We have been asked what we mean associating “the baroque” with “ecology”, and it’s a reasonable question, as the two terms are conventionally understood in ways that make such a connection strange.

So, lets think about what the two words mean, or perhaps more interestingly, what they might mean.

Ecology is a scientific term, the “study of organisms in relation to one another and to their surroundings” (according to the Pocket Oxford): not the study of grass, or a cow or a river, but the relationship between the grass and the cow and the river. So the involvement in this symposium of Mike Joy, and his work on revealing the affect we have on this ecology of which we are part, is obvious. We human beings are part of an ecology, but also form ecologies: all the different nations on the planet, the cultures that make up our country, the communities that form our place, the members of our family. Perhaps even the community of fungi, bacteria and viruses that inhabit our individual bodies. And this is where the baroque is useful, for it is a style of art that encouraged multi-disciplinary extravaganzas: Berinin’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa is a wonderfully complex sculpture that can only be truly experienced in the elevated aedicule in the Cornaro Chapel, in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, in the city of Rome. The baroque is relational. The baroque is about movement, and as Juan Luis Suarez has argued, it is about the movement between the peoples (and therefore cultures) of different places. The baroque encourages cross-disciplinary thinking: how, for example, science can be applied to the art of cooking. Or, as Peter Krieger suggests in his analysis of the aesthetics of air pollution, how something normally considered an adverse environmental impact can be “beautiful”.

Angela Ndalianis, who has been with us all the way, speaks of baroque facades and what they might mean, and so makes the façade not a facile thing. For it is on the surface that we manifest our appearance, what we think and how we feel, to others. Which is why “alternative hedonisms”, Kate Soper’s wonderful idea that we must find other ways to think and feel about the ecology we inhabit. The baroque becomes a way to change how we take our inspiration from the richness of global cultures, but none-the-less truly inhabit the local, taking pleasure in a swim in that river just over there, rather than a flight to some distant beach.

Science can tell us how it all works, but art is our way of expressing how we think and feel about how it all works. Hence Strange Baroque Ecologies.

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Programme: 21-24 November 2013

Thursday 21 6.00 pm Enjoy Public Art Gallery

Opening of the exhibition Headcount curators: Ann Shelton and Alice Tappenden

Friday 22 5.30 – 7.00 pm the Engine Room

Opening of the exhibition  Strange Baroque Ecologies convener: Simon Morris

Guest Provocateur: Dr. Peter Krieger  Skying” the neobaroque Mexican megalopolis – the aesthetics of pollution

7.00 – 8.00 pm in the Pit, Te Ara Hihiko, College of Creative Arts Massey University Wellington

Saturday 23 9.00 am City Gallery Wellington

Registration

9.30 am – 12.30 pm The Baroque Social convener: Richard Reddaway

Guest provocateur: Dr. Juan Luis Suárez  Cultural Networks of a Baroque System

Presentations by:

Zoe Kirkwood  The Ethical Spectacle: Contemporary cross-disciplinary art practices and the “aesth-ethical” revision of the ‘baroque spectacle’

Vanessa Crowe  The Moodbank

Richard Shepherd  Belief in Monsters: Cinematic ecologies of production

Kate Linzey: At Least We Can Laugh About It: on the consideration of some contemporary architecture

Anna Brown  Strange Baroque Ecologies — a book publishing performance

1.30 – 4.30 Alternative Hedonisms convener: Catherine Bagnall

Guest provocateur: Dr. Mike Joy  a freshwater crisis

Presentations by:

Dr. Jeffner Allen  An Unstable, Cacophonous Wave: Coral Reef Baroque

Julian Raxworthy  Dig, you sod: the thermodynamic experience of wielding a mattock

Oliver Blair  Virtual Options: Virtual power shifts and public discussion is raised when radical urban design concepts are proposed under the guise of the Wellington City Council.

Sunday 24 10.00 am Tongariro National Park

Participatory performance by Catherine Bagnall  Wearing a tail and alpine walking

Concluding discussion: future directions for the project

Monday 25 7.00 am returning to Wellington

for 12.00 midday

Registration

Registration for the symposium

Pre-registration for the symposium on Saturday is $25, places are limited and only open until Monday 18 November. This includes the guest speakers, invitations to our other events, the symposium on Saturday, with snacks and beverages by Nikau.

Please pre-register your interest by emailing Richard Reddaway <R.M.Reddaway@massey.ac.nz>, including “Strange Baroque Ecologies Registration” in the subject line. Do it as soon as possible: registration on the day will be $45.