• Cannibalising Nature: Resituating Hélio Oiticica’s Tropicália as ethical-environmental practice

Curran, Fiona, 2014, Conference or Workshop, Cannibalising Nature: Resituating Hélio Oiticica’s Tropicália as ethical-environmental practice at Reading and Exhibiting Nature, University of Westminster, London, 7 - 9 Feb 2014.

Abstract or Description:

Timothy Morton introduces the concept of ‘dark ecology’ in Ecology Without Nature (2009) and The Ecological Thought (2010) in a significant challenge to the continued use of the term ‘nature’ as an ontologically stable referent. Dark ecology addresses the continuing reification of nature in the realm of the aesthetic and offers an alternative perspective, a “perverse, melancholy ethics that refuses to digest the object into an ideal form” (Morton 2009: 195). This ethics works to reframe existing notions of nature and the ecological through a sense of openness to radical otherness, to that which cannot be easily assimilated. Morton’s reference to ‘digesting’ the object offers an interesting conceptual link to the Brazilian poet Oswald de Andrade’s writings from the 1920s on cannibalism/anthropophagy that influenced a later generation of Brazilian artists including Helio Oiticica.

Oiticica’s 1967 installation Tropicália combines natural and artificial materials employing architectural forms with sand, gravel, live plants, birds, fabrics, a TV screen and scented sachets in an attempt to immerse the viewer in a ‘suprasensorial’ environment that Oiticica described as giving “the powerful sensation of being devoured”. This paper will extend the discussion of Tropicália beyond its familiar readings in relation to Brazilian identity politics to include a reconsideration of the work as enacting a dark ecological ethics. Tropicália will be reframed as a situated environmental art practice that explores the material conditions of inhabited spaces and the relations of materials to processes, sites, and the social and cultural contexts of production and presentation.

Official URL: https://www.westminster.ac.uk/news-and-events/even...
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design > W990 Creative Arts and Design not elsewhere classified
School or Centre: School of Design
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2016 15:22
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2018 15:46
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/2096
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