Why ecopoiesis? Poiesis was a word brought into expressive arts therapy to ground the foundations of the field in a philosophy of human existence, rather than in a psychological framework . The term was taken from the work of Martin Heidegger, who formulated an understanding of human existence in terms of a poietic or artistic relationship to the world. In the words of the poet Hölderlin, as quoted by Heidegger, “poetically we dwell upon this earth.”
Human beings are fundamentally eco-human, that is, we cannot separate our existence from the world around us. This has become clear in our own time, the Anthropocene, in which our activity has transformed the world. However, to exist as human is not to take an instrumental attitude towards the world, one in which we impose our will upon what is around us. Rather, our essential capacity is to shape the world in a way that respects its otherness. This is the poietic disclosure of the world which shows us its inherent possibilities. Through an attitude of respect for otherness, we can shape our world to let things shine as they are–in other words, to let their beauty be seen.
What does this perspective imply for the arts therapies? We believe that this is actually the fundamental attitude of therapeutic work, in particular, the work of the arts therapies. In therapy, we do not impose our will upon the other person and try to make them be who we think they should be. Rather we take a receptive attitude and help them to see their own possibilities for development. This attitude is often called “holding,” a term originally used by D. W. Winicott to indicate the relationship of the mother to the child but also the relationship of the therapist to the client. If the child is held according to her own needs rather than those of the mother, she can have a secure basis on which to act in the world.
For Winicott, the child finds herself through play. Similarly, the holding of the therapist makes a frame within which clients can find themselves through a playful letting-be. Moreover, Winnicott understands play as the basis of creativity. In the creative process, the artist plays with materials and helps them find a new form. Art-making may be a “shaping,” but a shaping that takes place through a letting-be similar to the practice of the therapist. This shaping takes place not through an attitude of passivity but by means of a receptive process of guiding by artist or therapist. This is the letting-be that we call “poiesis.”
“Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice” is the first international multidisciplinary Journal focused on building an eco-human paradigm, disseminating eco-human knowledge and technology based on the alliance of ecology, humanities and the arts. Our journal aims to be a vibrant forum of theories and practices aimed at harmonizing the relations of mankind and the natural world in the interests of sustainable development, the creation of Eco-Humanity as a new community of human beings and more-than-human world. The human being is an ecological being, not separate from the world. The Ecopoiesis journal is based on that premise and aims to develop a body of theory and practice within that framework.
The Journal promotes dialogue and cooperation between ecologists, philosophers, doctors, educators, psychologists, artists, musicians, designers, social activists, business representatives in the name of eco-human values, human health and well-being, in close connection with concern for the environment. The Journal supports the development and implementation of new environmentally-friendly concepts, technologies and practices in the various fields of health and public life, education and social work.
One of the priority tasks of the Journal is to demonstrate and support the significant role of the arts in their alliance with ecology and the humanities for the restoration and development of constructive relations with nature, raising environmental awareness and promoting nature-friendly lifestyles.
The Journal publishes articles describing new eco-human concepts and practices, technologies and applied research data at the intersection of humanities, ecology and the arts, as well as interviews and conference reports related to the emerging eco-human field. It encourages artwork, music and other creative products related to eco-human practices and the new global community of Eco-Humanity.