EcoSomatics Symposium April 2020

Call for Proposals: Ecosomatics, near Ann Arbor, Michigan, April 22-25 2020

A CSPA convergence

We are inviting contributions to a three-day residential symposium at the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Michigan (April 22rd to 25th 2020), funded and supported by the University of Michigan (Departments of English, Dance, Theatre, National Center for Institutional Diversity, Initiative on Disability Studies, Graham Sustainability Institute and the Program in the Environment) in collaboration with the Black Earth Institute.

We are looking for: engagements with Body/World in movement, in touch and sense, in somatic play, technique, repetition and training, in relationship. We welcome full-mouthed messy matter and fleshy multispecies engagement across and beyond boundaries. We hope to shape a complex tool-set for living in a changing natural world which impacts people differently, dependent on histories of violence and their attendant environmental effects.

The symposium invites creators/critics of performance, movement, somatic training, writing, and visual/social practice related to emergent genres such as solarpunk, climate fiction, eco-arts, and interspecies dialogue, and their relationships to social justice organizing and experimental practice. The academic aims of this project make interventions into disabled futurities (Kafer, 2014), kinship networks (Haraway, 2016), and organizing (brown, 2017), and extend the discussions begun in our Movement, Somatics and Writing symposium (2010) and in the collection Somatic Engagement (Kuppers, ed., Chainlinks, 2011).

The symposium hopes to be a training ground and a research site where we figure out how participatory and artistic practices can allow us to feel things and livelinesses differently, and how we can invent new appreciation and embodiment practices for human and other eco-diversities. We will be in praxis together. Thus, we are not looking for papers, finished performances, portfolios, or readings; we plan to experiment. Come and share the excitement of your creative and critical research, and present an (indoor or outdoor) generative workshop, exercise, or technique session based on your passions. Keep in mind that our host is a nature center, environmental education center, and biological field station, and won’t have particular performance technologies. We will provide disability access (please let us know of your needs).

Deadline: August 1st 2019 (participants will be informed of acceptance by September 11th).

Selected participants have the opportunity to be published in our “Ecosomatics” issue of the Journal of the Center for Sustainable Practices in the Arts.

Participants will receive free room and board at the Institute, and up to $250 as partial reimbursement for travel expenses.

Application Process:

Please send the following to and

A CV, a sample of your writing (creative, experimental, performative, or critical), and a brief statement about why and how you would like to participate. You can also send URLs etc. for performance or visual arts material.

We are looking forward to hearing from you,

Catherine Fairfield and Petra Kuppers (Symposium Directors)

November 2019:

Confirmed Participants:

Aimee Meredith Cox is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and African American Studies at Yale University. In all of her work, she enjoys exploring the seamlessness of dance, ethnography, pedagogy, and the the politics and poetics of writing in making community across the boundaries of institutional spaces and disciplinary mandates.

Angela Hume, assistant professor of English and creative writing at University of Minnesota, Morris, is currently at work on a critical book about poets’ and poetry’s relationship to radical women’s and LGBTQ+ health movements. Her full-length poetry book is Middle Time (Omnidawn, 2016) and a new chapbook, Meat Habitats (DoubleCross), will be out in 2019.

Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren, Ph.D., Director, Folded Paper Dance and Theatre (Hong Kong/Seattle), creates work that links heritage, performance and ecology across geographical locations. Her recent work, At the Water’s Edge (Maryland Institute College of Art) on climate change will be expanded into a set of traveling workshops and portable performances in Hong Kong and India.  A Fulbright-Nehru Scholar (2017-2018, Kerala), she is currently developing her research on Traveling Exchanges into a series of articles and performance projects as well as serving as the inaugural editor of Journal of Performance and Cultural Studies (The Centre for Performance Research and Cultural Studies in South Asia). Kanta cannot join us due to disruptions because of coronavirus. We will reschedule her visit for a fourth Eco-Arts meeting in Fall 2020.

DJ Lee is author/editor of eight scholarly books, most recently The Land Speaks: New Voices at the Intersection of Oral and Environmental History (Oxford University Press, 2017). Her creative work has appeared in Narrative and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She is director of the NEH-funded Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness History Project, and her creative nonfiction work about the wilderness, Remote: A Love Story, is forthcoming from Oregon State University Press.

Bronwyn Preece lives in British Columbia, where is honored to be a guest on the Traditional Territory of the Salish Peoples.  She is an improvisational, site-sensitive performance eARThist, author, editor, community-engaged applied theatre practitioner, pioneer of earthBODYment, poetic pirate, avid hiker and boundary-pushing renegade.  Her PhD was titled Performing Embodiment: Improvisational Investigations into the Intersections of Ecology and Disability.

Syrus Marcus Ware is a Vanier scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator. Syrus uses painting, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture, and he’s shown widely in galleries and festivals across Canada. He is a core-team member of Black Lives Matter – Toronto, a part of the Performance Disability Art Collective, and a PhD candidate at York University in the Faculty of Environmental Studies. His on-going curatorial work includes That’s So Gay (Gladstone Hotel, 2016-2019) and BlacknessYes!/Blockorama.

Symposium Fellows:

Rania Lee Khalil works in performance and moving image for live audiences. Her artworks reflect on the beauty and disappearance of indigenous plant, animal and human (culture)s.  Her most recent work, the Third World Ecology Trilogy reflects on interconnections between radical African independence movements, ecology and third world feminism.  The daughter of Egyptian immigrants to the States, Khalil resided in Cairo, Egypt from 2007 to 2016 and has since returned to Brooklyn NY where she works and lives with her partner and daughter.  She is presently completing a practice based doctorate at the University of Arts Helsinki / Theatre Academy and is a member of the part time faculty of the MFA program at Parsons, The New School.

Megan Milks writes experimental prose and criticism. Their current fiction projects explore queer environments, cross-species exchange, and fantasy as a tool for imagining new forms of intimacy and embodiment. Their first book, Kill Marguerite and Other Stories, an exploration of queer/trans adolescence through an array of narrative genres, won the 2015 Devil’s Kitchen Award and was named a Lambda Literary finalist. Milks is also the recipient of the 2019 Lotos Foundation Prize in Fiction Writing. Their work as editor includes The &NOW Awards 3: The Best Innovative Writing, 2011-2013 and Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives. They have published criticism in 4Columns and other venues, and currently teach writing at The New School.

Edgar Fabián Frías (they/them) is a nonbinary, queer, indigenous (Wixárika) and Latinx interdisciplinary artist, curator, educator, and somatic psychotherapist. Their work traverses academic, social, historical, and relational planes, building bridges and weaving webs. Their work has been shown at The Gilcrease Museum, Angel’s Gate Cultural Center, Vincent Price Art Museum, Human Resources, Machine Project, SOMArts, ESMoA, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Recess Gallery, Pieter Performance Space, and PAM Residencies. Frías is currently participating in the Tulsa Artist Fellowship.

Megan Kaminski is a poet, essayist, and Associate Professor in English at the University of Kansas specializing in poetry and poetics, queer ecology, and the environmental humanities. She is the author of two books of poetry, Deep City and Desiring Map, with a third book Gentlewomen forthcoming from Noemi Press this fall. Her public-facing work, in the form of the Prairie Divination Deck (w/ L. Ann Wheeler) and the Ad Astra Writing Project, focuses on helping people connect to their own ecosystems as a source of knowledge and inspiration for strategies to live in their world, to grieve and heal after loss, and to re-align their thinking towards kinship, community, and sustainability. Her work is informed by interdisciplinary research in social welfare, evolutionary biology, and philosophy, as well as previous work in the healing arts and at non-profit environmental organizations.

With spontaneous plants as her guides, collaborators and teachers, andrea haenggi (CH/USA) ’s eco-social art and movement practice, Ethnochoreobotanography, uses embodied fieldwork, dance, written poetic scores, and performance to explore multispecies care, labor, feminism, toxicity, land and belonging in the face of man-made climate change to generate new local knowledge, relationships and communication with Others. She is co-founder of the Environmental Performance Agency collective and, as a somatic dance practitioner, is on the faculty of the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies. Her sensual-bodily-intimate-tough works confront audiences with a world beyond humans. &

Local Participants:

Charli Brissey is an interdisciplinary artist, scholar, and teacher who works choreographically with various technologies and materials. This primarily includes bodies, cameras, objects, language, instincts, and ecosystems. Their research integrates studies in choreography, feminist theory, technology, and science. Brissey has been creating performances, installations, experimental videos, and written scholarship for over seventeen years, and has been presented in various galleries, conferences, film festivals, and performance venues nationally and internationally.

Stephanie Heit is a poet, dancer, and teacher of somatic writing, Contemplative Dance Practice, and Kundalini Yoga. She is a Zoeglossia Fellow, bipolar, a mad activist and a member of the Olimpias, an international disability performance collective. Her poetry collection, The Color She Gave Gravity (The Operating System, 2017) explores the seams of language, movement and mental health difference.

Conference Directors:

Catherine Fairfield is a PhD candidate in English & Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan. She earned her BA in English at the University of Exeter. Her research interests include environmental humanities, feminist theory, and experiential education. Her dissertation explores the role of literature in how we learn to sustain, care for, and survive with our material environments. When not writing or teaching, Catherine likes to learn about the world through bird-watching and sketching her dog, Gracie.

Petra Kuppers is a disability culture activist, a community performance artist, Professor of English and Women’s Studies at UM, faculty on the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College, Artistic Director of an international disability performance collective, The Olimpias, and co-director of Turtle Disco, a somatic writing studio. She is a Fellow of the Black Earth Institute (2018-2020), and a 2019/2020 Hunting Family Faculty Fellow at UM’s Institute for the Humanities, with her new book project, “Eco Soma: Speculative Performance Experiments.”