Sunday, November 14, 2010

Art & the Environment

My degree is in art history, but my passion is the environment, therefore it is only natural that I would seek out things that marry the two. 

The RSA Arts and Ecology Centre is an organization which showcases, supports and challenges artists who are interacting and responding to the environmental changes in our life through their art. They wish to create a "positive discussion about the causes and the human impact of climate change through commissioning, debate, interdisciplinary discourse and a high-profile website".  The website is a treasure trove of never-ending interesting articles, suggested reading, information about numerous projects across the country.

The art world does love its 'isms' and the environment is no exception. Environmental art or Environmentalism, generally refers to artists who either work with natural materials and/or their art address ecological issues. Below are some of these artists which I particularly like:  

To discover your own favorite environmental aritsts why not have a look at the Green Museum's database. I'm still getting through all of them, so watch this space for some more of my favorites...

As a wee interlude some 'un-eco-friendly' art:  Martin Creed No.227 Lights Going on and Off

And finally, my ultimate favorite: Swedish photographer Jens Assur's exhibit 'Hunger' made a real impact on me when I saw it in Stockholm this summer.  His work compromises giant photographs as well as information panels presenting reality as it currently is and the tangible possiblities of what we can make it. The exhibit's title does not only refer to the straightforward hunger of those who are deprived and starving, but the hunger of the rich and never satisfied; hunger of desire and consumption. Its the hunger of a humanity always wanting more, even if it means their own demise.  

I usually tend not to like people who adopt a negative stance about what can be done to fight climate change, and Assur's written text could easily be mistaken as that; but rather than negative I think he is frank and his words manage to break through the protective layer of denial and irresponsibility that most people have developed. Its a visual and mental wake-up call to all:

The clock is ticking.
Time is getting scarce.
There is a lot to be done.
We know what’s needed to be done immediately:
The dependence on fossil fuels – oil and coal – must be broken.
Alternative energy sources must be made economically competitive.
Private motoring must be barred from the cities.
Collective transport has to be extended and developed, made comfortable and cheap.
The airway industry must carry a substantially larger part of its own climate costs.
Natural seasons must be reintroduced. Less Southern fruits flown north. Strawberries only in season.
A new system for distributing and marketing foodstuffs, raised locally, in energy efficient ways. Quality instead of quantity.
A new kind of consumption culture must be established. Good and environmentally sound merchandise is preferable to throw-away and price-pressed products.
A renaissance for re-utilization, reparations and handicraft.
According to an extensive BBC poll, nine Europeans out of ten are willing to change their lives in order to save the climate. I’d like to take for granted that you’re one of them, and that you mean what you’re saying. I take for granted that you don’t delude yourself into thinking it’s enough to substitute your bottled water with tap water.

To view the pictures from the exhibit CLICK HERE (please be aware it takes time to load).

For more information on Jens Assur

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