September 21
6:00-7:30 PM

20 Washington Place
Providence, RI 02903

ADA Accessible: No
Fee: Free! Pay what you wish. Any donation you make supports DESIGNxRI in organizing and executing DESIGN WEEK RI as well as any programs and events throughout the year.

Gateways into the Polycene

“The globe is on our computers. No one lives there.” – Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

The Anthropocene has become a pivotal framework in the ongoing discourse on planetary destabilization. The human problem in the more-than-environmental collapse is irrefutable — layers of radioactive dust and microplastics in the geologic record; a mass extinction in the fossil record; a pulse of atmospheric CO2 in the ice record; a cloud of artificial satellites in the orbital record. These are all plausible markers for the border between the Holocene and Anthropocene. Each one is evidence of a species reshaping the planet, often against its own interests. Its outcome is a knotted web of disruptions called the polycrisis, characterized by precarious relationalities where the breakdown of one system causes cascading effects that inadvertently disrupt other interconnected (and sometimes invisible) systems. It’s no wonder then that despair and immobility have become ready avenues. But how might we evolve out of these dead ends into an enlightened response-epoch — an era defined by conscious, sensitive, and purposeful actions that propel us beyond the human-centered mishaps of the Anthropocene?

Emerging from Center for Complexity’s(CfC) ongoing research, we propose the “Polycene” as this response-epoch, categorized by an emphasis on the intricate complexities of the polycrisis, an embodiment of the “pluriverse”” (Escobar 2018), and a shift towards “planetarity” (Spivak 2015) as a relational ethic. In simple terms, the Polycene, marking an era of many, is an urgent call for your imagination — towards transformative alternatives to the currently dominant and human-centered processes of globalized development, including its structural roots in modernity, capitalism, neocolonialism, and heteropatriarchy. With this foundational premise, CfC will exhibit work that addresses aspects of the Polycene through art, design, or curatorial practice. Projects might explore new or different relations in the pluriverse between humans, non-humans, and/or the planet; critical frameworks that illustrate the nature of the polycrisis and/or express avenues for its resolution; novel – and possibly speculative – systems that create possibilities for a more just, sustainable, and plural future; participatory practices or projects that model this new pluriversal, biocentric world; or the material, social, environmental, or epistemic conditions that will make the Polycene possible.