Publication Details

Ballard, S. "Stretching Out: Species Extinction and Planetary Aesthetics in Contemporary Art." Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art 17 .1 (2017): 2-16.


There is madness in species extinction. The horn has been removed from the last male northern white rhino on earth and he has two armed guards 24 hours a day. The huia in New Zealand were killed off by the desire for white-tipped tail feathers in Victorian hats. We fear the extinction of rhinos, we mourn the extinction of the huia, yet we might need reminding to also show concern for the extinction of the dung beetle. This paper looks at the ways that artists are engaging with these difficult events. By placing Gayatri Spivak's call for a planetarity of thought in conversation with Donna Haraway's practice of 'making kin,' I argue that art history is a practice of planetary aesthetics. In discussion of recent works by Shannon Te Ao, Francis Uprichard, Diana Thater, Agnieszka Golda and Martin Johnson, and Black Moss (Nathan Hughes and Jinyi Wang), I show how artists are rethinking the moments when species meet in the Anthropocene.