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Synthetic Histories symposium presented by V&A Dundee and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

January 27, 2023, 9am

Presented by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the V&A Dundee, held at the V&A Dundee and online, Synthetic Histories symposium will take place on January 27, 2023, 9am.

This symposium examines the complicated past, problematic present, and possible futures of plastic, drawing on ideas from the V&A Dundee’s recent exhibition, Plastic: Remaking our World, and the Paul Mellon Centre’s multi-year project, Climate & Colonialism. Following a private viewing of the exhibition, participants will join international researchers, designers, artists, and activists for a series of discussions, presentations, and other activities that will look at plastics, climate, and colonialism as sets of interconnected material and extractive relations.

The symposium will investigate the origins of plastic. How should we interpret its colonial histories? How are art, craft, and design practices involved in these extractive processes, and how can they resist them? What is the long-term consequence of climate injustice and unequal global waste streams on people and the planet? Is there a post-plastic future? What role do artists, designers, and researchers in environmental humanities play in shaping such futures?

Synthetic Histories: Plastics, Climate and Colonialism is convened by Sria Chatterjee, (Paul Mellon Centre); Nichol Keene, Charlotte Hale and Laurie Bassam (V&A Dundee). Participants include: (some in person and some online) Heather Davis, Alia Farid, Max Liboiron, Alice Mah, Elizabeth Darling, Alexander Davidson, Charlotte Matter, Hoyee Tse, Amy Woodson-Boulton, Nanjala Nyabola and Jessica Varner.

Bursaries: Ten bursaries are available to support individuals who may not otherwise be able to attend. Bursaries can cover the ticket price, travel and some expenses (including childcare). If you would like to be considered for a bursary, please email [​at​] with Synthetic Histories Bursary in the subject field, outlining your request for a supported place by December 31, 2022. Please detail what specific support is needed and the expected cost, no further details are required.

Tickets: To attend in-person at V&A Dundee please purchase tickets here. To attend the conference online book your place here.