Extinct Species

Impact by Degrees: COP15 art in Washington

Waiting Room, by Justine Cooper, New York 2005

This strangely haunting image is part of a series of photos by interdisciplinary artist Justine Cooper, created during a residency at The American Museum of Natural History om New York. Her work “questions whether we should be relying on advancements in DNA technology to bring extinct species back to life, or whether we need to address the impacts that have led to their disappearance in the first place.”

Waiting Room is one of the works featured in Impact By Degrees currently at the Australian Gallery of the Australian Embassy in Washington DC. It’s an exhibition of art by Australian and Australian-American media artists responding to climate change and it’’s one of the events featured on the Arts For COP15 network.


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Is something missing from Maya Lin’s What Is Missing?

Maya Lin, the artist most famous for creating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, a piece of public work that cut deep in the American psyche, unveiled another memorial last week in San Francisco. What is missing? is a homage to extinct species.

In her artists’ statement she says:

What is missing? is a wake up call and a call to action, showing what is being done throughout the field of conservation and also what individuals can do in their everyday lives to make a difference in habitat and species protection.

What is missing? will make the critical link between global warming concerns and habitat protection: if 20% of global warming emissions are caused by deforestation then What is missing? will integrally connect these issues, asking the question:

Can we save two birds with one tree?

I’m sorry. It may be that last coy bon mot that pushed me over the line but…  if any piece of work epitomises something Michaela Crimmin was talking about recently when she wrote,“Art is not going to combat climate change by didacticism of preaching”, it’s Lin’s giant speaking tube.

Perhaps the piece doesn’t have the right impact when viewed via YouTube, but to my eyes, Lin’s work does the opposite of  creating connections between environment and global warming, as she claims.  Instead, Lin’s megaphone appears to reduce the natural world to something exotic and far-away at the pointy end of a tube.

I’m right, aren’t I?


EDIT. I’ve just noticed in a review of the work in the SF Chronicle that children can enter the tube – if they take their shoes off. That makes it even worse, somehow.

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