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Climate Inherits Us All (short-term project, Fall 2019)

Published October 17, 2019

Organized by Elisa Kim, Art; Dana Leibsohn, Art

October 17, November 15-16, 2019


Project Description

What inherits us. What we leave to others. How we accept (or refuse) that which is bequeathed. These themes—and their implications—anchor this short-term Kahn project. Our interest lies with the metaphorical and affective work of the phrase “to inherit” as well as with clearly traceable physical and physiological practices. For many, it is tempting to value physical traces over affect and metaphor, but should we? When it comes to the earth and its waters, if not also climate change itself, what has been passed on to us—intentionally, by kin, genetically by biologies, or haphazardly by indifference—represents one part of the story. Another, no less important part, comes from our tolerances and desires, and just what we—whomever or whatever “we” this may be—are willing, or feel obliged to pass onto others.

Inheritance implies wealth and indebtedness. It implies excess and disequilibrium. It therefore invites thinking about normative generational cycles of gifting and receipt—some of which are not necessarily human. While we see this seminar as an opportunity to question whether inheritance may be unavoidable, we especially wish to think methodologically, asking how different lenses onto discursive, visual, and visceral practices render and obscure what we can inherit (or refuse) about climate change. Our conversations might well compare terra-centric, continental, perspectives with those that draw their strength from offshore and pelagic methodologies. They might consider how film, reproducible images, or poetry produces truth by way of fiction. No less importantly, we seek to better understand how inheritance also requires thinking about what is made in its wake and what can be made from that which is residual. To consider the culture and science of inheritance, then, we expect to draw inspiration from projects as diverse as Thom Andersen’s “Los Angeles Plays Itself,” Rob Nixon’s Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, and Juliana v. United States. Ultimately, we wish to think anew about what it would take to interrupt the models that inheritance creates—in our writing, our architecture, our cartographies and our politics—and what might be lost (or gained) by following such interruptions?

This seminar will meet collectively to begin our discussion in mid-October and then, for a two-day-session with invited speakers in mid-November.