Plasticity of the Planet
Human activity has contributed to irreparable destruction of the natural environment. The project Plasticity of the Planet sets out to confront the problem, combining artistic practices, forensic investigation, theoretical deliberation and the cinematic medium to reflectively encapsulate the transformations and their consequences. The project comprises two exhibitions, the online magazine Obieg, issue No. 10 – themed on Becoming the Earth, a cinematic thread on the Anthropocene and a rich programme of events.
The point of departure for all the above is the realisation that nature has ceased to be a stable, neutral backdrop for human activity. This makes it imperative to face the resultant paradox: on the one hand, nature appears to be defenceless matter, totally subjugated to exploitation and devastation, yet on the other, it manifests as an elemental force that will reciprocate manifold the violation we have wreaked. Destructive plasticity – a concept proposed by the French philosopher Catherine Malabou – makes it possible to understand the paradox and face the inevitable without succumbing to negativity or catastrophism.
The exhibition Human-Free Earth takes on board the fundamental issue thrown up by reflection on the concept of the Anthropocene – the geological era that we are hypothetically living in – defined through the consequences of human activity, which has led to our species having lost its domination, or perhaps the illusion thereof, of the global processes affecting the natural environment that we set in motion.
The unintentional destructive changes are without precedence and they are difficult to grasp, if only because of their global impact or because they are seemingly irrelevant to our day-to-day existence. The works shown at the exhibition imaginatively capture the changes that have been taking place in nature and the chain-reactions caused. The title of the exhibition throws into dramatic relief one of the possible consequences but also inspires us to envisage a world in which mankind is not the be-all and end-all point of reference.
The Centre for Contemporary Nature, set up for U–jazdowski by the investigative collective Forensic Architecture, presents two case studies of ecocide – deliberate, premeditated acts of destruction of the natural environment, deployed as a form of contemporary warfare. Using the recognition that nature is no longer a neutral backdrop for human activity as its starting premise, the collective has developed the idea of the Centre for Contemporary Nature as a proposed, desirable alternative to the centres of contemporary culture that have proliferated of late. For today, nature is the stage for numerous processes currently in train that may decide the fate of many cultures. We cannot afford to confine ourselves to observation and investigation; it is imperative that we devise a way to participate in such processes.