Yearly Archives: 2018

Tim Collins: What is Landscape Justice and Why Does it Matter?

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

In the second of two pieces resulting from Landscape Research Group(LRG) events, Tim Collins (with input from Reiko Goto) reports on the Debate focused on Landscape Justice held in London on Wednesday 7 December 2017.

At this event, landscape justice issues discussed included deeply troubling, indeed dark and bloody national narratives underpinning what is presented today to be pristine and wild exemplary European forest; critical/creative legal maneuvers set to music to intervene in transnational oil and gas pipelines in the USA; the deep historic tensions over Land ownership in Scotland; and finally the framework for an ethical-aesthetic duty – a sense of justice owed to more-than- human interests.

Organized and facilitated by the Landscape Research Group (and in particular development manager Sarah McCarthy) the host for the debate was Chris Dalglish, Chair of LRG and social archaeologist. The panel comprised the landscape historian and theorist Ken Olwig from Denmark; eco-artist and activist Aviva Rahmani from New York City; Peter Peacock, former Labour MSP and policy director of Community Land Scotland; and Emily Brady, a philosopher with a focus on environmental aesthetics and ethics living and working in Edinburgh. Both Olwig and Brady are expatriate Americans.

Prior to travelling for the event, Reiko Goto and I had spent time reading to clarify our understanding of the key term and its meanings. The baseline is perhaps encapsulated in the LRG research strategy which views the challenges of landscape justice as a systemic problem of, “…inter-connected social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits and burdens, goods, services and agencies, which arise from landscape itself.” The research statement conflates landscape with land – the surface of the earth distinguished by boundaries of ownership and control. Landscape is generally more of an aggregate term. The European Landscape Convention understands it as land that is: “…perceived by local people or visitors, which evolves through time as a result of being acted upon by natural forces and human beings”. I will expand in the conclusion.

After a practical orientation by Sarah, Chris Dalglish in his role as Chair provided a brief overview of the issues surrounding the meaning and value of Landscape Justice (LJ) and how we would help to address these questions through conversations with our four speakers; but also in a larger dialogue amongst ourselves. With 12 present and former trustees of LRG in attendance and an additional 37 members of the group in the audience the event began with Ken Olwig as the first speaker.

The questions:

  • what is landscape justice and why does it matter?
  • why we should strive for landscape justice, and
  • how we might achieve landscape justice by linking research, policy and practice.

Ken Olwig

Prof Olwig is a historian and critical theorist, an author of a series of texts that examine how landscapes affect language, social, cultural and political process. For his presentation he prepared a series of slides outlining literature that contributes ideas to our present understanding of justice, nature, nationality and landscape with a focus on Europe. He began with the French philosopher Montesquieu before touching on the tensions between ideals, rhetoric and the lives of Scottish authors James Macpherson recognized for being the controversial ‘translator’ (from Scottish Gaelic) of the epic Ossian poems in the first half of the 18 th century and Sir Walter Scott who chronicled the conflicts of Highland life in the last half of the 18th century. His talk was dense and moved quickly through ideas, times and places.

Beginning with Montesquieu he talked about wild nature and the tension between ideas about environmental determinism and freedom from oppression, including theories of separate and opposing executive forces at the national level that would shape constitutions around the world. He then went on to Macpherson whose ‘Gaelic translations’ have been consistently challenged but widely read. A narrative of ancient legends and a description of the beauty of the Highlands, the Ossian epic is internationally recognized for its impact on the Romantic Movement. (He was also known for clearing his own Highland Estate of forests, reshaping landforms and obliterating the Gaelic place names where he could.) Referencing Sir Walter Scott, Olwig drew our attention to passages that suggested the Highlands were drained of nature. He also asked us to consider landscapes where culture was superfluous to emergent meaning largely defined by science. He relied on Simon Schama’s treatise on landscape and its relationship to ideas of culture and national identity as the central thread to the talk. Using Schama’s text Olwig put a critical framework in place to help us consider how landscape and its range of narratives shape national self-perception.

Schama’s text also became the focal point of his conclusion: the clash between recent ecological conceit in the European Union about ‘wild’ nature in the Białowieża forest of Poland and the despotic and fascist interests that claimed the forest as a symbolic validation of their values. He explained that the forest had undergone cycles of harvest and destruction and conservation and protection for centuries. It had been hailed as a wild centerpiece of cultural import for one despotic national interest after another. From the point of view of ‘wild’ ecology all apex predators including bears, wolves and lynx were exterminated in the mid 18th century. During the First World War the last of the wild bison were lost. British lumber merchants would contribute to the decimation of the forest after the war, while Polish scientists would reassemble the bison herd from zoo specimens. In the midst of World War II, Białowieża became a focal point of the fascist Nazi Lebensraum initiative, with ethnic cleansing to remove the resident population followed by radical restoration plans to extend the forest and reverse-engineer extinct species to create a hunting park. The Teutonic narrative of the Nazis would subsume the historic Polish-Lithuanian narrative of that forest, and in retreat the Nazis would burn historic hunting lodges and exterminate the bison, eagles, elk and wolves which were the symbolic focal point of their interest in that place. The subsequent Soviet occupation would then manage the forest frontier for state security. Yet the narrative of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries including the rhetoric of the European Union assume Białowieża to be the largest ‘remnant’ wilderness in Europe, ignoring a social, cultural and political history that complicates that point of view. This was a significant historical narrative, a robust provocation to begin the ‘debate’ about landscape and the location and meaning of justice.

Aviva Rahmani

Dr. Aviva Rahmani is an eminent ecoartist and researcher, with a background in music. She discussed her current project Blued Trees Symphony (2015 ongoing) which integrates the arts, sciences, and policy, resulting in a work that is intellectually challenging and beautiful at the same time.

She began by saying: “I am interested in artwork that results in solutions to difficult problems.” She presented as a researcher with a background in art and science with important collaborators in the fields of biology and paleoecology.

Blued Trees Symphony is a musical composition painted on trees across 50 acres in a forest that lies in the path of the Algonquin Incremental Market (gas) pipeline. The intent was to contest Eminent Domain(understood as Compulsory Purchase in the UK) by establishing an artwork copyrighted onsite, painted on trees as part of the forest. The Visual Rights Act (1990) would then be used to prevent mutilation, or modification of the artwork, actions prejudicing the artist’s honor or reputation.

Rahmani introduced the work with by talking about conversations in 2015 with ‘Frack Busters’ an activist group that wanted to discuss the work of Peter von Tiesenhausen. Canadian Tiesenhausen used his artwork on his family land, and his Moral Right for it to not be mutilated, as a means of holding oil pipeline developers at bay. The question was could an artwork be created and Copyrighted in the United States to similar effect, with the potential to block pipeline construction?

Rahmani began her effort in Peekskill, New York, working at the invitation of landowners wrestling with Eminent Domain related to the pipeline. Walking the site, mapping as she went, relying on her music training, she began to see a score marked out, to be played across multiple trees. If done right the score (multiple segments of copyright artworks) would put Copyright in conflict with Eminent Domain.

Each musical notation is a painted onto the tree using a casein slurry of non-toxic ultramarine blue and buttermilk that is conducive to the growth of moss. Installed along potential pipeline sites, Rahmani worked with lawyers to secure copyright of each element of the score. Conceptually this first (copyrighted) piece was an overture, which the artist introduced to us by singing. The painted notation on the trees was beautiful. Although a final slide showing notated trees cut down in Peekskill was disconcerting.

Rahmani then transitioned into a discussion of the work as it has been presented in galleries in New York and South Korea. She also discussed the ongoing legal nature of this work and an important new development in Virginia. She concluded with a few thoughts of the global impact of climate change and the need to reorganize information to have an impact. The last slide was a diagram that began with a specific art history that is the context for this work. Eminent Domain is the focal point and artists’ Copyright is the methodological action in this research. Broader questions attendant to the work include an evolving understanding of the public good and ongoing challenges to environmental law in the US and earth rights worldwide.

Peter Peacock

Peter Peacock was the policy director at Community Land Scotland at the time of the debate. He has served as a member of Scottish Parliament (1999-2011). He is recognized for expertise in community ownership, cultural heritage and land reform. Peter began his talk by describing the Highlands of Scotland as land with high conservation and recreational value, but land ownership limited to a few elite families. It has the most inequitable land ownership statistics in the western world. The clearances of the nineteenth century removed the resident population to enable new land management and economies of sheep and cattle. The Highlands were increasingly devoid of people; he described it as a landscape where full life is lost.

Peacock explained that he understands Landscape Justice as an opportunity to articulate divergent positions; a dialogic space where multiple points of view inform aspirations for Highland places. He envisions the Highlands as a place where a wider range of people have opportunities for housing and land investment rather than the limitations of tenancy arrangements. He recapped the history of Scottish Government policies and investment mechanisms which had initiated community buyouts and public land ownership and relate this to emergent ideas in National Landscape Policy and the factors that complicate that dialogue. Firstly, much policy is written from the position of Edinburgh, disengaged from nature and actual land-use practices. Many urbanites engage with the Highlands through panoramic aesthetic values, placing a premium on a view of desolate landscapes and ideals of wild nature devoid of human interest. Recent national wild lands mapping actually supports extant ideas and aesthetic interests doing little to shift the dominance of large estate owners. There is a tension between those that want to see the Highlands with a diverse array of ‘ordinary’ people living equitably, and this ‘wild land’ idea. The response of Community Land Scotland is to enable an informed, balanced debate between estate owners, land-use professionals and local interests. They work to enable best methods and a variety of means for communities to come together and make a difference in land ownership and management. He described a need for research that supports ordinary people and their interests in the Scottish Highlands, along side new scientific ideas, theories and practical methods that enable power sharing. These are the key landscape justice challenges in the Scottish Highlands.

Emily Brady

Professor Brady is a philosopher who has written books and articles on environmental aesthetics and the sublime. She introduced her interests as a mix of environmental philosophy and ‘landscape as place’. She extended the days’ discussions by bringing the discussion of landscape justice to the moral and ethical duty owed to the more-than-human; introducing ideas of interaction and interrelationships between bipeds, quadrupeds, winged and rooted beings. She started with Aldo Leopold’s ideas about a land ethic, a community of interests that has an interpersonal dimension an individual social/land dimension, and a moral duty to other things that occupy the land along with us. She described a move from a ‘conqueror’ relationship to a ‘citizen’ relationship that is well aware of the more-than-human component. So for her landscape justice is essentially a multi-species justice – a weak anthropocentrism. It is an ecologically informed idea of justice. Species decline becomes a significant issue. Her philosophical project is to articulate the intellectual underpinnings of justice itself as a concept. It is informed by human-to-human interrelationships between indigenous, racially and culturally differentiated communities. Philosophy contributes to an understanding of the ethical duty, and its historic and theoretical development. It is about attachment to beings other than ourselves, but it is also about a sense of virtue or humility in the face of a significant living otherness.

Brady went on to outline her heroes and heroines including Aldo Leopold, author of A Sand County AlmanacRachel Carson author of Silent SpringRobert Bullard the original voice in ideas about environmental racism and environmental justice; Val Plumwood the noted ecofeminist who wrote Feminism and the Mastery of Nature and an artist; and Patricia Johanson who has consistently argued that her work is about healing the earth and creating spaces in urban places for endangered and threatened species. She closed by arguing that aesthetics is sensory not scenery, it is about being immersed and in an integrated relationship (subject – object – environment) relationship rather than a subject that engages (or views) an object. She closed with images of her currently favourite public art: large scale images created by the London-based artist known as ATM; a muralist creating large urban and rural drawings, paintings and murals of birds threatened with extinction. Brady provided a classic LRG conclusion, robustly interdisciplinary while focused on an evolution of thinking about aesthetics and ethics. She brought the question of landscape justice to an appropriately expansive idea of more-than-human ethical duty.


Debate was perhaps a poor choice of words to use to describe this event. It began as a series of lectures contributing to an attempt to define the meaning of landscape justice, as well as its fundamental social and cultural import. Underpinning this was a question of how research into the topic might support LRG’s Research Strategy and its goals of empowering people to critically appreciate and understand the range of values and actions that might contribute to just and sustainable relationships to landscape. The room was filled with an exciting mix of academics and professionals as well as a handful of policy experts from a range of age groups, disciplines, nations and cultural backgrounds. The initial programme was run more like a series of lectures than a debate with four 20 minute presentations, followed by a half hour question and answer period. After a coffee and tea break we were assigned to groups to discuss the key questions. Working groups were followed by a recap and some discussion in a closing plenary. The interdisciplinarity of the event was exciting, the lectures were brilliant but perhaps the audience would have benefitted from a pause, where we were might be able to ask some specific questions of the individual speakers. Finally it wasn’t clear how the collective deliberation would inform the LRG’s interests. Was it more than a talking shop?

Nonetheless, there were significant provocations made that day that are worth talking about. The four presentations offered significant challenges to the way landscape is ‘normally’ perceived and addressed by both academics and the general public. In each case these were challenging and innovative views. But of the fundamental questions… What does landscape justice mean? What are its key values? And how does research contribute to new understanding and action? The presentations perhaps only provided us with specific insight on particular values (representations of history; legal constructions; rural re-population; and aesthetics). It contributed to LRG’s unique and innovative approach to all the ways that research contributes to landscape questions, but the actual meaning of the term Landscape Justice remains somewhat elusive.

As indicated in the introduction we had spent a bit of time to understand what the LRG (and its publications) have to say about the meaning of Landscape Justice.

LRG Chair Dalglish has a published an article on the topic on the Community Land Scotland website and there is a 2016 editorial on the topic by Anna Jorgenson, Editor of the Landscape Research Journal. Dalglish (a social archaeologist) follows Aldo Leopold’s ideas of a ‘land community’ engaging humans and more than humans in an interdependent network. He differentiates this multi-species ‘landscape’ community from the human-centric definition used by European Landscape Convention. He also juxtaposes this land community idea against a general reading of environmental justice as a focus on the impacts and constraints that disadvantage human communities. Nonetheless, his understanding of Landscape Justice is a materialist distributive approach to value and impact:

“Landscape justice is a matter of the distribution of harms and benefits relating to the landscape. It concerns procedure, or fairness in the way decisions are made about the landscape. …It is a matter of capabilities, i.e. people’s capacity to achieve the outcomes they desire with regard to the landscape.” (2017, Dalglish).

While his focus is on decisions and the social capacity for affective discourse, land-based material interests and equitable consideration of harms and benefits are the underlying driver.

Anna Jorgenson (a landscape architect) is more oriented to land based benefits and impacts.

“It means addressing unequal (human) access to landscape goods and resources, including cultural resources or unequal exposure to environmental degradation and risk.” (2016, Jorgenson).

Like Dalglish, Jorgenson raises questions about rights for a broad range of non-human others, ecosystems and landscapes. Her editorial closes with a focus on the current refugee crisis and landscape injustice as ‘both a cause and an outcome’ of economic hardship and political oppression. She outlines how a refugee situation has an impact on original and destination landscapes, challenging the social and legal perception of who has rights to remain, rights to entry and unsettles the meaning of national borders. So in each instance, these LRG thinkers see land-based conflicts driving Landscape Justice, although the work is realized through discourse in a range of social-political settings.

The fundamental question that occupied us on the long train ride home the next day was about the difference between land and landscape. Is landscape a discursive public space, differentiated from issues of land ownership access and equity? The issues of justice as it refers to landscape are about having a voice that is heard in the debate about landscape cause and effect, meaning and value. This is embedded in Dalglish’ and Jorgenson’s positions and is a thread running through the expert testimony presented on the day. Olwig suggested that the dominant scientific culture of ecosystem science seeking to protect the Białowieża Forest ignores its complicated social/political history which has actually shaped its ecology. Rahmani offered a critical creative response to legal tools, specifically Eminent Domain, the use of which simply shuts down all debate about values. Peacock gave us a glimpse into a centuries old culture in Scotland where a few families dominate land-use decision-making by the weight of their property holdings and historic political strengths. Finally, Brady asked us to think about how the voice of the more-than-human enters the discourse of environmental justice through ethical and aesthetic consideration. Without a doubt, the LRG hosted a provocative day of discussion that raised issues relevant to a broad range of disciplines.

The meaning of Landscape Justice is perhaps still hanging in the air unresolved – as we struggle with the idea of landscape itself, a concept that is generative and morphological (like art) and as a result very difficult to pin down with closed definitions. If we think of it as a discursive space, then deliberation becomes a structure for relational definition. Justice in turn is about having access to and potential impact upon the discourse at hand.

This article is a result of a dialogue between Reiko Goto Collins and Tim Collins. We were in different working groups (and had very different experiences) We discussed the issues on the way down in the train, then discussed the event at length on the way back. We also corresponded a bit with colleagues who were also present at the event. We outlined this paper from our notes at the kitchen table over a series of mornings. Tim took on the task of writing, Reiko provided critical input again at the final stage of writing.

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

Open Call: Off-Grid Artist Residency

Joya: Air seeks applicants for an off-grid residency for international artists and writers.

They are accepting applications for the April, May, and June 2018 residencies.

Application DEADLINE 23rd March 2018

Interdisciplinary: Visual Art / Sculpture / Ceramics (enquire before applying) / Dance / Theatre / Performing Arts / Music / Writing / Educational Programmes / New Media / Curatorial / Film Making

Independent not for profit association/foundation

Joya: AiR is currently accepting applications in Spanish and English only.

The length of the residency would be 1 to 2 weeks (longer periods are available)

Apply Now

About Joya: AiR:

Since 2009 Joya: AiR has invited and hosted in excess of 500 artists and writers providing them with a creative environment free from distraction in one of Spain’s most beautiful and remote regions.

Joya: AiR is an interdisciplinary residency based at Cortijada Los Gázquez, an ‘off-grid’ eco-destination, in the heart of the Parque Natural Sierra María – Los Vélez, in the north of the province of Almería, Andalucía.

The Joya: AiR programme was founded by Simon and Donna Beckmann with the intention of making a strong cultural destination within a Spanish rural context. They believe that dynamic and sustainable creative activity is the backbone to regenerating land that has been slowly abandoned over the last fifty years. (read more)

This is one of the sunniest regions of Europe receiving over 3000 hours of sunlight a year. Daytime summer temperatures are warm/hot, outside nightly temperatures are warm, making this a dramatic environment.

Cortijada Los Gázquez is a creative hub where there is always an inspirational environment of knowledgeable and informed thinking around all creative disciplines. Artists will have use of a studio space and 20 hectares of land. Accommodation (private room with attached bathroom) and meals are included as is collection and return to the nearest public transport system.


The Top 10 Initiatives in the Netherlands!

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

The Netherlands, that small country with big ambitions that lies below sea level, has been battling water and trying to outsmart it for decades. Traditionally, our strategies have included using dikes and reclaiming land, as well as developing the iconic Dutch windmill to generate energy. In recent years, we have seen new innovations in both water-management and renewable energy. The Dutch are familiar with using design to counter climate change on many levels: from floating architecture, to glow-in the dark bike-paths, to self-powering (solar) furniture. The creative sector – nurtured by progressive educational institutes such as the Design Academy in Eindhoven – seems to be aching to transition towards a more sustainable society. You’ll find below an overview of my ten favorite art initiatives dedicated to building a more aware, balanced, artistic, fossil-free and sustainable future.

Note: This list is non-exhaustive, in random order, and does not include individual artists, design studios, projects or educational institutes – only art initiatives. And it’s also not entirely objective as I work for (at least) one of them!


Performance by Amy Toner, picture by Willem Velthoven

1.  Mediamatic

Though Mediamatic describes itself as an “Art and New Technology” space, their more recent projects are rather low-tech and involve a lot of food-related stuff (which I like!). Think fermentation feasts and reading Russian literature to cabbages (no joke). Mediamatic is very active: They organize over 40 presentations, 25 workshops and three exhibitions each year. It’s a cool space to attend an artist-led workshop or to enjoy a locally crafted beer overlooking the (rising?) waters of Amsterdam.

We realize that humankind is facing a lot of ecological challenges, like climate change, overpopulation, pollution and epidemic health problems. Therefore, we reflect on the value and meaning of nature and on processes which are more in harmony with our own organic identity. The old idea of nature as the opposite of culture is replaced by the insight that we as humans are part of nature and also responsible for its development. So, everyone should be part of this conversation. Artists especially can show us to observe, think and see in a different way. That is why the focus of Mediamatic is now on art, biology and technology.
—Manon van Daal


“Studies on the Essence of Time” by Bosko Gastanger at Cultureland AIR.

2.  Cultureland AIR and De Buitenwerkplaats

De Buitenwerkplaats is beautifully located in the Dutch polder, with views stretching for miles over the flat, rural landscape. Both skilled architects with sustainability at the heart of their practice, owners Maud and Dagobert re-built this former farm themselves. In addition to providing great spaces for work meetings, (organic) cooking workshops, and a wood workshop, they offer a separate residency program for artists called Cultureland AIR. The residency starts with two weeks in Amsterdam, where the artist can explore the cultural and scientific life that the city has to offer. After two weeks, the artist retreats to the polder for time, reflection and inspiration surrounded by this classic Dutch landscape.

We are convinced that the creative and philosophical approach to sustainability is indispensable, for we as humans need to fundamentally rethink our relationship to nature. By offering our residency to artists for this purpose, we hope to provide some beauty and consolidation for all. That is why we started Cultureland AIR.
—Maud Aarts and Dagobert Bergmans


Da-Ning Hong working with the Onkruidenier sourcing black walnuts to make natural pigments in the greenhouse of the Thijsse Lab.

3.  Jac. P. Thijsse Lab/ Van Eyck Food Lab

Ok, so this is not totally objective because I run this lab! But it’s exciting stuff; it consists of a garden, a greenhouse, Food Lab and residencies with the Thijsse Lab for Nature Research. Currently, architect Rain Wu and chef/designer Marente van der Valk are in residence at the Food Lab, and duo de Onkruidenier are in residence at the Thijsse Lab. De Onkruidenier (a Dutch play on words) has been conducting their research on what humans can learn from plants when it comes to adapting to changing conditions – especially in relation to halotolerance (salt tolerance) of plants growing near the sea. Plants are remarkably smart and adaptive, and keeping in mind that we live in a world where 97.5% of all water is salt water, shouldn’t humans become a more halotolerant species? As part of this research, de Onkruidenier is growing sugar beets and beach beets, watering half of them with seawater and half with freshwater, while tracking how they change, among many other things.

The newly established Food Lab, which includes an artist/chef residency program, is a place for artists to research in depth their relation to food, and explore what food means in our day and age in the light of ecological and social issues. The kitchen and café-restaurant of the Van Eyck function as the physical basis of the Food Lab where experiment, encounter, cooking and (a lot of!) tasting come together.

Just come and visit and taste!
—Yasmine Ostendorf


4.  Satellietgroep

I got to know Satellietgroep back in 2009 when they organized a residency program in containers on the beach. The program was called Badgasten and explored the social and ecological impact of the sea and coastal transition zones on cities, people, communities and environments. Today, almost ten years later, water remains a recurring theme in their many projects, which involve artistic fieldwork and connecting with locals and experts.

We see more and more examples of contemporary artistic projects that place our environment (or Umwelt, as the Germans put it more accurately) at the core of their work. There seems to be a global wave of artists and designers that address the ways in which humans interact with and affect the climate and climate change. And that’s great! We need to critically investigate perceptions of our human footprint as a cultural phenomenon.
—Jacqueline Heerema


Edible park project by Nils Norman. Courtesy Stroom Den Haag.

5.  Stroom

Taking the visual arts, design, architecture and urban planning as a starting point, Stroom focuses on public space and the urban environment. It aims at being a hospitable and stimulating platform. Stroom organizes exhibitions, projects, lectures, workshops, research, debates and excursions to stimulate the transfer of knowledge and the development of ideas concerning art, architecture and related disciplines. They also publish books such as Facing Value, a recent publication that aims to rethink the scope and language of our value system. Check out their projects Food Print and Upcycling as best practice projects nicely demonstrating the positive and tangible impact art projects can have on society.

Stroom has initiated countless meaningful initiatives that blur traditional borders between public space, social themes and art over its nearly 30 years of existence. As the youngest member on the program team today, it’s my mission to scan, challenge, wonder and continue to tease out: what is the societal potential of art and imagination?
—Ilga Minjon

farm of the world

6.  Farm of the World

Tucked away in one of the northernmost parts of the Netherlands, in an old farm called The Kreake, the nonprofit organization Farm of the World aims to increase our awareness and help us develop sustainable relationships with art, nature and culture. It was initiated by artist Claudy Jongstra for Leeuwarden European Cultural Capital 2018 to explore new and sustainable futures for the countryside. Jongstra creates art pieces and architectural installations from hand felted material. Committed to the value chain of creation, she raises her own sheep, keeps bees, cultivates a botanical garden and grows her own plants for dyes. A central question therefore is: How can the countryside contribute to a social, sustainable and dynamic local environment? The starting point of the project is an abandoned farm in Húns, twelve kilometers from Leeuwarden. By bringing in people from all over the world to work together with local resources, The Kreake becomes productive again – but this time, as an example of how creativity and cooperation can bring life to a formerly abandoned rural farm.


7.  Waag Society

From workshops on conducting citizen science in order to make our living environment a healthier space, to exploring the potential of dying fabric with bacteria (!) as an alternative to the highly polluting textile industries, it’s all happening at the Waag Society, an institute for art, science and technology which, over the last 22 years, has built itself into an international pioneer in the field of digital media. They concern themselves not only with technologies related to the Internet, but also with biotechnology and the cognitive sciences – areas that have a huge impact on our culture and identity.

Intuitive and curiosity-driven research by artists and designers is paramount. Artists and designers know better than anyone that they must question technology in order to get to the bottom of things, overthrow sacred cows, stimulate imagination and fantasy, create unexpected connections, and –above all – search for meaning.


Photo by Muzi Ndiweni & Robin Laird.

8.  De Ceuvel

When a group of architects won a bid to create a “regenerative urban oasis” in the old shipyard in the North of Amsterdam, they decided to “upcycle” old Dutch houseboats that were about to be demolished, and give them a new life on land. Thus, De Ceuvel was born. The boats now function as workspaces and aim to catalyze even more ideas around sustainability; they host organizations such as Metabolic, The Tipping Point and The Dutch Weedburger. Soil-cleansing plants have been sowed around the boats to clean the heavily polluted industrial grounds. Nothing is wasted in trying to fix these polluted grounds: Nutrients are recovered from the urine of the waterless urinal in the Metabolic Lab and Café de Ceuvel to fertilize the aquaponics plants in the Green House on the roof of the lab. The produce from this Green House goes straight into the kitchen of Café de Ceuvel. Furthermore, Café De Ceuvel and Metabolic are building a bio-waste digester to turn the restaurant’s kitchen waste into biogas. Workshops, guided tours, readings, concerts, lectures and other cultural events are regularly organized.

We want to lead by example, showcasing what the transition to a contemporary circular lifestyle looks like. Through art and cultural programming we inspire and involve kindred spirits, becoming part of a growing movement of people who embrace the idea of a sustainable city, country and world. The transition to a circular economy and society is not just a technical transition, it is also a cultural transition: people have to learn how to deal with new techniques and world-views.
—Tycho Hellinga

9.  Bewaerschole

The island of Schouwen-Duiveland is a rare gem. Protected from the sea by dunes, dams and dikes, and dependent on a thin layer of fresh water just below the surface, it is  threatened by rising sea level and other forces of nature. Humans have regulated the dynamic balance between fresh and salt water as much as possible. As a result, a delicate system has been created in which people live and work, and continuously balance threats to safety, economy and the natural heritage of the island. How do you make minuscule water life visible? How does a bird connect its nest with the rest of the world? Where exactly does the subterranean border between fresh and salt water lie? These are questions that the Bewaerschole in Burgh-Haamstede asks its artists to engage with.

Both national and international artists are doing artistic research on the island and sharing their results through exhibitions, publications and social media. The common theme for all artists is the balance between fresh and salt water.


Wind Violen (wind violins) by Ronald van der Meijs.

10.  Zone2Source

Based in Amstelpark in Amsterdam, Zone2Source is an international exhibition platform that offers artists a space to create projects at the intersection of art, nature and technology. Artists are invited to rethink the relationship between humans, technology and the environment. They explore alternative practices through exhibitions, workshops, debates and performances which take place both in the glass pavilions and the outdoors. Zone2Source is concerned with a return to the source in order to observe and experience anew the complex natural world of which we are a part.

The urgent ecological crisis mankind is facing does not only require a change of practices in the way we deal with nature but a change in mentality in order to rethink the position of man itself. Rather then seeing ourselves as separate from nature, we need to learn to understand the complex entanglements which make us part of ecological systems so that notions of care can become part again of designing our technologies and systems. Art can play an important role in developing new imaginations to rethink the relation between human, nature and technology.
—Alice Smits


Curator Yasmine Ostendorf (MA) has worked extensively on international cultural mobility programs and on the topic of art and environment for expert organizations such as Julie’s Bicycle (UK), Bamboo Curtain Studio (TW) Cape Farewell (UK) and Trans Artists (NL). She founded the Green Art Lab Alliance, a network of 35 cultural organizations in Europe and Asia that addresses our social and environmental responsibility, and is the author of the series of guides “Creative Responses to Sustainability.” She is the Head of Nature Research at the Van Eyck Academy (NL), a lab that enables artists to consider nature in relation to ecological and landscape development issues and the initiator of the Van Eyck Food Lab.


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

Imagining Water, #6: Techno Floods

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

The sixth in a year-long series on artists who are making the topic of water a focus of their work and on the growing number of exhibitions, performances and publications that are popping up in museums, galleries and public spaces around the world with water as a theme.


Waterlicht Westervoort

Located on an alluvial plain, much of the Netherlands lies below sea level. The first century Roman writer Pliny the Elder described the region in Natural History, a compendium of everything known in the world at the time, as follows:

There, twice in every twenty-four hours, the ocean’s vast tide sweeps in a flood over a large stretch of land and hides Nature’s everlasting controversy about whether this region belongs to the land or to the sea.”

For twelve centuries, the Dutch have developed and sustained an innovative system of dikes, under the management of local water boards, to protect the country from catastrophic floods. Ironically, so successful has the dike technology been in preventing flooding that much of the Dutch citizenry has become complacent to the on-going threat, or as the Dutch Water Board Rhine and IJssel admitted, they have a “weak spot” when it comes to water awareness. So, in 2015, they commissioned artist/designer Daan Roosegaarde to create an installation that would simulate what it would look like if the Netherlands’s dikes did not exist and the country was completely flooded in order to “raise awareness about the power and poetry of water.”

“Waterlicht,” Netherlands, 2015, courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde.

Using blue LED lights projected through lenses, Roosegaarde and his team of designers and engineers at Studio Roosgaarde in Rotterdam, the social design lab he created to merge technology and art in urban environments, developed “Waterlicht” (Water Light). Installed originally across 4 acres of flood channel of the River Ijssel near Westervoort, Netherlands, “Waterlicht” allowed visitors to experience an eerie, virtual flood. As Roosegaarde explained: “walking on the dike, the light lines are perceived as high water; once in the flood channel you find yourself in an underwater world.” In addition to its clear reference to the specific, inherent water challenges of the Netherlands, “Waterlicht” also called attention to the manmade impact on the environment that is causing tides to rise due to climate change.

The first visitors to “Waterlicht” in Westervoort nicknamed the installation “the Northern Lights of the Netherlands” for the way the beams flashed through the sky like the aurora borealis. In order to create “Waterlicht’s” dramatic wavy lines and dreamy underwater effect, Roosegaarde installed the LED lights, powered by motors, around the periphery of the site so that the light beams intersected in the sky as they moved up and down like ocean waves. As an extra effect, the prevailing wind affected the beams to create unexpected light alterations. Because the light beams were never exactly the same, those who came to the installation on consecutive nights reported a very different sequence of lights and a different sensual experience.

“Waterlicht.” Lumiere Festival, London, 2018, courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde.

Waterlicht Redux

 Following the enormous success of the 2015 “Waterlicht” in Westervoort, Roosegaarde developed additional site-specific installations in a number of European locations including: Amsterdam (2015); Paris (2015); UNESCO Schokland, Netherlands (2016); Madrid (2017); Middleburg, Netherlands (2017); and most recently in London (January, 2018) and Leeuwarden, Netherlands (February, 2018). The number of visitors to “Waterlicht” sites has been enormous – 60,000 individuals in one night alone at Museumplein in Amsterdam and 1.5 million in London over 4 days.

The London installation was enhanced by a sound track of music and Roosegaarde’s narration of the installation. Although it is impossible to duplicate the physical, visual and emotional experience without actually being there, Studio Roosegaarde has produced a short video of “Waterlicht” that provides a sense of what visitors have described as “magnificent,” “epic,” and “powerful.”

WATERLICHT by Daan Roosegaarde [OFFICIAL VIDEO] from Studio Roosegaarde on Vimeo.

Studio Roosegaarde

 “Waterlicht” is by no means the only socially innovative project that has been produced by Studio Roosegaarde. They are dedicated to what Roosegaarde calls “Schoonheid, a Dutch word meaning both ‘beauty’ and ‘clean’ as in clean air, clean energy and clean water.” They created the world’s largest smog vacuum cleaner, a 23-foot-tall tower that produces smog free air in public spaces, which was tested and applied in China; smog free jewelry; a smog free bicycle; smart highways or roads that charge throughout the day and glow at night and numerous other inventive prototypes for “the landscape of tomorrow.” In 2017, Roosegaarde was awarded the LIT Lighting Designer of the Year, USA and the Best Lighting Environment Design, Canada, for his work on “Waterlicht.”

(Top image: Waterlicht, Museumplein, Amsterdam, 2015, Courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde.)


Susan Hoffman Fishman is a painter, public artist, writer, and educator whose work has been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries throughout the U.S. Her latest bodies of work focus on the threat of rising tides caused by climate change, the trillions of pieces of plastic in our oceans and the wars that are predicted to occur in the future over access to clean water. She is also the co-creator of two interactive public art projects: The Wave, which addresses our mutual need for and interdependence on water and Home, which calls attention to homelessness and the lack of affordable housing.


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

Get involved in #GreenArts Day: Wednesday 14th March

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

Join in with #GreenArts day on Wednesday 14 March to share your work, find out more about what is currently taking place in the cultural sector, what sustainability in the arts looks like, and how we all can contribute to a more sustainable Scotland.

What can I expect from the #GreenArts day?

  • The launch of the Green Arts Initiative Annual Report
    As part of their membership of the community, our Green Arts members report each year on the actions they’ve taken, and the ambitions they have for their environmental sustainability efforts. This year we’ll be live publishing the report during the #GreenArts day, pulling out key activities, insights and member successes. For an idea of previous annual reports, and to get a sneak peak of what might be in this year’s edition, take a look at our 2016 Annual Report.
  • The showcasing of our member community
    Our Green Arts community is driven by the amazing members from all corners of Scotland. We’ll be highlighting those taking strides on sustainability from different art forms, different locations, and different situations.
  • Questions to prompt your own green arts thinking
    Over the course of the day, we’ll also be posing key questions that the Green Arts community is working with, challenging the cultural sector and those participating in it to develop the ideas which underpin all our efforts towards a sustainable Scottish cultural sector.

What is the Green Arts Initiative?#GreenArts Day: Wednesday 14th March 1

The Green Arts Initiative is a community of practice of cultural organisations in Scotland, committed to reducing their environmental impact. We are working on this in a huge variety of ways – everything from reducing the emissions of harmful greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, to programming artistic work which directly tackles the issues for Scottish and international audiences.

It is free for any cultural organisation in Scotland to join and participate in the Green Arts Initiative. To find out more, and to become part of the community, head on over to our project page. We currently have over 190 members from across Scotland, and we guarantee you’ll spot some you already know on our interactive map.

How can I get involved?

  • Use, like and retweet the hashtag #GreenArts
  • Connect with Creative Carbon Scotland on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.
  • If you are a Green Arts member, think about what you could share during the day:
    • Could you introduce your Green Champion or Green Team to the world?
    • Have you got a good sustainability story to share?
    • Can you show off your environmental policy?
    • Are your recycling bins especially aesthetically pleasing?

If you have something you are planning to share as part of the #GreenArts day, or if you have any questions, please do get in touch with Catriona on

The post Get involved in #GreenArts Day: Wednesday 14th March appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.


Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

Indoor Solar

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

When thinking about solar energy, most of us conjure up images of rectangular arrays of blue photovoltaic (PV) panels covering rooftops or stretched across fields, abandoned mines, former landfills and even water. Not to mention planes, boats and cars. Or even, as described in my last post, the clothes we wear outdoors.

We would be forgiven therefore, for concluding that solar technology only works outside, directly under the sun, where internal silicon cells can most efficiently capture the sun’s energy and convert it into clean electricity.

But what about indoors?

London-based Dutch designer Marjan van Aubel has created the world’s first piece of furniture to harvest energy indoors from diffused light. Current Table 2.0 is a brilliant piece of functional minimalist design: an orange-tinted glass surface encased in a sleek aluminum frame supported by four wooden legs.

solar, renewable, energy, table, Caventou, Dutch, Marjan, van Aubel

This is how it works: According to Wired, the specific orange color of the glass surface helps nanoparticles of titanium oxide embedded within the glass to absorb ambient light; these nanoparticles then release electrons, creating an electrical current similar to the process of photosynthesis in plants. The electricity generated by this current can be used directly, or can be stored in a battery hidden in the perimeter of the table for later use.

A USB port located on one of the legs of the table can charge mobile devices at a rate of 500mA, the same rate as plugging into a laptop’s USB port. A network of cables is cleverly hidden within the table’s aluminum perimeter.


Photos by Mitch Payne, downloaded from Twitter.

The concept behind the Current Table 2.0 is nothing short of revolutionary. This table, designed for home or office, is independent of any electric power source apart from itself. No need to move the table closer to an electrical wall socket, or to dangle electric cables over the edge to connect your electronics to an electrical wall socket.

van Aubel developed the self-sufficient Current Table 2.0 in collaboration with engineer Peter Krige. Together, they created Caventou, a company whose goal is to integrate solar technology subtly into our everyday lives, without us even being aware of it. Much more subtle than installing an array of solar panels on our roofs.

“I am a designer, and I would like to change things through design. My aim is to make people think differently about solar technology. Give them a choice. Literally, give power to the consumer.”
Marjan van Aubel

In a 2016 interview in The Guardian, van Aubel explained: “You’ll collect the most power [indoors] on bright, clear days. That being said, dye-sensitized solar panels are less affected by diffuse light levels and shadow from clouds. Although the efficiency of the solar panel will decrease in cloudy conditions, you’ll still be collecting valuable power from the sun. On an average day in London indoors, it can power three phones and an iPad or one computer and a phone.”

Caventou also developed Current Window, a modern take on stained glass with USB ports in the window ledge. Designed on the same principle as Current Table 2.0, Current Window uses glass panels that are made from dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) which use the properties of color to create an electrical current.

Check out this beautiful video from Caventou:

Joan Sullivan is a renewable energy photographer based in Québec, Canada. Since 2009, Joan has focused her cameras (and more recently her drones) exclusively on solutions to climate change. She is convinced that the inevitable transition to a 100% clean energy economy will happen faster – and within our lifetimes – by creating positive images and stories that help us visualize and embrace what a post-carbon future will look like.  Joan collaborates frequently with filmmakers on documentary films that explore the human side of the energy transition. She is currently working on a photo book about the energy transition. Her renewable energy photos have been exhibited in group shows in Canada and the UK. You can find Joan onTwitter and Instagram


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

Persistent Acts: Dreamers

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

Through Persistent Acts, I look at the intersection of performance, climate, and politics. In this divisive political moment, I share examples of performances that persevere in pursuit of intersectional justice and sustainability. How does hope come to fruition, even in the direst circumstances? What are tangible alternatives to the oppressive status quo? My Persistent Acts series considers questions of this nature to motivate conversations and actions on climate issues that reverberate through politics and theatre. The Persistent Acts series continues, with a look at performative responses to divisive United States politics, focusing on immigration and the DREAM Act.


Last year, Artists Rise Up New York hosted our inaugural event, The Rising, in response to the Inauguration. We set up installations for audiences to engage (including postcard-writing to Congress), shared a reading of The FEAR Project (based on dozens of interviews about fear), and participated in a collective movement sequence. The Rising was an evening of rage, concern for our country and our personal relationships, and solidarity.


ARUNY’s The Rising, January 2017. Photo: Stacey Linnartz.

Fast-forward to 2018, one year into 45’s administration. From travel bans based on religion, to undoing Obama-era climate deals (which did not go far enough to begin with), to collusion with Russia, America is having a moment. And not in a progressive way. This divisive and toxic political moment requires a movement – one comprised of intersectional communities, and otherwise-marginalized voices. Artists Rise Up is one segment of said movement, among the countless other collectives that have coalesced in the wake of November 2016. Since the Inauguration, Artists Rise Up has addressed a variety of topics through monthly events, including feminism, climate change, and endangered species. Our latest event, The Divide, addressed this particular divergent moment; we wanted to bring people together to explore specific politically-charged topics: the failing two-party system in the US, the conflict in Israel and Palestine, and the plight of undocumented youth.

As part of our The Divide evening, I directed a reading of Dream Acts. Written collectively by Chiori Miyagawa, Mia Chang, Jessica Litwak, Saviana Stanescu, and Andrea Thome, this 2012 play dramatizes the stories of five undocumented youth from five different countries: Jordan, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, and Ukraine. Each character was brought – or found their way – to the US in one way or another, and each is implicated by their undocumented status. These Dreamers are categorized as such based on the proposed DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors). This play felt particularly urgent because like the characters, millions of Dreamers’ lives are on the line, pending the next round of federal budget negotiations.


Reading of Dream Acts, as part of The Divide, January 2018. Photo: Stacey Linnartz.

For Dreamers and documented citizens alike, the play offers questions such as: What makes a place a home? Can people belong to a country? How does it feel to not belong? While Dream Acts showcases the specific plight of undocumented youth, these overarching questions hold space for intersectional conversations about human rights. The discussion about the DREAM Act is not just about making room in the federal budget, it is not just about the social implications of immigration. As a human rights concern, the DREAM Act discussion is about why some groups of people (in this case, undocumented youth) are being denied the right to exist in the only country that many of them know as “home.” To me, the DREAM Act as a human rights issue intersects with other instances of oppression in our society: racism, xenophobia, sexism, and more. These oppressions epitomize the disproportionate wielding of power by one group over another. Such oppression is also evident in terms of climate, with every country on Earth implicated in the era of climate change, but only a handful of countries actually responsible for raising the thermostat. It is us humans who have to face societal and cultural fall-outs of a changing climate, with the most vulnerable populations – those people who bear no responsibility for altering the climate – in the most threatened circumstances.

In my own lifetime, I have never seen such blatant oppression as what I am witnessing now. This is why it was vital to bring Dream Acts to life. While the play was written under Obama, and put to rest once his administration passed DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), Dream Acts is immediate again, with Trump and the Republicans laying out deals to allow Dreamers to stay, in exchange for money for the wall along the US-Mexico border. Dream Acts highlights the experiences of fictionalized characters as they feel isolated, rejected, joyful, and uncertain, but does not include mention of this wall. The context of our reading with Artists Rise Up was implicated by these federal budget discussions. As the characters in the play talk about marching on Washington, D.C., the actors march around the audience – we used this dramatic moment to demonstrate a tangible political action, exemplifying the agency that many citizens do have to stand in support of the marginalized.

Another element of the play is an Internet chatroom for Dreamers (such a chatroom really exists!). The Internet has blown open the possibilities for cross-cultural communication. And as we see in Dream Acts, individuals can anonymously share their stories, glean advice, and find community. Whatever happens to the DREAM Act, I am holding hope that the Internet will be put to positive use, and allow people to support one another when their governments will not.

Climate change forces us to take a hard look at our political borders, because in an increasingly de-stabilizing climate, more and more people will be migrants. As human rights issues, climate change and immigration intersect beyond political borders. To build the society that values newcomers and holds space for different ethnicities is also to build a society that values alternative, sustainable energy and equitably-distributed political power. These issues are not indivisible, and the change that I wish to see cannot happen on an incremental basis. As a country and as a species, we do not have time for arrogance and fear.

Learn More, Take Action
Read testimonials from American Dreamers.
Hold members of Congress accountable for voting to deport Dreamers with the Dreamer Pledge.


Julia Levine is a creative collaborator and vegetarian. Originally from St. Louis, Julia is now planted in the New York City downtown theatre realm. As a director, Julia has worked on various projects with companies that consider political and cultural topics, including Theater In AsylumHonest Accomplice Theatre, and Superhero Clubhouse. She is on the Marketing team at HERE Arts Center and is a co-organizer with Climate Change Theatre Action. Julia writes and devises with her performance-based initiative, The Food Plays, to bring questions of food, climate, and justice into everyday life.


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