Counterinsurgent: Art Historian T.J. Demos on Cop City, Abolition Ecology, and the Aesthetics of Counterreform: Block Museum - Northwestern University
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Counterinsurgent: Art Historian T.J. Demos on Cop City, Abolition Ecology, and the Aesthetics of Counterreform

A banner proclaiming "forest defense is self defense" hanging from trees in a forest.
6 PM-8:30 PM

Event Details

Date & Time:

Wed May 15, 2024
6 PM-8:30 PM


The Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208


Open to the public


The Block Museum and the Climate Crisis + Media Arts Working group welcome art historian and author T.J. Demos for a lecture entitled "Counterinsurgent: Cop City, Abolition Ecology, and the Aesthetics of Counterreform."

If, as Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò warns, ‘climate apartheid’ is on the rise, then Cop City Atlanta offers an ominous flashpoint. For not only is Cop City an exemplary story of the violent repression of community activism at the nexus of abolition, decolonization, and environmentalism; it also spotlights the forces of counterinsurgency that are operating to prevent any political transformation beyond the status quo. If the environmentalist movement is losing in the struggle to stop world-ending climate change--as many analysts argue--then continuing to focus on practices of ecological repair is increasingly myopic, even escapist, without taking into account the forces blocking any meaningful change.

This event is presented by the Climate Crisis + Media Arts Working Group at Northwestern's Buffett Institute for Global Affairs, in conjunction with the exhibition Actions for the Earth: Art, Care & Ecology, currently on view at the Block Museum of Art.


Programs are open to all, on a first-come first-served basis. RSVPs not required, but appreciated. 

About the speaker:

T. J. Demos is the Patricia and Rowland Rebele Endowed Chair in Art History in the Department of the History of Art and Visual Culture, at University of California, Santa Cruz, and founding Director of its Center for Creative Ecologies.

Demos is the author of several books, including Against the Anthropocene: Visual Culture and Environment Today (Sternberg Press, 2017); Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology (Sternberg Press, 2016); The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary During Global Crisis (Duke University Press, 2013) – winner of the College Art Association’s 2014 Frank Jewett Mather Award – and Return to the Postcolony: Spectres of Colonialism in Contemporary Art (Sternberg Press, 2013). He recently co-edited The Routledge Companion on Contemporary Art, Visual Culture, and Climate Change (2021), was a Getty Research Institute Fellow (Spring 2020), and directed the Mellon-funded Sawyer Seminar research project Beyond the End of the World (2019-21). Demos was Chair and Chief Curator of the Climate Collective, providing public programming related to the 2021 Climate Emergency > Emergence program at the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (Maat) in Lisbon. His new book, Radical Futurisms: Ecologies of Collapse, Chronopolitics, and Justice-to-Come, 2023, is now out from Sternberg Press.

Contact The Block Museum of Art for more information: (847) 491-4000 or email us at