Yearly Archives: 2017

culture/SHIFT ¦ two cities, two challenges

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Creative Carbon Scotland’s culture/SHIFT programme has two events specifically focused on key issues for cities – Aberdeen and Glasgow:

  1. What can be done in post-industrial North Glasgow?
  2. How to speed up post-fossil fuel Aberdeen (i.e. move postively to the post-industrial)?

Aberdeen Green Tease: Cultural Practices in a Post-Fossil Fuel Aberdeen

with Nuno Sacramento (Director, Peacock Visual Arts) & Dr Leslie Mabon (Sociologist, Robert Gordon University)

Date Monday 20th March, 18:00 – 20:00

Venue: The Lemon Tree, 5 West North Street, Aberdeen, AB24 5AT

How can cultural practices address a post-fossil fuel future? Join Nuno Sacramento and Dr Leslie Mabon during Aberdeen Climate Week for a special conversation addressing the intersections between culture and sustainability in Aberdeen. Nuno and Leslie will discuss with the Green Tease network key questions about Aberdeen’s future social, economic and environmental sustainability, and the role of art and art institutions in creating an independent framework for addressing these concerns. Read more and register here.

Glasgow Green Tease: Whatever the Weather: Being Climate Ready in North Glasgow

Date: Wednesday 29th March, 18:30 – 20:30

Venue: The Grove Community Centre, 182 Saracen St, Glasgow, G22 5EP

What are the challenges and opportunities associated with climate change in North Glasgow? How can cultural practitioners contribute to climate change engagement strategies within the city’s communities and more widely? During this Green Tease we’ll be joined by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health and multi-disciplinary collective ice cream architecture to learn about the ‘Whatever the Weather’ engagement project in North Glasgow, exploring how communities can become more prepared and stronger in the face of climate change. We’re keen to use this opportunity to share experiences and learn from others working in similar engagement and intervention initiatives throughout the city. Read more and register here.

About EcoArtScotland:

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

Artists Doing Nature Research

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

This week, the Jan Van Eyck Academy, a post-academic institute for art, design and reflection in the quaint town of Maastricht (Netherlands), opened a Lab for artists to do Nature Research. In addition to offering a range of (amazing) facilities that can support woodwork, (RISO) printmaking, photography, video, and metalwork, the institute now acknowledges that nature is not only a great inspiration for artists, but the lack of it is a growing concern for many. The Van Eyck is positioning itself on the frontline of international pioneering art institutions that are enabling artists to explore in depth, through their work, their relationship to nature. The playground for this new Lab is a studio, garden, and greenhouse. Named after Jac. P. Thijsse, a famous Maastricht ecologist, the Lab gives artists an opportunity to do active research (get their hands dirty) and to consider the subject of nature in relation to ecological and landscape development issues. It’s supposedly a place to build bridges – between humankind and nature, but also between art and other disciplines, including agriculture, biology, botany, and (landscape) architecture.

The Jac. P. Thijsse Lab launched during the Van Eycks annual Open Studios with two works, including one by artist Marcus Coates who will be a Van Eyck advisor this year. Outside in the gardens, people could hear birds enthusiastically singing, ready for spring. Inside the Lab studio, however, it was revealed that the cheerful chirping outside was human voices replicating bird songs. Coates’s Dawn Chorus (2007) features individuals sitting in their own habitats – a car, an office, a bedroom, a school staff room – singing bird songs. For this project, Coates recorded birdsong of individual birds and then digitally slowed down the songs by up to 20 times. Singers from amateur choirs were asked to mimic this slowed down sound, which is similar in tone to the human voice. The recording was then sped up to the original speed of the birdsong, creating a magical transformation of the human voice into that of a bird. The work shows us a new way to look at nature and highlights our interconnectedness. Solely by changing the speed of the sound, we end up speaking  the same language.

In the greenhouse, a mysterious installation by artists Fabio Roncato (Van Eyck participant of 2016/2017) and Ryts Monet was found. It consisted of original bricks from the greenhouse, infused with a bright blue Yves Klein-esque pigment that reminds us of chapel ceilings in small Italian towns. A galvanised meteorite seemed to have crashed on the floor among the blue bricks – an invitation from the artists to reflect on the topic of the unknown landscape and the outer space. Their work shows that a greenhouse in the context of the Van Eyck is not just a place to grow plants; it is really a laboratory for ideas, questions, experiments, and reflections on the landscape in the widest sense of the word.

The van Eyck is not the only art institution that has picked up on artists’ growing interest in growing. Other great European places that accommodate artists unafraid to get their hands dirty include Prinzessinengarten (Berlin, Germany), ZKU (Berlin, Germany), Pollinaria (Abruzzo region, Italy), Grizedale Arts (Lake District, UK) and AtelierNL (Noordoostpolder, Netherlands) amongst others. In the last few years, even upmarket commercial gallery Hauser and Wirth re-purposed an old farm and garden in rural Somerset (UK) into an artist residence, complete with restaurant and exhibition space (see photo at the top of the page).

We live in times that force us to formulate a response to a wide range of serious environmental challenges: mass extinction, loss of biodiversity, climate change. However, these crises aren’t just disasters. They’re also great opportunities to demand and help build new systems that serve people and planet more equitably than neo-liberalism has. Moving away from the old systems requires a new mentality, which includes a big re-think of our relationship to the natural world. Is nature solely a resource for us to enjoy and plunder? Or are we nature? We are stuck in the idea that the world revolves around humans. This is why, not so long ago, we refused to believe Galileo Galilei. We, humans, want to be at the epicenter of it all. The potential for non-human narratives has barely entered our consciousness.

Moreover, we have become so addicted to fossil fuels and raw materials that humankind is now a climatic and, some scientists argue, geological force. A new geological epoch called the Anthropocene – which marks the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems – has now replaced the Holocene. This shift comes with a responsibility to ourselves, nature, and other species, and with plenty of new questions to grapple with. If art spaces that provide time for nature research can help artists to engage with some of these questions, we might be moving towards interesting answers.


About Artists and Climate Change:

Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

Holly Keasey: Policy, Possession and Place

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

One needs to reflect upon US history and its troubling legacy of “placemaking” manifested in acts of displacement, removal, and containment. This history is long and horrible…how is Creative Placemaking different or complicit with these actions?

‘Placemaking and the Politics of Belonging and Dis-belonging’, (Bedoya 2013)


As of writing this blog, I have a further two weeks until I complete my residency and return to Dundee. Over the past two years I have spent more time away from, than in Dundee, to the point that I arrived at SFAI increasingly aware that Dundee doesn’t feel like home, and for that matter there isn’t anywhere that feels like home. This unsettled feeling has somewhat preoccupied my residency, trying to overcome it by getting to know Santa Fe on foot and New Mexico through a broad scope of historic and current socio-economic and environmental research – creating a temporary, or maybe an internalised and necessary illusion, of being in-place for myself.

Trying to understand this somewhat unintentional bodily-working-through of my own psychological processes often acts as a stimuli to my practice which in turn gives body to my hypothesis for performative practice as a form of public art that can hold active criticality. In the instance of trying to locate a sense of being in-place in Santa Fe, due to my lack belonging elsewhere, I have come to realise that there is a swinging movement between the original intention for my residency – researching the misuse of law, with a particular focus on the laws that regulate water rights in New Mexico, and the potential space that can be create through the misunderstanding of a non-specialist – and the implications and hence role of public arts policy.

Image One

Screenshot of Event Bite ‘How Students and the Arts Fuel a Vibrant Downtown’

A key underpinning to my research so far is the understanding that Water Rights[1] are inherently linked to Property Rights[2]. Both of which imply the legal possession of use of a resource. And it is this mind-set of possession-of-use that is central to the current situation in New Mexico.

An inescapable example of this possession-of-use mind-set can be traced through the on-going treatment of Native American communities. Many settlers considered the Native way of life and collective use of land to be communistic and barbaric, with settler ideals stemming from the view that individual ownership of private property was an essential part of civilization. In an attempt to force these ideals upon Native populations, Congress passed the General Allotment Act in 1887, which authorized the president to survey Indian tribal land and divide the area into allotments for individual Indians and families. Members of the selected tribe or reservation were either given permission to select pieces of land—usually around forty to one hundred and sixty acres in size – for themselves and their children, or the tracts were assigned by the agency superintendent. If the amount of reservation land exceeded the amount needed for allotment, or if the allotment was not used in the westernised sense, the federal government could negotiate to purchase the land from the tribes and sell it to non-Indian settlers. As a result, sixty million acres were either ceded outright or sold to the government for non-Indian homesteaders and corporations as ‘surplus lands’. (See the History of Allotment on the Indian Land Tenure Foundation page for further detail.)

What can be drawn from this act is a significant relationship between the ideals of individualism, private property and a prioritising of use values.

Land Status Map for McKinley County, New Mexico

For the Navajo Nation, the General Allotment Act resulted in their eastern border in Western New Mexico resembling a checkerboard. However, in spite of these attempts to colonise many Native tribes, including those of Navajo Nation, did not adopt the enforced ideals towards the environment as resources to be put to use. I was fortunate to meet with community members of Red Water Pond Road of Coyote Canyon Chapter, Navajo Nation this week, whose relationship to the land and waters is still predominantly held within their ancestral sense of belonging and being part of the land. So much so that they have continued to live at Red Water Pond Road despite its contamination in 1979, when United Nuclear Corporation’s Church Rock uranium mill tailings disposal pond breached its dam, releasing over a thousand tons of solid radioactive mill waste and ninety-three million gallons of acidic, radioactive tailings solution, which then flowed through Red Water Pond Road’s surrounding landscape. After minor clean-up with shovels, United Nuclear Corporation’s uranium mill continued to operate until 1982, after which the site was abandoned by the corporation leaving behind the infrastructure, by-products and contaminated landscape that were no longer of use to them. Whilst, the Red Water Pond Road residents, many of whom worked the uranium mines, continue to reside here despite the lack of employment and income they had become accustomed to or the ability to return to previous vocations such as shepherding due to the extent of radioactive contamination. It is now a place where net wire fencing, typically used for dividing farm land, acts as a visual divide between residents and their neighbouring pilings.

Uranium tailing at Red Water Pond Road Community

There is a comparison that can be drawn here between the legal possession-to-use and its accompanying mind-set, that fosters a lack of long-term responsibility to that which is made use of whether it be a landscape or grouping of people, and the Navajo ancestral sense of belonging and being part of this landscape which manifests as a commitment towards a continuing to live here. For me, these comparative relations to the same area of land stir up a question – can a westernised (and patriarchal) ideal, and consequently entitlement, towards possession-to-use ever result in a mode of living that is ecologically sensitive?

It is in this question that I currently tread water, continuing to seek understanding through this arid landscape. I know there is a link to be formed between a critique of and beyond property and water rights as legal possessions-to-use (and the mind-set that supersedes this); a reflection on my own performative researching practice towards establishing a temporary sense of place in Santa Fe; and a role for public arts policy.

An initial reaction to this may be to look towards Creative Placemaking, a term co-opted by planning development that makes use of artistic methods and/or forms to drive an agenda for change, growth and transformation (or put succinctly, gentrification). Such developments frame their intentions as revitalisation in the interest of identified communities. By revitalisation they mean attaining the forms in which 21st Century ideals of successful civilisation are attributed. Similarities can be drawn between this and the intentions behind the General Allotment Act to ‘organise’ (for which one can read colonise) Native Communities. In addition, acts of Creative Placemaking are typically achieved via the use and extraction of an area’s resources in such a way that the original community’s ability to continue to reside is often reduced. For Red Water Pond Road community it is due to radioactive contamination. For communities subjected to Creative Placemaking it is due to real estate speculation. In many ways, this form of Creative Placemaking is an expansion of the entitlement towards possession to use – who makes the most successful use these identified areas? The current residents, or the affluent residents who replace them?

It is for the above reasons that as an artist I believe there is a need to be insistent that the aesthetics of criticality is at the core of Public Arts Policy.

[1] The right to make use of the water from a stream, lake, or irrigation canal.
[2] Property rights are socially-enforced constructs for determining how a resource or economic good is used.

Bedoya, Roberto. 2013. ‘Placemaking and the Politics of Belonging and Dis-belonging’ Grantmakers In The Arts Reader, Vol 24, No 1 (Winter 2013)

About EcoArtScotland:

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

Pages from the Frozen Sea

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

Pages from the Frozen Sea is a scattering of photographs of the ways that ice can freeze a moment in time. Against a background of disappearing ice, the gathered photographs explore different ways to hold on to memory and emotion. Is it possible, as ice is melting more quickly than expected, to create a temporary stopgap? A photograph proposes a suspension of an experience, of an emotional state. It’s a suspension of disbelief, as if it might allow us to stop and steady ourselves, and find a way to think straight again (and reimagine the future).

Sarah Stengle and I wanted these explorations of ice to float in a digital sea. We wanted the pages to be fragmented and free, but to be considered a book all the same. We sent out an open call and received submissions from the US, Canada, England, Finland and Germany which we posted to a Facebook and an Instagram page.

Burning carbon is creating exponential change to the climate. Yes, fire and ice have always fought it out on this planet, but we’ve been working on the side of fire all these years now. Fire is winning. It would be wonderful to tell humans to cool it, because the rapid melting of the polar ice caps is terrifying. In the face of extreme weather, of upheaval and chaos, I think we feel frozen in our tracks. Freezing up is its own defense, and we lock down our fear inside ourselves.

Kafka imagines an interior emotional landscape that is trapped in ice. He writes, “a book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.” A book can break through by delivering life-affirming warmth, truth, inspiration, art and craft. You need to be free. Your wellspring needs to flow.

In thinking about extremes of temperature and art, Sarah and I talked about Olafur Eliasson’s glacier melting in Paris, about Andy Goldworthy’s icicles and David Hammons’ sidewalk sale of snowballs. We thought about the decentralized spirit of Yoko Ono’s work, and her instructions to: “use things until they melt.” The material and the moment change completely in the hands of each artist.

Sarah and I are now the caretakers of photos floating in a digital sea, gathering around an idea. It seems to me these floating photos possibly reverse the idea of a glacier fragmenting. Instead of dissipating and becoming less, they have the potential to become more. Maybe our book is a gathering of ice, a growing of ice. If Kafka’s book is an axe, maybe this book of ours is a crystal.


Aylin Green’s photo is of a frame frozen in ice: a freeze frame. It’s a portrait without a face, and darkly I feel I could know it well. There’s something important here, and if only it could be carefully melted, lovingly cared for, it would be revealed. Ice is very personal after all. They call this the Anthropocene age. Our stories are lurking everywhere on this planet, and this planet is lurking everywhere within us too.


Karian Blank seems to be documenting geology and her photo could easily belong in a natural history museum. Photographed in the cold, clear light of day, this specimen tells a prehistoric tale. When I learn that it’s pure invention and that the marks are the imprints of vintage buttons, I have to marvel at the power of stories we tell ourselves. The marks then may be seen as a form of human fossils.

Veronika Irwin’s photo of wire lace frozen in a thin layer of ice is mysterious. She expresses mathematical concepts through delicate lines that gain strength through repeated patterning. Her lines are vulnerable and loopy and yet they suggest strength and a quiet musicality. They prove a logic capable of replicating themselves ad infinitum. Inhabiting a pale light, for the moment, they bubble with possibility.


Sarah and I have felt our imaginations stretched as we viewed these and the many other submissions we received. As artists ourselves, we too have been creating ice pages. Sarah’s art is always alert to the drama that occurs when strangely ordinary materials come into relationships with one another. In her photo, there are what look like nails scattered on the floor of what could be an invented ice cave. I see elements of rough construction work below contrasted with finely crafted and futuristic-looking angles above. What Sarah was doing was not quite what I am seeing. Her method was simple but not obvious: she recorded what happened to blue ink, water, straight pins and the force of a magnet in freezing temperatures. Nature had a hand in creating her fiction.

My process was to freeze a photograph from a magazine into a chunk of ice, leaving the image trapped in a stubborn form (see picture at the top of the page). An image of snow-covered trees appears, as if it were a mirroring of beautiful surroundings, but it’s only a torn sheet of paper. An illusion. I don’t know if Kafka’s axe needs to break it open to reveal its emotions.

Sarah and I will keep growing our crystalline book of ice when we announce another open call for 2018. The form may change in a year’s time. The weather may change. This winter there were not enough cold days in Sarah’s Minneapolis or my New Jersey to freeze our art outside and, anti-heroically, our explorations happened in our kitchen freezers. This year was an El Nino year, and so our hope is that next winter will be colder. Pages from the Frozen Sea needs more cold to come together.


Eva Mantell is co-curator with Sarah Stengle of Pages from the Frozen Sea. Other curating projects include Start Fresh at the Arts Council of Princeton and Windows of the Future at Carrier Clinic, NJ. Eva’s artwork has been exhibited at the Hunterdon Museum, Jersey City Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and in ongoing projects with the arts collective Overflow. Upcoming exhibits include Natura Mathematica at Central Booking, NYC and Animal Architecture at the Monmouth Museum, NJ. Eva has a BA from Penn and MFA from the School of Visual Arts and lives in Princeton, NJ.

About Artists and Climate Change:

Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

Catalogue Released on Collaboration of Refugee and Local Hamburg Artists.

One year ago we invited to the exhibition  ort_m [migration memory]  in the Frappant Gallery in Hamburg-Altona. Prior to this exhibition, we organized a studio where we – artists as well as artists in Hamburg – could work together for a period of four months. In this  Third Space  (Homi K. Bhabha) we have produced art works that were dealt with life experiences about, migration, globalization, and colonialism in the past and the present. A wide network of activists, helpers and art interested visitors. We would like to express our gratitude. Now we want to celebrate with you the fresh off the press  ort_m  catalog. Come and see – looking forward to meeting you!  

Catalog ·  Ort_m [migration memory]

Hannimari Jokinen, Dieu-Thanh Hoang (Hrsg./ed.)

In German and English, 140 pages / pages

EUR 24,00 Revolver Publishing, 2017  ISBN 978-3-95763-365-1  

More information on ORT_M


deLight Art Festival 2017 (March 23 – 27)

The deLight project is an environmentally-oriented light-art festival promoting sustainable lifestyles through contemporary art: we are establishing a new form of communication between eco-institutes, eco-initiatives, and audiences.

Every year, the WWF movement called Earth Hour brings communities from all around the globe together. During the initiative, people switch off their lights for one hour thus demonstrating their commitment to fighting climate change and raising awareness of environmental issues. Major cities of the world also contribute by de-energizing their landmarks including The Sydney Opera House, The Brandenburg Gates, and many others.

In 2017, deLight projects joins this worldwide action and provides all those interested in environmental problems with a chance to participate in it through our perspective. DeLight not only will disconnect from the electric network, but will generate electricity for a sustainable sound and light performance, adding a new dimension to Earth Hour and bringing the ‘non-electricity concept’ to a whole new level. Between 20:30 and 21:30 on March 25th 2017, in the forecourt of the club Ritter Butzke, a show with musical content by the sound-artist and composer Hugo Morales will take place. Light, sound, and tailor-made equipment will be our main tools for the performance in which the audience can also actively participate. Right afterwards, Ritter Butzke will invite our guests to a sustainable after party.

With the help of low-energy technologies, artists from all over Europe will highlight invisible natural phenomena such as the magnetic fields, temperature, vibrations, waves, and others. The exhibition will be held in ‘A Space Under Construction’ area located on the second floor of Ritter Butzke.

The third partner venue of the festival is Spektrum: a place aimed at presentation of technology-based artworks, science-focused events and futuristic utopias based on the principle “do-it-together-with-others”. At Spektrum, visitors will see Berlin’s live premiere of the AtomTone show by Czech artist Jiří Suchánek. And also a.melodie by Mélodie Melak Fenez, an experimental electronic music project, which is based on the responses plants have to their direct surroundings. Her work promotes complex interconnectivity between elements and presents Nature as a sentient being with inherent worth.

The deLight program also includes public talks with internationally renowned speakers experienced in the fields of green politics, sustainable lifestyle, ecology, eco-art, and light-art. Apart from that, film shows elaborating on environmental issues in unexpected contexts will be held.

And don’t forget to bring your old light bulbs – they will be carefully collected and recycled by the company Lightcycle.

Electric light has extended the boundaries of human capacity. Now, deLight is extending the boundaries of light.



23.03.2017 27.03.2017 deLight

#Earth Hour: 25.03 | 20:30

23.03 | 20:00 Live Show «A.Melodie» Melodie Melak Fenez, Spektrum

23.03 | 21:30 Live Show «AtomTone» Jiri Suchanek, Spektrum

25.03 27.03  Light-art Exhibition, A Space Under Construction

25.03 | 17:30 Public Talk, A Space Under Construction

25.03 | 20:30 Earth Hour: Sustainable Light&Sound Performace, Music by Hugo Morales

25.03 | 21:30 Afterparty, Ritter Butzke

26.03 | 19:00 Eco, Urban, Art Film Screening



Ritterstr. 26, Kreuzberg 10969                                                     


Ritterstr. 26, 10969 Berlin                                                          


Bürknerstraße 12, 12407 Berlin


Hugo Morales                                                                                               

Dmitry Gelfand, Evelina Domnitch

Jiri Suchanek                                                          

Akitoshi Honda

Raum Zeit Piraten                                                          

Damien Beneteau

Mélodie Melak  Fenez                                                          

Alexander Isakov

Curated by Dariya Susak


Dariya Susak (Curator), +49 176 292 47 165

Diana Kim (Assistent curator)

Elena Barysheva (Producer)

Susanne Felsberg (Producer) –

Emilia Stebulyanina (PR-Manager) 

For more information, please see the informational PDF

Open Call: In Other Tongues Now Accepting Registrations

In Other Tongues is now accepting registrations. Held at the beautiful Dartington Hall in southwest England from June 7-14 2017, it comprises an international gathering/conference from June 7-9 followed by a small-group residential short course from June 10-14.

Keynote speakers at the conference are Prof. Wendy Wheeler and poet Alyson Hallett; other presenters include sound artist Tony Whitehead, leading us into the sonic world of night-time and dawn-time; Felix Prater, Laura Cooper and Cherie Sampson helping us discover animal lives and our animal selves; Lori Diggle, Nancy Miller and others reminding us of the power of myth and story-telling and its continuing and new relevance; John Hartley will take us on to the river; Stephan Harding will be joining us to explore the science of interspecies communication. Others are materialists, guiding us to new insights into stone, field, water, fungi. We will encounter languages familiar and strange, and we’ll aspire to co-annunciate new forms of communication together through this unique gathering amongst the long, heady days of summer along the River Dart in some of England’s most beautiful countryside.

Download more details at or visit

The short course is led by Alyson Hallett and writer-illustrator Mat Osmond. Throughout the course visiting guests will (thus far) include acclaimed poet Alice Oswald and’s Director Richard Povall. Creative use of words form the core of the course along with image-making, voice and embodied exercises. We will work both indoors and outdoors as we deepen and attune more to ourselves and our experiences of place. Numbers are very limited.