Monsters of the Anthropocene: an OSEH Collaboratory (2021/22)

Ghost_trees_in_snow_2
Image: Ghost Trees in Snow, Wikimedia Commons. Sheila Sund from Salem, United States. Image description: Snowy landscape. Two spruces covered in snow are almost swallowed by a white fog. The fog erases the line between ground and horizon.

We’re happy and excited to announce that the Monster Network has received funding for a two-year Collaboratory at the Oslo School of Environmental Humanities, the University of Oslo, together with Rebecca Scherr (internal PI) and Hugo Reinert! The Collaboratory will take the shape of a reading group, and we will organize two workshops on the subjects of the monstrous and the Anthropocene. Keep an eye on our website for more information on the latest developments and possible ways of getting involved with the Collaboratory.  

Until then (and after): beware the monsters of the Anthropocene.

Capturing Chronic Illness Digital Photography Exhibition: Call for Submissions

Photo
Image description: Person, almost visible but largely transparent, holding a mug in
a kitchen. Through the person we see various kitchen appliances.
Photo copyright: Donna McCormack

We invite photographic submissions to a digital exhibition on the subject of chronic illness. Donna McCormack & Ingrid Young, exhibition organisers, welcome works in progress as well as finished pieces. Submissions are not limited by style or subject. We invite submissions from people who are living with or have been affected by chronic illness and who want to share their work. We are particularly interested in photographs that challenge traditional imagery of chronic illness, and that engage with queer, feminist or decolonial modes of capturing these experiences.


As part of the submission process, we ask you to provide a short description (max 200 words) of the image (or images) and say a little about how your image speaks to chronic illness.

Photographs will be hosted on the project website, and the exhibition will form part of the Visualising Bodies programme at the Being Human Festival in November 2020.

Deadline for submission: Friday, 6 November 2020

To find out more and to submit a photograph, please go here.

Any questions? Contact: capturingchronicillness@gmail.com

Spider Conversations I (or: TERRIFYING SCARY CREATURES WILL ATTACK YOU!!!!)

By Ingvil Hellstrand, Donna McCormack and Line Henriksen

In 2013, a conversation about spiders and monstering helped spawn the start of The Monster Network. As part of our unruly origin story, we revisit our thinking and conversation after the Somatechnics Conference – Missing Links (2013) in this blog post. This was an event where Line, along with other organisers, brought together a panel that consisted of herself, Ingvil and Donna. We didn’t quite realise that this was the start of the Monster Network; we couldn’t predict the future, and the future was unpredictable, but this thread was the start of a dialogue that would grow beyond anything we initially thought about spiders.

Office spider 2013. Photo by Line Henriksen. Made part of the conversation 26 August 2013

Ingvil, 25 June 2013 

A little story first: in the evening of the day we had our panel, I went to the bathroom in Wärdshuset Gamla Linköping (where the conference dinner was being held), and as I sat there a little spider came creeping up very close to my left foot. I was startled, and, not being particularly afraid of spiders, felt that it came a bit too close. And I remember thinking “please don’t let it crawl into my bag!”. However, the spider, having become aware of me at the same time as I became aware of it, stopped dead in its tracks. And I thought, “well, now, who’s monstering whom?”  

I liked the way our monsters came together at the same time as our presentations brought to the fore something about the monster not being just “monster”, as if there is something in the figuration of the monster that needs re-addressing. As in monster theory in general, the monster-figuration is useful for talking about difference and recognition. The ethical aspects of understanding the monster as something in proximity to ourselves is a very interesting discussion, partly because it requires a kind of self-reflexivity, but also because (and this is what I found so intriguing in our conversation), the monster itself is not a fixed or static thing. All of us ascribed agency and potential to “our” monsters; they were not just the symbolic Other that signifies what is not normal or normative, but they were agents in their own existence. Both Donna and I talked about how the non-human monsters take pride in being precisely that; not human. There is a double-bind here somewhere: that the monster, having gotten rid of its monstrosity and become more able to “pass” as human makes it simultaneously more eerie/uncanny and domesticated. The hopeful monsters in pop-culture contribute to make the monster into a subject, more than object (Heroes, Twilight, X-men, Battlestar Galactica) because we can recognise them as contemporary political (and perhaps ethical?) agents. At the same time, the unknowable monster, the impossible monster (smile dog) perpetuates the idea of the monstrous as something that cannot be grasped (neither bodily or as idea). The monster is somehow caught in between a kind of domestication in popular culture and a (conventional?) unknowability of the monster. How do you recognise the monster? And how does it recognise you?  

Continue reading “Spider Conversations I (or: TERRIFYING SCARY CREATURES WILL ATTACK YOU!!!!)”