Sustainability and Contemporary Art: Art, Post-Fordism and Eco-Critique International Symposium

March 19, 2010 - 17:00 - March 20, 2010 - 15:30
Nador u. 9, Faculty Tower
Event type: 
Panel Discussion
Event audience: 
Open to the Public
Center for Arts and Culture (CAC)
Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy
Facebook event
Sustainability and Contemporary Art: Art, Post-Fordism and Eco-Critique International Symposium


  • Stephen Wright (art theorist, Paris),
  • Igor Stokfiszewski (curator/critic/playwright, Warsaw),
  • Branka Cvjeticanin (multimedia artist, Zagreb)
  • Ralo Mayer (artist, Vienna)

The 2010 Symposium on Sustainability and Contemporary Art brings together artists, philosophers, environmental scientists and activists to explore the conundrum of capitalism’s remarkable ability to absorb criticism and adapt to new circumstances. According to post-Fordist theory, in the wake of the social upheaval of May 1968 capitalism was able to recuperate radical desires for freedom, creativity and personal liberation through the adoption of the principles of flexibility, horizontality and autonomy, and the shift from industrialism to immaterial labor.

Today, the energy and idealism of the environmental movement is arguably in a similar danger of being transformed into the motor of a green capitalist resurgence that threatens to rescue neo-liberal globalization from the economic downturn. This symposium asks whether environmentalism is in fact now facing its own ‘post-Fordist moment’, in which the language and values of ecology are at risk of being turned into an ideology of bureaucratic control and a technocratic justification for sustainable growth. It also raises the question of whether the environmental movement has anything to learn from the strategies of resistance proposed by the theorists of immaterial labor and the exploration of these issues by contemporary artists.

In the wake of the debacle of the Copenhagen Climate Summit, the question arises whether there might be more to ecological crisis than mitigating the threat posed by climate change to the current global economic system, and whether the danger posed by the depletion of natural resources and the destruction of bio-diversity deserves to be a greater priority. The symposium will try to locate a sense of eco-criticality in the approaches of contemporary artists, and also consider the implications of an ecologically-nuanced, post-Fordist critique for the international art world.

In addition to the public program of the symposium taking place at CEU, on Saturday 20 March a smaller workshop will be organized at an off-site location for further discussion.

A small number of places are available for the Saturday program. To be considered as a workshop participant, please send a 200 word letter of motivation to Alan Watt explaining your interest in taking part.