Art and earth

The research cluster traces material entanglements of art and earth in the shadow of the Anthropocene. Our task is to practice terra-aesthetic archaeologies and facilitate new ways of thinking, sensing and dealing with the environmental crises of our time by tending to aesthetic and earthly matters.

© Cyf Frostholm

Art is from and about earth. On the one hand, earthly matter and material processes are made visible, tangible and audible in the arts. On the other hand, paper, canvas and a number of artistic tools and instruments are derived from plants; many pigments are made of plants and minerals; digital art relies on the extraction of mined matter; sound is an effect of material motion in the atmosphere, carried between bodies through vibrations. In our epoch of environmental destruction, these basic materials become precarious, and art negotiates ways of living with the damage or acting against it. By engaging with sensory, bodily, and visceral aesthetic practices from different historical periods and within different art forms, the research cluster wishes to throw a new light on the environmental relation between the human and the non-human.




Habitat, dwelling, and maintenance: investigating modes of environmental co-inhabitation in the Anthropocene, e.g. aesthetic practices of care for a given habitat, its sustainable maintenance and expansion; adaptive planning of resilient architectures, cities, and landscapes by doing design; durational collective art practices replacing short-lived participation by long-term engagement.  

Sustainability, resilience, and survival: discussing aesthetic practices of reappropriation, recycling, regeneration; engaging with less wasteful cultural techniques and aesthetic practices we embody; embodying technologies we have externalised; reconsidering the critical potential of aesthetic theories and practices of decomposition, désœuvrement, or inoperativity.

Relationalities articulated through dynamic network systems, co-implication, co-development, transduction and individuation, or entanglement. In this context, we are also interested in the dialectic relationship between affective-emotional internalisation and medialised or institutionalised externalisation and entanglements of body and spirit.

Sensibility, sensousness, and sense: critically revisiting the reflections on art and sensuous matter in aesthetic philosophy and cultural theory. The challenge is to approach the aesthetic experience as an encounter with sensuous matter. In the experience of art, we become aware of the basic and fragile matters both underlying the world of human meaning and undermining it.

Temporality: investigating archaeologies and material approaches to cultural history, archival practices, transformations of situational environments and their topologies; pace and rhythm in informational, energetic, environmental, and material movements; the relation of aesthetics, deep time and slow time; potential practices of historiography in the face of the uncertainties of the Anthropocene.

Agency and passivity: questioning a valorisation of the active and organic in recent critical theories that counteract anthropocentrism by redistributing notions of agency, force, and energy; exploring the passivity, indifference and inertia of inorganic matter as possible resistance to a mindset of productivity and progress that has contributed to the ongoing destruction of the earth.

Fields of interest

Aesthetic representations of matter, e.g. of sea and air in Woolf’s The Waves, clouds in John Constable’s Cloud Study, landscapes in Caspar David Friedrich, the earth ground in Pauline Oliveros’ Sonic Meditations, urban landscapes from above and sewers below in Nadar’s or Gaspard-Félix Tournachon’s photography, arctic material cultures in Ann Noble’s photographic art or melting ice in Christoph Marthaler’s performance Plus Minus Nul.

Semiotic-material assemblages presented and produced in the arts, e.g. in Kirkegaard’s Isfald, Björk’s Biophilia, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Andersen’s Ice Maiden, Eliasson’s Life, Smithson’ Spiral Jetty, Allan Kaprow’s Fluids, Ana Mendieta’s earth body works, or Zheng Bo’s queer nature project Pteridophilia.

Non-semantic, sensory dimensions of art as well as matter-to-matter and matter-to-body relations established in various artforms, e.g. material colour relations in painting, audible breath or bodily movements in sound performances, bodily interactions with artificial natural environments (e.g. Agnes Denes’ Wheatfield, Mel Chin’s Revival Field, Fujiko Nakaya’s fog sculptures), interactions between actors’ bodies and props on stage, atmospheric environments into which the beholder is immersed (e.g. performances by Signa, Sisters Hope, Punchdrunk; ambisonic 3D sound-productions), or sonic or visual figurations in poetry.

Shared structures and material enmeshments of aesthetic processes and the bio-, geo-, cyro-, hydro-, sono- and atmospheric mapping approaches that exceed analogies, e.g. biosemiotics, sonic materialism, the aesthetics of rupture responding to erratic elemental forces, art and earth as archives, sustainable infrastructures and the aesthetic practices of material everyday culture.









Cluster leadership: Isak Winkel Holm og Dehlia Hannah


Name Title Phone E-mail
Bencke, Ida PhD Fellow +4535328143 E-mail
Briggs-Mønsted, Casper Thorhauge PhD Fellow +4535323774 E-mail
Ekman, Ulrik Associate Professor +4535329278 E-mail
Fastrup, Anne Associate Professor +4522158808 E-mail
Frantzen, Mikkel Krause Associate Professor +4535337308 E-mail
Gade, Rune Associate Professor +4535328194 E-mail
Gade, Solveig Associate Professor   E-mail
Hannah, Dehlia Associate Professor +4535334639 E-mail
Heine, Stefanie Assistant Professor - Tenure Track +4535336223 E-mail
Hindsberg, Lise Henriette Postdoc +4535334266 E-mail
Holm, Isak Winkel Professor +4560666208 E-mail
Isar, Nicoletta Associate Professor Emerita +4535329294 E-mail
Kjær, Michael Teaching Associate Professor   E-mail
Lautrup, Andy Postdoc +4535326831 E-mail
Mauruschat, Ania Katharina Guest Researcher +4535337372 E-mail
Rösing, Lilian Munk Associate Professor +4535329264 E-mail
Schulze, Holger Professor +4551823990 E-mail
Soewarta, Agus Djaja Teaching Associate Professor +4535321220 E-mail