Imagine Otherwise: Sasha Engelmann on Art and Activism in the Air

Oct 1, 2020 | Podcast

What do politics, community, and artistic resistance look like beyond the terrestrial? What would happen if we took them to the sky?

In episode 119 of Imagine Otherwise, I interview feminist geographical researcher and practitioner Sasha Engelmann, whose work radically transforms our cultural imaginaries of atmosphere and environment. Foregrounding creative-critical approaches to environmental sensing, Sasha examines the role of art in crafting new narratives of atmospheric politics and aerial life.

In the interview, Sasha and I chat about the transnational politics of atmosphere and breathing in an era of climate devastation, how to creatively adapt interdisciplinary research during a pandemic, and why collaboratively building an atmospheric commons is how Sasha imagines otherwise.

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You can also read the transcript and show notes on the Ideas on Fire website, which have links to Sasha’s work and all the concepts, people, and events we discuss on the show (great for teaching!).

Guest: Sasha Engelmann

Sasha Engelmann is a lecturer in GeoHumanities at the Royal Holloway University of London, where she teaches at the intersection of geography, the arts, and the humanities.

Sasha’s scholarship explores interdisciplinary, feminist, and critical-creative approaches to environmental sensing. She collaborates with artists and activists to investigate different ways of tracing, monitoring, and engaging with our environments that reach beyond models of capture and enumeration. Fascinated by cultural imaginaries of the atmosphere, Sasha examines the role of art in crafting new narratives of atmospheric politics and aerial life.

Sasha is an active member of the international community Aerocene and a cofounder of the feminist weather sensing project Open Weather.

In her book Sensing Art in the Atmosphere: Elemental Lures and Aerosolar Practices (Routledge, 2020), Sasha traces the potential of artistic, community-driven experiments to amplify our capacities to sense and relate to Earth’s warming atmosphere. Through tales of floating journeys, shared envelopes of breath and surreal levitations, Sensing Art in the Atmosphere foregrounds the role of art in crafting alternative modes of perceiving, moving and imagining (in) the air.

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