From the origins of civilizations to the contemporary cultures of today, animism maintains a subtle presence through narratives found in religion, folklore, mythology, the supernatural and even the technological. Animism is not founded upon scientific facts, but for many it is a vital and necessary way of life. Animistic qualities exist in the weight of a stone or in the movement of wind; it is nurtured through the innate awareness of Indigenous cultures, family traditions, or within subjective experiences shared between an individual and object.

Animism embodies respect for the inanimate, offering a way to look at the world by placing value on one’s surroundings, to prioritize nature and accept that other life forms exist beyond the human and animal. If we take time to look, to listen, to feel, then a portal to the otherworldly can be activated, where alternative realities are waiting to be imagined and discovered. Animism is a language that can guide us forward into the future and the cosmological.

From this foundation, Animistic Cosmologies explores the precious realm of the unknown. We give permission to construct new narratives, discover mythological beings and take part in building traditions and rituals that honor and respect the life forces found, whether they emerge from the smallest plant seeds or a shooting star.

Animistic Cosmologies explores the precious realm of the unknown.

In our world today, where instant access to news and information is available at the touch of our fingertips, it seems absurd to invest in notions that are not confirmed by science or the media. And yet, as we have all come to realize during these pandemic times, science and the media have failed us. Facts are misconstrued to become fiction, and fiction is altered to become facts. In our hunger to be globalized, advanced and modern, we have closed our eyes and mind to the life forms that exist beyond us. We can move freely like a spider on a thread, building webs in every place possible, but in a matter of seconds the threads can be broken, and we are left displaced. In this process, we are also losing sight of how our actions are contributing to a deteriorating environment and care for the planet Earth is negated in favor of capitalism’s hold.

In times of disruption, it is not unusual to seek refuge by turning to a more internal, and reflective state of being. In the late 18th century, the Romantic movement evolved in response to the intensity of the socio-political effects of the Industrial Revolution and the Enlightenment. The Romantics promoted a return to nature and supported the emotional in place of the rational. The artist Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) focused his practice on the spiritual realm, and wrote about the turmoil of his time just before the outbreak of WWI, “When religion, science, and morality are shaken…when the external supports threaten to collapse, the man’s gaze turns away from the external toward himself.”[1]

Modern artists from America and Europe, who were united together through the atrocities of World War II, relied on the mythological, surreal dreamscapes and spiritual transcendence of the mind as a way to understand reality and their emotions. It was a time when “the inner and the mythical were made to coincide as expressive resources with which to face a modern world otherwise beyond description.”[2] From looking at the past, we can surmise that being in tune with our inner selves is a form of strength and protection against uncertainty, and it is also a space for creative growth.

Animistic Cosmologies explores this space where creativity flourishes and if we take a step outside of ourselves, to consider our physical surroundings, whether it is urban, industrial, desert or forest, we can create a context for nurturing our awareness and creativity. These pathways start from where we are standing, but soon establish roots that grow into a collective platform for sharing knowledge. Animistic Cosmologies actively seeks to establish new roots, to unite people, communities and countries in order to move forward together into the infinite future of the universe.

[1] Wassily Kandinsky, “Concerning the Spiritual in Art,” from Art in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, eds. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003), 87.

[2] Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, introduction to “The Individual and the Social” from Art in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003), 558.