Conference: Nature, Culture and Perception. From the Amazon to the Alps. Visual Arts and Science in Dialogue

A public event of the Stiftung Lucerna in cooperation with University of Lucerne, Video Window and Haus für Kunst Uri. Patronage: The Club of Rome

Idea, Concept and Realisation: Prof. Dr. Boris Previšić and Dr. Bruno Z'Graggen

Datum: 30. September 2019 bis 2. Oktober 2019
Ort: Luzern und Altdorf

Keynote Speakers Participants, University of Lucerne: Prof. Dr. Malte Gruber, Prof. em. Dr. Jon Mathieu, Prof. Dr. Klaus Mathis, Jonas Perrin, PhD Student, Prof. Dr. Boris Previšić and Prof. Dr. Daniel Speich

Keynote Speakers, extern: Dr. Mabe Bethônico (BR), Dr. Sarah Cornell (UK), Barbara Keller MA, Dr. Hannah Meszaros Martin (CO), Dr. Bruno Z'Graggen and Barbara Zürcher MA

Artists: Ursula Biemann, Rodrigo Braga (BR), Laurence Favre, Cao Guimarães (BR), Melanie Smith (UK)

Introduction and Goals of the Conference

Humanity has long stretched the basis of its own existence, the biosphere, beyond its limits and is now threatening this acutely. On the one hand, the romantic image of the supremacy of nature is obsolete. The zone on our planet in which we are able to live is unique and, in comparison with the infinity of the universe, imperceptibly tiny. On the other hand, we irresponsibly overlook our calamitous attacks on the biosphere: attacks such as the emissions made by those who consume fossil fuels as they fly or drive or the impact of the factory farming made necessary by our meat consumption. It appears that we are still insufficiently aware of the scope and the consequences of the disappearance of the last major natural pristine refuges. Otherwise, wouldn’t we have long since acted to arrest the rapid loss of biodiversity and climate change? Our conclusion is that there is a massive problem of both awareness and political (in)action.

The conference starts with this issue of perception and asks why we still haven’t changed our behaviour. It has two goals: to draw attention to this destruction of our biosphere, in other words our self-destruction, and to consider sustainable solutions. It connects two natural habitats that could hardly be more different: the Amazon and the Alps. Upon closer inspection, these two regions are closely comparable due to the following characteristics: Both are endangered by resource depletion, overexploitation and accelerating climate change. And furthermore, each of these cultural regions provides a wealth of valuable experience of symbiotic relationships between man and nature based on centuries of tradition.

A close dialogue between art and science sheds light on the perception and analysis of this dramatic transformation and the threat that it brings. Five films are followed by six scientific inputs covering the specialist areas of climate research and cognitive perception as well as questions of power, law and resources in the two cultural regions. At the end, the conference asks how things can proceed in the future and which concepts of sustainability and justice are available.

(Prof. Dr. Boris Previšić and Dr. Bruno Z'Graggen)