Plastic Bags

Animal Ecologies in Visual Culture

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Antennae, the Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, and Minding Animals International, a ‘bridge between academia and advocacy,’ are hosting an event entitled Animal Ecologies in Visual Culture at University College London on Saturday 8 October 2011. Information also available on Facebook.

Antennae’s website has all the back issues of the Journal available for download as pdfs.  Themes include insects, taxidermy, Deleuze, plastic bags.

Minding Animals has a range of networks, study groups and organises conferences.

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

H20 – Preview: Dia Bassett

This post comes to you from Green Public Art

On May 6, 2011, H20: The Art of Conservation, at the Water Conservation Garden, San Diego, CA, will open to the public. Green Public Art reviewed over 1100 artists portfolios before inviting 14 San Diego artists to participate in the exhibition which offers San Diego homeowners an artistic alternative to incorporate water conservation into their own garden spaces. Green Public Art awarded each artist a mini-grant to develop their site-specific sculptures. In the weeks leading up to the exhibition opening the artist’s concepts will be revealed on this site. Questions? Contact Rebecca Ansert, Curator, Green Public Art at rebecca@greenpublicart.com.

Bassett.Dia Bassett.Dia Bassett.Dia

CONCEPT: My sculpture will mimic the flow and reflective qualities of water. By recycling plastic bags to build my structure, I urge others to consider our uses of man-made materials, especially that of plastic which takes 10-20 years to decompose. People do not recycle their plastics consistently, possibly because of the confusion of which kinds are recyclable. Here, I do not wish to mandate how we should consume products, but only to question how we consume them and to what degree we are dependent on them.  My sculpture will cover the rock layout on the east side of the Cactus and Succulent Garden with my crocheted plastic form.  The design will split off after 144 inches, as does the rock formation and continue to the end of this formation, 164 inches further.  The piece will be 48 inches wide, covering all the rocks laying on the ground, and will be anchored down with rocks as well as ground stakes

ABOUT: Dia Bassett was born and raised in San Diego, California.  She is a Masters of the Fine Arts candidate at San Diego State University.  She received her B.A. from Point Loma Nazarene University in 2003.  In 2001, she began an eight-month stay in Florence, Italy to study sculpture, archeological conservation, and Italian.  She has a background in theatre, which led to her participation in the Eveoke Dance Theatre Performing Group from 2004-2005.  Most recently, she has exhibited works at UCSD in the Hyperlocal Identities exhibition. In June 2010, Dia traveled to London using the Isabel Kraft Sculpture Scholarship, in order to participate in an Oxford workshop with Lucy Brown and to research textile and art collections at various institutions such as the Tate Museums, The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal College of Art, and the Saatchi Gallery.

Rebecca Ansert, founder of Green Public Art, is an art consultant who specializes in artist solicitation, artist selection, and public art project management for both private and public agencies. She is a graduate of the master’s degree program in Public Art Studies at the University of Southern California and has a unique interest in how art can demonstrate green processes or utilize green design theories and techniques in LEED certified buildings.

Green Public Art is a Los Angeles-based consultancy that was founded in 2009 in an effort to advance the conversation of public art’s role in green building. The consultancy specializes in public art project development and management, artist solicitation and selection, creative community involvement and knowledge of LEED building requirements. Green Public Art also works with emerging and mid-career studio artists to demystify the public art process. The consultancy acts as a resource for artists to receive one-on-one consultation before, during, and after applying for a public art project.

Go to Green Public Art

Halesworth in Transition: Uplifting upcycling! Stopping shoppers in their tracks

On Saturday May 22nd May Halesworth Thoroughfare saw an upcycling event, complete with hand-powered sewing machine converting cloth into shopping bags, companionable knitting of one garment by two knitters, and making logs from old newspapers.

The event stopped shoppers in their tracks. They were delighted to be given (no cost, no strings attached) a cloth bag to replace their plastic ones and many took patterns to make their own. The organisers now intend to continue their bag-making evenings at the Library, helped by the on-the-spot donation of a stunning Singer hand-powered machine by a generous passer-by. Brampton Primary School, who helped make bags for the event, will be continuing their sewing sessions.

Upcycling is a new word for taking old or unused things and making them into something better.

Organisers Halesworth in Transition (HinT) are part of a widespread and growing grassroots movement of people who are taking a positive attitude to preparing for the impacts of climate change and peak oil (when cheap and easy oil runs out).

For this event HinT had gathered material from generous Halesworth people including members of ‘Time Out’, Halesworth library’s social group for older people. HinT volunteers have been sewing up bags in evenings in the library. Brampton’s Primary School, who already have a reputation for their environmental awareness, also helped to make bags in the week before the event.

Every minute hundreds of thousands of plastic bags go into circulation globally. This wastes precious oil, creates mountains of waste and kills wildlife.

Many towns are already affiliated to the international Transition movement. Locally, this includes Bungay, Beccles, Framlingham, Woodbridge, Norwich, and Ipswich. HinT is not affiliated to any political party and is a non-profit-making organisation run entirely by volunteers.

For more information about this event and other activities phone 01986 875323 or email hint@talktalk.net

Artist’s Talk by Kimberley Hart at Mixed Greens Gallery, NYC

On Saturday December 12, 2009, New York artist Kimberley Hart gave a talk about her recent exhibition Scout at Mixed Greens in Chelsea. The event was co-sponsored by ecoartspace and NYFA.


The works in Scout contemplate specific themes surrounding self-sufficiency, sustainability, observation, labor, cultivation, exploration, defense and tenacity.


Before mentioning any of the artworks in the show, Kimberley began by explaining that her new body of work came out of major life changes involving food and her interest around issues of agricultural sustainability. In the past few years, in an effort to eat healthy locally grown foods, she decided to give up all convenience foods and made a conscious effort to eat mostly organic foods. Kimberley feels that to a large part – many current environmental problems are due to our culture’s worship of convenience. To confront this dependence, Kimberley gave up packaged foods, ate strictly whole foods and eventually consumed only local and sustainably farmed food. She instituted a “no plastic” rule in her home which began with giving up bottled water and proceeded to take out containers, plastic bags and all plastic packaging.


Kimberley was influenced by reading many current popular books on the food revolution such as Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma which led her towards living a more sustainable life. She started urban homesteading, canning, composting, and cutting garbage down to one small bag a week. She joined a CSA, bought only grass fed, pastured meats and stopped eating out or ordering take-out. She is striving to have as small of a footprint as possible and is giving serious thought to starting a farm on a former cattle ranch in the South. This passion about food, sustainability, farming, and stewardship, led Kimberley to meet various people involved with permaculture and the transition movement, environmentalists and social justice advocates. She feels that as an artist she is coming from a different place but can potentially end up with similar and interrelated solutions.


In order to create this new show, Kimberley spent time contemplating a way to integrate her new outlook on life and focus on sustainability and self-sufficiency into her artwork. She decided to continue utilizing narrative and allegory as in her past bodies of work. Through drawing and sculpture, she exposes her alter ego represented as a mischievous, irreverent young girl who is self-reliant but more vulnerable and suspicious than in years past. Though noticeably absent from the work, this girl was once full of sparkles and glitter. She is no longer fantasizing about her hunting prowess or setting traps for inappropriate prey. Instead, we find her hunkered down in an austere outpost with few essentials and a concern for an unknown adversary. There are vestiges of a carefree girlhood, but the tenor has changed—a sense of uncertainty has eroded her daring as she struggles to maintain some bravery in the face of a new, foreboding reality.


The works in the exhibition reveal her alter ego’s surroundings, shelter and possessions. A “bank” holds prized, as well as scavenged, provisions and doubles as a repository for a personal currency and objects to barter in this new world. Beautifully crafted, ominous vultures skulk and spread their wings near a pivotal piece titled, The Death of Sparkle. While Kimberley’s alter ego has proven to be equally prissy and cunning in past exhibitions, she is now overwhelmed by apprehensions and threatened by the malicious marauder responsible for Sparkle’s death.

Fantasy and fine craftsmanship remain hallmarks of her work, but the tone has shifted to reflect a change—both imagined and real—in her environment. There is a marked shift in her alter ego from mischief-maker of the vernal woodlands to a menaced and solitary defender in a dystopic landscape.


“In an allegory of our shared hopes and fears, an itinerant, young heroine and an elusive, predatory force struggle for prominence. Survival for these characters is symbiotic; their lives intertwine in a closed loop of cause and effect where the lonely girl, in the face of a malicious entity and in a degrading environment, maintains an acute sense of optimism through her own perseverance. This dystopian fantasy explores an uncertain future, an existence outside of modern convenience where subsistence is the primary concern. Referencing issues ranging from institutional critique, environmental stewardship, egalitarianism and our shared literary and visual culture, this work of speculative fiction offers a potential outcome to our current socioeconomic crisis.

We are all scouts now.” Kimberley Hart, 2009


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CSPA Quarterly Available!

We are pleased to announce the first edition of the CSPA Quarterly! This edition of The Quarterly explores sustainable arts practices in performance, visual art & installation, green touring, and eco-policy. Articles include ‘Code Green: A Comparative Look at Worldwide Cultural Policies for Green Events,’ by Sam Goldblatt. This edition’s featured artist is Dianna Cohen, a Los Angeles based multi-media artist who is best known for her works using recycled plastic bags. Other contributors include Moe Beitiks, Linda Weintraub, Patricia Watts, Thomas Rhodes, and Olivia Campbell.

CSPA Fall 09 Cover

 

The issue is available through CSPA Subscriptions, or through our website at:

http://www.sustainablepractice.org/join-the-cspa

Bloggerscircle: why we need a plastic bag tax

bloggers-circleRob Greenland at The Social Business blog wrote, a couple of days ago:

It’s in the news today that supermarkets just missed their target of 50% reduction in plastic bag use (they got to 48%).  I’m not a big fan of supermarkets but I think on this one they need to be congratulated.  Remember the reaction against proposals to tax plastic bags, and how, many believed, people would never change their habits.

Far too many bags are still used but a 48% reduction is a massive improvement.  If businesses and the public can get their act together on this issue, what other seemingly impossible environmental problems might we solve?  It may also suggest that it’s better tonudge people into doing the right thing (like the clever question the checkout assistant was trained to ask), rather than taxing them into behavioural change.

50% sounds great, doesn’t it?

But in Ireland the introduction of a plastic bag tax in 2002 cut the use of plastic bags immediately by 90%, and created millions of Euros in government revenues which were pledged for use in environmental projects. Cutting ours by 50% is nothing to be proud of in comparison to that figure, especially as much of that 50% is people like Rob, me, and you, dear reader. The remaining 50% are inevitably going to be much harder to reach. Even with Tesco offering the carrot of Nectar card points for every bag reused, this is still too slow. It’s time to get out the sticks.

Like it or not, taxation is the most effective behaviour change lever government has. As Anthony Giddens suggests is in The Politics of Climate Change these are levers we’re going to have to use, and not be afraid of using. But the revenue used from these taxes must be used creatively and positively if we’re going to trust the system. Denmark’s carbon taxes, introduced in the 90s, have created an absolute fall in Co2 emissions from that country not only because they disincentivise carbon use, but because the revenue created by the fed directly back into subsidising energy-saving measures.

This post is part of a collaborative  initiative at bloggerscircle.net

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

The significance of a plastic bag

MICHAELA CRIMMIN: One of this week’s pleasures – pleasure with a big kick in its tail – was opening the October Gallery’s exhibition of work by Chinese artist Huang Xu, entitled Fragments. Big photographic works featuring plastic bags, tattered and torn and beautiful and fragile. For me these are warnings – plastic bags as a collective memento mori and curiously reminiscent of Dutch seventeenth century paintings of flowers. I’ll never look at a plastic bag in quite the same way. I know they were banned many years ago in Rwanda. How shameful is that? A country recently torn apart and they can think about the environment. And we seem to find that so terribly difficult.

The work in this exhibition refers to economic wreckage as well as environmental wreckage – and the two are anyway, as we know, very closely related indeed. Fragments. Wreckage and waste. We are all pretty much convinced that the consumers amongst us, across the world, are culpable of the most remarkable amount of waste.

There’s huge seduction in wealth as most of us know, and there’s also destruction. It seems entirely appropriate that the artist in his work does what other artists have done before – Huang Xu presents to us beauty in entropy. An integral quality of interesting art is its capacity to hold contradictions and paradoxes, and layers of meaning. This work is not didactic, it’s too complicated and delicate for that, but it leaves me pondering big societal issues which are ultimately of choice.

We are at this unpredictable moment in our history – despite ‘civilization’ – with societies themselves fragile and often fragmented. At the RSA this week we profiled a film on Burma, True Stories: Burma VJ, shot by brave citizens during the 1988 and 2007 uprising against a brutal regime – here’s one example among so many. Chuck in climate change, remember the recent cyclone in Burma, and we are at a moment in the huge sphere of time that will literally determine survival, or not, for future generations.

Another current version of environmental, social and economic melt down at its most literal is in Australia with the graphic, heart rending accounts heard and seen on the media this week. The consequent societal revenge-taking – blame – is mostly being directed at arsonists, rather than at the economics of forestry, or at climate change. So much easier to pin down an 18-year-old spotty pyromaniac than try and understand the bigger picture.

The October Gallery, working in partnership with China Art Projects, say on their website that their interest is the trans-cultural avant-garde. That is to say, the work of artists who, whilst working at the forefront of their own respective cultures, assimilate into their work elements from other cultures as well. Huang Xu’s work is a very good example.

And here perhaps it our salvation: we have an opportunity to join together in tackling the dauntingly enormous challenges by first acknowledging, often through images, the ramifications of what we are creating – the significance of a plastic bag whether you are in Rwanda, China or the U.K. may be ridiculously prosaic but it is also a signifier and an everyday prompt to change our damaging way of living.

Illustration: Fragment No. 1 by Huang Xu, 2007 October Gallery

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog