Shifts: Photography, Environment, Action

Thursday 24 June, 6.30pm.
Friday 25 June 2021, 9.30am – 4pm.

Join us across two days for talks and discussion on Zoom, exploring the role of photography in communicating the environmental crisis and approaches to sustainable practice.
We hope to stimulate discussions about photography, radicalism and activism, including its relationship to aesthetics, sustainability and ecology, impact and reach, collectivism and voice.

Produced by NEPN with photographic artist and researcher Marjolaine Ryley.

Please contact: with any access requirements.

Thursday 24 June, 6.30pm.
Join us for a talk by leading cultural theorist and art historian T.J. Demos.

Chaired by Professor Mike Collier, University of Sunderland.


Radical Futurisms: Insurgent Universality, Solidarity, and Worlds-to-Come

With reference to three international examples of contemporary art—those of Thirza Jean Cuthand, The Otolith Group, and Black Quantum Futurism—this short talk discusses current modelings of radical futurisms and worlds-to-come that refuse surrender to capitalist realism. Where radical imagination meets radical praxis is in the material forces of solidarity, the political form of belonging, more than ever necessary today in the collective battle against international fascisms and global neoliberalisms. While acknowledging the bankruptcy of Eurocentric universalisms, this presentation defends approaches to insurgent political formations beyond identitarian fragmentation, including a political aesthetics of abolition—ultimately of racial and colonial capitalism.

T. J. Demos is the Patricia and Rowland Rebele Endowed Chair in Art History in the Department of the History of Art and Visual Culture, at University of California, Santa Cruz, and founding Director of its Center for Creative Ecologies. Demos is the author of numerous books, including Against the Anthropocene: Visual Culture and Environment Today (Sternberg Press, 2017); Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology (Sternberg Press, 2016); The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary During Global Crisis (Duke University Press, 2013) – winner of the College Art Association’s 2014 Frank Jewett Mather Award – and Return to the Postcolony: Spectres of Colonialism in Contemporary Art (Sternberg Press, 2013). Demos co-curated Rights of Nature: Art and Ecology in the Americas, at Nottingham Contemporary in January 2015, and organized Specters: A Ciné-Politics of Haunting, at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid in 2014. During 2019–21, with the Center for Creative Ecologies, and as a Getty research institute scholar, he’s working on a Mellon-funded research project, art exhibition, and book project dedicated to the questions: what comes after the end of the world, and how can we cultivate futures of social justice within capitalist ruins? His new book, Beyond the World’s End: Arts of Living at the Crossing was recently released by Duke University Press.

Friday 25th June 2021, 9.30am – 4pm.

Join us for a day of presentations and discussion with photographers and artists, Hannah Fletcher, Edd Carr, Sabina Sallis, Michele Allen and Shahidul Alam.

We aim to provoke discussion and ask questions about practice and sustainability – materials and materiality; radicalism and activism; and the role of photography and the image in visualising the environmental crisis.

There will be space for participant discussion to ask – What could sustainable photography look like? As a sector, as a practice – concepts, aesthetics, ethics and materials. What do we do next?


Speaker bios coming soon.

This a free event or pay what you can. To make a donation, which will enable us to programme more events please click HERE.

Image: Untitled (Pollard), 2019, from The Weight of Ants in the World © Michele Allen.

Partnership event:

Plants and Protest: Or How to Grow your Art and Eat it! – Marjolaine Ryley

Dilston Physic Garden – Saturday 3 July, 1pm-5pm

Ignite your imagination into the incredible potential of plants – discover how growing and gardening can be an act of resistance, protest and hope.
First, is an introduction to artists working with living materials – with humour, innovation and insight – in areas of ecology, growing and sustainability. This includes my own practice-based PhD research – ‘A Delicious Garden’ with vegetal interspecies encounters.
Then, enjoy practical demonstrations on how to develop skills in basic growing/ horticulture.  These include – how to compost successfully (even on a small scale), getting started with veg, a guide to growing micro-greens and an introduction to plant propagation (i.e. how to make plants for free!). Some microgreens and seeds will be available to take home.

Be empowered with the knowledge and skills in horticulture – one of the most useful and hopeful gifts at this time. The session is planned to include practical demonstrations underpinned by horticultural theory – be inspired to take the first steps!

Attendance is £20 with all proceeds to Dilston Physic Garden. Booking here:

Marjolaine is a Senior Lecturer in Photography at the University of Sunderland and a PhD researcher at Newcastle University. Her practice encompasses photography, creative writing, plant-made imagery and participatory practice to explore the horti-counterculture, politics and collaborative plant-human encounters in the vegetal world. She is currently Artist in residence at Dilston Physic Garden and has an RHS Level 2 qualification in Horticulture. She enjoys getting muddy in her experimental allotment/laboratory.

An taster on-line version of ‘Plants and Protest’ will run at lunchtime during the Photography, Environment, Action symposium on 25 June.

Image: Sorrel © Marjolaine Ryley

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