Relevant Areas: Popular Culture, Cultural Studies, American History, Ecocriticism, Art and Humanities, Literature, Language and Culture.
This is why the properly aesthetic attitude of the radical ecologist is not that of admiring or longing for a pristine nature of virgin forests and clear sky, but rather of accepting waste as such, of discovering the aesthetic potential of waste, of decay, of the inertia of rotten material that serves no purpose.
— Slavoj Žižek, Living in the End Times
Contemporary critics are eager to laud sustainability and to celebrate modern and postmodern arts and practices that make inventive use of the wastes of industrial production and the trash of consumer capitalism. These possibilities provide compelling ways to grasp late capitalist culture because it seems to offer a potential answer to an almost unimaginable problem: the ceaseless, ubiquitous, and disastrous production of waste.
Some practices of collection and creative reuse in collage, collections, and found-object arts create stunning acknowledgements of the sheer and generally unacknowledged scale of waste (think, for instance, of work of artist Vic Munoz so well documented in the film Waste Land). However, endlessly celebratory emphases on isolated examples of re-use and recycling risk becoming profound disavowals, as if such reuse solved the problem and absolved us of responsibility. Put simply, is this celebration of arts or practices that incorporate or recycle waste simply making us feel better about waste problems that we cannot adequately solve by making some waste useful? Are there ways–through art–to acknowledge or conceptualize waste that would do more than celebrate such recuperations?
How can artists, philosophers, theorists, activists, and others produce new ways to acknowledge or envision events and phenomena like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, radioactive wastelands like Fukushima or Bikini Atoll, the animal wastes of feedlots, the water wastes of fracking, or the mountains of trash produced by consumer culture? How can such new conceptualizations address biopower, in which whole populations are controlled by the industrial production of waste or by the dumping of waste? How can new ideas address the ways in which some populations are themselves figured as potential waste or treated as waste, living out what Giorgio Agamben names “bare life.”
In this special issue, we seek critical reports or multimodal notes (up to 3,500 words) that sketch new strategies, modes, or practices of acknowledging waste.
Potential topics can include, but are not limited to:
– Representations of waste
– New trash aesthetics
– Trash beyond the dialectic of recycling
– Trash and populations
– Mapping waste
– Collections of trash and waste
– Waste and the sublime
– Populations and waste
– Waste and abjection
– Waste and power
Keywords: Each author is asked to submit 5 keywords to accompany their submission.
Schedule: Deadlines concerning the special issue to be published in NANO:
– 22 Aug. 2014: notes due
– Oct. 2014: Comments and peer review complete
– Dec. 2014: Pre-production begins
NANO SUBMISSIONS STYLE: NANO uses MLA (Modern Language Association)
formatting and style.
We look forward to receiving your contributions.