Sustainability Innovation and Activism
This abstract and paper was presented at Making Futures 3 at Edgecombe Mount in September 2013
The Making Futures Conferences are organised by Plymouth College of Art
Deeper and Deeper?
Deep ecology, deep craft and ecofeminism
This paper draws on the legacy of Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess’ Deep Ecology movement initiated in the 1970’s, still controversial to some, and seeks to make connections and convergences with the concept of Deep Craft, a term more recently used to describe and celebrate not only making but the quality and deeper ethics of making. This views craft as more of an ecological design strategy and indeed a way to live.
In searching for new descriptions and terms of reference I will endeavour to critique these two concepts through the perspective of Ecofeminism; attempting to re-empower the feminine. I will also be referencing my own textile-based practice as I seek to draw attention to our impact on the world by re-materialising single-use objects commonly discarded.
Deep Ecology is both a school of thought and a movement; it advocates the inherent worth of living beings regardless of their usefulness to human needs. It is a set of ethics based on non-anthropocentric belief systems. Cultural practices are placed in the context of a greater living cosmos and decisions are assessed in light of the effect on the broader living organism of which the self is a part. This is in contrast to environmentalism for purely human interests.
Scott Constable is an American craft ‘polymath’, designing, and making, anything from furniture to tree homes; skate boards to biodiesel processors. He felt the idea of ‘craft’ was becoming closely linked to Etsy or Make or any number of DIY blogs and zines, he wanted to take back and re-invent the word and the concept, feeling it had become over-used and in the process losing its meaning. Deep craft embraces different approaches to provenance, materials and the thinking that initiates and informs the work.
“The whole Deep Craft concept was a way for me to rebrand the word ‘craft.’ I was starting to see things like Etsy come out and craft was becoming ubiquitous and at the same time it was becoming devalued.”
Ecofeminism encourages an ethical perspective that challenges patriarchal structures that have often equated women with nature. It offers an analysis of gender and the role of these relations in the oppression of nature, suggesting an inclusive environmental ethic enforced by ’Other’ perspectives that resist the domination of patriarchal social relationships with nature.
‘While both eco-feminism and deep ecology share a commitment to overcoming the conventional division between humanity and nature, a major difference between the two is that deep ecology brings little social analysis to its environmental ethic.’
At a time when, to quote Paul Greenhalgh, we are ‘ swimming in stuff’ my own practice concerns the re-materialisation of detritus; single use objects are unpicked and re-invented; showing how much material is inherent in these objects, playfully bypassing their functionality and emphasising their fragility. In proposing this paper I am searching for ways to ‘deepen’ my understanding and motivation.
Alison Harper 2013