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Justyna Stępień

Justyna Stępień

Title: More-than-human Water. Critical Poetics of Liquid Ecosystems

Abstract: The paper discusses the liquid landscapes of the Anthropocene: rising sea levels, melting ice caps, shortages of drinking water, and bioaccumulation of various anthropogenic contaminants in bodies of water. It points to how the grand narrative of the geological epoch is the story of awakening and warning of planetary unbalances, still reinforces the idea of separation between human and nonhuman spheres, neglecting the complexities and diversity of our entanglements with bodies of water. As the article demonstrates represented as a quantifiable, controllable, and instrumentalised source of our lives, the water of the Anthropocene evokes its anthropocentric, disembodied, placeless, and deprived of its more-than-human liveliness character. Using Sensitive Streams of the artistic-duo Matterlurgy, this paper explores how artistic practices contribute to the reconfiguration of the traditional models of knowledge production utilizing more/than/human water (the concept inspired by diffractive thinking proposed by Karen Barad to highlight the collaboration and co-constitution of differences, not their colonialization). As the article demonstrates, Sensitives Stream reconfigures the current models of knowledge through material practices of engagement withthe nonhuman watery lives, allowing us to rethink our position in the ecosystem and therefore heal the adverse outcomes of the Anthropocene.

Key words: the Anthropocene, more-than-human water, Matterlurgy, new materialism, posthumanism, critical poetics

Bio: Justyna Stępień is an assistant professor in the Department of British Literature and Culture and the co-founder of the Posthumanities Research Centre, University of Lodz (Poland). Her research engages with ways of conceiving ethical and political actions in contemporary art, analysed from the methodological perspective of feminist theories, new materialisms, and critical posthumanism. She belongs to an international research group/collective, The Posthuman Art and Research Group (aka Dori. O), which comprises artists and researchers from Europe and Canada. She is the author of Posthuman and Nonhuman Entanglements in Contemporary Art and the Body (Routledge, 2022), which explores how art can conceptualise the material boundaries of entangled beings.