Past Events

Resist, Persist: Gender, Climate and Colonialism

Conference – Imani Jacqueline Brown, Edwin Coomasaru, Katherine Fein, Buhle Francis, Taloi Havini, Taey Iohe, Lindsay Kelley, Saba Khan, Greta LaFleur, Louisa Lee, Camila Marambio, Chrys Papaioannou, Susan Reid, Shelly Rosenblum, Syrus Marcus Ware, Susanne Winterling

  • 7 to 8 December 2023
  • Tickets £20 for both days, exhibition ticket included
  • Frobisher Auditorium 2, Barbican Centre

A collaboration with the Barbican, this multi-day symposium uses the themes of the RE/SISTERS exhibition to explore the bonds between gender and environmental justice.

The symposium is interested in the intersections of ongoing colonial histories and feminist and queer ecologies. Bringing together artists, scholars and curators, the symposium will explore how women, gender non-conforming and marginalised communities are often placed at the forefront of advocating and caring for the planet, and more broadly how womanist politics have consistently resisted the mechanical, patriarchal order that is organised around the exploitation of natural resources and the oppression of ‘othered’ bodies.

This symposium connects thinking from the Barbican’s exhibition, RE/SISTERS: A Lens on Gender and Ecology and the Paul Mellon Centre's multi-year project, Climate & Colonialism.


Thursday 7 December

1.30pm – 2.30pm Gallery Walkthrough and Introduction with Alona Pardo (Barbican Centre) at 2pm (entry to exhibition with conference ticket)
2.30pm – 3pm Registration and Coffee (Frobisher Room 4-6). Conference in Frobisher Auditorium 2

Session 1: Ways of Knowing and Sensing

Chair: Sria Chatterjee(Paul Mellon Centre)

3.05pm – 3.10pm Welcome by Sria Chatterjee (Paul Mellon Centre)
3.10pm – 3.30pm  Greta LaFleur (Yale University) (Online), Gender, Colonial and Decolonial
3.30pm – 3.45pm Q&A
3.45pm – 4pm  Shelly Rosenblum (University of British Columbia), The Score: Performing, Listening and Decolonization
4.00pm – 4.15pm Susanne Winterling (artist), Planetary Sensing as a Deciphering Practice
4.15pm – 4.35pm Q&A 
4.35pm – 4.55pm Comfort break

Session 2: Resist: Art and Justice 

Chair: Astrida Neimanis (University of British Columbia)

4.55pm – 5.10pm Syrus Marcus Ware (McMaster University), Irresistible Revolutions: Systems Change, Speculative Fiction and Dreaming into Freer Futures
5.10pm – 5.25pm

Chrys Papaioannou (critical theorist, activist and facilitator), Wetlands Know No Genders, Know No Nations: For an Ecofeminism Beyond Borders

5.25pm – 5.45pm Q&A 
5.45pm – 6.30pm Drinks Reception at the Barbican  (Frobisher Room 4-6)

Friday 8 December

10.00am – 10.30am Registration and Coffee  (Frobisher Room 4-6). Conference in Frobisher Auditorium 2

Welcome and Session 1 : Gender, Climate and Colonialism: Introductions

10.30am – 10.40am Sria Chatterjee (Paul Mellon Centre) 
10.40am – 11am Astrida Neimanis (University of British Columbia) 
Persist: Land, Body, Art   Chair: Lucy Bradnock (The Courtauld Institute of Art)
11.00am – 11.20am Katherine Fein (Columbia University), Of Bodies and Land: Continental Allegories Then and Now
11.20am - 11.30am Q&A

Session 2: Ways of Being and Making (Online Session)

Chair: Susan Reid(University of Sydney)

11.30am – 11.35am Welcome online session
11.35pm – 11.50am Camila Marambio (curator and writer), Sandcastles: A Queerfemme Proposition on Cancer Ecologies
11.50am – 12.05pm Taloi Havini (artist and curator), Title TBC  
12.05pm – 12.25pm Q&A
12.25pm - 2.00pm Lunch (provided) (Conservatory Terrace)

Session 3: Metabolic and Bodily Processes 

Chair: Edwin Coomasaru (art historian)

2.00pm – 2.15pm Lindsay Kelley (Australian National University), Elemental Art Worlds: From Molecular to Planetary Phosphorus Cycles
2.15pm – 2.30pm

Taey Iohe (artist), What Leaks Out of our Bodies, Out of the Planet?

2.30pm – 2.50pm Q&A
2.50pm – 3.20pm Break (refreshments provided) (Frobisher Room 4-6)

Session 4: Intergenerational Flows  

Chair: Bindi Vora (Autograph)

3.20pm – 3.35pm

Saba Khan (artist), Illustrated Talk – Water Machines

3.35pm –  3.50pm Buhle Francis (Rhodes University), Grandmothers of the Sea: Stories and Lessons from Five Xhosa Ocean Elders
3.50pm – 4.05pm Imani Jacqueline Brown (University of London), Our first name for this region was 'Home': Bringing other worlds into being in 'Cancer Alley', Louisiana
4.05pm – 4.25pm Q&A 
4.25pm – 4.35pm Conference Wrap-up 

The symposium is convened by Sria Chatterjee (Paul Mellon Centre), Astrida Neimanis (University of British Columbia) and Alona Pardo (Barbican).

Listing image: Judy Chicago, Immolation from Women and Smoke, 1972, Fireworks performance, Performed by Faith Wilding in the California Desert, © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo courtesy of Through the Flower Archives. Courtesy of the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco.

In collaboration with:

About the speakers

  • Back of Imani's head taking a shot through a camera through a window

    Imani Jacqueline Brown is an artist, activist, writer and researcher from New Orleans, based in London. Her work investigates the “continuum of extractivism,” which spans from settler-colonial genocide and slavery to fossil fuel production and climate change.In exposing the layers of violence and resistance that form the foundations of settler-colonial society, she opens space to imagine paths to ecological reparations.

    Imani combines artistic and archival research, ecological philosophy, legal theory, people’s history and counter-cartographic strategies to disentangle the spatial logics that make geographies, unmake communities and break Earth’s geology. Her research is disseminated through films and art installations, public actions, reports and testimony delivered to courts and organs of the United Nations. Her work is presented internationally, including in the US, the UK, Poland, Germany and the UAE.

    Among other things, Imani is currently a PhD candidate in Geography at Queen Mary, University of London, a research fellow with Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London and an associate lecturer in MA Architecture at the Royal College of Arts.

  • Head and shoulders portrait in white shirt in front of sea

    Dr Edwin Coomasaru is a historian of modern and contemporary British, Irish, and Sri Lankan art; his research considers the politics of gender, sexuality, and race. Coomasaru is an editor of the journal Visual Culture in Britain. He has been awarded Postdoctoral Fellowships at the University of Edinburgh, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and The Courtauld Institute of Art (where he earned his PhD and co-convened the Gender & Sexuality Research Group). He previously worked as a Research Assistant on the Association of Art History’s anti-racist and decolonial resource portal. Formerly a Contributing Editor at British Art Studies, Coomasaru has also co-edited a book on Imagining the Apocalypse: Art and the End Times (Courtauld Books Online, 2022). He has written articles and book reviews for peer-review journals (Art History, Third Text, The Irish Review, Irish Studies Review, Oxford Art Journal), alongside exhibition essays for museums and galleries (Barbican Centre, Autograph, Jhaveri Contemporary, Saskia Fernando Gallery, Belfast Exposed, Townhall Cavan).

  • FEIN, Katherine_Headshot

    Katherine Fein is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, where she also completed a graduate certificate with the Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender. She specializes in the visual and material culture of the United States and the Atlantic world, with particular interest in representations of the body. She is currently at work on a dissertation about nudity and ecology in nineteenth-century art. Her recent publications have focused on the materiality of life casts, the haptics of abolitionist photography, and miniature portraits painted on elephant ivory.

  • Headshot of Buhle smiling with red top on

    Buhle Francis recently completed her PhD at Rhodes University, South Africa and is also employed as a researcher within the One Ocean Hub Project in the same University where she is pioneering collaborative scholar activist research within ocean governance and climate change. She is particularly interested in justice within the gender and ocean livelihoods nexus and inclusivity in ocean - related decision making as well as climate change especially the adaptation to climate change by marginalised groups.

  • Taloi Havini (Nakas Tribe, Hakö people) was born in Arawa, Autonomous Region of Bougainville and is currently based in Brisbane, Australia. She employs a research practice informed by her matrilineal ties to her land and communities in Bougainville. This manifests in works created using a range of media including photography, audio – video, sculpture, immersive installation and print.

    She curates and collaborates across multi-art platforms using archives, working with communities and developing commissions locally and internationally. Knowledge – production, transmission, inheritance, mapping, and representation are central themes in Havini’s work where she examines these in relation to land, architecture and place.

    Havini holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the Canberra School of Art, Australian National University. She has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions and has exhibited with Artspace, Sydney, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Sharjah Biennial 13, UAE, 3rd Aichi Triennial, Nagoya, 8th & 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art Queensland Art Gallery | GoMA, Brisbane, and was recently commissioned by TBA21–Academy with Schmidt Ocean Institute at Ocean Space, Campo S. Lorenzo, Venezia for her solo at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, 2021. Havini’s artwork is held in public and private collections including TBA21–Academy, Sharjah Art Foundation, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, National Gallery of Victoria, KADIST, San Francisco, CA, USA.

  • Selfie of Taey wearing a black T-shirt with cupboard in background

    Taey Iohe is a migrant art worker, a slow gardener, and a queer mother who creates and follows stories of decolonising botany as a practice through an Asian crip/queer feminist lens. Their approach fuses research-based work with personal narratives that challenge the socio-botanical entanglements within medicine culture, and climate justice. Taey is a co-founder of the Decolonising Botany Working Group and has presented a performance, A Refusing Oasis at Documenta 15 (2022). Taey holds a PhD in the programme of Gender, Identity and Culture at the School of English and Film, University College Dublin, funded by Writing On Borders. Taey is a working member of the Feminist Duration Reading Group and a resident at Somerset House. Taey also teaches Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art. @taey.iohe

  • LindsayKelley2023

    Lindsay Kelley is Senior Lecturer at the School of Art and Design, Australian National University. Working in the kitchen, her art practice and scholarship explore how the experience of eating changes when technologies are being eaten. Her first book, Bioart Kitchen: Art, Feminism and Technoscience (London: IB Tauris, 2016, reissued Bloomsbury 2022), considers the kitchen as a site of knowledge production for art and science. Her second book, After Eating: Metabolizing the Arts, is forthcoming from MIT Press, anticipated in print in December 2023. The recipient of an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (2019-2023), she has exhibited and performed internationally.

  • Headshot of Saba with side parting

    Saba Khan’s works shapes around the language of memorial, monuments, water projects and expeditions. She balances grandeur, artifice and satire in order to explore the cracks in the structures.

    She founded Murree Museum Artist Residency (2014–2020) and a satirical artist collective Pak Khawateen Painting Club (PKPC, 2019) triggered from the commission of Lahore Biennale 02. Shows/residencies include: Delfina Foundation (2023), Sharjah Biennial 15 (2023), Onassis AiR (2022), Jameel Art Centre (2022), Paul Mellon Centre (2021), Lahore Biennial (2020), “ONE” at COMO Lahore (2019), “Zinda-dil-a’an-e-Lahore–Billboard Project” (2020) an initiative of Lahore Biennale Foundation, Karachi Biennale (2018), New York Times (2018). Grants: 421 (2022), Foundation for the Arts Initiative (2018), Sharjah Art Foundation (2020), Graham Foundation (2020), British Council (2020, 2021, 2022). Her work is the collections of Sharjah Art Foundation (PKPC), Ford Foundation and has been published in the New York Times, Stir World and Asia Art Pacific.

  • Head and shoulders headshot of Greta wearing a blue and pink floral shirt

    Greta LaFleur is an Associate Professor of American Studies and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Yale University (USA). They are the author of The Natural History of Sexuality in Early America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018), and the co-editor of two volumes of essays: Trans Historical: Gender Plurality Before the Modern (Cornell University Press, 2021) and American Literature in Transition: 1770-1828 (Cambridge University Press, 2022). They are also the co-editor of three special issues of journals: "Origins of Biopolitics in the Americas," a special issue of American Quarterly (2019); "Trans Exclusionary Feminisms and the Global New Right," a special issue of Transgender Studies Quarterly (2022); and "The Science of Sex Itself," a special issue of GLQ (2023).

  • Selfie portrait of Louisa with long hair

    Louisa Lee is an art historian, writer and lecturer at Buckinghamshire New University. In 2019, she completed her PhD in collaboration between the University of York and Tate, and from 2019-2020 was awarded two Postdoctoral Fellowships from the Paul Mellon Centre.

  • Camila speaking with one hand out and mic in other hand, wearing colourful top

    Camila Marambio is a curator, writer, independent researcher, director of Ensayos, artist in residence 2023 at Para La Naturaleza, Borikén, Puerto Rico, and assistant professor, Confluence MFA, University of New Mexico, USA. Camila Marambio is 68% Southern European, 10% Native American and 0.2% Scandinavian according to 23&me. She was part of a magic circle according to Juan Esteban Varela. She set up a laboratory for making time according to visitors at the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane. She has developed a method to communicate with beavers according to a peer-reviewed science journal. She has stolen part of an artwork at Moderna Museet in Stockholm according to an anonymous source. She flatlined twice according to doctors. But is still alive according to multiple sources. She is developing an ecology of the soul according to Cecilia Vicuña. She is queering cancer according to Nina Lykke. She is a character in the novel Headless according to her own account.

  • Selfie of Chrys with blonde hair in front of bookshelf

    Chrys Papaioannou (they/she) is a critical theorist, activist and facilitator living in London. They hold a PhD from the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies (FAHACS) at the University of Leeds. Chrys’s intellectual work is informed by the legacy of the Frankfurt School and queer-feminist and biopolitical thought, whilst their political organising is informed by their lived experience of PTSD and their commitment to intergenerational mutual learning. In their most recent workshop, ‘Hydrofeminists against Fascism: A Fluvial Soundwalk’, they facilitated participants to explore the political and creative potential of theorising the hydrocommons through the deep listening practice of soundwalking.

  • REID, Sue_headshot

    Susan Reid is a cultural theorist and ocean advocate interested in multi-being ontologies, ocean justice, feminist and Queer environmentalisms, and critical creative approaches to theorising and activating less violent human relationships with more-than-human worlds. Susan is also lawyer, artist and writer collaborating on the University of Sydney’s ARC-funded project, Extracting the Ocean. Some of Susan’s work on multi-being relations and extractivism can be read in the journals Cultural Politics and Contemporary Political Theory and in the edited collections Laws of the Sea: Interdisciplinary Currents and Blue Legalities: The Life and Laws of the Sea.Susan is of mixed Celtic and European settler heritage, living and working nomadically on unceded Yugambeh, Gadigal, Ngunnawal and Wurundjeri lands.

  • Shelly Rosenblum is Curator of Academic Programs at the Belkin Gallery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Inaugurating this position, Rosenblum’s role is to develop programs that increase myriad forms of civic and academic engagement at UBC, the wider Vancouver community and beyond. Rosenblum received her PhD at Brown University and has taught at Brown, Wesleyan and UBC. Her awards include fellowships from the Center for the Humanities, Wesleyan University and a multi-year Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Department of English, UBC. Her research interests include issues in contemporary art and museum theory, discourses of the Black Atlantic, critical theory, narrative and performativity. She served two terms (six years) on the Board of Directors at the Western Front Artist Run Centre, Vancouver, including serving as Board President. At UBC, Rosenblum is an Affiliate of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.

  • WARE, Syrus Marcus_headshot

    Syrus Marcus Ware is a Vanier Scholar, visual artist, activist, curator, and educator. Syrus is an Assistant Professor at the School of the Arts, McMaster University. Using painting, installation, and performance, Syrus works with and explores social justice frameworks and Black activist culture. His work has been shown widely, including solo shows at Grunt Gallery in 2018 (2068:Touch Change) and Wil Aballe Art Projects in 2021 (Irresistible Revolutions). His work has been featured as part of the inaugural Toronto Biennial of Art in 2019 in conjunction with the Ryerson Image Centre (Antarctica and Ancestors, Do You Read Us? (Dispatches from the Future), as well as for the Bentway’s Safety in Public Spaces Initiative in 2020 (Radical Love). Syrus has participated in group shows at the Never Apart in Montreal, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of York University, the Art Gallery of Windsor, and as part of the curated content at Nuit Blanche 2017 (The Stolen People; Won't Back Down). His performance works have been part of festivals across Canada, including at Cripping The Stage (Harbourfront Centre, 2016 & 2019), Complex Social Change (University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, 2015) and Decolonizing and Decriminalizing Trans Genres (University of Winnipeg, 2015). He is part of the PDA (Performance Disability Art) Collective and co-programmed Crip Your World: An Intergalactic Queer/POC Sick and Disabled Extravaganza as part of Mayworks 2014. Syrus' recent curatorial projects include That’s So Gay (Gladstone Hotel, 2016-2019), Re:Purpose (Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2014) and The Church Street Mural Project (Church-Wellesley Village, 2013). Syrus is also co-curator of The Cycle, a two-year disability arts performance initiative of the National Arts Centre.

  • WINTERLING, Susan_headshot

    Susanne Winterling works across a range of media to explore the sentient economy, cultures and transformations of elements and materialisations. While forms and materials trace species and their social in today’s challenging geopolitical context, Winterling’s practice reflects upon political as well as aesthetic entanglements and power structures among human/animal/matter.