You can now watch each presentation by looking at the entries below but can also dip in all in one place.
Wednesday November 3, 2021 09.15-16.30 GMT/UTC+0
With a keynote presentation from mirko nikolić
Extinction is an online postgraduate symposium organised by Dartington Trust and art.earth. It will include paper and practice-based research presentations on non-human and/or human extinction, biodiversity loss, endangered species from PG students at Dartington Arts School, Schumacher College and University of Westminster (Dartington’s PhD programme partner).
Mirko Nikolić (b. 1984, lives and works in London and Belgrade) works with diverse combinations of mediums galvanised by a performative approach. Currently he is a doctoral candidate in Arts and Media practice at the University of Westminster, London. Recent shows include Despite Efficiency: Labour (UCA, Canterbury), Excavations (HIAP , Gallery Augusta), Slike – Frontiers in Retreat [main image, above] (Savremena Galerija UK Ečka, Zrenjanin), all that is air melts into city (Arebyte Gallery, London).
Imagine ‘waking up’ in a period of global warming, not in an Anthropocenic universe, but in a much-more-than-human world, where humans are ones among many many others. To dwell in this place, most probably we need to find ways to ‘work-together’ with “beings that have absolutely nothing to do with [us]” (Chauvin, 1969).
In my performances strive to create affective and spatiotemporal ‘assemblies’, situations of flat relations among beings, particles, processes, in the sense that none of the entities involved enjoys a position of privilege ― ontological, political, ethical ― over another. All beings are considered equally real or equally existing. In reality, this type of power(less) constellation does not pre-exist, but I believe it can be attempted to bring it together.
In my recent projects, I address sites and contexts in which some entities are fully subjected to interests of humans by being pushed into the background, made invisible or even immaterial. For instance, economic operations often assume as given or ‘natural’ the other-than-human elements and their processes (e.g., trees, carbon-dioxide, sheep). The activities of these entities are qualified as ‘externalities’, whereas they in fact form the flesh and ground of human-oriented economies.
To respond to this ‘hidden’ dimension of our economies, I try to foreground the invisible/immaterial labours, to rethink these ‘natural’ actors as equal ‘collaborators’, and to ‘work‒with’ them. Through performance of technological/data/matter assemblages, the aim is to rewire our existing working procedures towards different modes of ‘flat’ collaboration across the human/nonhuman divide. Sketching ‘flat ecologies’ for a more-than-human world.
If you are enrolled as a student at Dartington Arts School or Schumacher College or are part of their staff teams you do not need to register as the Zoom link will be sent to you. If you are a registered delegate at Borrowed Time you also do not need to register as you can link to the event from the Hopin schedule.
Postgraduate Forum: Extinction – Programme
09.15 Welcome and introduction to the day
Welcome and an introduction to the day from Dr Tracey Warr (Dartington Arts School) and Dr Richard Povall (art.earth) and Mat Osmond, co-convenor of Borrowed Time.
09.30 Keynote: mirko nikolić - water is (none)life: after empire
Keynote: mirko nikolić – water is (none)life: after empire
mirko nikolic works in a postdisciplinary space between art and environmental humanities and investigates entanglements of climate and social justice in the areas of intense exploitation of ‘natural resources’. His research project, water is (non)life engages with de-extractivist poetics and is a practical investigation into a place-based political poetics of solidarity with emergent water and earth protectors in southeast Europe. The project is funded by a Vetenskapsrådet Artistic Research grant. https://liu.se/en/employee/mirni99
mirko nikolić completed a PhD at the Centre for Research, Education in Arts and Media at the University of Westminster, London, with a thesis titled minoritarian ecologies: performance before a more-than-human world. Subsequently, mirko led the art and research project what do rare earths deeply want? (2017-2019), supported by Kone Foundation. Heis currently an artist and postdoctoral researcher at Linkoping University, Sweden.
10.15 Sara Hudston Certificate of Lawful Use
Sara Hudston, Certificate of Lawful Use
A 15-minute spoken word narrative with images relating to rurality, outsiders, mental health and land rights. Using creative practice to interrogate concepts of extinction and belonging.
A live performance adapted from found documents and witness statements relating to a deceased man who lived in a caravan on a remote Dorset farm.
Sara Hudston has recently completed MA Poetics of Imagination at Dartington Arts School. She is a writer who lives in rural Dorset. Her work focuses on the living world and spirit of place. She is a Guardian newspaper Country Diarist, a Dark Mountain contributor and guest editor, and Times Literary Supplement reviewer. Sara is a judge for this year’s Ginkgo Prize for ecopoetry. Since late 2018 she has supported Extinction Rebellion, most actively as a speaker and trainer, serving on the editorial panel for XR’s ‘Heading for Extinction’ talk.
10.40 Monique Angelique Rodgers: Extinction, Economy and Environmentalism
Monique Angelique Rodgers, Extinction, Economy and Environmentalism: An Intersectional look at the decline of Abalone Species and the Perspective of Poachers in South Africa
South African coasts, once abundant with life, now feel much like underwater wastelands. Seas teeming with life ten years prior, now hold precarious, close-to extinct species. Populations of abalone and crayfish species have declined due to poaching rife in local coastal communities, and due to rising sea temperatures and sea acidity. My presentation will look at how poaching directly correlates to poverty-stricken communities and the struggle to survive. South African water stories from the local affected communities illustrate the intersectionality of environmentalism. The presentation also employs creative and participatory audience prompts through breath-based visualisations and poetry. I will discuss the intersection of poaching and poverty, and by extension the wider intersection of extinction, economy and environmentalism. Environmentalism is interweaving, and is intrinsically interconnected with social, economic, racial and gender justice. Environmental justice is social justice and ecological justice. The proposal will demonstrate the intersectionality of environmentalism – how environmental justice cannot be considered as stand-alone advocacy.
Monique Angelique Rodgers is an MA Movement, Mind and Ecology Masters student at Schumacher College. Her work focuses on the intersectionality of environmentalism and how a transdisciplinary and diverse-focused approach to environmentalism is more inclusive, and as such, possibly the single most powerful approach to working towards climate justice. Her work thus far explores the value of transformative outdoor education, particularly in under-resourced communities in developing countries such as South Africa. Upon graduating her master’s, she intends to pursue a PhD focusing on fostering community stewardship through nature immersion. https://gofund.me/39c61375
11.05 Esther May Campbell: Petrichor
Esther May Campbell Petrichor
A 12-minute extract from Petrichor, a film screenplay, funded by the British Film Institute and produced by Bosena Films (producers of Bait, 2019). Petrichor is set after the great floods, in the distant future and looks at the themes of initiation via forbidden love, it expresses the pushes and pulls of ‘darkness’ over multiple time periods while dramatising a feminist, future fiction compelled by the clashing ideologies of settlers and herds people.
Exploring ecological themes in a delicately allegorical soft sci-fi setting, embedded in the long trajectory of Anthropocene devastation, Petrichor explores the intersection between climate change, feminism, human culture and asks questions about the similar impulses of nature and human made technologies.
There is no video of this presentation
Esther May Campbell is a student on MA Poetics of Imagination at Dartington Arts School. She is a visual artist working in moving image and still photography. She has craft skills in production and is now transitioning to image work with diverse collaborators, non-traditional audiences employing hybrid platforms to create work that changes culture. She has always collaborated with her local community and works often as teacher, workshop leader and mentor. Partners include The Cube Microplex, the Watershed, Branden Trust, amongst others. Based on work developed during the MA, she has recently been awarded a grant to co-create Bewildermentcards with kids, the woodlands and photography. She has made short films including, September, which was given a BAFTA and fifteen international awards and Light Years, an internationally distributed feature that played at the Venice Film Festival. Her photography includes Scrapbook, a photo club, exhibition and book produced in collaboration with an inner city Bristol playground. The project delivered social learning tools, workshops with over 200 people and street exhibitions. Kitchen Table Photo Club is a youth club, adapting to COVID, for local young people exploring their inner lives, land and community with photography and play. Water Salad on Monday was an onsite photographic show at a city farm staffed by adults with disabilities. Esther has directed Skins (Channel 4) and Wallander (BBC).
11.45 Jennifer Rose: Loss of Language as Loss of Place
Jennifer Rose, Loss of Language as Loss of Place?
Through the many conversations stimulated by my study on MA Movement, Mind and Ecology I have frequently felt the struggle to describe our interconnected, entangled relationships to human and non-humans of past, present and future in the English language. It seems to me that we must sometimes perform somersaults with language to express what can be said in one word in another tongue. Living in a country colonised by British ancestors (New Zealand) and in a process of continual colonialisation through education, health and justice systems I have come to appreciate the extent to which the suppression of language leads to the suppression of an entire worldview, culture and identity. This leads me to question, what does it mean for our understanding of the world if we lose the words to express complex interrelationships? What effect does loss of language have on place and biodiversity? If we lose the words for a place do we also lose that place? The extinction of language is happening on a large scale. The UNESCO 2010 Atlas of World Languages in Danger reported around 2,500 languages at risk, so what does this mean for the places and ecosystems these languages derive from, their native speakers and for those of us who speak a colonial mother tongue? I will explore these ideas in a brief presentation and hope to encourage you to reflect on how language shapes your own experience of the places you inhabit.
Jennifer Rose is a student on MA Movement, Mind and Ecology at Schumacher College. She was born in the UK and is now based in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Her background is in psychology, mental health and restorative movement practices which were the foundations that led her to studying at Schumacher College.
12.10 Daphne Astor: Honour
Daphne Astor, Honour
A 15-minute video reflecting a way of being and working during twilight in a non-light polluted meadow that is home to rare indigenous plants, hosts a variety of insects and creatures, nurtures endangered more than humans and is welcoming to migrating and breeding wildlife and birds. The location, weather, seasons and content of the video concentrates on a place that is engaged with and provides chances of survival for ‘the threatened’, this is evidenced in terms of land, air, water and sky, food and shelter for endangered flora and fauna. Honour reconfirms the perspectives and importance of recording a specific time and place with field notes, then sharing and transforming the outcomes ‘slant’ with poetry and text. Observing the reality then reinterpreting the information and experience onto video, sound enabled me to share 197 twilights and gently reiterates the importance of solitary acts of positive environmental commitment.
Daphne Astor recently completed MA Poetics of Imagination with Dartington Arts School. She is an American-born British environmentalist and farmer who has worked with literary and visual arts organisations in the UK since 1977. In 2016 she founded and curated Poetry in Aldeburgh, she is currently chairperson of C4RD and was a long-term trustee of the Poetry School. Her poetry has appeared in several anthologies and magazines including Magma, Finished Creatures, Edgewise and Coast to Coast to Coast. She is the publisher and editor of Hazel Press.
12.35 Grace Rodgers: Lost Perceptions
Grace Rodgers, Lost Perceptions
An exploration into the (now lost) perceptive capabilities of extinct species to experience colour through varying wavelengths of light. Each creature born on Earth will experience light during its time here in a unique way according to variations in perception, through sensory scopes that are unique to its species. Visual perception through this array of species-specific lenses, each one able to perceive light, and in turn colour, has evolved in differing ways over millennia. Glimpses have been uncovered into how extinct species such as dinosaurs may have seen the world, through the discovery of phenomena such as unique retinal oils, for example, which would have allowed certain prehistoric creatures to see wavelengths associated with the colour red. To experience glimpses into the spectrum of these unique views, across genera, would perhaps inspire a broader way of seeing the role of light in our world and expand our potential to treasure the presence of diverse modes of perception. It might expand the commonly accepted boundaries of human perception and open up new forms of perceiving.
This research project endeavours to ‘throw light’ on the multiple perceptions of Earth seen by species across several genera, by exploring differences in neural visual systems, with a particular focus on ‘lost’ or extinct species. Consideration will be given to spectral range, UV perception, colour sensitivity to variations within colour ranges and evidence of visual perceptions that fall outside of the human visual field – such as visual perception of magnetic fields. It may also touch on variations in emotional response to different wavelengths of colour across species should evidence for this come to light. The project will culminate in an installation featuring both still and moving image, with the aim of awakening shifts in the sensory perception of light.
In reference to the deep adaptation framework, part of this research asks ‘Is there value in restoring elements of what we discover about the light and colour perception of our human and non-human ancestors, to help us navigate the challenges of climate change? In a world afflicted by light pollution, have our visual systems become oversensitised and is there value in creating environments that encourage a recalibration of our perception of light. Might this help us re-attune our perceptive capabilities to the natural light rhythms of the planet and in doing so present useful ways of being in relationship with light as we face climate change?
Grace Rodgers is a student on MA Arts & Place at Dartington Arts School. She is a multi-media artist, predominantly using moving image, photography and sound to express the patterns and systems within Earth’s living eco-system as defined by James Lovelock in his Gaia Theory. Underpinning her work is a passion for life preservation and rebalancing of the current destructive world order. She kindles this passion through acts of sacred activism, grounding to the natural cycles and expressing this in her artworks. Grace has worked in a broad range of environments, including mental health recovery programmes, charities, outdoor events, a school governing board as SEN lead, and founded an ethical gallery and retail space in 2005. In recent years and in response to the global need to create resilient cultures in the face of climate change, she completed the Permaculture Design Certificate at Dartington, Fritjof Capra’s Systems Thinking course, and Professor Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation Leadership course at the University of Cumbria. Earlier influences include Professor Max Velmans’s Theory of Consciousness, which sparked a curiosity in the variations within human perception.
13.00 Thomas Stainer: The Mother of Children
Thomas Stainer, The Mother of Children
A few years ago, I made a stone sculpture entitled Lungs of the Planet for a competition where rainforests was the theme. In a recent class with Alice Oswald in MA Poetics of Imagination, I found an insight that words are outside ourselves, looking to find a conduit through which to channel their message. As a consequence of that class and that realisation, I wrote a new poem reflecting on my sculpture.
Thomas Stainer is a student on MA Poetics of Imagination at Dartington Arts School and writes poetry. He is a stonemason and carver previously based in Dorset. He has spent the last seven years honing a craft, working and restoring ancient buildings and carving in competitions, both national and international. Most of his carvings centre around myth and ecological topics.
14.00 Ailsa Mair Fox: Seed Collector, Song Collector
Ailsa Mair Fox, Seed Collector, Song Collector
Musing on what it is that we most value; what we most need for life to continue, Ailsa Mair Fox guides a ritual-experiment in which we are invited to collectively encapsulate the things, both tangible and intangible, that will (hopefully) ensure the continuation of life…
What needs to be left behind?
What are the most precious things, and how do we care for them?
Can we trust in the unknown?
Can listening – and song – save the world?
A witchy exploration into personal values, seasonal cycles, permaculture, activism, intangible cultural heritage, and the powerful art of listening…
If you are able, please bring:
- a glass bottle with a lid / some kind of watertight receptacle that you can seal
- pen + paper (that you can tear or cut)
- some seeds / dried beans / beads
- a bowl or jug of water
- a candle + lighter
- your voice
Ailsa Mair Fox is a student on MA Arts & Place at Dartington Arts School. She is a singer-cellist, emergent storyteller, and ecological sound artist based in Machynlleth, mid-Wales. Her work includes Soundmapping Our 5 Square Miles, a bilingual, Wales-wide project funded by Arts Council of Wales and The National Lottery (2020-21); performance with the Royal Shakespeare Company (Cymbeline, 2016-17), Tinc y Tannau, a bass viol & voice duo with Dartington alumni Sianed Jones (album GALW, 2018), and six years touring as musician/performer with Whispering Woods, an outdoor aerial circus company based in Bristol. Ailsa’s own work is inspired by natural cycles, ritual, animism, folk culture and ecology, and aims to be a subtle form of artistic activism. She is passionate about listening to the world around as a starting point to making change, and empowering others’ voices through workshops. She writes and performs her own songs, thrives as a musical improviser and has worked musically in the realm of storytelling for over a decade, and is currently being initiated in the art herself. This year Ailsa co-won the Gwobr Esyllt Prize to develop her craft as a storyteller.
14.25 Chiara Flora Bassignana, About agroecology, new ruralities and imagination
Chiara Flora Bassignana, About agroecology, new ruralities and imagination: Rethinking the foodscape in the Western Italian Alps
In the Western Alps, various social, political and demographic changes have been observed in the last three decades, such as a clear trend of repopulation, changes in the local food chains and community dynamics. After the abandonment of places and practices, loss of stewardship memory as well as biocultural diversity, in recent years, emerging trends of changing actors and hybridisation of practices are bringing new forms of agriculture, food production, property and conviviality in mountain rural foodscapes. This research investigates the new and renewed spaces and dynamics new rurals and new highlanders are building or reviving with a focus on agroecological approaches and practices.
Chiara Flora Bassignana is a candidate of the PhD Program in Ecogastronomy, Education and Society at the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo, Italy, carrying out interdisciplinary research in agroecology and anthropology investigating the emerging trajectories of agriculture and related food practices in the Western Italian Alps.
14.50 Gabriel Stevens: Burning Silence
Gabriel Thomas Stevens, Burning Silence
During a year I spent in Japan (2018–19) I became fascinated by the art of karesansui (Zen Gardens). In an essay titled ‘Burning Silence’ (published in Dark Mountain’s issue 19) I began to explore the disappearance of silence in present-day Japan. Taking this essay and a question I am currently working with in my study on MA Poetics of Imagination: ‘what changed when we moved our place of worship from caves to temples?’ I want to ask does the disappearance of silence have anything to do with this shift? does our fear of silence say something about our fear of death? What are the consequences for a culture that avoids silence at all costs?
Gabriel Thomas Stevens is a student on MA Poetics of Imagination at Dartington Arts School. He is a writer and poet interested in mythology, Japanese folktales and ‘more-than-human’ voices. After graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University, he travelled across Japan for a year to learn about craftsmanship and community. He is currently living in Totnes, Devon.
15.15 Shawna Hett: Healing Songs
Shawna Hett, Healing Songs
Two video laments for the Earth, recently completed as Shawna Hett’s final project for MA Poetics of Imagination. In the first song, Sounds of Grief for the Ancient Ones, the ancient sounds of ‘Ahone’, ‘Obh’, ‘Obhan’, ‘Ochon’, ‘Aven’, ‘Voi’, ‘Oi’ and ‘Ah’, are traditional sounds of grief in many cultures around the world. These sounds in songs are referred to as keening, grief, sorrow or crying sounds. These ancient sounds of grief match the current images of the destruction of the last remaining Ancient Old Growth Tempered Rain Forest and the animals living there, currently being destroyed by commercial logging at Ada’itsx, Fairy Creek, on Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada. The second song, simply entitled Grief, is inspired from an Irish poem and a Finnish ‘keens’ overlay, of a colonial betrayal. This is followed by a Coast Salish Women’s Warrior song lead by Grandma Rose. This video is dedicated to the diverse living ecosystem of thousands of unique and rare species of organisms, insects, plants and lichen currently in the undercarriage of the Ancient Old Growth Forest at Fairy Creek, on Vancouver Island, Canada. This precious and vulnerable forest undercarriage is at risk of extinction due to government sanctioned logging.
Shawna Hett recently completed MA Poetics of Imagination. She is a clinical counsellor and singer, working in the field of human suffering, loss and grief. As a therapist, singer and teacher she works with the loss of land and culture with her ancestry of the indigenous peoples of Canada, Scotland and Ireland. Through stories, song, rituals and ceremonies the loss can be expressed and the reconnection to self, community, land, and ancestors can be reestablished. For we all must become wise stewards of the Earth.
15.40 Emma Linford: Nature’s Water Towers
Emma Linford, Nature’s Water Towers
It was a privilege to stand in this spot, in this moment, on the path up towards Mera Peak, in the Hinku valley of Nepal. Step into this dynamic environment to experience the visible and hidden with me. We can explore the temporality of this dynamic interconnected landscape through scales of geological, hydrological, meteorological and species movement and learn about its global and local importance and threats, in the face of the climate crisis.
For the meditation you will need to gather up a palm size stone of your choice and possibly move to a quieter area than you already are.
Emma Linford is a student on MA Mind, Movement and Ecology at Schumacher College. She is an explorer of ideas and adventures. Her curiosities first took her to the design industry where she was a creative. Following an expedition overseas, she took a dramatic swerve away to refocus her energy on facilitating transformational change for people in more rural and sometimes extreme environments, such as Polar scientific expeditions to UK-based wilderness therapy. She stood in places where communities and nature are threatened and is now exploring the potential of the outdoor industry to bring human and non human together via journeying, advocacy, programme curation and enchantment. She is an International Mountain Leader and RGS Fellow.
16.05 Judith-Kate Friedman The Unstoppable Stirring: An Emergent Song Cycle
Judith-Kate Friedman, The Unstoppable Stirring: An Emergent Song-Cycle
Autoethnographic research resulting in multi-media original music with images. A 15 min live performance/presentation with pre-recorded segments. If indeed we are, as many environmental scientists note, in the beginning of the 6th extinction, how does this reality dawn on humans viscerally, non-verbally, imaginally, beyond the heralding calls to awaken which are thrown up many times daily now by activists, artists and the news worldwide? To what degree are humans, with our capacious conscious and unconscious intelligence, registering shock waves even far beyond our immediate environs in or out of rhythm with sea-level rise, extreme weather, loss of species?
I spent 36 minutes daily on 12 consecutive days in late October in the wild tangles of the unkept rural half-acre where I live for. Regardless of weather, I was listening, receiving, singing and moving with dozens of species who live/visit here, my non-human neighbours. I was heeding the beats and voices they share, noting my responses (and theirs) and honouring our relationality. Each day’s journey concluded with a layered reflective, life/arts process practice of drawing, video/ photography and creative writing as well as music composition/production. From the twelve or more soundscapes, sketches and melodic-lyric compositions I chronicled, a song-cycle emerged.
Judith-Kate Friedman inhabits and creates places where art, activism, ritual and oral tradition dance. She sings, composes, writes, performs, curates spaces, produces events, tends hearth-fires and makes records. Born in New York City, she now calls Washington State’s rural north Olympic Peninsula–traditional Coast Salish lands–home. An innovator of intergenerational community-based arts programing in public and healthcare settings, Judith-Kate founded Songwriting Works™ Educational Foundation, an accredited US charitable organization dedicated to restoring joy, hope, vitality and community across generations diverse in culture and physical, cognitive and emotional realities. She is a graduate of Dartington Arts School’s Poetics of Imagination Master’s Programme (2020-21).