Friday 30 August, 2013, Navigating Ecological Times,Â Whitechapel Gallery, London
A study afternoon of presentations and discussion on art practice and sustainability with artists Lise Autogena, Fernando Garcia-Dory and TamÃ¡s KaszÃ¡s and led byÂ curators by Maja and Reuben Fowkes.Â This symposium looks at the challenges of living in ecological times and the sense in which the current political, economic and environmental predicament might also offer opportunities for a sustainable transformation of global society. How have artists sought to navigate the dilemmas of living and working in a world system thatÂ seems chronically out of touch with ecological realities and can they, through their practice and approach to the world, act as guides duringÂ times of crisis?
â€˜Navigating Ecological Timesâ€™ is realised through the River School and supported by the EU Culture Programme.Â Maja and Reuben Fowkes are art historians and curators whose interests in the field of art and ecology are manifest in their curated exhibitions, symposia and writings, which have explored key ideas and practices around green curating, environmental art history and the sustainability of contemporary art. Their work also focuses on the theory and aesthetics of East European art from the art production of the socialist era to contemporary artistic responses to the transformations brought by globalisation.
Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.
Cultura21â€²s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.
The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:
– Sacha Kagan (based in LÃ¼neburg, Germany) and Rana Ã–ztÃ¼rk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)
Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21
Image left: Bidon arme (Loaded Drum), 2004 Romuald Hazoume Â Right: Treebike â€“ image from the International freecard alliance for World Environment day, 5 June 2009
An exhibition that I stumbled upon accidentally a few months ago has stayed with me. On a visit to the Irish Museum of Modern in April 2011 I came across African artist Romuald Hazoumeâ€™s very thought provoking and surprisingly enjoyable installations of â€˜masksâ€™, sculptures, documentary film and photography work.
From across this side of the planet my own work attempts to touch some of these concerns too. My long term project the hollywood diaries to transform our conifer plantation to a permanent forest has real long term energy returns as we are very shortly to discontinue use of oil for our home heating (a common and increasingly expensive form of domestic heating in Ireland) and use our never-ending supply of forest thinnings. In fact, I was startled to learn recently from my forestry contacts, that our ongoing selective harvesting to keep the forest vibrant and encourage the native tree seedlings to flourish, will mean that weâ€™ll have 70 tonnes of wood every three to four years from our small two acres!! Crikey!
The image on the above right, Treebike, is a pointer to this monthâ€™s global day of cycling, Moving Planet lead by Bill McKibben and his global 350.org organisation to invite us all to get on our bikes this Sept 24th, 2011. Iâ€™ve always been amazed at the huge response to these events and how often the arts help mobilise such activities.
â€˜Circle September 24 on your calendarâ€“thatâ€™s the day for what weâ€™re calling Moving Planet: a day to move beyond fossil fuelsâ€¦
On 24 September weâ€™ll be figuring out the most meaningful ways to make the climate message move, literally. Weâ€™ll show that we can use our hands, our feet, and our hearts to spur real change. In many places, people will ride bicycles, one of the few tools used by both affluent and poor people around the world. Other places people will be marching, dancing, running, or kayaking, or skateboarding. Imagine the spectacle: thousands of people encircling national capitals, state houses, city halls.
But we wonâ€™t just be cycling or marchingâ€“weâ€™ll also be delivering a strong set of demands that can have real political impact.â€
Note: some of you might be aware that I have returned to art college to undertake in-depth research on experimental film and ecology in the last year â€“ if you want to follow along, my research site is www.ecoartfilm.com
Iâ€™ve recently created a small film sketch on how our small conifer plantationÂ is being transformed, comments welcome!!
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
If, like me, you are the sort of person who would run a mile rather than listen to Womanâ€™s Hour on BBC Radio 4, take courage and think again. This week the programme is dramatising John Christopherâ€™s classic science-fiction thriller No Blade of Grass. (Itâ€™s kind of John Wyndham on steroids: it also became a fairly dire movie). In it, an unknown virus wipes out all the westâ€™s staple crops, leaving Britain starving. The country quickly descends into murderous anarchy.
It doesnâ€™t take a genius to work out why the apocalyptic meme is so strong right now. Itâ€™s there in art, clearly, in movies and in BBC remakes like this and Survivors. Interestingly, just to underline the fact that the long cultural history of apocalyptic visions is not unrelated to our current environmental predicament, thereâ€™s a new edition of the book being published, with an introduction from cultural historian and ecologist Robert MacFarlane.
Listen to the drama – this week only – on BBCâ€™s Listen Againhere.