Kim? Contemporary Art Center
“All flesh is grass” public programme: Of Animacy Reading Group

Reading Group Session 1:
30 June 2020, 19:00 (EEST)

 

Of Animacy Reading Group x All Flesh is Grass: On Monstrous Sentience

 

Of Animacy Reading Group gathers online over the summer months in conjunction with Kim?’s current exhibition All Flesh is Grass. Thinking through the themes of the exhibition, Of Animacy presents a selection of texts enquiring into plant agency and sentience, interspecies communication and the complexities of framing nonhuman life through an anthropocentric lens. All texts have been selected in collaboration with Of Animacy convener Nella Aarne and All Flesh is Grass working group: Una Hamilton Helle, Eltons Kūns, Uma Breakdown, and Erik Martinson.

 

The first gathering enquires into the perceived alienness and unnerving quality of our green, earthly companions in the western post-Enlightenment fantasy of human mastery over nature. Literature and film scholar Dawn Keetley’s six theses on plant horror unpick the human anxiety over our inability to contain vegetal life and how this anxiety is captured in film by the figure of the monstrous plant threatening human existence. Author Roald Dahl’s short story, The Sound Machine, however, reveals the violence embedded to many human pursuits and finds horror in our failure to perceive the vibrancy and vulnerability of non- human life.

 

The gatherings seek to create a comfortable and generous environment for relaxed discussion, with an aim to recognise vital alliances for our daily life and political thought. Of Animacy is always open to all. Reading the selected text in advance is recommended but not necessary – excerpts will be read together to support open discussion.

 

To RSVP and access the readings, please email nella@nellaaarne.art. The online event link will be sent to all participants on the day of the gathering. For more information press here.

 

Key texts:

 

Dawn Keetley, ‘Six Theses on Plant Horror; or, Why Are Plants Horrifying?’, Plant Horror: Approaches to the Monstrous Vegetal in Fiction and Film (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)

 

Roald Dahl, ‘The Sound Machine’ (Penguin Books, 1996, originally published in The New Yorker, 1949)

 

Further reading:

 

Kier-La Janisse, ‘Murder Season: The Strange World of Vegetal Detecting’, byNWR, Vol. 5, (2019): https://www.bynwr.com/articles/murder-season

 

Teresa Castro, ‘The Mediated Plant’, e-flux Journal, No. 102 (September 2019): https://www.e-flux.com/journal/102/283819/the-mediated-plant/

 

Upcoming Sessions:

 

21 July 2020, 19:00 (EEST)
Session 2: On Embodied Language
Texts by: David Abram, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and Monica Gagliano.

 

11 August 2020, 19:00 (EEST)
Session 3: On More-than-Human Sociality
Texts by: Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Elvia Wilk, and Astrida Neimanis.

 

Of Animacy Reading Group has been convened by curator Nella Aarne since 2017. The gatherings focus on feminist writings on human and non-human agents in the material world, spanning philosophy and natural and human sciences.

 

Bios:

 

Nella Aarne (FI) is a curator living and working in the UK. She is the Co-Director of Obsidian Coast with artist Sam Smith, and the convener of the Of Animacy Reading Group. Envisaging feminist and environmentally sustainable practices, her work considers ethical encounters, collaborative learning and redefined notions of productivity. She is invested in critical thought that calls for heightened sensitivity to our own socio-political and material entanglements with boundless subject positions, histories, living beings, molecular compositions, technological apparatuses and infrastructure. Nella has worked on projects for ICA, London; Arnolfini, Bristol; Glasgow International; Art Licks Weekend, London; and Science Museum, London. She earned her BA Honours in History of Art from the University of Leeds in 2012, completed the MFA Curating programme at Goldsmiths in 2015, and was the recipient of the Curatorial Junior Fellowship at Goldsmiths in 2015–16.