Amanda Boetzkes

c:o/re Senior Fellow 10/21 − 09/22

Amanda Boetzkes is Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Guelph, Canada. Her research specializes in ecology and theories of consciousness and perception. Over the course of her career, she has analyzed complex human relationships with the environment through the lens of aesthetics, patterns of human waste, and the global energy economy. She has held residential research fellowships at the Getty Institute (2020), the Smithsonian Institute (2018), and the Rachel Carson Center in Munich (2016). In her most recent research, Boetzkes focuses on environments in the circumpolar North, addressing the Greenland Ice Sheet as a primary site of environmental, social, and perceptual importance. In 2019, after several fieldwork expeditions to Greenland, she held an interdisciplinary, site-specific workshop in Ilulissat, Greenland, a township of 4000 people. The ambition of the workshop was to attune environmental science to Inuit epistemology and the politics of sovereignty, and to develop an aesthetic sensibility from this reciprocal form of relating. 

Art’s Realism: Ecological Perception and the Mediation of Climate Change Cultures

At c:o/re Amanda Boetzkes will be completing a monograph titled, Ecologicity: Vision and Art for a World To Come. The project considers contemporary art’s mediation of climate change and its production of ecological perception at the axis of climate science, Inuit knowledge and the world exhibition complex. This coordination of knowledge is the context by which to understand the emergence of organizations that unite artists, scientists and representatives of Indigenous nations to produce innovative platforms of exhibition and collective experience.

One of the primary challenges presented by climate change is to theorize the perceptual connections between scales of ecological activity. In order to analyze the interplay between immediate perceptions of the earthly condition and multi-scalar mediations of it, the book turns to the cognitive theory of ecological perception, positioning it as a focal point in a genealogy of contemporary art that is currently understood through models of cognition, affect, attention, and stylistic evolution. 

To further explain the synthesis of art, science, and politics in contemporary art, Boetzkes’ project draws from political ecology. Political ecology creates new intersections of knowledge in order to analyze human social and political activity in relation to other beings, objects, species and the earth itself. It therefore signals an emergent sensibility that Boetzkes registers in contemporary art under the rubric of ecologicity.  A crucial facet of art’s ecologicity, she argues, is its exuberance; how it recovers and advances postures that can be understood as specifically behavioural flourish, and how these responses are the basis for bodily positions, capabilities and ethical stances that connect us to animals, plant species, environmental phenomena, and future generations.

Publications (Selection)

Boetzkes, A.Ecologicity: Vision and Art for a World to Come.  Funded by SSHRC Insight Grant (forthcoming).

Boetzkes, A. (2021) Cold Sun * Hot Planet: Solarity’s Aesthetic, Planetary Perspective, In South Atlantic Quarterly 120.1: pp. 91-102. 

Boetzkes, A. (2019) Plastic Capitalism: Contemporary Art and the Drive to Waste. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 

Boetzkes, A. (2010) The Ethics of Earth Art. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.