Symposium on Sustainability and Contemporary Art

Central European University Budapest
30-31 March 2006

Sustainability has been at the top of the global environmental agenda for more than a decade, but an understanding of ecological responsibility is only now beginning to have a visible impact on society and culture. The symposium will explore the radical and innovatory power of the concept of sustainability, which implies a strategy for integrative development in harmony with nature and a reinvigorated notion of global justice on the basis of shared environmental responsibility.

Our intention is to create a transdisciplinary space for discussion of the fundamental issues bridging the fields of art and environment and an opportunity to be inspired by the response of leading international artists to the challenge of sustainability. Presentations by artists will show how contemporary art might engage with the full implications of sustainability beyond visualising ecological disasters and illustrating environmental campaigns.

The innovative practices featured range from finding ways to foster cultural diversity, exploring new environmental notions such as sustainable pleasure, developing alternative concepts of wealth, and finding out new ecological uses of space. The role of the curator in engaging with environmental issues will also be examined, while aestheticians and environmentalists will offer theoretical perspectives on art and sustainability.

Questions to be addressed by the symposium include: What is sustainable art and how is sustainability involved in the practices of contemporary art? To what extent do global environmental challenges demand radical changes in human activity and what implications does this have for artistic practice? How can contemporary artists contribute to the critique of technocratic approaches to environmental problems? Is fostering human creativity the key to finding lasting solutions to environmental problems? How much overlap is there between the interests and approaches of environmentalists and artists?


Alexios Antypas (US)
Alexios Antypas, Ph.D. (University of Washington, Seattle), MSc (State University of New York); Director of Center for Environmental Policy and Law; main research interests: international and transboundary environmental governance, natural resources policy, and environmental justice.

Heath Bunting and Kayle Brandon (UK)
The artistic practice of Heath Bunting and Kayle Brandon tests social and psychological boundaries through outdoor pursuits such as climbing, skate boarding, tree planting and survivalism, as well exploring issues of genetics and biodiversity. They have presented their work widely, from Tate Modern and the ICA in London to the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Cosmin Costinaş (RO)
Cosmin Costinas is an author and freelance curator based in Bucharest and Vienna. His curatorial projects include ‘After the Happy Nineties’ at Goethe Institute Bucharest (2005), which dealt with the new forms of artistic engagement after 9/11 and the collapse of ‘the end of history’ neoliberal utopia. Currently he is writing a book on Romanian contemporary art since 2000 and is a member of the editorial team of the Documenta 12 magazine project.

Jonathan Dronsfield (UK)
Reader in Theory and Philosophy of Art at the University of Reading. His current research centres on questions of temporality and ethics, in particular their pertinence to film and video art. He has published widely in the area of post-phenomenological continental philosophy and contemporary art theory and practice.

Miklos Erhardt (H)
His work (developed mainly in collaborative projects
signed as Big Hope, with Scottish artist Dominic Hislop)
explores strategies of engaging with social issues and
ways to communicate radical ideas to a broader art
public. Miklos Erhardt was also the initiator with Tibor Varnagy of the art magazine project Manamana, which focuses on issues of social and environmental justice and globalisation.

David Haley (UK)
David Haley is a well-known environmental artist and Research Fellow in MIRIAD at Manchester Metropolitan University. His long-term ecological arts programme for Shrewsbury Museum and Gallery considers creative opportunities for the future of people living with climate change and the River Severn in the UK.

Newton & Helen Mayer Harrison (USA)
Among the leading pioneers of the eco-art movement, the collaborative team of Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison have worked for over thirty years with biologists, ecologists and urban planners to initiate collaborative dialogues to uncover ideas and solutions which support biodiversity and community development.

Tamás Kaszás and Viktor Kotun (H)
Much of Tamás Kaszás’s recent work has dealt with the issue of squatting as social and political protest, and has involved creative collaborations between artists and activists. Here he will present his work together with public art activist Viktor Kotun, with whom he recently exhibited at Kunstferei Stuttgart.

Hildegard Kurt (GER)
Hildegard Kurt is a Berlin-based theoretician of the culture and aesthetics of sustainability. Her publications include Culture Art and Sustainabilityand she is co-founder of the Institute for Art, Culture and Sustainability in Germany.

Kristina Leko (CRO)
One of the best-known works of Kristina Leko is the collaborative, interdisciplinary project Cream and Cheese, which she initiated with the aim of protecting the livelihood and products of the Zagreb milkmaids. She works between New York , Berlin and Zagreb, and has shown her work at Neue Galerie Graz and Moderna Museet Sockholm.

Edit Molnár (H)
Edit Molnár is a curator at Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle Budapest. Her interests are in the innovative artistic practices of recent Hungarian contemporary art and wider international collaborations. From 1999 to 2005 she was director of the Studio of Young Artists Association Gallery in Budapest. Recent projects include co-curating the exhibitions ‘Private Matter’ (Műcsarnok, 2005) and ‘Travelling Without Moving’ (W139 Amsterdam, 2004).

Csaba Nemes (H)
Csaba Nemes’s most recent project is the film The Sun of Africa (2006), which is set in the Hungarian countryside and deals with the situation of small market gardeners in the globalised world. His work explores our relationship to the changing natural landscape, through film, paintings and photography. He has exhibited recently in Knoll Gallery Vienna/Budapest, SMAK Gent, Rotor Graz and the Gallery of Extended Media Zagreb.

Nils Norman (UK)
Nils Norman's nomadic Exploding School project seeks to use the city as its classroom and investigates recent developments in public art strategies, culture and regeneration, gentrification, urbanism and the environment. He has exhibited at 50th Venice Biennial, Guggenheim, Bilbao, and Lisson Gallery, London.

Marko Peljhan (SLO)
Marko Peljhan is the initiator of Makrolab, an ongoing mobile laboratory for open research made for the common projects of artists, scientists and tactical media workers in the fields of telecommunications, migration research, weather and climate. He has shown his work at Dokumenta X, Manifesta II and the 2003 Venice Biennale.

Renata Poljak (CRO)
Working mostly with film and photography, Renata Poljak’s work explores issues of gender, transition and society. Her film Great Expectations traces the transformations of the Croatian coast during the past decade, and the destructive culture of unregulated building. She lives between Croatia, Austria and France, and has exhibited widely.

Rúrí (IS)
The artist Ruri is recognized internationally for her profound works of environmental art. She represented Iceland at the 50th Venice Biennale with Archive: Endangered Waters, in which she catalogued the qualities of individual waterfalls in Iceland , preserving their unique sounds and appearance and highlighting the threat to their survival posed by extensive dam building. Along with installations, she uses sculpture, multi media and performance to produce environmental art on a grand scale with a strong spiritual dimension.

Diane Warburton (UK)
As a writer and researcher specialising in community participation and sustainable development, Diane Warbuton has written extensively on the social dimension of environmental issues. Her publications include Community and Sustainable Development. Participation in the Future and From Here to Sustainability. The Politics of the Real World.

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