Confronting Vegetal Otherness – Art and Its Role in Inter-species Confrontations

A short analysis of performances by Špela Petrič. The article touches on the difficulties of confronting plant life, the pros and cons of figurative means of expression, and the stubborn vestiges of anthropocentrism.

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In the era of ecological devastation and shifts giving rise to looming designations such as the Anthropocene, the vegetative reinstates its ascribed monstrous character, its role as the dark precursor on the illuminated pathways of our humanistic heritage. Amidst the post-modern nomos of the endless surface emerges a depth of vast magnitude, easily utilisable by the romantic enthusiasts as a possible return to the various origin-seeking endeavours and explorations of mysterious potentials of affectivity, although thereby yet again cultivating the expressive productivity of this ‘dark precursor’ by mistaking it for the sublimity of human affection.

To approach this alterity would, therefore, mean to accept its threat in full scope. Approach it without sidetracking too deep into the comforting paths of human experience. But what if our starting position for such an endeavour is that of art? What can or cannot art do for such an approach? Can art do without its inherent anthropocentric core? And what would become of art if it were reinvented in light of the conditions of these newly explored terrains?

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