Ecocide Art: Extinction Management and the Material and Visual Cultures of the Jaktorów Forest Aurochs, 1500–1650


Summer Institute for the Study of East Central and Southeastern Europe


Art, Design, and Visual Studies


Inspired by the 1627 olifant at Stockholm's Livrustkammaren—crafted from the horn of the last living aurochs—this project explores early modern art's impact on elite ecological awareness. It dives deep into the material and visual artifacts, including powder horns, rifles with aurochs scenes, and bullfight depictions, that represented and sought to reanimate these endangered— and, in time, extinct—species. It probes how art evolved into a poignant sign of nature's fragility, and how the act of art-making played a dual role: contributing to ecocide through the celebration of extractive practices, while recasting the animal as meriting protection in the face of imminent extinction.