Jessica Bardsley

Visiting Assistant Professor


Jessica Bardsley is an artist-scholar. Her interdisciplinary research takes an ecological approach to film and media within the global context of contemporary art. In addition to her work as a scholar, she is also an ecofeminist filmmaker. Her films have screened at top festivals like CPH:DOX, Visions du Réel, EMAF, Hot Docs, RIDM, True/False, and on the Criterion Channel. She is the recipient of various awards, including a Princess Grace Award, Grand Prize at 25FPS, the Eileen Maitland Award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Best Short Film at Punto de Vista, and numerous Film Study Center fellowships. Her research and writing have been supported by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and the Henry Luce Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies.

Research Focus

My current book manuscript Fluid Materialisms: Contemporary Art in the Hydracene charts uses and representations of water in art since 1960. I term the period since 1960 the “hydracene,” indicating a convergence of the liquid effects of climate change (melting glaciers, sea-level rise, water contamination) with a global artistic context in which water emerges as a recurring subject matter and medium. In the context of the hydracene, liquid water’s fluid materiality has offered artists a material and philosophical tool for reimagining the boundaries between humans, nonhumans, and their shared environments. I link artistic interest in fluid materiality with the rise of time-based art and moving image art in particular, developing concepts like “hydracinema” and “fluid media” to describe this connection. Sourcing inspiration from my article “Fluid Histories: Luce Irigaray, Michel Serres, and the Ages of Water,” published in philoSOPHIA: A Journal of Continental Feminism, my global approach to contemporary art history connects artists across time and geography. I place artists in dynamic conversation to open up fluid modes of ecological thought, bisecting issues of colonialism, capitalism, and gender morphology. Offering an alternative to geological metaphors that undergird dominant theoretical models in the Humanities, my theorizations of “fluid materialisms,” “the aquatic sublime,” “hydracinema,” “fluid media,” and “fluid histories” offer new concepts to current debates on posthumanism, ecology, and materiality.

In the news

Courses - Spring 2023