An argument for the centrality of the visual culture of wasteas seen in works by international contemporary artiststo the study of our ecological condition.
Ecological crisis has driven contemporary artists to engage with waste in its most non-biodegradable forms: plastics, e-waste, toxic waste, garbage hermetically sealed in landfills. In this provocative and original book, Amanda Boetzkes links the increasing visualization of waste in contemporary art to the rise of the global oil economy and the emergence of ecological thinking. Often, when art is analyzed in relation to the political, scientific, or ecological climate, it is considered merely illustrative. Boetzkes argues that art is constitutive of an ecological consciousness, not simply an extension of it. The visual culture of waste is central to the study of the ecological condition.
Boetzkes examines a series of works by an international roster of celebrated artists, including Thomas Hirschhorn, Francis Alÿs, Song Dong, Tara Donovan, Agnès Varda, Gabriel Orozco, and Mel Chin, among others, mapping waste art from its modernist origins to the development of a new waste imaginary generated by contemporary artists. Boetzkes argues that these artists do not offer a predictable or facile critique of consumer culture. Bearing this in mind, she explores the ambivalent relationship between waste (both aestheticized and reviled) and a global economic regime that curbs energy expenditure while promoting profitable forms of resource consumption.
About the Author
Amanda Boetzkes is Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and the author of The Ethics of Earth Art . She was a Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich in 2017.
What People are Saying About This
Amanda Boetzkes engages powerfully with art's roles in exposing and helping us to think through both current and historical habits of waste. Her book makes a timely and trenchant contribution to a broad understanding of contemporary art and to the specific urgency of understanding waste. Mark A. Cheetham , Professor, History of Art, University of Toronto, Author ofLandscape into Eco Art: Articulations of Nature since the '60s
In Boetzkes's fascinating book, art is contextualized in the world of globalized and aestheticized consumer capitalismand it has an engaged role to play: one of representation, trenchant critique, and presumably the instigation of social and ecological transformation. This is basic reading for anyone interested in contemporary art (and its future), and a fundamental reference point for all forthcoming work on this topic. Allan Stoekl , Professor Emeritus, Penn State University, author of Bataille's Peak: Energy, Religion, and Postsustainability