Non-Accidental Meetings The Eye Never Sleeps – Kuyavian-Pomeranian 2014
“THE FOURTH NATURE“
Place: The bwa Municipal Gallery in Bydgoszcz
THE FOURTH NATURE
TWILIGHT OF THE ANTHROPOCENE
UEstablishing a new relationship between humans and nature has become one of the most important challenges of our time. In humanistic thought, it has taken the form in recent years of the question of responsibility for the Anthropocene – the epoch of undeniable human domination over the planet and the destructive influence it entailed: the threat to biodiversity, the triggering of the climate crisis, the pillaging of natural resources. Man has allowed himself far-reaching transformations of nature; the environment in which he lives becomes, in a way, his own creation. But are we able to come to terms with the cost of this?
These questions permeate our daily life and culture: visions of an ecological apocalypse brought by man upon himself and the planet he has populated and “made subject” to himself multiply. The image of man as the authoritarian ruler of the earth, derived from a particular interpretation of the Bible, seems to require a fundamental redefinition – can he, being anointed as the crown of creation, claim the right to its unconditional subjugation and exploitation? In what direction should this position be reevaluated? Wouldn’t opening to equal relations with the subjects of nature also mean consenting to its cruelty and its encroachment on human relations?
Questions about balancing human rights and duties to nature are addressed by a number of humanists. James Lovelock in 1974 put forward the hypothesis of Gaia as a kind of spirit inhabiting the planetary body. This was accompanied by a call for humans to look at themselves as part of a larger, relatively autonomous whole, forming a mega-organism capable of self-regulation even at the expense of our existence (if the latter proves to be a threat to the Earth). Peter Singer raises questions about the ethical obligation to “liberate animals” in connection with the new kinds of suffering introduced into their world by, for example, industrial breeding.
Bruno Latour, in his sociological actor-network theory, calls for a departure from thinking about humans as the sole, distinguished subjects of our social lives.
A special role in this search can be played by artists, who create visions of new relations with space and non-human subjects. Among landscape architects there appear postulates of the “fourth nature” (defined by Ingo Kovarik), that is, consent to the return of nature to postindustrial areas, a kind of healing of the scars left by the anthropocene. Do such attitudes have to conflict with spirituality, including that derived from religious traditions? How to imagine a new formula of the relationship with nature – can man, instead of its torturer, become its “sensitive narrator” and thus save himself? – and thus save himself?
Text: Grzegorz Brzozowski