Art, Theory and Practice in the Anthropocene

Julie Reiss (Ed.)

by Paul Ardenne (University of Amiens, France), Weiyi Chang (University of British Columbia, Canada), Patrizia Costantin (Manchester School of Art, UK), Julie Doyle (University of Brighton, UK), Margaretha Häggström (University of Gothenburg, Sweden), David Haley (Zhongyuan University of Technology, China), Eva Horn (University of Vienna, Austria), Jennifer McGregor (Director of Arts and Senior Curator, Wave Hill, New York), Alice Momm , Aviva Rahmani , Julie Reiss (Christie’s Education, New York), Martha Schwendener (Steinhardt School, New York University), Patricia Tinajero (Institute for Doctoral Studies in Visual Art Philosophy, USA)

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I am honored to offer a review of 'Art, Theory and Practice in the Anthropocene', edited by Julie Reiss. This outstanding collection of essays focuses on the role of art (primarily visual) in response to environmental awareness and audience engagement in the context of the Anthropocene. The volume’s essays range from scholarly theory and reflection on the role of arts during a time of dramatic anthropogenic climate change and ecological/species decline to thoughts and reflections on specific exhibits, installations, projects and collaborations, community and pedagogical examples, and activist art projects. Reiss’ Introduction notes the increasing need for art and the humanities to creatively connect with audiences in rethinking/reimaging their place in the other-than-human world in order to forge new stories of change and possibly even hope.
While differing in style and purpose, each essay is excellently written and cogent to a wide array of readers.
Art, Theory and Practice in the Anthropocene is an essential book in the catalogue of environmental humanities scholarship by contextualizing the possibilities for environmentally engaged visual arts.

Prof. David Taylor
Stony Brook University

Art, Theory and Practice in the Anthropocene” will be an invaluable resource for artists and art teachers who are trying to figure out how art can make a difference in a time of climate change. Its authors present a wide range of perspectives. They take on, among other questions: how can art directly act on environmental problems? What practical effects can art have on specific audiences? What standards can be created to evaluate the relative effectiveness of various approaches? This book is an important addition to the growing literature on our increasingly fraught situation and injects a note of hope and agency into a vital debate.

Eleanor Heartney, Contributing Editor, Art in America

Art, Theory and Practice in the Anthropocene contributes to the growing literature on artistic responses to global climate change and its consequences. Designed to include multiple perspectives, it contains essays by thirteen art historians, art critics, curators, artists and educators, and offers different frameworks for talking about visual representation and the current environmental crisis. The anthology models a range of methodological approaches drawn from different disciplines, and contributes to an understanding of how artists and those writing about art construct narratives around the environment. The book is illustrated with examples of art by nearly thirty different contemporary artists.

Julie Reiss

Chapter 1 The Anthropocene sublime: Justin Guariglia’s artwork
Eva Horn

Chapter 2 Art, theory, and the Anthropocene
Martha Schwendener

Chapter 3 Art as destruction: an inquiry into creation
David Haley

Chapter 4 Imaginative engagements: critical reflections on visual arts and climate change
Julie Doyle

Chapter 5 Ecological art—origins, reality, becoming
Paul Ardenne
Translated by Charles Penwarden

Chapter 6 Charting urgency and agency
Jennifer McGregor

Chapter 7 Terra incognita: exhibiting ice in the Anthropocene
Julie Reiss

Chapter 8 Ethical grounds: the aesthetic actions of soil
María Patricia Tinajero

Chapter 9 After nature and culture: plastiglomerate in the age of capital
Weiyi Chang

Chapter 10 Curating digital decay: machines will watch us die
Patrizia Costantin

Chapter 11 A Poem - A Leaf
Alice Momm

Chapter 12 Blued Trees as Policy: art, law, science and the Anthropocene
Aviva Rahmani

Chapter 13 Students being transformed into trees: inverted anthropomorphization in order to enhance connectedness to natural environments and plants
Margaretha Häggström

Notes on the contributors


Julie Reiss directs Modern and Contemporary Art and the Market, an accredited MA program at Christie’s Education, New York. She received her PhD in Art History from the Graduate Center of CUNY. A pioneering scholar in the field of installation art, she is the author of From Margin to Center: The Spaces of Installation Art (MIT Press, 1999), as well as numerous essays and reviews. She has spoken on panels relating to art and the environment including “Shifting Domains: Artists Respond to the Threatened Ecological Commons,” (Rauschenberg Project Space, Marfa Dialogues, 2013), “Landscape and the Anthropocene,” (College Art Association, 2016), and chaired several related panels including “Mapping, Extracting and Remaking: Contemporary Art and the Environment” (Christie’s Education, 2015), and “Art and Sustainability in the Anthropocene” (Council for European Studies, Univ. of Glasgow, 2017).

Anthropocene, Capitolocene, Environmental Ethics

See also

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Art, Theory and Practice in the Anthropocene





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm


2 B&W and 48 Color

Publication date

March 2019