Until the current crisis broke out, global warming, climate disruption and the threat of the planet becoming uninhabitable were on everyone’s lips. A solution to the problems underlying them has not by any means been found simply because these topics have now been temporarily pushed into the background. On the contrary, there seems to be good reason to think that the emergency measures currently adopted on all fronts mean that climate and environmental issues will probably be treated as a lower priority than immediate existential aspects for a long time to come. Yet it took almost two decades for what is known as Anthropocene discourse to penetrate the consciousness of a broader public and to begin to filter through into multiple areas, ranging from culture to politics. At an early point in this period, artists also began to engage with anthropogenic changes to Earth’s surface and atmosphere, as highlighted by Anthropocene thought, in the process deploying a host of different aesthetic sensoria, knowledge-producing approaches and activist impulses. The "Post-Anthropocene" issue takes the current situation as an opportunity to think beyond the status quo of a global pandemic that is difficult to get to grips with. What kind of future scenarios are conceivable in which both the viral threat to humanity and the “anthropogenic factor” (processes initiated by humans and the associated devastation) lose their destructive force? Is it possible to come up with a different kind of model for co-existence between human and non-human life forms than those developed so far? And which artistic projects point in a visionary direction in this respect, leaving behind habitual patterns of thought—approaches that do more than simply representing the plight of the planet or documenting the current crisis? Is it not time to develop new sensoria and experiential modes that effectively transcend the limitations of Anthropocene thinking, especially in the face of new challenges? The Autumn issue endeavours to provide answers to all these questions.
Date of publication: 15th September 2020