Reclaiming Landscape in the Extractive Zone : New Forms of Artistic Involvements with the Environment in Contemporary Chile.

Fellowship : September 2022 à june 2023

Discipline(s) : Art History

Pays : France / Chile


Sophie Halart’s residency seminar will take place on Monday, December 12, 2022:

Unsettling Vision : Politics of Representation, Water and Ecofeminisms in Chilean Contemporary Art

Many authors associated with the field of Environmental Humanities have, in the recent past, called for a new cognitive and sensible relation to the environment, an increasingly urgent mandate in the face of the climate crisis that constitutes our present and possible futures. In this sense, the field of visual representation has been placed under critical light especially in regards to its ability to trigger and accompany modes of awakening capable of shaping new relations to the Earth and other forms of life. In this seminar, I examine Chilean contemporary art in order to identify and analyze a selection of artistic projects interested in interrupting and troubling our established mechanisms of visual perception. I will especially focus on a body of works exploring the motif of water (its milieu, its relation to the body as well as its absence). Resorting to forms of infra- or countervisuality, of submerged and/or against-the-stream perspectives, I will argue that these works resist extractivist logics currently dominant in the field of visual representation. I will also adopt a theoretical framework inspired by ecofeminist writings to understand this reclaiming of the visual as a form of dismantlement of binary hierarchies inherent to our relation to both nature and gender.


Suggestions of the week:

Film Patricio Guzmán, Le bouton de nacre (2015)
The film proposes an intriguing journey on the theme of water, in the manner of Gaston Bachelard (Water and Dreams, 1942), or even in the manner of Chris Marker, but it is to better evoke two founding episodes of today’s Chile, the disappearance, hidden and forgotten, of the indigenous peoples, and the more noisy disappearance of the years of lead from 1973 to 1990.

Book : Astrida Neimanis, Bodies of Water (2017)
Water is the element that, more than any other, ties human beings in to the world around them – from the oceans that surround us to the water that makes up most of our bodies. Exploring the cultural and philosophical implications of this fact, Bodies of Water develops an innovative new mode of posthuman feminist phenomenology that understands our bodies as being fundamentally part of the natural world and not separate from or privileged to it.

Image : Sofía de Grenade, La Gran Salina (2016)


Research project: Reclaiming Landscape in the Extractive Zone : New Forms of Artistic Involvements with the Environment in Contemporary Chile.

This project analyzes the emergence of new forms of artistic involvements with the environment in contemporary Chile, examining the ways in which, at a time of ecological urgency, contemporary artists have had to come to terms with the limitations of established visual and narrative languages when addressing the conjoined effects of extractivism, colonialism and climate change on the country’s landscapes. The project considers the stakes that such limitations have meant for the visual arts and identifies the existence of four artistic strategies in contemporary Chilean art which seek to articulate new modes of art making and spectatorship. From the Northern desert zone and its minerally charged landscapes dominated by the mining industry, to the agrobusiness-saturated Central Valley and its focus on monocultures, the eucalyptus wood industry of the Lake District and the disputed Mapuche territories of the South, these artistic involvements with local environments shape more material, embodied and open-ended forms of art making. In turn, they also offer a renewed approach to spectatorship, shaping more collective and dialogical narratives as a way out of the aporia that is making – and experimenting – art in the Anthropocene.


Sophie Halart is an Art Historian and Assistant Professor at the Institute of Aesthetics, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. A French native living, she has been living in Chile for the past ten years. Halart holds a PhD in History of Art from University College London (UK), an M.A. in Cultural Industry from Goldsmiths College (UK) and a B.A. in History of Art and English Literature from the University of York (UK). In 2021, Halart completed a postdoctoral research project on maternity, feminisms and materiality in contemporary Chilean art financed by a FONDECYT-Chile fellowship. Her current research interests deal with artistic responses to climate change and the turn to affects and care in contemporary Latin American art.


2022 [2016] Sabotage Art: Politics and Iconoclasm in Contemporary Latin America (co-edited with Mara Polgovsky). New-York & London: Bloomsbury Academic.

2022 (forthcoming). “Parched Narratives: Rethinking Lament and Ruins in Chile’s Central Valley”, in Within and Beyond Chile: Notes on Contemporary Art and Visual Culture, edited by Florencia San Martin, Carla Macchiavello and Paula Solimano. Amherst: Amherst University Press.

 2022 (forthcoming). “Gestaciones subversivas: maternidad y materialidad en las obras de Liliana Maresca y Ximena Zomosa”, in Intercambios transandinos, edited by Silvia Dolinko et al. Santiago: Ediciones Universidad Alberto Hurtado.

2020. A Water of a Hundred Eyes: Towards an Eco-Feminist Reconfiguration of Water in Recent Chilean Art”, in Liquid Ecologies in Latin American and Caribbean Art, edited by Lisa Blackmore and Liliana Gómez-Popescu. New York: Routledge, pp. 205 – 221.

2019. “Epidermal Cartographies: Skin as Map in Chilean Art (1979-1994)”, Oxford Art Journal (42:3), 283 – 305.

2018. “Liliana Porter’s Wrinkle”, “In Focus” Project, Tate Research.