Risk Related

A series of commissions exploring risk and its social, ecological and economic relations.

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(Photo credit: Samples of diatoms gathered from river and lake beds by Dr David Ryves. These can be used to determine information about climate change. Pic: Sonia Levy)

We are often said to be living in an ‘age of risk’, or in a 'risk society', with ecological crisis and global political and economic volatility creating increasing danger and uncertainty. 'Risks', meanwhile, play a key role in finance capitalism and statecraft, where they seek to make the future knowable and manageable (for some, at least). Artists, too, often mobilize risk, with risky and chance-led processes widely used by those seeking to diminish or alter their agency in systems of production.

Risk, then, is variously to be avoided, managed, speculated upon, utilised or encouraged; and might be associated with danger or possibility (or both, sometimes simultaneously). Risk Related is a year-long programme of challenging and playful artistic commissions, residencies and events exploring and utilizing risk's multiple connotations; as well as the social, material, cultural and ecological relations it draws from and gives rise to. Collaborating with academics across the University (led by Senior Lecturer in Sustainable and Resilient Urbanism, Dr Ksenia Chmutina), commissioned artists will explore how different forms of risk intersect, as well as adopting risky approaches and methodologies in their work.

The project includes two year-long commissions from artists Sonia Levy and Stine Marie-Jacobsen. Levy will explore climate risk as it relates to changing ecosystems in lakes and rivers in the East Midlands area. Working with academics from the Department of Geography and Environment—Dr Paul Wood, Dr David Ryves and Dr Robert Wilby—Levy’s project focuses on the ‘invasive’ or non-native species finding their homes in East Midlands waters as temperatures rise. Filming and recording on locations including urban canals and Peak District rivers, Levy’s project is also informed by the work of the anthropologist Dr Heather Swanson of Aarhus University, whose research on ‘ecological globalisation’ - how practices of trade, development and management remake ecologies by connecting geographically distant places - will help to shape the film. Dr Swanson will be a Visiting Fellow of Loughborough University’s Institute of Advanced Studies during 2019/20.

Stine Marie Jacobsen’s art and healthcare project Body Weather will focus on the development of a somatic ‘element tool kit’ designed to enable children to measure their exposure to pollution in air, water and earth; and to fire (rising temperatures). Seeking to re-cast the idea of ‘risk assessment’ in a way which privileges situated, embodied understanding, the project also reflects on the fallacy of objectivity and the process of data translation inherent to many research exercises. The title Body Weather is inspired by the Japanese performance practices Butoh and Body Weather, which investigate the intersections of bodies and their environments.  

In addition to the two year-long commissions, three artists-in-residence will work with researchers to explore risk from a range of perspectives. Artist duo FRAUD (Audrey Samson & Francisco Gallardo) will explore the methods of risk analysis deployed by Frontex, the European Union's border control agency. Their research is part of a wider project with Arts Catalyst. Working alongside researchers specialising in AI, Libby Heaney will focus on research toward a new performance piece, which places singer Nabihah Iqbal (Ninja Tune) into dialogue with an AI bot, exploring relationships between risk and prediction, as well as embracing ideas of artistic failure. Finally, Theo Reeves-Evison will explore the ‘financialisation of nature’—the ways in which ecosystems as diverse as wetlands and ancient forests are currently being commodified and traded as a means to mitigate financial risks and supposedly offset ecological destruction. Reeves-Evison’s project will culminate in a series of guided walks through local forests.

Further information on each of these commissions as well as research notes, information on events and more will be added throughout the year as the project develops.

Project Partners

Dr Ksenia Chmutina

Senior Lecturer in Sustainable and Resilient Urbanism
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Dr Rachel Murray

Doctoral Prize Fellow in Literature
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Professor Paul Wood

Professor of Ecohydrology
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Dr David Ryves

Reader in Environmental Change
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Dr James Esson

Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, Loughborough University
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Dr Heather Swanson

Associate Professor of Anthropology, Aarhus University
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Loughborough University Institute of Advanced Studies


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