Thinking about Art in Pandemic Times?

Jill Casid

Starting this Tuesday, April 14th, the Clark Art Institute, where Professor Jill Casid was in residence as the Clark-Oakley Fellow in 2018–19, is featuring Professor Casid’s lecture on the new art of dying as a contestatory medium in the Necrocene as part of the Clark Art Institute’s “RAP in the Archives” series. You can watch the lecture via the Research and Academic Programs events page.

About the relation of the lecture to Professor Casid’s current book project, she writes: “I have been arguing for some time that tactically mis-hearing the “cene” in Anthropocene promises to attune us to our position not as beholders of an epoch or witnesses to a prospect of distancing projection onto a deep past or lost future, but, rather, as situated within the scene of our undoing, a planetary scene which my current work reframes as the Necrocene. Before what Paul Preciado names the “great mutation” of COVID-19, I came to the Clark to finish the first part of a two-book project on form at the edges of life in the planetary scene of political abandonment and stolen infrastructures in which we are living our dying on a dying planet. If this reframing in terms of the crisis ordinary of life-threatening catastrophe in the everyday had ever seemed hyperbolic, amidst the devastations wrought by the way the Coronavirus tracks its pandemic path along the necropolitical calculus of disposable life, the Necro-scene has irrevocably become ours. And, yet, in confronting the obligation to imagine and act toward formations of livable life beyond hetero-patriarchal racial capitalism, I want to insist there are still ways of doing things with being undone. But this should not be read as some variation on the theme of “shelter at home” and quarantine orders as a climate-change reprieve—which is a lethal mirage. Rather, as I begin to unfold in the Clark lecture made available online and the short preview article for the Journal of Visual Culture that emerged out of it as well as the seminar conversations at the Clark and the Oakley Humanities Center across the year, this is a pivotal conjuncture that calls for a turn to consider the powers of aesthetic provocation in current art practices that deform the landscape-form to demonstrate how the vulnerability of living our dying also offers a queer material medium to agitate for livable life toward a black, trans* more-than-human commons.