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Accepted Paper:

In search of interspecies spirituality: reassembling art, ritual and activism  
Maria Debinska (Polish Academy of Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

The Interspecies Community is an art/activist collective established in 2019 in Poland in an attempt to invent an interspecies spirituality. The activities of the collective use art to forge new interspecies alliances and to articulate the relations with non-humans in spiritual experience.

Paper long abstract:

The Interspecies Community was established in March 2019 by a group of artists, academics and activists in Poland. The collective held its first public ritual in May 2019 during the Museum Night at the Botanical Garden in Warsaw. The ritual was named "Mszak" - a word game connoting (Holy) Mass and moss, and it celebrated radical recycling. Using recycled litanies and plastic foil, as well as a barrow of compost with a speaker reciting the list of Latin names of extinct species, it encouraged the participants to embrace the cycle of life, death and decay, and to see death as another form of life. At the same time it explored the ritual possibilities for expressing environmental grief and mourning.

The various ritual, artistic and activist interventions that followed, focused on reinventing human relations with non-humans and on exploring the collective experience of climate catastrophe. When the current environmental crisis becomes subject of artistic endevors it often becomes commoditized as an art object. The Interspecies Community is an attempt to both challenge the institutional conditions within the artworld itself and to let art out of its social bubble. While experimenting with new forms of ritual it also reinvents the social function of art and reveals its necessity in environmental struggles.

Panel P080
(Re)connecting with Earth Beings: ritual innovation and affective entanglements in contemporary ecopolitics