Session 4

Thursday, June 3

13:30–14:30 (Helsinki, EEST, UTC +3), Congress Room 2

Chair: Connell Vaughan

Neli Dobreva (University Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, École des Arts de la Sorbonne, France)

Acting Art and Climate Crises Challenging the Environmental Aesthetics


Laura Dequal

The Denaturalization of Nature. Hegel, Art, and the Environmental Aesthetics

The aim of the paper is to analyse how contemporary art deals with the relationship between art and nature in a new way. I intend to carry out my analysis on the basis of some considerations on the systematic role of art within Hegel’s philosophy. The hypothesis I intend to investigate is that contemporary art suggests that until we move within a paradigm that either thinks of nature in oppositional terms to the human or reduces existence to a naturalist matrix, it will not be possible to think correctly about the increasingly complex interweaving of the technical and natural dimensions. My thesis is that in order to understand the nature we encounter in contemporary art, we have to proceed to a “denaturalization of nature”. That is, freeing it from a conceptualization in terms of otherness with respect to everything that is traditionally considered to be proper to the sphere of the human.

In the first part, it will be shown that the possibility of considering artistic production as a “provocation” for the reflexive proceeding of philosophy finds its theoretical foundation in the systematic role that Hegel in his philosophy entrusts to the moment of art. By expressing the spiritual content in the form of an image through intuition and representation, art unlike philosophy is in fact, according to the German philosopher, capable of immediately grasping and appropriating the reality in which the spirit operates, especially in times of crisis. Since its constitutive element is the immediate perception of change (“das Bekannte”) and not its conceptual and rational form (“das Erkannte”), art has always grasped what philosophy conceptually thematizes at a later stage.

In the second part, through the presentation of a case study of contemporary artistic production (cf. for example Untilled by P. Huyghe), the new thematization of the relationship between art and nature will be brought to light. By making the deliberate ambiguity between nature and téchne their own essence, these works of art deliberately leave their ontological status undefined, suggesting how, to understand them and have a tool to understand the world, it is necessary to rethink the concept of nature as environment.

In rethinking the concept of nature in a dimension consistent with what contemporary works of art seem to indicate, the intention is to make a contribution within the debate on environmental aesthetics.