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Message posted on 15/04/2019

The Labour of Nature, Loughborough University, 22nd May

Radar and
Loughborough University's Gender and Identities Research Custer presents
The Labour of Nature, with Sophie Lewis and Amy Cutler
22nd May 2019, 6-7.30pm, 1.17 Martin Hall, Loughborough University
Free, please book

Through film, a reading and conversation this event will explore, unpick and
reconfigure the entanglements between nature, labour and gender. Taking as its
starting point the contention that there is nothing 'natural' about nature, it
will consider how nature and gender are produced by narrative, labour and
struggle. Crucially, it will consider how this might be done differently: how
we can tell stories that are richly ecological but deeply technological; and
how these alternative ecological understandings pose opportunities and
problems for remaking our world. Questioning forms and processes that might
seem entirely 'natural'-the family, pregnancy, the lives of insects, the
working day, gender identities, the forest-it will expand the horizons of both
the natural and the possible.

The event will open with a screening of Amy Cutler's short film All Her
Beautiful Green Remains In Tears. This consists of re-edited footage from Walt
Disney's Nature's Half Acre (1951), with its sexist parables about
domesticated post-war suburbia: nest building, chick rearing, mother love,
industrious insects, and traditional gender roles. In this case, the new
voiceover - replacing the paternal voice of Winston Hibler - also focuses on
romantic anthropomorphism. The difference is that this voiceover has been
generated by a neural network in collaboration with data artist Anna Ridler,
using an A.I. which has learned its existence entirely from reading the female
protagonist voice in 14 million passages of romance novels. Using image
recognition and closed captioning, it tells an entirely different story of the
"birds and the bees" of nature documentary: one of female desire, trauma,
masochism, and emotional fantasy. The film is soundtracked by the musician
Leafcutter John, who specialises in creating natural landscapes and ecologies
from generated noise, often using DIY gadgets.

Following this, Sophie Lewis will read a new piece expanding on themes
presented in her book, Full Surrogacy Now (Verso, 2019). She'll consider the
politics of water and the 'bio-bag,' in which scientists are "automatically
gestating" sheep foetuses. Drawing on and critiquing the mind-expanding and
world-building feminisms of thinkers such as Shulamith Firestone, Maggie
Nelson and Marge Piercy, Lewis will consider what such automation poses for
struggles against the tyranny of work, and how water might be a common feature
of seemingly disparate political and ecological struggles. Lewis and Cutler
will then have a conversation interrogating each others' work, which will be
opened up for questions from the audience.

Amy Cutler is an artist, cultural geographer, curator, writer, and film-maker
who works with ideas of geography and nonhuman others. She has exhibited her
work or run live events with organisations including the BBC, Somerset House,
Sheffield Doc/Fest, Sheffield Institute of Arts, the Wellcome Trust, the
Horniman Museum, International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, Late Junction,
Tate Modern, the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, the Horse Hospital, the
Natural History Museum, and Kew Museum of Economic Botany. Her geography
training impacts her work as an artist, performer, and curator, and she works
frequently on the production of immersive and live cinema and exhibition
events provoking and changing the public conversation around ideas of space,
geography, and nature-cultures. She currently lectures in the Visual Cultures
department at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Sophie Lewis is a writer, translator and feminist geographer living in
Philadelphia. Her book Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family is
published by Verso on the 7th May. It considers the political struggles of
surrogates, arguing that an increase in their rights could result in
challenging assumptions that children necessarily belong to those whose
genetics they share. This, in turn, opens up space for taking collective
responsibility for children and the radical transformation of notions of
kinship. Donna Haraway has labelled it "the seriously radical cry for full
gestational justice that I long for", whilst McKenzie Wark says that it
"brings us a vision of another life". In addition to this, Lewis has
translated works including Communism for Kids by Bini Adamczak (MIT, 2016) and
A Brief History of Feminism by Antje Schupp (MIT, 2017). She is a member of
the Out of the Woods collective, whose first book is to be published by Common
Notions in 2019, an editor at Blind Field: A Journal of Cultural Inquiry, and
a queer feminist committed to cyborg ecology and anti-fascism. Further
writings, on subjects ranging from Donna Haraway to dating, have been
published in The New York Times, Boston Review, Viewpoint Magazine, Signs,
Dialogues in Human Geography, Antipode, Feminism & Psychology, Science as
Culture, Frontiers, The New Inquiry, Jacobin, Mute and Salvage Quarterly.

Accessibility: The room is situated on the first floor of Martin Hall, which
has an accessible lift. Speakers will be given microphones, and a microphone
will be used for audience questions. The film does not have subtitles, but
please email if you would
like a transcript of the voiceover. There are male, female and accessible
gender neutral toilets in Martin Hall. If you have any other needs or
questions please email

David Bell
Programme Co-Ordinator
LU Arts & Radar
Loughborough University
01509 222881
(Days of work, Mondays-Wednesday)
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