to natural phenomena. But what makes this interest in the non-human take on a political nuance is the recognition that fostering empathy and extending our ethical concerns to resources and life forms that for centuries had only served the purpose of satisfying our needs could potentially change the way we conduct our economic and political activities. At the core of ecopolitics is Gaia, the earth, ‘a being with its own regime of activity and sensitivity’, in the words of the philosopher Isabelle Stengers. Stengers urges us to take into account the knowledges and practices of both human and non-human forms that inhabit the ‘ruined landscapes’ on earth, so that the Anthropocene may become generative.