Artists and Climate Change is a blog by playwright Chantal Bilodeau 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.
This post comes to you from An Arts and Ecology Notebook
Museum of Nature, 2004 by photographer Ilkka Halso
This is my 100th post on my art & ecology notebook site – amazing! I’m as shocked as probably you are and its made me realise that I have created quite an archive of the different means where arts and ecology intersect.
new ecoartfilm site
What started out in 2008 as a small personal notebook has grown – it initially was a place to put inspiring art & ecology projects and resources that I came across in one place and also a means to house the beginnings of my own long term art & ecology project. From a small rural location the site has allowed me to gather and make visible projects that often fall outside the mainstream agendas of many galleries and it has allowed my own practice to travel to many unexpected destinations. For newer readers my artistic work is about creating small audiovisual works that touch on the small forest that surrounds our house that we are transforming from a monoculture conifer plantation into a permanent mixed species forest. Mostly my own work is about how we engage with ‘nature’ in general and its led me to pursue the idea of whether audiovisual video works can be used in a more ecocentric way, if that is possible (if you are interested my research on this topic can be found here). My art & ecology site been quite an odd jumble of things and early posts were a bit random, but my readership has steadily grown even though my posts can appear a bit infrequently. Thank you for all the comments along the way too – you have no idea how this small site has enabled my work to develop and connect with others!
new archive page
Anyway, to mark this blogging milestone I’ve spent a little bit of time and created an illustrated Archive page and a new dropdown Category section on the home page where you can easily see all the art
disciplines for instance that I have written about; from film to dance, to music to policy papers on culture and sustainability. You are more than welcome to share any of these posts along.
Some of you might also be aware that I wrote a research paper on networking the arts to save the earth earlier this year. It was a whopping 8,000 words, designed to reach out and comment on how cultural practitioners of all types could best use online social media networks. Social media is something I’ve worked with for several years in a past job where I helped develop a large online arts community. A lot of the paper was me trying to figure out the potential or not of social media, amongst all the hype and suddenness in which these
a new article
technologies have now appeared in our lives, and examine their value for art & ecology practitioners. The paper seemed to have struck a nerve – I expect it was probably the fact that many working in this field are both isolated geographically but also isolated on the fringes of contemporary art practice. A much shortened form of the article was printed in the Aug 2011 Irish Visual Arts Newsheet. It was then picked up by one of the editors as a feature article on the international
site HerCircleEzine.com – an online site that for the last 6 years has been dedicated to women’s socially engaged practice. I was surprised and delighted – to tell the truth the research paper had been turned down originally for an academic journal (not that I was too surprised about this as it was my first attempt) but of course, a paper on social media, should be circulating on social media not stuck in some academic journal. I’ve created a resource page of the many various art & ecology networks too – please feel free to tell me about other networks not listed. There’s more too, I’ve also been asked to write a regular column on the HerCircleEzine site about art & ecology and my research practice, starting in November which I must say is a bit daunting as if you examine the site you’ll see the articles written are of a very high standard.
Hollywood - smallest close-to-nature forest in Ireland (pictured: Holly at the forest entrance)
You might have also noticed the blue forest image above – the Museum of Nature created by Finnish photographer Ilkka Halso. I found this image intriguing; its from a larger body of works by Ilkka called Restoration (2004). While I don’t like the idea of putting a forest in a cage I could identify with this artist’s interest with forests. I have also come across a number of artists who describe their art & ecology works as ‘restoration’ environmental projects.It’s not a term I use for my own forest project; while restoration of sites is obviously important I think much more needs to be addressed. Undoubtedly we can learn much from restoring sites/habitats, but for me, I think there is something more interesting in transformation; transforming the ideas and practices of how we relate to nature (a tricky area when one begins to examine it though) and hence, transforming how we behave on this one finite earth. You might be wondering why I’ve added this paragraph at the end of this post – I was saving the best for last . My tiny forest, nick-named ‘Hollywood’ has been getting some attention. ‘Hollywood’ is now listed on the new Irish database for forests that are being managed in a permanent way – its the smallest plantation undergoing ‘transformation’ to become a forest, in Ireland. We manage the forest following close-to-nature principles ( a low impact management system that follows nature’s own dynamics). As it is an ecological type of forest management it means that the forest is sustainable not only for our use (we get firewood, birdsong, oxygen, sanity etc from it) but as it will never be clear-felled; the overall biodiversity, soil fertility and carbon-sink values on the site will only ever increase.
Funny, how this writing about transformation has slipped into this post, as I often have a lot of difficulty in talking about my creative work – in fact, I think its much better presented by the forest itself (click on the image below if you can’t see the film).
If you have any comments, do write in!
An Arts & Ecology Notebook, by Cathy Fitzgerald, whose work exists as ongoing research and is continually inspired to create short films, photographic documentation, and writings. While she interacts with foresters, scientists, and communities, she aims to create a sense of a personal possibility, responsibility and engagement in her local environment that also connects to global environmental concerns.
Go to An Arts and Ecology Notebook
The Irish Times’ SHANE HEGARTY shows us what Soichi Noguchi sees.
On Wednesday he posted a picture of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, its black tendrils looked eerily beautiful as it stretched through miles of ocean. It is a unique image, giving a sense of its scale previously unseen and with a touch of humanity that a satellite cannot. The picture looks as if it was taken by an interested photographer rather than a disinterested automaton.
What Noguchi does is to bring science and art together in a way that appeals to 250,000 people each day. He is one of the best things NASA has right now; up there at least with the rovers still toddling across Mars or the Voyager and Pioneer spacecrafts on lonely, perhaps eternal journeys into deep space. And if you want, you can talk to him and he may even talk back. If you need any proof of how wonderful modern technology can be, it’s that you can send a message to a man floating 400km above your head, and that he might reply with a holiday snap of your entire country.
He is not the only tweeting astronaut, but he is a reminder of just how awesome science can be. Not “awesome” in the modern way in which it is used merely as an everyday replacement for a nod, but “awesome” in a way that leaves your mind breathless from trying to appreciate the scale of it. And of how much fun it can be.
We’re fans of the macro view of planet. Check out there previous posts:
Chongqing XI, Series: Yangtze, The Long River, Chongqing, China 2007 by Nadav Kander
Just over a week ago Nadav Kander was named as winner of the excellent 2009 Prix Pictet, the prize given to photography on the theme of environmental sustainability. Last year’s shortlist, which included Benoit Aquin, Edward Burtynsky, David Maisel and others, produced a really astonishing collection of images on the theme of Water; it showed how powerful photography can still be when it inhabits the zone between art and documentary.
This year the theme, Earth, produced equally sock-knocking results; Britain’s Nadav Kander was up against Darren Almond, Edward Burtynsky (again) and Andreas Gursky and others. I’ve blogged about the brilliant shortlist previously.
Maybe because they’re part documentarists, there’s something very pithy about photographer’s artists’ statements that I really like. Here’s part of Kander’s artists’ statement about the whole Yangtze, The Long River project:
The Yangtze River, which forms the premise to this body of work, is the main artery that flows 4100miles (6500km) across China, travelling from its furthest westerly point in Qinghai Province to Shanghai in the east. The river is embedded in the consciousness of the Chinese, even for those who live thousands of miles from the river. It plays a significant role in both the spiritual and physical life of the people.
More people live along its banks than live in the USA, one in every eighteen people on the planet.
Using the river as a metaphor for constant change, I have photographed the landscape and people along its banks from mouth to source.
Importantly for me I worked intuitively, trying not to be influenced by what I already knew about the country. I wanted to respond to what I found and felt and to seek out the iconography that allowed me to frame views that make the images unique to me.
After several trips to different parts of the river, it became clear that what I was responding to and how I felt whilst being in China was permeating into my pictures; a formalness and unease, a country that feels both at the beginning of a new era and at odds with itself. China is a nation that appears to be severing its roots by destroying its past in the wake of the sheer force of its moving “forward” at such an astounding and unnatural pace. A people scarring their country and a country scarring its people…
In the 1990s I worked on a NY magazine where a visionaryphoto editor started employing a rising young photographer called David LaChapelle. LaChapelle was clearly a cut above the average fashion snapper and soon became the most famous thing about the magazine. When I did an interview with Tupac Shakur nobody read a word of the text because the accompanying photograph was a shocking LaChapelle shot of the young rapper dressed as a slave in the cottonfields. LaChapelle has now put magazine photography on hold and this year has been showing his work The Rape of Africa, a photograph that references Botticelli’s Venus and Mars. The fact that Naomi Campbell takes the part of Venus suggests he hasn’t moved on that far, but anyway…
When I interviewed Damien Hirst for the NYT a couple of years ago about For The Love Of God, he was disappointingly evasive about discussing the obvious link between diamonds and the current lethal exploitation of Africa that was contained in his work. He did stress that they had deliberately sourced the £14m worth diamonds from ethical sources. I remember suggesting that with a work of this scale – which bought up a significant part of the world’s diamond supply – he must have also inflated the price of blood diamonds but he wasn’t interested in going down that route. In that Hirsty kind of way he affected a kind of Wow… I never really thought of that response, I should have pushed it harder and didn’t, and the discussion never made it into the short piece that was finally published.
At times it benefits art to remain evasive. To dictate what the audience should find in a piece short-changes us. And of course, at the time Jay Jopling was looking for a multi-million dollar price for the work, and any whiff of activism might have jeopardised the sale of a piece in which Hirst and Jopling had invested massive amounts of their own money.
But in this case, by leaving it vague, Hirst let the impression hang that he didn’t care a fig about the issue of diamonds being directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in Angola, Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia and the DRC within the couple of decades.
Ironically, this leaves the field open to LaChapelle to reduce the meaning of the work to a symbol of how the west has raped Africa. In his photograph, Hirst’s skull lies at the feet a child soldier. It’s an example of how, at times, art’s professional reticence about talking too much about the issues that surround the work leave it looking timorous, self-interested and carelessly aloof.
Detail from The Rape of Africa by David LaChapelle, 2009.
It will be shown at CCANW from 10 October – 22 November 09 and Shai will be lecturing in Falmouth, Plymouth and Totnes. It is supported by BI ARTS, the British-Israeli Arts training scheme.
From end of November 2009, the project is available as a temporary or permanent installation in the UK. It will be adapted for each venue by the artist and/or co-designer, Eran Spitzer. Shai is also available for lectures and public workshops.
Artist’s statement and exhibition description (abstract)
After a thirteen year journey to record some of the imprint of humankind on the environment with leaves, stories, and photographs, the project is drawing to a close. It has created 170 up-cycled boxes, containing organic material from nineteen countries.
The project is a visual, yet restrained, warning. It is a place to contemplate on human nature, while using most of our senses – touch, smell, sight, and sound – simultaneously. The multi-media installation is an observatory and a collection of mostly damaged nature, highlighting the daily effects of global warming set in motion by human beings, i.e., the loss of biodiversity, deforestation, human indifference.
In the exhibition, visitors are invited to leaf through boxes from Japan; Australia; Cyprus; Kirgizstan; India; Israel among others; to read the texts inside each box; and to ponder on the species that we are destroying unthinkingly. If this irresponsible behavior toward our environment continues, it will be possible to visit the leaf library and be reminded how nature used to look. About the artist
Shai Zakai, a photographer and ecological artist, is author of the book Faces and Facet (Portrait of a Woman) and the project Concrete Creek 1999-2002 – in which reclamation of a stream functions as an artistic creation. She is the director/ founder of the Israeli Forum for Ecological Art, and holds an MA in Art and Environmental Policy. She has shown in more than sixty exhibitions in museums and galleries in Israel and throughout the world. Her works are to be found in both private and museum collections. She has represented Israel in art and environment exhibitions and symposia in Africa, Japan, Italy, China, Korea and the United States. She is a guest lecturer and curator as well as a consultant for ecological public projects, and organizations for the development of creative environmental leadership.
All enquiries about the exhibition:
Clive Adams, Director
Haldon Forest Park
Exeter EX6 7XR
01392 832277 firstname.lastname@example.org
Fancy yourself an eco-inspired photographer? Then send in your best shots to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as your good Earth Day deed. The now-hopefully-less-deadbeat-since-Obama’s-president agency’s looking for inspirational photos for its EPA Earth Day Photo project.
All you have to do is upload your photo onto one of those 3 Flickr groups — people and the environment, the beauty of nature, and wildlife — by April 30. The winner gets whatever fame comes from being featured on the EPA Earth Day site — and the happy knowledge that the photograph could inspire eco-activism in others.
via Enter the EPA’s Earth Day photo contest | green LA girl.