Welcome to the Institute for Interspecies Art and Relations
Every other day I feel like I’m losing my mind if I start to think about biodiversity loss on this planet. Sources like Harvard School of Public Health say we will lose 1/4 of all living species by 2050 and WWF says that it is moving at 1,000 to 10,000 times what is seen as a natural extinction rate, though we still don't even know how many species even exist. Out of the ones we do know, we are only just beginning to fully recognize their incredible intelligence and necessity in the processes that allow everyone and everything to live. What the HELL humans?!
In the final chapter of Edward Wilson’s Biophilia, he suggests pragmatic solutions for ingraining value in the biodiversity left on this planet. He believes “that as a biological knowledge grows the ethic will shift fundamentally so that everywhere, for reasons that have to do with the very fiber of the brain, the fauna and flora of a country will be thought part of the national heritage as important as its art, its language, and the astonishing blend of achievement and farce that has always defined our species.” Wilson wrote this is 1984, specifically in response to the demise of the rainforest he deeply loved and studied in Surinam. I read this in 2017 and cried. I cried imagining the devastation of that forest, for its history and culture, shared by humans for thousands of years already so affected. I cried because it is over 30 years later and things are unimaginably worse headed for the worst. The more I learn about the current loss of biodiversity and projected outcomes, the further my anxiety takes me into total panic and depression over how this information is manipulated or dismissed by western society and its effects on individual lives of animals.
While I value that so many scientists and authors push optimism with their bleak statistics and pleas, my rationalist self tells me it's going to be bad. Yet giving in to the ‘inevitable’ is counterproductive and avoids confronting animal and human lives most directly affected now. No matter how bad things could get, at no point will the relationship between our species, the environment and fellow species lose its deep rooted importance. Our physical, psychic, moral, and social future depends wholly on how we adapt to this knowledge. As Donna Haraway said “facing up to the outrage of human exceptionalism also requires working for the mortal entanglements of human beings and other organisms in ways that one judges, without guarantees, to be good, that is, to deserve a future.”
Seeing as I lack credentials in sciences of any sort, I’ve been very confused about where to start my own efforts to shift and dedicate attention towards this subject. Even were I to be qualified, the intersections are countless: environmental policy, animal advocacy, population control and monitoring, animal rehabilitation, environmental and ecological education, genetics preservation, etc. How does one reconcile each individual, conscious, non-human animal life with large scale policy? What are the ethics behind these actions?
The Institute for Interspecies Art and Relations is an attempt to promote these questions and others through creative expression and research. I think building a holistic environment where interspecies conversations can relate to anarchist philosophy, the history of hierarchy and colonialism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, genetic research and technology, trash, organic farming, ranching, diet, city planning, manufacturing, western and eastern medicine, poetry, hiking, materials origins, media, and sci-fi (etc) is the only way to really start accessing where our perception needs to change.
I’ve only just begun my journey of self-education and by no means have any answers to how one should live or approach making the world better for all living beings. My only hope is that this project will provide a positive point of engagement for those that would like to explore for themselves.
So THANK YOU for your interest.
As business goes, IFIAAR is headed to San Francisco this month for the SF Art Book Fair July 20-22nd. I'll have copies of the wonderful photography book 1973 and tees as well as a brand new zine by Lauren Albert that includes drawings from NY and Hawai'i!!!!
COMING SOON: NYC classroom week of events & talks at Entrance, Utopian Visions Art Fair in Portland, OR, a physical headquarters in Landers, CA, and a book from the amazing artist Adriana Ramić <3 <3 <3
<rock carving from Namibia>