The liminal term terminality serves as a conversation piece for issues to do with our escalating climate crisis; it is a term of engagement against our lingering collective dis-engagement from what many of us perceive as irrelevant to our profession. Terminality builds alliances between its nominal identity as a term, the temporal duration of a term and the arrival-and-departure characteristics of a terminal. Inevitably, however, the term also connotes end-state or terminal condition. The use-value of such a term is to summon a set of interlinked issues and propositions to stimulate action from and within the most anthropocentric discipline of all: art history. The essay discusses how art history could respond to the above on the level of the material entities of the artworks themselves (usually abbreviated as “art”) and the narrations and interconnections we produce to account for their identities, interdependencies and temporal trajectories (usually abbreviated as “history”).
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