As I have been delving into finding places in which to situate my research, I considered how various artists I am interested in situate their work. The post where I dive into this is linked here.
Considering artists conceptualization of place has been helpful to me in how I plan to situate my research.
Three places I am most excited about are
Wilderness spaces, Urban spaces, and Logging areas
Wilderness Spaces/Public Lands
I am interested in situating my research in wilderness because of the conversations surrounding it. Wilderness spaces are under interrogation from philosophers, artists, and other scholars, yet there is also a lot of motion to protect them from science, recreationalist, and activist communities. The construction of wilderness is a colonial force and the oppression of indigenous people is implicit in its creation. Many artists are engaging in this discourse, critiquing the conception and existence of wilderness and deconstructing it’s foundations.
As a magnet for both critique and activism, wilderness spaces are a rich place to consider how activism and art intersect. However after researching artists working with wilderness spaces, I have found that more artists I am drawn to are engaging in public lands activism. I suspect this may be because public lands are more accessible and often have more visible human footprint. In response to this, I want to consider situating my research on public lands as well.
I am considering to situating my research in urban spaces because of the wide variety of themes that urban environmental artists are incorporating into their work. In addition, the availability and variety of materials in urban spaces lends itself well to applying my research on new materialism. Urban space would be a rich place to explore artists who are pulling social justice, waste, technology, food systems, and other interesting topics into an environmental discourse. The ability of good artists to draw these connections is one of the main reasons I am interested in studying art.
Due to the material forces in urban spaces that allow for such dense populations (running water, electricity, cell towers, etc.), there are many contemporary artists exploring New Materialism in urban spaces. Artists situated in urban spaces tend to engaging with a wider breath of material than artists who are focused on natural spaces, and many artists are trying to draw attention to this material use in interesting ways. However, artist are engaging with so many environmental themes within urban spaces that if I choose to focus on them I will probably have to narrow my situated context even further.
I found quite a few artists creating work about logging areas. Like wilderness spaces, this would be a fruitful space to situate my research because there are many activist movements related to logging practices and forest preservation. One issue with choosing these areas is the narrow scope of materials and themes artists are working with. Very few of the artists I found engaging with logging areas included themes related to social justice, which is something that it is important for me to touch on.
On the other hand, this narrow view could be a good thing because it would provide much-needed focus. However I am hesitant to choose it because of the limitations I expect I might find in drawing connections to important humanitarian aspects of environmentalism.