Contemporary Artistic Transformation of Nature in the Context of the Politics of Nature – the Question of Participation

  • Maja Piotrowska Institute of Philosophy, University of Warsaw, Poland


The text compares the concept of participation suggested by Bruno Latour in his Politics of Nature with the 2017 views of Nicolas Bourriaud on the role of art and artist in the dynamically changing world of the Anthropocene. Validating in the context of the goal – building a democratic common world – the role of atomized, grass-root, cognitively eclectic political activity, Latour tries to deactivate the fundamental divisions of the Western ontological tradition (including Nature/Culture and society, object/subject, Science/sciences) as paralyzing the individual’s ability to truly engage in the life of a community. He also points to the special role of art, which in the modern Western tradition did not have the ambition of concealing the constructional character of the shared visions of reality. These references are contrasted with the more philosophically traditional attitude of Bourriaud, who defends autonomous art as a value and a sphere that in intimate reception offers a possibility of a particularly accurate representation and at the same time a particularly accurate conceptual simulation of a selected segment of current reality. At the same time, Bourriaud demonstrates a more helpless and pessimistic attitude when compared to Latour’s concept of participation, remaining in a world largely created by someone / something else.