Residency Unlimited

Giant Hogweed: From Eradication to Nourishment, from Struggle to Care with Adam Vackar

Thursday May 9, 2024 | 6:30 – 9:00pm
*Doors open at 6:00pm, event begins at 6:30pm

Location: 1014 Space for Ideas
1014 5th Avenue, New York, NY, 10028 (map)

The symposium, initiated by visual artist and researcher Adam Vackar (2024 RU artist), presents the intricate relationship between humans and the non-native botanical world, spotlighting the Giant Hogweed as a symbol of this dynamic. This towering species of an obscure, exotic beauty, introduced for its ornamental appeal, now epitomizes the complex interactions and consequences of introducing non-native flora to new ecosystems. The symposium challenges the traditional categorization and conservative stances on invasive species, trying to pursue a more holistic approach that recognizes their evolving ecological roles and the intertwined narratives of human and plant coexistence through the realm of associative thinking in visual art. It calls for a shift in perspective, encouraging a deeper exploration of biodiversity, and the symbiotic influences shaping our natural world. The colloquium is set to showcase a multidisciplinary array of perspectives of visual art, art theory, botany and ecofeminism, featuring contributions from distinguished speakers.

Click below to see images from the symposium. 

Photo credit: 1014 and photographer Gili Benita

Giant Hogweed: From Eradication to Nourishment, from Struggle to Care with Adam Vackar

Speakers:

Barbora Bartunkova is a specialist in modern art, photography, and film. Her interdisciplinary research explores the intersections of art and politics from the interwar years to the Cold War era, as well as the relationship between art and ecology. Bartunkova is a Ph.D. Candidate in the History of Art at Yale University and a Provenance Specialist in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art. Her Ph.D. dissertation, titled “Sites of Resistance: Antifascism and the Czechoslovak Avant-Garde,” was supported by the 2022–23 Chester Dale Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Previously, Bartunkova has held curatorial and museum positions at MoMA in New York, the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Lobkowicz Collections in Prague, and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague. Barbora received an M.A. with Distinction in the History of Art and a B.A. in French with Film Studies from University College London (UCL). Her recent publications include “Post-Apocalyptic Landscapes: The End of August at the Hotel Ozone and the Czechoslovak New Wave” in Cinema and the Environment in Eastern Europe: From Communism to Capitalism, eds. Masha Shpolberg and Lukas Brasiskis (New York: Berghahn Books, 2023).

Bernd Blossey is Professor directing the Ecology and Management of Invasive Plants Program at Cornell University. He also is the PI for the New York Invasive Species Research Institute. A major part of his work is the development and implementation biological weed control programs using specialized insect herbivores. Among his target plants are purple loosestrife, garlic mustard, water chestnut, Japanese knotweeds and invasive Phragmites. An ever-increasing focus of his team are investigations into impacts of multiple “stressors” including invasive plants, non-native earthworms, and deer on a wide range of native organisms. He is intimately involved in different approaches to deer management at Cornell and in the surrounding municipalities, and he is the chair of the Cornell Deer Management Committee. Bernd has developed a network or deer exclosures to study impact of deer on many species and processes, and is developing bioindicators to assess effects of different stressors, including deer. The ultimate aim of this work is to increase the conservation values of all lands through development of best management practices.

Isabella Indolfi is an independent curator based in New York City, with a decade of international experience in public art, implementing community-oriented and site-specific practices. Originally from Italy, she is working between Europe, where she is co-directing Seminaria Biennial of Environmental Art, and the USA, where she recently received her MA at the Center for Human Rights and the Arts at Bard College in New York. Past institutional partners include the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, The Hermitage State Museum (Russia), and the Cafesijan Museum (Armenia). Committed to supporting multidisciplinary knowledge at the intersection of art and technology, Isabella has also co-curated international media art festivals such as the nomadic Cyfest, and the Media Art Festival at the MAXXI Museum in Rome, and has given lectures at the Goldsmiths University of London and at the Manchester Metropolitan University School of Art.

Dr. Abigail Perez Aguilera is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management at The New School. Her most recent work is titled “Affective Multi-Species Resistance as Radical Imaginations” to be published in an edited volume by Bloomsbury. As part of her research she will published the article “The End of Nature and the Human: A Global South Ecofeminist Approach to the Anthropocene” in the edited volume titled “Critical Environmental Reflections in the Anthropocene: Making Sense of Nature” to be published in 2024 by Taylor and Francis. She has co-authored the following articles; “Decolonize, ReIndigenize: Planetary Crisis, Biocultural Diversity, Indigenous Resurgence and Land Rematriation” (2021) in the edited volume Contesting Extinctions: Critical Relationality, regenerative futures. Recently, she co-organized a panel discussion titled “Uncommon Collaborations: Bringing Humanities and Sciences Together for Planetary Healing (II) for the Biennial conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE). This panel was part of her work for the Humanities for the Environment Latin American Observatory Panel. She presented a paper titled “Cuerpo-Territorio and Multispecies Cosmopolitics“ at the Earth Crisis and the Global Environmental Movement conference hosted by the Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management at The New School, based on her current research on land-body entanglements and decolonial approaches to critical geographies. She has spoken on panels about decolonial feminisms, radical imaginations and environmental justice.

Dr. Harpreet Sareen is an Assistant Professor of Interaction and Media Design at Parsons School of Design, The New School in New York City. He directs the Synthetic Ecosystems Lab and his research is situated at the intersection of Material Science, Biology, and Electronics, drawing on the complementary abilities of the biological and artificial worlds. He terms this as ‚Convergent Design‘ and creates cutting-edge bionic materials and hybrid substrates that lend themselves to future ecological machinery, sensing systems, and interaction design. Dr. Sareen earned a PhD from The University of Tokyo where his thesis was based on Post-Anthropocentric Design. Prior to this, he earned a Masters from the MIT Media Lab where he developed the concept Cyborg Botany. He is currently a Fellow at the Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles and an INK Fellow (in India), collaborating with intellectuals across cultural and political boundaries. His work has been extensively published in international conferences and showcased in several museums/botanical gardens around the world.

Adam Vackar is an artist, researcher, curator, and author. His work is conceptually driven and operates across the disciplinary boundaries of visual art, biology, ecological thought. He examines the interrelated human interactions with invasive plants, exploring how the production of knowledge and structures of power influence and shape political, social, and racial relations between humans and invasive plants, pointing back to the troubled, conservative ways of current human thinking. He proposes a more spiritual and subtle approach of co-existence towards guest species, as well as a shift towards thinking based on biological narratives in culture. He uses the metaphor of the invasive Giant Hogweed, which he is extensively researching, to examine questions from both non-human and human perspectives. Adam Vackar runs the collaborative interdisciplinary platform Transparent Eyeball in collaboration with evolutionary biologist, focused on organizing symposiums and exhibitions. Based currently in Prague, Vackar graduated from the Academy of Arts in Paris. His work has been presented at S.M.A.K., Centre Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo, Art Basel, FRAC Occitanie Montpellier, Frac Champagne-Ardenne, FRAC Franche-Comté, Cologne Kunstverein, Museum Morsbroich, the National Gallery in Prague, among other venues.

 

This symposium is generously supported by 1014 Space for Ideas, the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, The European Union and Czech Recovery Plan.

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