CONF May 15, 2024

The Great Transformation of Nature (London, 16-17 May24)

UCL, London, May 16–17, 2024

Colin Fowkes

SAVA Conference on the Great Transformation of Nature.

The SAVA Conference on the Great Transformation of Nature examines the multiscalar processes that shaped socialist paths through the Anthropocene as figured in visions of extractivism, developmentalism, terraforming and monoculturalization. Across the differentiated terrains and plural temporalities of global socialism, it brings together scholarly and artistic unearthings of its contested praxes to unravel domineering infrastructures and assess the vitality of ecosocialist and biocultural insurgencies.


16 May 2024
10.00 Introduction to the Socialist Anthropocene
Maja and Reuben Fowkes (SAVA UCL)

Chaired by Jan Burek (SAVA UCL)
10.20 Jakub Gawkowski (Central European University Vienna)
Temporalities of Coal Mining in 1950s Upper Silesia
10.50 Nikolay Erofeev (University of Kassel)
Extractive Assistance: Copper Mining, Socialist Development and Urban Planning in Cold-War Mongolia
11.20 Bogna Stefańska & Jakub Depczyński (Museum of Modern Art Warsaw)
Socialist Extractivist Pasts and Postanthropocene Futures in Poland: On Ecological Art and Postartistic Practices in Opolno-Zdrój
11.50 Hana Janečková (Academy of Fine Arts Prague)
Conservation, Care and Identification: Animal Extraction from Countries of Global South in Eva Koťátková’s The heart of a giraffe in captivity is twelve kilos lighter
12.20 Discussion
13.00 Lunch

Chaired by Reuben Fowkes (SAVA UCL)
14.00 Marija Drėmaitė (Vilnius University)
Dream Factories: Visualizing High Industrial Period in the Baltic States
14.30 Victoria Donovan (University of St. Andrews)
Resisting ‘Resourcification’: Artist Engagement with Industrial Heritage as Resistance to Soviet and Russian (Re-)Colonial Epistemic Violence
15.00 Dimitra Gkitsa (Winchester School of Art)
Memory Matters: Revisiting Albania's Post-Industrial landscapes and Wastelands
15.30 Discussion
16.00 Coffee break

Chaired by Maja Fowkes (SAVA UCL)
16.30 Andrija Filipović (Faculty of Media and Communication Belgrade)
Yugoslav Petroaesthetics: On the (Non-)Use of Petrochemicals in Socialist Modernism and Neo-Avant-Garde Art
17.00 Inga Lace (Almaty Museum of Arts)
Evolving Attitudes: Industry, Technology and Nature in Soviet Latvian Artists’ Works
17.30 Anna Zett (Artist, Leipzig)
Dispose, Discard, Discare
18.00 Discussion
18.30 End

17 May
Chaired by Alex Petrusek (SAVA UCL)
10.00 Anel Rakhimzhanova (Performance Studies NYU)
Constructing TurkSib and Human (Im)mobilities: When a Transit Materializes in the Environment, Episteme and Method
10.30 Maja and Reuben Fowkes (SAVA UCL)
Mighty Dams in the Hydrologics of the Socialist Anthropocene
11.00 Sarah James (Liverpool School of Art and Design)
Radioactive Marxisms, Technocratic Dystopias & Socialist Ecofeminisms
11.30 Rita Suveges (Artist, Budapest)
Cloud Seeding - the Glare of the Silver BulletQ
12.00 Discussion
12.40 Lunch

Chaired by Reuben Fowkes (SAVA UCL)
13.30 Agata Pietrasik (Freie Universität Berlin)
The Peasant Anthropocene: Images of Rural Life in SR
14.00 Rugilė Rožėnė (Vilnius University)
In Search of Authoritarian Landscape
14.30 Jérôme Bazin (Paris-Est Créteil)
Socialist Intensification as seen by Amateur Photographers
15.00 Discussion
15.30 Coffee break

Chaired by Maja Fowkes (SAVA UCL)
16.00 Karolina Kolenda (Institute of Art and Design Krakow)
Earth, Matter, Rhythm: Władysław Hasior and the Socialist Anthropocene
16.30 Marie Meyerding (Freie Universität Berlin)
Visions of Trees: Environmental Art and Surveillance in the Global GDR
17.00 Lenka Vráblíková (Goldsmiths University of London)
"The Czech Are Excellent Mushroom Hunters:" The Visual Politics of Fungi in (Post)Socialism
17.30 Discussion

18.00 The Other Side of the Pipeline
A performative screening of fragments of Where Russia Ends (2024) and conversation with filmmaker Oleksiy Radynski and cultural researcher Philipp Goll. Chaired by Tania Gómez (SAVA UCL).

This conference is organised within the framework of the Socialist Anthropocene in the Visual Arts (SAVA), an interdisciplinary, visual-arts led research project led by Principal Investigator Dr. Maja Fowkes at UCL Institute of Advanced Studies, which was selected for a Consolidator Grant by the European Research Council (ERC) and is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). For more information see:

CONF: The Great Transformation of Nature (London, 16-17 May24). In:, May 15, 2024 (accessed May 28, 2024), <>.