Animate Landscapes

Composite image of stills from Sarah Kanouse's "Grassland" (with cowboy on horseback and edge of a tombstone) and Marina Zurkow's "Hydrocarbons" (with animated oil droplets).
Composite stills from Grassland (Sarah Kanouse) and Hydrocarbons (Marina Zurkow)

The escalating climate crisis is making visible what was always true: no neat boundary exists between human and more-than-human worlds. “Nature” is a social fiction turned material fact, used to justify everything from resource extraction to wilderness preservation to racial hierarchies. The land and organisms we shape become the contours of our world. They form the basis of all sustenance, imprint themselves in our psyches, undergird the built environment, and enliven cultural narratives. This 90-minute collection of experimental media explores the bio-geo-social lives of the land and its actors, both human and more-than, through a range of experimental approaches, including meditation, animation, documentation, collage, and performance.

Core Films

The Bear in the Valley, Deke Weaver, 2019, 38:00

Grassland, Sarah Kanouse, 2019, 19:20

Rotating Short Media Selections

Dear Climate, Hello Virus, 2012, 5:46

Kelly Gallagher, Ceallaigh at Kilmainham, 2013, 7:14

Tia-Simone Gardner, There’s Something in the Water, 2019, 6:12

Julia Hechtman, Double Blind, 2017, 2:35

Heidi Kumao, Swallowed Whole, 2014, 4:06

Annapurna Kumar, Mountain Castle Mountain Flower Plastic, 2017, 3:08

Anna Luisa Petrisko, In The Tree, 2017, 3:48

Vanessa Renwick, The Mighty Tacoma, 2011, 9:11

Corinne Teed, Feral Utopias, 2015, 7:00

Marina Zurkow, Hydrocarbons, 2011, 2:32

Screening History

Nightingale Cinema, Chicago, IL – May 21, 2020

Northwest Film Center, Portland, OR – May 14, 2020

Echo Park Film Center, Los Angeles, CA – April 11, 2020

Rhizome DC, Washington, DC – October 12, 2019

Public Space One, Iowa City, IA – September 30, 2019

Anthropocene Drift

Anthropocene Drift was a 18-month research-creation platform sited in the Driftless area of Wisconsin and spreading into Western Illinois undertaken in collaboration with Nicholas Brown and Ryan Griffis as part of Mississippi: An Anthropocene River. The territory is characterized by two distinct landscapes: the Driftless Area, defined by scenic hills and bluffs and spared from the effects of the Wisconsinan Glaciation, and the Corn Belt, defined by endless expanses of predominantly flat and rectilinear fields of monocrops. The geological histories that produced the striking topographical differences between these landscapes made colonization, settlement, and agriculture play out differently, which affects how these regions may far in the climate and cultural changes of the present and near-futures.

Anthropocene Drift produced three public-facing projects.  Field Guides to the Anthropocene Drift is a series of artful guidebooks, each responding to a different cultural and/or scientific aspect of the Anthropocene in this geographical region. The second component of the Field Station is Over the Levee, Under the Plow, a four day mobile symposium that positions the agro-engineering of rural America within the broader framework of settler colonialism in order to attend to the historical, political and epistemic roots of the agricultural and environmental crisis. The third is Moraine/Terminal, a mobile gathering space and library that accompanied the symposium on its winding journey. Unfolding in small towns around the Mississippi River, the program brings together agroecologists, Native leaders, local residents, international scholars for a series of events, tours, and small group discussions to better understand the origins of the present landscape and to build alliances for more just and sustainable alternatives.

Credits

Nicholas Brown, Ryan Griffis, Sarah Kanouse, Field Station 2: Anthropocene Drift, with the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and Goethe Institute, Chicago.

Beyond Survival

Screenshot of web publication featuring partial image and text
Screenshot from web publishing project, Beyond Survival (2018-19)

In the winter and spring of 2018 I found myself frustrated equally by the annual Republican call to defund the NEH and NEA and by the contortions many scholars and cultural workers perform to be acceptable to a narrow range of what is acceptable, I approached Art Journal Open to convene a forum on the state of “support” for the arts and humanities today – broadly defined. “Beyond Survival” began as an open call for reflections on the state of arts funding in the United States as it actually manifests today. I hoped to facilitate a conversation that would go beyond shoring up the inadequate conditions of the present to consider the social functions fulfilled—and left unfilled—by the current landscape of support, as well as what emerging forms of artistic, intellectual, and political agency can be taken to affirmatively shape more desirable conditions in the future.

In October 2018, Art Journal Open published nearly twenty five responses grouped into four thematic categories: Beyond Neoliberalism, In Whose Interest?, Precarity and Potential, and Models and Case Studies. We invited four respondents to develop slightly longer position papers, which were released in Spring 2019. Over a year after the project was conceived I revisited the original prompt and the responses in a short essay in terms of the socio-ecological urgencies of the climate emergency.

See Beyond Survival on Art Journal Open

Exuberant Politics

Demonstration with pink letters reading Exuberant Politics

“Rather than advocate for a capital “P” Party [Democrat, Republican, Green…], we wanted to bring the ‘lower case ‘p’’ party where we could create an atmosphere where people were comfortable enough to dance and chat about politics.”

-Rachel Caidor and Dara Greenwald, “The 7 Ps of Pink Bloque”

“Exuberant Politics” is a yearlong program at the University of Iowa examining recent intersections of art and activism in the US. Grassroots political actions have increasingly used creative, performative means not merely to communicate a message but to create transformative, aesthetic experiences that prefigure a more just and democratic world. Exuberance means joyfulness, liveliness, even superabundance, but at its Latin root it is also ‘fruitful’ and ‘productive.’ Where have we experienced exuberance in protest and affinity? What has it produced, and how? Focusing on the period roughly bookmarked by the 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle and varied initiatives stemming from Occupy Wall Street (Occupy Sandy, Strike Debt, etc.), the program will bring together numerous campus and community groups for a series of screenings, lectures, workshops, exhibitions, and panel discussions in the 2013-2014 school year.

Students in Guerilla Curating were involved in installing the exhibitions at Public Space One, Legion Arts, and the screening program.

More information: exuberantpolitics.art.uiowa.edu

Credit

Adam Burke, John Engelbrecht, Sarah Kanouse, Jason Livingston, Kalmia Strong, and Charlie Williams, “Exuberant Politics,” 2013-2014

Iowa Neo-Mountaineers

INM Logo

 

For over 50 years the Iowa Mountaineers was the largest university mountaineering club in the world. Between 1940 and 1996, more than 70,000 members scaled over 1300 peaks in 11 states and 17 countries.Yet much of Iowa’s most challenging terrain remains unexplored.

A small group of walking enthusiasts formed in Iowa City to correct this oversight. Calling ourselves the Iowa Neo-Mountaineers, we are dedicated to expeditions that remain absurdly local and low relief. If you are up to the challenge of negotiating access to that privately-owned hilltop blanketed in corn, join us, the Iowa Neo-Mountaineers!

Of the fifty states, Iowa has the highest percentage of land in agricultural production. With 98% of its 36 million acres privately owned, Iowa, not surprisingly, ranks 48th in the nation in the percent of land in public ownership. Only Connecticut and Rhode Island have less public acreage, and Iowa is over ten times their size!

Join us as we resurrect the adventurous spirit of the Iowa Mountaineers for an era of climate change, economic crisis, overwork, privatization, and unemployment. Stay close to home, save on gas, avoid the lines, and scale the “seven summits” of Johnson County!

Supplemental oxygen not required.

www.iowaneomountaineers.org

Credit

Sarah Kanouse and Nicholas Brown, initiators, “Iowa Neo-Mountaineers,” walking club exploring Iowa geography through curated series of group events, 2010-2011

Urban, Rural, Wild

The exhibition “Urban, Rural, Wild” presented work by eight artists addressing the complex historical and contemporary relationship between metropolitan Chicago and downstate Illinois. The state’s flat and fertile expanse of prairie offered a bounty of resources for nineteenth-century urban development and presented few physical obstacles to immense twentieth-century sprawl. Today, Chicago stands in apparent opposition to its surroundings, a “Third Coast” whose deep blue color on electoral maps is conspicuously surrounded by a sea of red. City officials and developers salivate over latte liberals, high-tech workers, and urban entrepreneurs who seem more at home in any coastal city than anywhere south of I-80. Indeed, contemporary, global Chicago may well be linked more closely to London, Mumbai, and Mexico City than to Loda, Makanda, or Farmer City. Nevertheless, artifacts of corn remain amid the skyscrapers, brick bungalows, and three-flats: a vast network of semi-decayed rail lines; towering, concrete grain elevators; and the computerized abstractions of crops and livestock at the Chicago Board of Trade. “Urban, Rural, Wild” presented just a few preliminary investigations into the interplay of culture and nature in our region and seeks to generate broader and more sustained consideration of the environmental and social consequences of the country/city dialectic in Illinois and throughout the Midwest. For more information, visit the Urban, Rural, Wild website.

Nance Klehm, "Collection Suit/Dispersal Suits," 2005
Nance Klehm, “Collection Suit/Dispersal Suits,” 2005

Credit

Sarah Kanouse and Nicholas Brown, curators, “Urban, Rural, Wild,” September 9 – October 22, 2005, I space Gallery, Chicago