PETRO-SUBJECTIVITY AND SOCIAL ECOLOGY
Brett Bloom is an environmental activist, artist and publisher working mainly in collaborative groups and situations. In 1998, together with artist Marc Fischer (and five others) he co-founded the Chicago-based art group Temporary Services (www.temporaryservices.org). Started as an art space, Temporary Services has existed, with several changes in membership and structure, producing exhibitions, events, projects and publications. Temporary Services is considered one of the most prolific art groups, with a long track record of projects in the fields of social critique, activism and community-based art. Addressing survivalism, knowledge sharing, ecology, visionary design, collaboration and non-competitive structures, they produce temporary public services questioning the role of art in society and creative approaches to radical living. Since the early 2000s, Temporary Services has conducted extensive research on the political, social and economic circumstances of group-working in the arts, launching the web-database Group and Spaces (currently being upgraded to Groups and Spaces and Self-Publishers with a new web site launched in the autumn of 2019 — groups.temporaryservices.org) to document the existence of artist collectives worldwide. They published the book “Group work” (Printed Matter, NY, 2007), which provides a multitude of perspectives on the theme of creative group practice from the 1960s to the present. In 2009 Temporary Services launched Art Work: A National Conversation About Art, Labor, and Economics, a newspaper and programme of talks, exhibitions and actions on the current state of labor conditions in the artworld. It was a response to the global financial collapse brought about by bank deregulation and predatory lending. The project generated public discussions in art spaces, museums, art schools and beyond for two consecutive years, initially in 98 cities in all 50 US and Puerto Rico, eventually spreading to Canada and multiple countries in Europe. Temporary Services has produced over 118 publications, as well as numerous posters and ephemera documenting their projects and exploring a range of issues from how people informally alter cities to the excesses of capitalism. In 2008 they started Half Letter Press (www.halfletterpress.com), a publishing imprint that produces and distributes book-length works, to promote their publications and to offer support to people and projects that have had difficulty finding financial and promotional assistance through mainstream commercial channels.
In 2006 Bloom started collaborating [o initiated a collaboration] with artist Bonnie Fortune Bloom on themes of ecology, sustainability, land and community economics. They are deeply invested in exploring the intersections of culture and ecology insisting that artists have an essential role in the global shift from lives based on a petroleum continuum to more resilient ways of being in direct relation to landscapes. Projects organized by Bloom and Bloom include the Library of Radiant Optimism for Let’s Remake the World, the Alphabet of the Anthropocene, and making Deep Maps of Petro-Subjectivity and the social-ecology of a conservation organization. In his own practice Brett co-organizes Breakdown Break Down camps, workshops and publications (www.breakdownbreakdown.net) through which participants can work to de-industrialize their sense of self and prepare for the Great Turning of climate change.
The module reflects on Brett Bloom’s long-term research on issues surrounding climate breakdown and how we imagine the future. The artist asks a series of open questions about our relation to fossil fuels:
How does our all-pervasive use of fossil fuels effect the way we see ourselves and experience the world around us? How deeply does petroleum penetrate our bodies, minds and ways of being in the world? How might we begin to de-industralize people’s individual and collective sense of self? How might you begin to think about the future in terms other than those that oil has forced upon you?
Starting from these considerations, Bloom created the neologism ‘petro-subjectivity’ to define the sense of self that arises in the industrialized world, and asks how we might begin to unravel it. In 2015 he wrote the book titled ‘Petro-Subjectivity: De-industrializing Our Sense of Self’ (2015) setting his terms of reference for his questions (download here). Petro-subjectivity, he affirms, is something that you experience constantly. It is a sense of self and the world that shapes who you are and how you think. It stems in part from the fact that the use of oil is present in everything you do. It has shaped the concepts that govern your thinking. Your use of language and the basic concepts that structure your existence are breathed through the logic of oil relationships and form the metaphoric universe you bathe yourselves in when you speak to others about who you are, what you do and what the world around you consists of.
During the five-day module, artist and educator Brett Bloom will initiate immersive exploration of petro-subjectivity. He will use various embodied techniques like Deep/Earth Listening, which uses sonic meditations as a way to isolate and focus on very specific experiences and awarenesses of yourself and your world. He will introduce Deep Mapping techniques to visualize the complexities of each person’s dependence on fossil fuels, and practical exercises like noting every time you either touch plastic or do something that relies on fossil fuels in the course of a day. There will be other special exercises, developed by Bloom, that will be used to help us understand what petro-subjectivity is, how it shapes our lives, and how it limits our capacities to envision the future of our culture.
BIOGRAPHYBrett Bloom is an artist, restoration environmentalist, publisher and certified instructor of Deep Listening. He is a co-founder of the art group Temporary Services (1998-ongoing). For the past 20+ years, he has worked in collaborative situations with others, on socially and environmentally engaged projects. In 2011, Bloom began facilitating workshops, camps and gatherings for those wanting to develop their ecological emphatic capacities with other than human landscapes, populations and processes. He creates situations and facilitates immersive experiences for people to practice what it means to live in a post fossil fuel world. Bloom has published guides with sonic meditations so people can do this work on their own or in groups. Bloom works directly in communities on ecological issues. Recent work includes a collaborative Deep Map of the conservation group ACRES Land Trust that visualizes the complex social and ecological relationships they unleash through the simple act of protecting land.
Selected exhibitions, camps, commissions:
Prisoners’ Inventions, Angelo & Temporary Services, at multiple venues: MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA; Athens Biennial, Athens, Greece; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA; Halle 14, Leipzig, Germany, and others, 2003-2007; Collective Creativity: Common Ideas for Life and Politics, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany, January 5 - July 17, 2005; Beyond Green: Toward a Sustainable Art, multiple venues: Smart Museum of Art, Chicago; Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; Museum of Art & Design, NY; Museum London, London, Canada; and others, 2006-2009; Living as Form, Creative Time, New York, NY, 2011; Alphabet of the Anthropocene (public performance by Bonnie Fortune Bloom and Brett Bloom), ACTS Performance Festival, Museum for Contemporary Art, Roskilde, Denmark, May 2014; A Proximity of Consciousness: Art and Social Action, Sullivan Galleries, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, September - January 2015; Abandoned Signs, Temporary Services at The Museum of Capitalism, Oakland, CA, June 18 – August 20, 2017; Ecovention Europe: art to transform ecologies, 1957-2017, De Domijnen, Sittard, The Netherlands, September 3, 2017 - January 7, 2018; Breakdown Break Down Workshop, 2 Degrees Festival, Artsadmin, London, 2015; Breakdown Break Down Camp, Scottish Sculpture Workshop, Lumsden, UK, FRONTIERS IN RETREAT: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Ecology in Contemporary Art, 2013–2018.
* The participation fee includes accomodation and breakfast.