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The Fourth Kingdom: Art and Agency in Plastic


The Fourth Kingdom: Art and Agency in Plastic

Mackenzie, Pamela (2015) The Fourth Kingdom: Art and Agency in Plastic. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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It is all around us: in the oceans, in the land, in our homes and in our hearts – and now it can even support life. So why is it that this crucial component of modern society is also one of its main antagonists? And, more importantly, what are we going to do with all that plastic?

This thesis will examine the work of artists who deal critically with plastic both as a medium and as a cultural artifact. The proliferation and accumulation of plastic transpires everywhere, even in the realm of art production and in the space of the gallery. I will discuss how artists are using this material to demonstrate significant challenges to common beliefs about the status of the natural in relation to human, particularly within the framework of vitalist and post-human contemporary philosophies.

At the level of cultural discourse, plastic is perceived as nearly antithetical to nature. On the other hand, beyond some basic intuition that there is a nature and that it can be identified, firmly establishing the actual referent for this concept is difficult. With a dominant ideology of ecology positioned in defence of the natural, the shared cultural enemy of the environmentally aware is plastic, a new artificial adversary. However, if we approach these categories critically – the natural, the artificial – the obvious distinction between them becomes less certain.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Mackenzie, Pamela
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Art History
Date:September 2015
Thesis Supervisor(s):Huneault, Kristina
ID Code:980405
Deposited On:26 Oct 2015 19:18
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:51
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