Author:Judit Hersko (California State University San Marcos)
Paper short abstract:
This performance lecture communicates climate change science and examines biodiversity conservation through the story of a fictitious, female explorer whose intimate relationship with two planktonic snails suggests alternative approaches to studying and relating to the nonhuman world.
Paper long abstract:
This performance lecture is based on my collaboration with scientists and my experience in Antarctica as a recipient of the National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Grant. Combining text and image it communicates climate change science and examines biodiversity conservation through the story of a fictitious, unknown, female explorer, Anna Schwartz, who travels to Antarctica with the 1939 Byrd Antarctic expedition. I insert Anna's character into real events thereby reflecting on the absence of women from the history of exploration and science until the late 1960s. This layered narrative, that addresses the history of Cartesian science as well as current climate change data in the context of present economic and political realities, explores a feminist aesthetic of loss in the era of the anthropocene. It also suggests alternative, feminist approaches to studying and relating to the nonhuman world.
Anna Schwartz is a photographer and a naturalist obsessed with the microscopic and transparent planktonic snail the Limacina helicina and its predator the Clione antarctica. Her intimate relationship with these tiny creatures is in contrast to the heroic notions of exploration of her day, while ironically, her focus on the minute and invisible layers of the Antarctic landscape is more relevant to current research in polar science. These planktonic snails, studied by my collaborator, biological oceanographer Dr. Victoria Fabry, function as canaries in the coalmine when it comes to ocean acidification - one of the most insidious aspects of anthropogenic climate change that is rapidly altering the ecology of the oceans.
Biodiversity by other (all?) means: a theatre for post-natural futures