Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology

Annotated by Matteo Lucchetti



Sternberg Press


T.J. Demos


Art historian T. J. Demos repurposes recent art history by interweaving the chronicles of socially engaged artistic practices with environmental activism and political ecology. Departing from the well-known pioneering names such as the Harrisons and Bonnie Sherk, the author describes the entanglement of art and ecology through the perspectives of indigenous communities, denouncing the very Western gaze that informed the UN’s understanding of ecology, one that rarely acknowledges ‘post-colonial concerns and the inequality between so-called post-industrial nations and those in the Global South’. The book unfolds around the urgencies that global warming is causing and offers an incredible array of examples of artists who engage in long-term projects, such as Amy Balkin, Superflex and Pedro Reyes. Many of the featured projects are also part of the Visible network, like the projects by Maria Thereza Alves and Mabe Bethônico.

Matteo Lucchetti

The choice is (still) ours to make. In no way should art be exempt from the imperative to confront this choice. Indeed, the cultural sphere should fight to recognize the value of its creative resources in constructing a different form of life, decolonizing nature within an beyond the human, even while we recognize that art as such offers no automatic or guaranteed redemption. The practices that have brought together aesthetics, ethics, and political ecology allow us to glimpse the beauty of living otherwise.