Is Extinction Imminent ? Imagining existential risk in a time of climate emergency, Aphra Theatre. Grimond Building. University Of Kent., Tuesday, 19. November 2019

Imagining existential risk in a time of climate emergency
Himali Sigh Soin, Artist / Lucia Pietroiusti, Curator Serpentine Gallery General Ecology / Simon Beard, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk / Extinction Rebellion /Chaired by Francesca Laura Cavallo History and Philosophy of Art / Supported by The School of Arts and Kent University and Studio 3 Gallery
Extinction Rebellion activists took London by storm in April and November 2019 by framing their joyful pacifist action with die-ins and doomsday narratives. In academic terms, meanwhile, the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk - a multidisciplinary team of scientists at Cambridge - has been urging attention to what philosopher Nick Bostrom dubbed ‘global catastrophic risks’, in a famous article (Bostrom, 2013). As both agree that threats to the survival of humanity must be tackled immediately, the challenge is the speculative nature of long-term forecasting and the need to communicate urgency for what transcends one life span. Artistic practice, on the other hand, has long engaged with speculative futures, paid attention to the signs of endangered life and encouraged reflection on what may be, stretching our perception of geological deep time into a future behind our lifetimes. As Jacques Attali put it: ‘Like everything that is out of our control, the long term is frightening – unless it fosters a form of utopia that would allow us to believe that, purely by dint of our will, tomorrow will be the best of the past and the present combined.’ (Attali, 2015)
In more practical terms, alarming visions of environmental disaster are tempting, suggesting shaking the public from complacency and short-term thinking, even as they bypass any uncertainty and inevitably (over?) simplify. Yet, at least before the impact of Extinction Rebellion, stark and immediate portrayals of climate change threats have not clearly been effective.
Generously supported by the School of Arts Graduate Study Committee. With special thanks to Yasmine Rix, Eleen Deprez, Michael Newall and the Critical Studies for Risk and Uncertainty Research Centre.    

About the Speakers.
Simon Beard is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. His research examines the ethical challenges in evaluating existential risks, with a special focus on the risks associated with developing new technologies. He is working to establish alternatives to Cost Benefit Analysis for use in evaluating long term decisions that can take account of the value of future generations and the cost of existential risks. Before joining CSER, Simon worked as a research fellow at the University of Oxford where he conducted research in Population Ethics: Theory and Practice. Simon holds a PhD in Moral Philosophy from LSE.
Lucia Pietroiusti is Curator of General Ecology at the Serpentine Galleries (London) as well as the Curator of Sun & Sea (Marina) by Rugile Barzdziukaite, Vaiva Grainyte and Lina Lapelyte, the Lithuanian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, 2019, awarded the Golden Lion for Best National Participation. She is the curator (with Filipa Ramos) of the durational festival on interspecies consciousness, The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish (2018-19) as well as the research, publication and performance project, PLANTSEX, on erotics and botany. Since 2013, she has programmed and produced research projects, artist commissions and performances, as well as film and collaborative partnerships, at the Serpentine Galleries. Pietroiusti was the co-curator of the 2018 (Work), 2016 (Miracle), 2015 (Transformation) and 2014 (Extinction) editions of the Serpentine’s yearly Marathon festival of art, science and technology.
Himali Singh Soin works across text, performance and moving image. She utilizes metaphors from the natural environment to construct speculative cosmologies that manifest the non-linear entanglements between human and non-human life. Her poetic methodology explores myriad ways of knowing, from scientific to intuitional, indigenous and alchemical epistemologies. Selected credits: Whitechapel Gallery, ICA, Serpentine Marathon and Park Nights, Art Licks, Art Night London (London); Kadist (San Francisco); the Dhaka Art Summit (Dhaka); Abrons Art Centre (NYC); Brick Bar (Riga); Serendipity Arts Festival (Goa); Khoj (New Delhi); OCA (Norway); Fabrika (Moscow); A Tale of a Tub (Rotterdam); Bucharest Art Week (Bucharest); Meet Factory (Prague) among others. Her writing appears regularly in Artforum, among others. She is the recipient of the 2019 Frieze Artist Award for her work on the poles and their uncanny bearing on the rest of the world.
Extinction Rebellion is an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience to achieve radical change in order to minimise the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse.

Tuesday, 19. November 2019, Aphra Theatre. Grimond Building. University Of Kent., Is Extinction Imminent ? Imagining existential risk in a time of climate emergency

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