Degree Name

Master of Philosophy


School of the Arts, English and Media


Taking inspiration from crip theory frameworks that centre non-normative bodies/minds, and utilising cripping counternarratives, Sick Planet Theory: A Crip Response to an Imagined Future builds a foundation for new ways to reflect upon the recent histories of environmental art. This creative practice research thesis will utilise Mel Chin’s Revival Field (1990–ongoing), Cecilia Vicuña’s Antivero (1981) and Yoko Ono’s Mend Piece (1966–ongoing) as diverse case studies to examine the potential for Sick Planet Theory—a framework that questions the limits of representation in environmental art. By re-examining Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor and expanding upon the environmental politics of disability, this project challenges the pervasive narrative that casts illness, sickness and disability as the undesirable environmental bogeyman in environmental art theory and practice. Countering the erasure of illness, sickness, and disability in environmental discourse, this project demonstrates how creating space for chronically ill and sick bodies in environmental art allows for a more nuanced understanding of the current environmental catastrophe. Environmental art could benefit greatly from a more critical approach to disability, and non-disabled artists need to do more than rely on representations of sickness, illness and disability as markers of tragic environmental outcomes. Investigating the connections between environmental art, sick bodies and textile practice provides fertile ground for forcing a dialogue with works of environmental art that have not previously been interpreted through a disability lens, except as a vehicle of stigma. By establishing illness, sickness and crip-ness as power places in environmental art discourses, Sick Planet Theory proposes a crip worldmaking framework that identifies oppressive structures in environmental art, legitimises crip artmaking practices, and establishes how the lived, sick experience can redefine vulnerability in the Anthropocene.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.