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The Mushrooms of Plato’s Cave

 

This project is about an illustrated, re-designed, posthuman, ecofeminist narrative of Plato’s Myth of the Cave. Plato’s Myth of the Cave has been interpreted by contemporary thinkers as emblematic of Plato’s philosophy and western culture and its anthropocentric and domineering approach to reality. By using watercolor and digital painting in my project, I transform this myth into an alternative eco-feminist visual narrative. The protagonist of my transformed myth is a person who—instead of going up, in the direction of the sun and abstract thinking, as does the male prisoner in Plato’s myth—goes down, underground, in a world populated by fungi, worms and bacteria. Through imagination and drawing, I create a visual description where the protagonist of my transformed Plato’s myth discovers a way to relate to her material world that challenges traditional western anthropocentric approaches to reality. In my story traditional western ways of relating to existence—based on a self-centered understanding of the self, the division between body and mind, the understanding of matter as homogeneous and passive and the importance of rationality and control—are replaced with actions and feelings that promote the protagonist’s embeddedness in her material world, her understanding of her interconnection with the elements composing reality, and the transformative potential of ecological joy. By exploring nature’s agency and creativity, the protagonist of my myth gains energies and resources to understand and transform her material existence.

I am undertaking this project in collaboration with the Posthumanities Hub at Linköping University in Sweden. The Posthumanities Hub is a research group and a multi-university platform for more-than-human humanities, of many kinds. Environmental humanities, citizen humanities, multispecies humanities, oceanic-/ medical-/energy-/techno-/bio- humanities, among others. The Posthumanities Hub is an incubator of new humanities and more-than-human humanities, and a feminist “collaboratory” for symbiotic art, arts and science networks aiming to build-bridges and create new alliances. It is a testing ground for new shared ideas on how to co-exist, work, and think better together in a troubled world. 

 

I intend to publish this project as a children book with the Swedish publisher Olika. Olika means “different” in Swedish. Olika publishes its books in multiple languages, and it earned the 2012 Swedish Equality Award and a 2013 Stenbeck Scholarship for promoting equality and diversity in children’s literature. The reason why I intend to publish my work as a children book is because I want my research to reach and engage with a large audience inside and outside academia. My research is academically rigorous in terms of investigation, reflection, collaborations, and peer-reviewed processes. At the same time, my artworks will be easily accessible by a non-academic audience that experiences the content of my research in a simplified format. This format has the advantage of communicating my ideas in a stronger and more impactful way than the academic language alone.

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