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2pm - 4pm


Planetary Health: Creative Sanatorium

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Planetary Health — a creative sanatorium

with David Cross and Gabriele Grigorjeva

2—4pm, Thursdays 11, 18, and 25 March 2021

The SARS-CoV-2 virus crossed to people from wild animals in degraded tropical forests. Yet while much of the deforestation is driven by specific corporations and banks, the ensuing global pandemic is a symptom of a wider social-ecological crisis. We are entering a new biopolitical era, in which the collision between economic growth and ecological limits is deepening and extending the racialized injustices of colonialism, while generating unmanageable risk. Yet the planetary sickness has revealed not only the weakness and complacency of political leadership, but also the strength and commitment of community-led solidarity networks, as people have spontaneously co-operated and found creative ways to support one another.


How might artists respond to this ambiguous time? Although making art is a way to engage with the world, we are offering a “creative sanatorium” as place of refuge: from the pressure to produce, from competitive individualism, and from the orthodoxy of positivity. Making art requires suspending judgment and allowing uncertainty and doubt, anxiety and grief to coexist with spontaneous intuition and playful digression. By sharing the process of experimentation before the outcome is certain, we invite you to explore how the invisible, or “negative” spaces of research and creative practice can relate to the material outcomes. Exchanging thoughts on human and ecological health, these sessions foreground social interaction as the key to mental wellbeing, creative practice and planetary survival. The aim is to go beyond ‘objectively’ exploring the unfolding crisis as an issue, or even as a topic for aesthetic contemplation, and instead to bring to life the ideal of Planetary Health in art practice, with all the risks and opportunities that entails...


Spoiler: the “creative sanatorium” will not be at a spa in the mountains, or a castle in the forest — just a linked set of three sessions online. We will work in pairs or groups, with preparatory material circulated a week before each session. The sessions are primarily aimed for art students at UAL, though students and non-students from across the disciplines are welcome, as long as numbers allow.


To register, please complete a booking form by midnight, Monday 8 March 2021.

If you have any questions, please email Gabriele:

Image: David Cross - Study for Without You I’m Nothing* (2021)

* “Without You I’m Nothing” (1999), is a song by the band Placebo (which means a medical treatment with no therapeutic effect).