Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Open Cultural Studies

Editor-in-Chief: Miller, Toby

Covered by:
Elsevier - SCOPUS
Web of Science - Emerging Sources Citation Index
ERIH PLUS

Open Access
Online
ISSN
2451-3474
See all formats and pricing
More options …

“Mossification”: Subverting the Human-Centric Portrait with a More-Than-Human Triptych

Sanita Fejzić
Published Online: 2019-11-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2019-0052

Abstract

Motivated by a sense of ethical obligation and environmental urgency, I commissioned a Toronto-based artist to take a portrait of a “more-than-human” me that embodied nonhuman elements. The aim of this artistic endeavor was to re-evaluate humans' impact on and relationship with the organic and non-organic beings and stuff with which we are entangled. My aim with the resulting portrait, “Mossification,” was three-fold: to visually represent a more-than-human (multiple-singular) self; to subvert the human-centric portrait by giving moss and lichen more visual space and symbolic agency; finally, to suggest, through movement in the form of a triptych, that if we do not change, humans will end up buried under by nature. This short essay is broken down in three parts. In the first two, I provide philosophical context then synthesize a brief history of portraiture with the aim of showing how “Mossification” subverts the genre. In the final part, I demonstrate how “Mossification” might be positively received but nonetheless fails to embody transcorporeality because of its entanglement with neoliberal systems that instrumentalize and objectify nature. I conclude that even though “Mossification” is problematic, it remains a productive visual experiment because of its generative capacity to destabilize human-centric representative traditions and symbolic codes.

Keywords: Posthumanism; material feminism; nature-culture; portraiture

Works Cited

  • Alaimo, Stacy. Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self. Indiana University Press, 2010.Google Scholar

  • Alaimo, Stacy. Undomesticated Ground: Recasting Nature as Feminist Space. Cornell University Press, 2000.Google Scholar

  • Barad, Karen M. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Duke University Press, 2007.Google Scholar

  • Boström, Magnus, and Mikael Klintman. Eco-Standards, Product Labelling and Green Consumerism. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.Google Scholar

  • Brodo, Irwin M. et al. Lichens of North America. Yale University Press, with the Canadian Museum of Nature, 2001.Google Scholar

  • Crutzen, Paul J. “Geology of Mankind.” Nature, vol. 415, no. 6867, 2002, pp. 23-23. Doi: 10.1038/415023a.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Davis, Heather and Turpin, Etienne, editors. Art in the Anthropocene. Open Humanities Press, 2015.Google Scholar

  • Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalizm and Schizophrenia. Athlone Press, London, 1988.Google Scholar

  • Descartes, Rene. Meditations on First Philosophy. Translated by Donald A. Cress. Hackett Publishing Company, 1993.Google Scholar

  • Eaubonne, Françoise. Le féminisme ou la mort. P. Horay, 1974.Google Scholar

  • Eliot, T. S. The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound, edited by Valerie Eliot. Faber and Faber, 1971.Google Scholar

  • Giffney, Noreen, and Myra J. Hird, editors. Queering the Non/Human. Routeledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2008.Google Scholar

  • Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time Trans. Joan Stambaugh. State University of New York Press, 2010.Google Scholar

  • Heidegger, Martin. Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude Trans. William McNeil and Nicholas Walker. Indiana University Press, 1995.Google Scholar

  • Heidegger, Martin. “Question Concerning Technology” Basic Writings Ed. David Farrell Krell. Harper Collins Publishers, 2008.Google Scholar

  • Heidegger, Martin. Contributions to Philosophy Trans. Richard Rojcewicz and Daniela Vallega-Neu. Indiana University Press, 2012.Google Scholar

  • Jameson, Frederic. “The Future City,” New Left Review, 21, May-June 2003, n.p. https://newleftreview.org/II/21/fredric-jameson-future-city. Web Accessed 12 Oct, 2018.

  • Kaufman, Tara L. Out with the Anthropocene: Art for an Animate Earth, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2019.Google Scholar

  • Latour, Bruno. Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime, translated by Catherine Porter. Polity, 2017.Google Scholar

  • Lovelock, J. E. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. Oxford University Press, 1979.Google Scholar

  • Margulis, Lynn and Barreno, Eva. “Looking at Lichens,” BioScience, Vol. 53, No. 8, 2003, pp. 776 778. Doi: 10.1641/0006-3568.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Morton, Timothy. “Guest Column: Queer Ecology.” PMLA, vol. 125, no. 2, 2010, pp. 273-282. Doi: 10.1632/pmla.2010.125.2.273.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Neimanis, Astrida. Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology. Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.Google Scholar

  • News, Channel 4. “Chernobyl: inside the Exclusion Zone.” YouTube, YouTube, 15 July 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=khv87k68kIs. Accessed 10 July, 2019.

  • Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Will to Power. Random House, 1968.Google Scholar

  • Patricia Curd, editor. “Heraclitus of Ephesus.” A Presocratic Reader translated by Richard D. McKirahan and Patricia Curd. Hackett Publishing Company Inc., 2011, pp. 39-55.Google Scholar

  • Raloff, Janet. “How Plastic We’ve Become: Our bodies carry residues of kitchen plastics” Science News, 17, Jan, 2018. https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/food.thought/how-plastic-weve-become Accessed 2 Sept, 2018.

  • Schiller, Devon. “Green Face: How Facial Expression is Made Sensible, from Pre-Christian Architectural Spaces to Post-Digital Smart Environments.” Ejournal Przeglad-Kulturoznawczy, vol. 38, no. 4, 2018, pp. 493-534. Doi: 10.4467/20843860PK.18.026.10364.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Uexküll, Jakob v. A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans: With A Theory of Meaning. University of Minnesota Press, 2010.Google Scholar

  • Wake, David B., and Vance T. Vredenburg. “Are we in the midst of the sixth mass extinction? A view from the world of amphibians.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 105, sup. 1, 2008, pp. 11466-11473. http://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/105/Supplement_1/11466.full.pdf.

  • “What is a Lichen?” Australian National Botanic Gardens. https://www.anbg.gov.au/lichen/what-islichen.html. Accessed 8 Aug, 2018.

  • Williams, Raymond. The Long Revolution. Chatto & Windus, 1961.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • West, Shearer. Portraiture. Oxford University Press, 2004.Google Scholar

  • Zantingh, Matthew. “When Things Act Up: Thing Theory, Actor-Network Theory, and Toxic Discourse in Rita Wong’s Poetry.” Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, vol. 20, no. 3, 2013, pp. 623-646.Google Scholar

  • Zhou, Zhuang. Zhuangzi: The Inner Chapters. Translated by Robert Eno. Indiana.edo, 2019. http://www.indiana.edu/~p374/Zhuangzi.pdf. Accessed 2 Jul, 2019.

About the article

Received: 2018-11-12

Accepted: 2019-09-30

Published Online: 2019-11-01

Published in Print: 2019-01-01


Citation Information: Open Cultural Studies, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 591–603, ISSN (Online) 2451-3474, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2019-0052.

Export Citation

© 2019 Sanita Fejzić, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License. BY 4.0

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in