Artistic Practice

I-LAND X-ISLE – Latai Taumoepeau

Sydneysiders and visitors to the Harbour City can explore the impact of climate change on island communities through this large-scale performance installation by Tongan Islander, Latai Taumoepeau. Large blocks of ice, suspended using traditional Tongan architectural lashing techniques for binding, will draw connections between melting ice glaciers and rising sea levels. Lanai says that she attended the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali in 2007, and thereafter decided to “extend the voice of our invisible pacific people through my artistic practice.”

 In her own words… “My name is Latai Taumoepeau, I am a performance artist with a new performance installation campaign called i-Land X-isle. It is about the impact of climate change on vulnerable indigenous communities from the arctic to coastal low lying islands. My body will be bound by rope to a 2 tonne block of ice to parallel the experience of already impacted people of human induced climate change to a form of water torture, that is imposed by developing countries. It will be live and a durational performance over 2 days.

I humbly invite you… to use my public art spectacle as a platform to raise wider awareness of communities already impacted by human induced climate change and instructions of how ordinary citizens can change to minimise and cease harm to Australia’s nearest coastal neighbours all the way to the Arctic.”

Faka’apa’apa Atu (with respect), Latai Taumoepeau

When: 26 & 27th May 2012

Time: 10am – 12noon & 2pm – 4pm

Where: Museum of Contemporary Art – Circular Quay Sydney. 

(outdoors on the forecourt).

http://www.mca.com.au/events/i-land-x-isle-latai-taumoepeau/

The Borders – a complex listening environment

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

James Wyness (sound artist) in conversation with Kate Foster (environmental artist).

As a sound artist, James Wyness works on listening environments, in the Borders Region (where he is based) and elsewhere. He compared notes with Kate Foster about settling into work in the Borders, valuing what the area offers our respective practices. Here James elaborates on ideas from a thought-provoking exchange.

KF: You said that a sound artist has to be aware of how space, places, are made. What would an example be, of how such connections develop, through listening?

JW: Yes, my interest here specifically is in how spaces are produced, following the research of Henri Lefebvre. Lefebvre pointed me towards the fact that the production of space, by people, carries with it intention and deliberation. Produced spaces, many of them complex if we care to investigate, are often taken for granted as simply ‘there’ since time began, when in fact they have undergone all manner of politically directed transformations.

For example, an important part of my artistic practice involves listening to the region in which I live, the sparsely populated (one might even say underdeveloped) Scottish and English Border regions, including the Northumberland National Park. If we listen with a very generalised ear – or, easier still for most of us handicapped by the predominant visual drift in contemporary popular culture, if we look at the region on one of those noise maps which gives a colour coding according to ambient noise levels, what do we see for large swathes of our region? Nothing, or very little. It’s a very quiet region with little background noise from traffic arteries or urban centres. Relatively speaking, for a very crowded island few people live here. Large tracts of land are turned over to ‘wilderness’ with a little sheep farming.

Image and comment by KF: it’s not really wilderness though, is it?

JW: Certainly not in the sense of untouched or left in peace for the sake of it, despite the peace and quiet you might find there. So if large areas of this region are indeed so quiet and underdeveloped, why should that be? I don’t believe for a second that any of this happens by chance, especially in Britain whose governments have led the world in matters of controlling, administering and exploiting land or territory, who had at one time almost full political and military control of enormous tracts of land in the ‘Orient’, from the Middle East to India. Perhaps more than any government or established political system, successive British governments and their administrative machineries with their structures, doctrines and processes would use their home turf for whatever use suited them. So I have to ask why would a ‘wilderness’ be permitted to exist in an overcrowded island?

My theory, and this is only scientific inasmuch as I would love to have it disproved, is that the military/defence interest at Otterburn has determined to a large extent the geographical make-up of this large region. I say this first of all because Henri Lefebvre noticed a similar situation in his native France. I came to my conclusions following his conceptual framework and arguments. This is not a conspiracy theory except of course in the sense that the machinations of successive British governments, in matters of defence, now national security (this is an interesting shift of focus), are in fact usually conspiring towards some undemocratic end.

If I might elaborate, we have a historically troublesome border which always required a strong garrison, in particular on the English side. Over time the mentality of the garrison has become embedded in geo-political thinking. I’m sure that research would show that efforts will have been made to keep the region free of development to allow the free play of large scale military manoeuvres, including low flying. Having trained at Otterburn in my time as an RAF officer I’m aware that the use of tanks, aircraft and heavy artillery requires particular kinds of space. I believe that the creation of the National Park will have suited very well the prolongation of the Otterburn agenda whereas allowing substantial development would in time lead to calls for constraints placed on military activity.

So our noise free region is actually punctuated by bouts of extremely violent military activity on both sides of the border: low flying fighter jets, artillery exercises, helicopter exercises. It constantly baffles me that nobody seems to be able to effect collective action against ‘friendly’ fighter jets flying at lower than 500 feet over primary schools without warning. Having had a privileged inside view I could go on, but the Official Secrets Act prevents me from doing so.

KF image and comment: I keep trying to snap low-fliers

JW: What I’m saying is that the space has been produced, as a result of an accumulation of conscious political and military decisions, affecting freedom of movement and particular kinds of development or uses of space, negating the possibility of differently produced spaces, of the adjoining social space, including the ‘wilderness’ of the Cheviots. This is done by proxy – planning in the Northumberland National Park is tight to say the least. In my reveries I often contextualise the region as a more northerly extension of Hadrian’s Wall.

And of course, going much further back, apart from a few pockets of broadleaf, very little is ‘natural’ wilderness anyway, in the sense of ‘untouched by human hands’. For example the pockets of the Old Jed Forest are as natural as you’ll get anywhere, but the moorland, the bare hills have all been doctored and tailored over millenia, visually and, if we care to listen, sonically.

Such is the complexity of an investigation into soundscape. As a researcher I have several other produced spaces under investigation at the moment. With these I like to keep in mind Lefebvre’s observation:-

There can be no question but that the social space is the locus of prohibition, for it is shot through with both prohibitions and their counterparts, prescriptions.

KF:  What are your thoughts about the relationships between sonic sensibility and ecological literacy?

JW: This seems at first glance to imply a flow between the aesthetic and the ethical, but perhaps in this case the two are tightly bound up together in the first place. Sonic sensibility, real sensibility as opposed to a superficial appreciation of this or that sound, would to my mind require a modicum of physical, mental and perhaps spiritual effort, some form of directed activity towards engaging with the world of sound, at all levels of experience, including the everyday. A bundle of values. This would affect one’s relationship to the immediate environment, urban or rural, how one lives from day to day, physical choices in one’s domestic and social environment and so on. I don’t mean to say that if you can live in a thundering metropolis you cannot be sonically sensitive – I know of one artist whose work in the field has been substantially enhanced and enriched by the urban experience. Nor am I taking a puritanical stance which denies pleasure in contemporary urban living. It’s simply that sonic sensibility requires a sustained effort.

True sonic sensibility would require informed choices in listening strategies vis-a-vis music consumption for example. I cannot reconcile the fact of spending hours of one’s daily life bolted to a mobile media device, cut off from the immediate sonic environment, listening to compressed audio, with a desire to nurture sonic sensibility.

Ecological literacy would be defined as at least some sort of awareness of one’s own stake in the game, as opposed to watching ‘documentaries’ in which David Attenborough becomes a parody of himself and where ecological awareness is given as a highly contrived representation dressed up as reality or truth. In addition I would take into account the choices one makes in one’s material surroundings and contingent actions, the awareness, nothing more, of the interconnectedness of all things, at least some sort of commitment to investigating who is doing well (economically or politically) from degradations and deteriorations in the amenity of those doing less well.

Sensibility and sensitivity to the sonic, or non-visual, often requires a deeper connection with the environment. The visual, especially in urban settings, is often given, forced, thrust in front of us, in the form of corporate marketing, architectural agendas based on maximum profit, as opposed to ethically or aesthetically driven. We fall under the spell of the visual so easily, where everything is appropriated and turned to profitable use. Listening to a soundscape, in my experience, allows a different and perhaps more interesting ecological unfolding than a visual appraisal of an urban bleakscape or a view of a pretty landscape. In fact the whole discourse around landscape and appreciation is fraught with difficulty.

In basic terms, sonic sensibility, of the individual or of the community, can raise awareness of ecological literacy. Finally, although much more research (and investment) is needed into the presentational forms of creative outcomes resulting from deep listening to the environment, the sonic artist working with environmental field recordings has an important role to play in raising the standard of ecological literacy.

KF: You admire how well Susan Fenimore Cooper and Aldo Leopold – American nature writers – listened. If you could magic them back, what sound art would you want them to hear?

JW: I’d give them all a quick primer in the use of modern recording technology and let them make their own art, a combination of sound and text. Just imagine! I’d let Susan loose on a few dawn choruses and some more discrete biophonies with incidental forest and wind sounds. With Aldo I’d focus on some of the long form natural soundscapes in true wilderness areas. Finally I’d watch Thoreau’s smile as he listened to the aquatic life of Walden Pond by means of a simple hydrophone.

(This article was developed by Kate Foster and ecoartscotland is very grateful for the opportunity to publish an original and fascinating contribution to our understanding of the politics and sonics Scottish landscape.)

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

AFTA PAN Public EcoArt Webinar and upcoming Pre Conference Panel San Diego

Andrea Polli, Queensbridge proposal for alternative energy (NYC) 2005

This post comes to you from EcoArtSpace

On May 4th ecoartspace had the opportunity to participate in an online webinar through Americans for the Arts out of Washington D.C. For several years now their Public Art Program Manager, Liesel Fenner, who previously worked for the New England Foundation for the Arts in Boston where she developed a partnership between the NPS and the NEA called Art & Community Landscapes by inviting artists to participate in education and restoration of public lands, has been an advocate of ecological art. For the webinar, Fenner invited a group of ecological arts consultants and a public artist to the table to share valuable information with the public art community on Going Green: How to Align Public Art with Green Building and Infrastructure. During this 90-minute presentation some 37 participants from across the United States were able to access important information on a rapidly developing field of artistic practice.

The first presenter was Mary Jo Aagerstoun, President of EcoArt South Florida. In her talk, Public EcoArt Integration: Transforming Policy she outlined case studies and policy examples for integrating art that makes green technologies visible into the design and construction of green building as well as public infrastructure. Rebecca Ansert, Founder and Principal of Green Public Art in Los Angeles gave a comprehensive presentation entitled Green Building: Where Does The Art Fit In? to examine how public art can meet LEED certification points as well as materials usage. Emily Blumenfeld, who is currently based out of London, and formerly from St. Louis, Missouri where she co-founded Via Partnership, reviewed a Public Art Master Plan that she co-authored for the Environmental Protection Department for the City of Calgary, Canada, known as the Expressive Potential of Utility Infrastructure. And, to wrap up the webinar, public artist Mark Brest van Kempen from Oakland, California presented several projects in various forms of completion, exemplified from the artists perspective, the numerous ways in which art can transform public space from an ecological perspective.

Patricia Watts, founder and west coast curator of ecoartspace gave a short talk on the artist selection process, which included suggestions for extended deadlines on RFQs, workshops for ecological artists who are new to the public art process, suggestions for who to bring to the table when selecting artists including Environmental Services Department employees and local biologists/ecologists, as well as art curators who have worked with many of these artists in a museum context. Importantly it was impressed upon public arts administrators to be proactive in bringing these types of projects to fruition. Often it is the case that administrators do not see themselves as collaborators with the artist and for these types of projects it is imperative that as much information as possible be provided to the artist as early as possible to be able to identify a crucial point of integration in the planning and construction process. Administrators will need to think outside their job description to make these projects successful.

The Going Green Webinar will be available to the general public on demand through AFTA after June 1st for $35 per download HERE. There will also be a follow up Public Art Preconference workshop at the AFTA Annual Conference in San Diego on June 15th, entitled Green Infrastructure: Re/Generation—Environmental Art & Design: Now and How including presentations by Rebecca Ansert, public artist and administrator Vaughn Bell, landscape architect Christine Ten Eyck, and Patricia Watts of ecoartspace.

Listen in online or see you in San Diego in June!

Links to other pioneering Ecological Public Art Plans include:

 

ecoartapace is one of the leading international organizations in a growing community of artists, scientists, curators, writers, nonprofits and businesses who are developing creative and innovative strategies to address our global environmental issues. We promote a diverse range of artworks that are participatory, collaborative, interdisciplinary and uniquely educational. Our philosophy embodies a broader concept of art in its relationship to the world and seeks to connect human beings aesthetically with the awareness of larger ecological systems.

Founded in 1997 by Tricia Watts as an art and nature center in development, ecoartspace was one of the first websites online dedicated to art and environmental issues. New York City curator Amy Lipton joined Watts in 1999, and together they have curated numerous exhibitions, participated on panels, given lectures at universities, developed programs and curricula, ad written essays for publications from both the East and West Coasts. They advocate for international artists whose projects range from scientifically based ecological restoration to product based functional artworks, from temporal works created outdoors with nature to eco-social interventions in the urban public sphere, as well as more traditional art objects.

ecoartspace has been a project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in
Los Angeles since 1999.

Go to EcoArtSpace

2ND KUMASI BIENNIAL SYMPOSIUM: COMMUNITY ARTS IN FOCUS

Date: July 16 -August 6, 2011 Venue: Kumasi and the Nearby Village of Abetenim in Ashanti Region of Ghana

The problem the symposium addresses is the widening gap between contemporary African artist and the community in changing times. There is an obvious social disconnection; yet, the fine arts and craft are viewed the same by the general public, including deep in the village. How can we meaningfully engage the rural sub-Saharan population in the contemporary artistic process? How can we broaden the scope of the Curio Kiosks project of the first Kumasi Symposium that was a successful attempt to bring international contemporary art to the general public who might not normally come to art galleries and museums?

In light of these questions and social concerns, the 3-week event will focus on community arts practice, as a response to the growing problem. We define community arts, also known as “participatory arts” or “community-based arts,” as the world of artistic processes and forms made by, with, or for a community setting that may emphasize community involvement and collaboration. Most often, it involves engagement with the issues and practices for communal bonds and empowerment for grassroots social change. We will use Kumasi City-Abetenim rural sites such as market places, local schools, village centers, and others as laboratories for workshops, artistic interventions, site-specific installations, lectures and other community-based approaches from around the world.

Thus, we invite individual or group submissions for community theatre, media arts, readings, film screening, slide shows, open studios, visual activism, musical performances, community design, social architecture and others to allow the rural community to become acquainted with international contemporary artistic practice. We aim that the participants will be inspired by one another’s work.

Registration for the 3-week event will be $520 / €395 / £328 in Ghana or equivalent in local currency; and early registration is $466 / €350 / £305 (till April 17, 2011). Participants are responsible for the costs of travel and materials; and we will provide you with a letter of candidature for your sponsor. Hotel accommodation or homestay for cultural immersion can be arranged within your budget. Dinner will be by cooperative kitchen in which we all work together in sharing the planning, cost, shopping and cooking; the estimate is $7-9/day. It has been more of a dinner party, a time to come together to sample national cuisines, have fun at the table and bond as a community. The symposium opens with a 2-day seminar. It will close with a Community ArtsFest, which will involve two days of exhibitions and screenings of project results along with food and performances by indigenous music and dance troupes from surrounding villages. Prizes to the winners of the “GHANA: 2011 OPEN ARchiTecture CHALLENGE” (International art+architecture Design Competition) will be awarded at the closing banquette.

Grand Prize Winning Entry

(Design Team: Mitsuru Hamada, Architect, Tokyo, Japan)

Second Prize Winning Entry

(Design Team: Giuseppe Calabrese, Architect, Sydney, Australia)

Third Prize Winning Entry

(Design Team: Claire Taggart, Architect, London, UK)

Interested individuals and collaborative groups should apply by submitting the abstract of your paper (200 words maximum) for the seminar or project proposal in English with a brief biography (200 words maximum) of the presenter to info@nkafoundation.org. The submitter should include title of the contribution and author(s) information such as name, affiliation, address, phone contact, and e-mail. Upon acceptance, author(s) can decide to publish the full text or only the abstract in symposium proceedings. The deadline for the full text submission is July 1. If submitting full paper (6,000 words maximum in APA format) e-mail it to info@nkafoundation.org and/or nkaprojects@gmx.com. For additional information go to www.nkafoundation.org

(Press Version)

2ND KUMASI BIENNIAL SYMPOSIUM: COMMUNITY ARTS IN FOCUS

Date: July 16 -August 6, 2011 Venue: Kumasi and the Nearby Village of Abetenim in Ashanti Region of Ghana

The 3-week event will focus on community arts practice, as a response to the growing problem of widening gap between contemporary African artist and the rural community. We will use Kumasi City-Abetenim rural sites such as market places, local schools, village centers, and others as laboratories for workshops, artistic interventions, site-specific installations, lectures and other community-based approaches from around the world. Thus, we invite individual or group submissions for community theatre, media arts, readings, film screening, slide shows, open studios, visual activism, musical performances, community design, social architecture and others to allow the rural community to become acquainted with international contemporary artistic practice. Project is open to only serious applicants. For additional information or registration e-mail to info@nkafoundation.org and/or nkaprojects@gmx.com. Project web site is www.nkafoundation.org.

 

KUMASI CURIO KIOSKS II

(Arts+ Architecture Social Experiment)

Kumasi Curio Kiosks II is a part of the 2nd Kumasi Biennial Symposium that will run from July 16 – August 6, 2011, as a response to the growing problem of widening gap between contemporary arts practitioners and the broader public across the sub-Sahara. As arts+ architecture social experiment, project is to bring together arts specialists, architects, and social interest groups from diverse parts of the world in a transnational platform to trade in cultural capital with the local public who might not normally come to art galleries and museums.

In the project, we will use Kumasi City-Abetenim rural spaces such as market places, local schools, and village centers, as empirical sites for curio kiosk workshops, artistic interventions, site-specific lectures and other community-based approaches from around the world. Each participant or collaborating team will created own curio kiosk; the size/design is open to the subject-specific needs and site-specific necessities. We use the term “curio kiosk” in anticipation that the outward design or content will invoke curiosity and bear special attraction to the public.

Thus, we invite individual or group submissions for community theatre, media arts, readings, film screening, slide shows, open studios, visual activism, musical performances, community design, social architecture and others to allow the rural community to become acquainted with international contemporary artistic practice. Project is open to only serious applicants; submissions will be reviewed until July 8, 2011. Submit your curio kiosk proposal (sketches/description) to info@nkafoundation.org and/or nkaprojects@gmx.com. Project web site is www.nkafoundation.org. And we seek as we go, nominations for the Project Curator and an expert in filmmaking/media arts, to do the DVD and create the e-publication.

Photos from the 2009 Kumasi Curio Kiosks

Slipper Kiosk Project by Patrick Tagoe-Turkson, Ghana

Portrait Shop by Brigitte Mulders, The Netherlands (portrait painter)

For additional information on the 2009 Kumasi Curio Kiosks, see:

(1) http://www.artinprocess.com/Kiosks this is a 05:56 minute video on Curio Kiosks Project.

(2) Photo Documentary, 500 photos on Flickers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/artinprocess/sets/72157621992680241/ and

(3) http://www.wandsbektransformance.de/news.html to download the Artists’ Catalogue.