Socialist Anthropocene in the Visual Arts

UCL Institute of Advanced Studies, 2022-27 
Principal Investigator: Maja Fowkes

This is the first large-scale interdisciplinary research project that institutes the Socialist Anthropocene as a new field of study within the critical corpus concerned with challenging and decentring the West-centric discourses of the Anthropocene, asserting the constitutive role of the twentieth century environmental histories of Socialism in the formation of the new geological age. 

Confrontations: Sessions in East European Art History

A research collaboration that seeks to illuminate the entangled histories of East European art through a series of itinerant symposia held at universities and museums at pertinent locations across Europe. Realised with the grant support of the Getty Foundation’s Connecting Art Histories initiative, led by Dr Maja Fowkes and Dr Reuben Fowkes, and based at the Post-socialist Art Centre (PACT) at University College London.

Experimental Reading Room

The Experimental Reading Room creates a space to interact, experiment, learn and dream our way to a new orientation towards ecological awareness in contemporary art and society. The project is designed to engender the self-production of socially-embedded, theoretically-informed and practically-oriented knowledge in the vital field of art and ecology. A series of study circles in collaboration with local universities at the Translocal Institute aim to foster a community of intellectual and artistic enquiry into critical questions around art and ecology. Experimental Reading Room sessions are organised at guest institutions, including in Vienna, Glasgow, Miami and London. 

Post-socialist Art Centre (PACT)

The Post-socialist Art Centre (PACT) is a collaborative research initiative dedicated to the study of Central and East European art and visual culture in the period from the mid-twentieth century to the present day. In addition to seminars and events generated by the Confrontations project and hosted by UCL Institute of Advanced Studies, PACT also collaborates with UCL History of Art Department and UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies in devising programmes to promote scholarly and public engagement with the art and visual culture of the region.

Danube River School

The River School was a series of study days, workshops, symposia and exhibitions that engaged with the Danube as a transforming natural environment with a long history of human intervention, a route of transnational flows and migrations, a focus for ecological concern that spills over into civic action, and a magnet for diverse artistic and cultural reflections. The River School was curated by Maja and Reuben Fowkes and realised within the framework of the Green Art Lab Alliance (GALA) and with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union. The project inspired further theoretical reflections, publications and curatorial presentations.

Environmental Arts and Humanities Initiative

The Environmental arts and Humanities Initiative aims to create a common platform for academic researchers, artists, and ecological activists creatively negotiating planetary issues at the intersection between scientific and humanities-based approaches to the environment. Based at Central European University and co-founded by Maja and Reuben Fowkes, its programme includes conferences, workshops, presentations and a team-taught Environmental Arts and Humanities course.

Anthropocene Response

A series of visiting lectures by leading art theorists provides a platform to consider changing paradigms of social, economic and cultural thought in the light of the awareness of ecological crisis. In addition to presenting their research, speakers are invited to reflect on the implications of the anthropocene for their own professional trajectories.

Symposia on Sustainability and Contemporary Art

The interdisciplinary programme on Sustainability and Contemporary Art at Central European University consisted of a series of innovative symposia, workshops, exhibitions and artist projects. From the original Symposium on Sustainability and Contemporary Art held in 2006, these gatherings made a significant contribution to the debate on fundamental issues around the overlapping fields of contemporary art, ecology, activism and environmental science. 

SocialEast Forum on the Art and Visual Culture of Eastern Europe

The SocialEast Forum was a platform for innovative, transnational research on the art and visual culture of Eastern Europe that was established by Maja and Reuben Fowkes (Translocal) in 2006. Based on active collaboration with institutes of art history across Europe and the involvement of prominent academics, curators and artists, SocialEast is an internationally-recognised generator of innovative research into the contemporary art history of Eastern Europe.

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