Call for Papers

A Line in the Sand: Art, Ecology, and Precarity

2nd Annual Berkeley/Stanford Symposium at SFMOMA, San Francisco, California

Symposium: April 7th 2018, San Francisco, California

Keynote Speaker: Professor T.J. Demos, University of California Santa Cruz

Organizers: University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

(Contact information: Claire Ittner, & Yechen Zhao,

The deadline for submissions has passed. Accepted participants will be notified by January 22, 2018.

A Line in the Sand takes its title from the sense of precarity and urgency emerging from recent efforts to take unified global action on environmental issues. Epitomized by the mission to mitigate climate change outlined in the Paris Agreement, drawing a line in the sand marks a boundary, the recognition of a critical horizon that demands a collective response and solution. In the wake of the United States’ decision to withdraw from this seemingly global imperative, what are the limitations of political action in the name of the environment? Do these strategies reduce Earth to a receptive surface for human action, and narrowly legislate what counts as positive engagement with the environment? Are there ways of visualizing our relationship to the planet – other ecologies – that go beyond conservation, sustainability, and “living green” to address humanity’s inextricably deep political, social, and cultural entanglement with the environment? Across art, design, and visual culture, what new forms of action do such ecologies permit?

A Line in the Sand seeks contributions from emerging voices from within and outside of academic art history. We welcome proposals to present short talks, interviews, workshops, space-specific performance work, or gallery talks in dialogue with SFMOMA’s collection and exhibitions. Traditional academic conference presentations will be showcased alongside more experimental contributions. Applicants should be either current graduate students (in any field) or emerging young voices from the wider community of visual culture including artists, designers, writers, and museum professionals.

This symposium seeks to address specific examples across cultures and time periods, as well as engage with compelling issues spanning disciplinary boundaries and areas of specialization. Potential topics include but are not limited to: crisis, natural disaster, climate change, extinction and the Anthropocene, Earth art, design for survival, technology and “fixing,” durability, ephemerality, pollution, waste, hope or hopelessness, indigenous ecologies, resource use, extraction, materialism, consumerism, endangerment, eco-futurity, consensus, solidarity, limits and frontiers, risk, projection, authority, mitigation and mending, social sustainability, and “green” design.