How to Live in Political Times is a series of panels organized by artist Lenore Malen and inspired by the essays of the 16th century philosopher Michel De Montaigne, who lived during a period of brutal and fanatical religious wars and decline. Rather than offering ethical answers to abstract moral questions, Montaigne provided accounts of his own personal actions in his essays as examples of how one might face any number of dilemmas, large and small. In essence, Montaigne created a new literary form based on self-inquiry in which readers could see themselves.
How to Live: EARTH is the second panel in this series. It features artists who are redefining their relationship to the earth’s resources, touching on land management and the lives of animals while examining sources of energy and technologies that still keep us enthralled. Their thinking extends outward from essential physical encounters with soil and non-human lives, to the seasons and cycles of growth, to local politics and their national and global entanglements. The panelists will consider what forms of knowledge art can produce to aid us in defining a common future and living with the unthinkable. As Bruno Latour wrote in his recent book Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime, “What is required is a shift sideways defining politics as what leads toward the Earth.”
Lenore Malen, organizer and moderator, is a New York-based artist and writer. In 1999 she invented The New Society for Universal Harmony, a fictional re-creation of an 18th century utopian society. Ever since, she has used the lens of history — and humor — to explore utopian longings, dystopic aftermaths, and the sciences and technologies that inform them. In film and video installation she currently focuses on ecology, cultural myths, and the unstable boundaries between humans and animals. She has exhibited and performed at Participant Inc., Location One, Art in General, Skidmore College, Wave Hill, The Sought Foundation, Tufts and Wesleyan Universities, Studio 10, CUE Art Foundation, and The Mediations Biennale, Poznan. She teaches in the MFA Fine Arts Program at Parsons, The New School and is an occasional lecturer at Yale University’s School of Drama. In l998 she received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and NYFA and NYSCA awards in Interdisciplinary Art.
Matthew Friday, Graduate Art Coordinator and Associate Professor of Critical Studies for SUNY New Paltz, is an educator and transdisciplinary artist whose research focuses on the development of apparatuses and systems that examine and provoke new political ecologies. Matthew is a member of the ground-breaking research and design collaborative SPURSE, whose work is at the forefront of ecological design. They have collaborated with communities from the high arctic to inner cities in Bolivia, developing innovative projects at the intersections of design, ecology, art, and urbanism to catalyze transformative change. SPURSE has exhibited at MASS MoCA, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Grand Arts, and many other venues. Their recently published cookbook, Eat Your Sidewalk, addresses the ontology, politics, and history of foraging.
Terike Haapoja is a visual artist based in New York with a specific focus on encounters with nature, death, and other species. Haapoja’s work investigates the existential and political boundaries of our world. She raises questions about how different structures of exclusion and discrimination function as foundations for identity and culture. The notion of a world that is deeply rooted in the physicality and co-existence of beings and their multiple life-worlds is at the core of Haapoja’s politically and ethically driven practice. Haapoja represented Finland in the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013 with a solo show in the Nordic Pavilion. Her work has been awarded the ANTI Festival International Prize for Live Art (2016), the Dukaatti prize (2008), the Säde prize (2009), and Finland’s Festivals artist of the year honorary mention in 2007. Haapoja was nominated for the Ars Fennica Award in 2011.
Eve Andrée Laramée is an installation artist who has exhibited at the Venice Biennale, MASS MoCA, MIT, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, The High Museum, Atlanta, and other venues. She is in the collection of The MacArthur Foundation, MoMA, MCA Chicago, The FOGG Art Museum, and MIT. Laramée's work explores the historical and social dimensions between artistic practice and scientific inquiry. Her four primary themes include: the history of science, nuclear legacy issues, environment/ecology, and social conditions. She is founder and director of ART/MEDIA for a Nuclear Free Future and a Professor of Art at Pace University, NYC, where she is also Director of the Center for the Arts, Society and Ecology.
Linda Weintraub is a curator, author, and artist. Her books explore contemporary art and ecology; among them: What’s Next? Eco Materialism and Contemporary Art (2018), To Life! Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet (2012), Avant-Guardians (2007), and Art on the Edge and Over: Searching for Art’s, Meaning in Contemporary Society, 1970s – 1990s (1995). She served as the director of the Edith C. Blum Art Institute located on the Bard College Campus, where she toured many of the fifty exhibitions she curated. She was The Henry Luce Professor of Emerging Arts at Oberlin College and currently teaches in the Nomad9 MFA Program at The University of Hartford. She lives in a super-efficient home made of recycled cars that is heated geo-thermally. She raises ducks, lambs, pigs, and catfish, and maintains herb and vegetable gardens created through intense composting.
The 8th Floor is an independent exhibition and event space established in 2010 by Shelley and Donald Rubin to promote artistic and cultural initiatives. Inspired by The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, the gallery is committed to broadening the access and availability of art to New York audiences. Seeking further cultural exchange, The 8th Floor explores the potential of art as an instrument for social change in the 21st century, through an annual program of innovative contemporary art exhibitions and an events program comprised of performances, salon-style discussions, and those organized by external partners.
The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation believes in art as a cornerstone of cohesive, resilient communities and greater participation in civic life. In its mission to make art available to the broader public, in particular to underserved communities, the Foundation provides direct support to, and facilitates partnerships between, cultural organizations and advocates of social justice across the public and private sectors. Through grantmaking, the Foundation supports cross-disciplinary work connecting art with social justice via experimental collaborations, as well as extending cultural resources to organizations and areas of New York City in need.