Rikke Luther’s current work explores the new interrelations created by environmental crisis as they relate to landscape, language, politics, financialization, law, biology and economy, expressed in drawn images, photography, film, and pedagogical strategies.
She has held teaching positions in Denmark and given numerous guest lectures around the world. Her work has been presented in Biennales and Triennales [such as Venice, Singapore, Echigo-Tsumari and Auckland], museums [such as Moderna Museum, Kunsthaus Bregenz, The New Museum, Museo Tamayo, Smart Museum] and exhibitions [like Beyond Green: Towards a Sustainable Art, 48C Public.Art.Ecology, Über Lebenskunst and Weather Report: Art & Climate Change].
Her first solo work was exhibited at 32nd Bienal de São Paulo in 2016. Prior to that, Luther worked exclusively in art collectives. She was a co-founder of Learning Site (active 2004 to 2015) and of N55 (active with original members from 1996 through to 2003).
Her current research at MIT is related to her doctoral study, supervised by Copenhagen University (Royal Danish Art Academy) and MIT (Art, Technology, Culture program), funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.
At ACT, she will be undertaking primary research related to her PhD, and also preparing a new art work for ACT’s half centenary exhibition curated by Laura Knott, Gedeminas Urbonas and Lars Bang Larsen. This work will be performed at ACT in May 2018.
Supervisor: Mikkel Bolt at IIK, Copenhagen University
Title: Concrete Aesthetics: From Universal Rights to Financial Post-Democracy
Concrete is the most widely used building material in the world. Its production is negatively linked to climate change, and its aesthetic to financial speculation and the inequality of what Colin Crouch has termed the ‘post-democratic’ era.
Once the concrete aesthetic once spoke the language of progress, universal rights and a better society. Today, that disrupted political aesthetic demands cultural analysis, just as much as the carbon footprint and techno-fossils of concrete demand scientific attention. What does the aesthetic of concrete mean in a globalised world that regularly teeters at the edge of financial crisis and invites a certain environmental one?
The goal is to analyse the historical movement from the Modern era of universal rights and democracy, toward a new era dominated by the global circulation of finance, and the effect that shift has on aesthetic language and meaning. The shift is explored by examining the contrast between the history of concrete within art and cultural practice in the immediate post-World War Two era in Europe, and the aesthetic and ideological meaning of concrete in a globalised context today.
There are theoretical and practical elements of both the artistic and academic elements of this project. The theoretical aspect of the research will focus on the social and ideological beliefs that dominated each era to build a picture of how the cultural meaning of concrete has changed. The histories that differentiate one place, or site of action, from another are crucial. Thus the democratic context that once gave Modernist concrete it’s meaning in post-war Scandinavia contrast sharply with the post-democratic environment in today’s Special Economic Zones. That cultural shift in political economy is paralleled by concomitant material shifts, such as the new economic war to control and exploit the non-State spaces of the Global Commons. In contrast to the era of universal rights, we live today in the era of universal spillovers, ranging from over-exploitation of scarce common resources, such as sand, to pollution in terms of the thermal effects of concrete production, that impinge on the common rights of humanity.
The practical part of this research will employ research-orientated creative practice to explore the potential of art and architectural interventions to generate new, materially embodied, understandings of these developments.