Ecology is a relatively recent science. The term was coined in 1866, by the German biologist Ernst Haeckal, barely 30 years after Darwin’s famous travels aboard the HMS Beagle. Ecology, like all sciences, is a product of its social world, but especially. But given its interest in complex, interactive systems, the science of ecology derived its systems of knowledge as much from politics, theories of international relations, and ethical philosophy as from its big sister biology.
Over the course of history, ecology has evolved along with other philosophical trends, or been used as a metaphor to political ends. In Metamorphosis by the Institute of Queer Ecology, the tools of ecology are queered and decolonized to expose the fractures of our current petro-capitalist world order so that we can reimagine new connections between epistemologies, species, and worlds. A collaborative, decentralized collective of artists, scientists, and activists who subversively frame themselves as an “institution,” the Institute of Queer Ecology uses exhibitions, art, and direct action to agitate for an inclusive, decolonial, multi-species future.
The consequences of the traditional Western notion of a “nature” apart from culture, becoming everyday clearer. And ecology’s potentials and limits in grappling with our vast interconnectedness is increasingly relevant. Today, we hear mostly about ecological destruction. About mass species die off. About the decimation of landscapes. About new microbes trying to kill us. As the climate crisis accelerates, it’s clear that we must challenge our assumptions.
The Institute of Queer Ecology is proposing a metamorphosis. In these videos, the lifecycle of holometabolous insects—bugs who undergo a “complete metamorphosis”—is proposed as a revolutionary paradigm for transforming ecology and capitalism. Queerness serves as a type of ecological visioning, a way of proposing an alternative, utopic world. Each video—featuring voiceovers from Mykki Blanco and Deli Girls’ Danny Orlowsk—is a mini-manifesto, proposing new ways of becoming strange, becoming less human, to create a multispecies world in which we all might survive and thrive.