Meet the Artist: Zheng Chongbin with Ecophilosopher Timothy Morton and Ecopolitical Theorist Maya Kóvskaya
On-site at the museum
Can art offer a model for how to share our planet with human and nonhuman life as well as nonliving entities?
Join us for this in-person discussion about the site-specific installation I Look for the Sky with artist Zheng Chongbin and scholars Timothy Morton and Maya Kóvskaya. Timothy Morton will be joining the program remotely.
Zheng Chongbin’s art does not “represent” the world. It shows how different materials actively do things, revealing nonhuman participation in world-making. Passing through a mesh, light becomes iridescent waves that move with the eye. Morton writes about the interconnected “mesh” of all human and nonhuman life and nonliving entities that together form our shared ecological world. An expert on Chongbin’s art, Kóvskaya studies how the more-than-human natural world acts and “speaks.” To face the broken world of the Anthropocene — the new geological “Age of Man,” and planetary-level ecological and climate catastrophe caused by our dominant modern way of life — we need to stop imagining ourselves as “masters of nature,” and instead recognize the vital interconnection of beings and forces that co-make the world. If art can offer an intra-active embodied experience of nonhuman forces in our world, perhaps we can begin to live with respect for the world we share with myriad other beings so we can survive together on a damaged planet.
ABOUT THE ARTIST AND PANELISTS
Zheng Chongbin (b. 1961, Shanghai) lives and works in San Francisco Bay Area. He was educated as a classical Chinese figurative painter at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou and received his M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute, where he studied installation, performance, and conceptual art. His work is in the collections of the British Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Daimler Art Collection in Stuttgart, among others. He is the subject of the documentary film “The Enduring Passion of Ink,” and the monograph “Zheng Chongbin: Impulse, Matter, Form,” edited by Britta Erickson.
Ecopolitical theorist and curator Maya Kóvskaya (Ph.D., UC Berkeley) teaches Anthropocene studies, ecophilosophy, and visual cultural theory at Chiang Mai University in Thailand. They have published widely on how art can help us reimagine the human condition in a more-than-human world, and head the Amor Mundi Multispecies Ecological Worldmaking Lab.
Timothy Morton is Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University. They have collaborated with Laurie Anderson, Hrafnhildur Arnadottir, Björk, Jeff Bridges, Olafur Eliasson, Justin Guariglia, Adam McKay, Sabrina Scott, Jennifer Walshe, and Pharrell Williams. Morton cowrote and appears in “Living in the Future’s Past,” a 2018 film about global warming, with Jeff Bridges. They wrote the libretto for the opera “Time Time Time” by Jennifer Walshe and are the author of “Being Ecological” and many other books. They have written 250 essays on philosophy, ecology, literature, music, art, architecture, design, and food and their work has been translated into 10 languages.
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Installation view of I Look for the Sky, Asian Art Museum, 2020. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.
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