Artists, Humans, Media Library, Plants, Practices

VIDEO: Roots in Resistance: Vegetal Life in the Contemporary Eco-art Practices from Turkey, by Ayşe Güngör

Building on the nexus between environmental activism and aesthetic practice, Ayşe Güngör traces a detailed account of contemporary eco-art practices from Turkey involving the display of botanic specimens. The talk took place on December 14, 2020 in the framework of the 4A_Lab online seminar series.

4A_Lab, Ayşe Güngör
Video preview: Canan Tolon, Untitled, 1992; garment patterns, wax, coffee grounds, grass, acrylic on canvas, 183x198 cm. From the exhibition catalogue of "Till It's Gone: An Exhibition on Nature and Sustainability," 13 January-5 June 2016, curated by Celenk Bafra and Paolo Colombo, Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, 2016, p. 150.

In recent years, Turkey has seen several acts of resistance against large-scale projects of urban and infrastructural development deemed to have a hazardous impact on the environment, public health, and local livelihoods. Since the 1990s, artists in Turkey have begun engaging more conspicuously with issues of social and political ecology, with projects often directed at purporting social change and sustainable living at various levels. In the face of rapid environmental deterioration, a growing number of artists have formed ground to think broadly on how art can serve ecological activism and foster environmental awareness in the Anthropocene.

Through the concepts of “ecological aesthetics” and “eco-poetics” Ayşe Güngör draws our attention to various strands of contemporary eco-art practice from Turkey, with examples ranging from architecture to photography to landscape art; emphasis is placed on art projects that are collaborative in nature and scope. The author is particularly concerned with the role of plants as active agents in artistic practices of resistance against environmentally hazardous corporate projects. By showing the centrality of vegetal life in contemporary art practices that address ecological crises, Ayşe Güngör compels us to rethink the interrelations between art, nature, and politics under a new light.

The talk “Roots in Resistance: Vegetal Life in the Contemporary Eco-art Practices from Turkey” took place on December 14, 2020 within the framework of the 4A_Lab online seminar series.

About the Speaker


Ayşe Güngör is an art historian, anthropologist, and curator based in Berlin. She currently teaches art history at the Institut für Kunstwissenschaft und Historische Urbanistik, Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin), where she earned her PhD with a dissertation on "Confluence of Art and Anthropology in the Practices of Contemporary Artists from Turkey." She holds a bachelor's in anthropology and a master's in art theory from Istanbul University. Parallel to her scholarly research, she has organized art and anthropology workshops at Akbank Sanat and Yıldız Technical University in Istanbul, and has served as a lecturer at several European universities. Her research spans topics from art and anthropology, the politics of aesthetics, postcolonial theory, and visual anthropology.