Erica Grimm’s Full Professor Inaugural Lecture
“Skin Boats + Paying Attention: Aesthetic Intersubjectivity in Precarious Times”
In an age of ecological precarity, subjectivity has never been more important. Distanced from nature and dismissive of sensory perception, large parts of the population experience these by-products of modernity as inevitable. Convinced this contributes to many of the entwined crises of climate change, recent social sciences and humanities scholarship has embraced subjectivity with new curiosity and seriousness. Art, like many embodied, material and active forms of research methodologies, not only acknowledges, but exercises subjectivity. This lecture extends the argument by situating art as a methodology well suited to help recover a collective subjectivity that is in communion/community with the more-than-human. A reframed intersubjectivity brings us closer to what Baumgarten originally envisioned with aesthetics, a sorely needed ‘science of the senses’ he called it, necessary to balance the academic curriculum. Sensorially rich, active, embodied artmaking practices–the original intent of aesthetics–can build a seedbed to grow an ethics of care so necessary in order to navigate the Anthropocene. My experience is that artmaking can be an unknowable, untameable, wildly unpredictable form of inquiry. After 30 years of making, I am surprised where it has taken me.