nl en

Art & Earth: Taking an Ecological view on Contemporary Art Worldwide


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


In his book Facing Gaia (2017), Bruno Latour, one of the world’s leading sociologists and anthropologists, in eight lectures points at our globe’s present-day, unstable situation having entered – as he describes it – an ecological mutation of unprecedented scale: a new climate regime, which some refer to as the Anthropocene. Because of men’s interference – human activity and the natural world – we need to renegotiate our relationship to the surrounding world (nature) and reopen earlier notions of nature. For this, academics, scientists, artists, and activists need to team up to adjust to this new climatic regime. Here ‘Gaia’ comes in, not as some sort of natural goddess but as a new way of thinking and understanding the Earth as a porous and whimsical being – a whole of collaborating organisms – that may strike back. It will not suffice to approach the ecological crisis in a strictly scientific way, we need the humanities, we need religion, we need art, is Latour’s contention. In this course we are going to explore Latour’s ideas and bring art and activists’ practices into the equation.

Course objectives

Students will:

  • Acquire knowledge of and insight in the debates revolving around contemporary art and theory/discourse and activism regarding ecological issues;

  • Train to reflect on relevant theories and approaches;

  • Learn how art and curatorial practices interact with and can be productive in exchange with theory and debate;

  • Learn to understand how art practice and theory mutually challenge each other and how this interchange stimulates an awareness of diverse positions and a different take on art within diverse contexts;

  • Gain insight into the cultural and societal role and function of art in regard to environmental, ecological issues.

  • Learn to analyse works of art, curatorial practices and theoretical positions, and presenting the results of these analyses in oral presentations (including making a poster) and academic papers.
    ResMA students will be required to present orally and in writing a more in-depth discussion of the theoretical foundations of studies under discussion.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Excursion

Assessment method


  • The seminar is a 3 hours per week course, in which we all together discuss the course books, students give presentations, participate in discussions, reflect on the issues discussed, collaborate in assignments and write papers (mid-term and final paper);

  • Midterm, on site assignment at an exhibition (blog or vlog)

  • The seminar will be concluded with poster presentations that will lead up to the final paper.

  • Excursion to relevant exhibition.

  • Oral presentation.

  • Paper

ResMa students that take this course will write a paper that reflects the demands of the Research Master. That is, they will have to formulate more complex and original research questions than the MA students, include a critical positioning towards the state of the art of its subject, and produce a longer paper.


The final grade is the average of the three grades (30% oral presentation, 30% midterm, 40% poster + final paper). A student passes the class if the weighted average is a 6.0 or higher (marks under 5.0 are not allowed) and the poster and final paper are a 6.0 or higher.
All items need to be a pass.


There is a re-sit for every assignment.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Assigned Literature (course books for the seminar):

  • Bruno Latour, Facing Gaia: Eight lectures on the new climate regime. (translated by Catherina Porter). Cambridge (UK), Polity Press 2017.

  • T.D. Demos, Against the Anthropocene. Visual Culture and Environment Today. Berlin, Sternberg Press 2017.
    For further orientation:

  • Cheryll Glotfelty & Harold Fromm (eds.), The Ecocriticism Reader. Landmarks in Literary Ecology. Athens (GE)/London, The University of Georgia Press 1996.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal