EXHIBITIONS > Adaptation and Transition
Curator: Virgílio Ferreira
Each era can be characterised by the way collective expectations and fears are managed. The way has been paved over the past fifty years for a society of communication. Concerns related to environmental and ecological changes emerged at the start of that time. Today, the issue is already posed in terms of imminent risk, in a context of emergency that, according to Donna Haraway, can be summarised by the question: How to live better on a vulnerable planet that is not yet dead?
Adaptation and Transition is an exhibition arising from the artistic creation programme developed under the scope of the Ci.CLO Bienal de Fotografia do Porto. The curatorial proposal aims to contribute to the social-ecological debate backed by the urgency to develop new forms of human-nature relationships that support the stability of the environment and biodiversity.
How can artistic mobilisations like this function in this time of great contradiction? We are challenging the emerging need for policies and actions that question global governance structures which continue to promote ecologically unsustainable strategies. How can we diagnose this "crisis of our time" beyond the pessimism that has marked this state of global passivity? What is the "response-ability" we want to encourage in this emergency context?
New balanced negotiations between species need to be developed in order to continue on this evolutionary path of Adaptation. It is urgent to implement more effective strategies of social and environmental renewal in this process of Transition. These tasks involve us all, and require the re-imagining of other collaborative models and support perceptual re-orientations to open up to other forms of feeling, so that different lines of action can be constructed in a space of convergence and understanding, which respects all forms of life.
Uncertainty, collapse and end-points are part of our everyday explanations of current ecological conditions.
This savage garden offers an alternative discursive framework, a language of speculation as a strategy to critique the past and to future-vision our times; in particular to recognize the insinuating nature of propaganda and how it affects decision making in relation to global warming and ecosystem survival.
The work, designed as a secular pilgrimage to five sites in the Jardim, proffers spaces to contemplate our ability to adapt our behavior towards a sustainable future. Specific titles offer clues to content: the weight of distraction, the weight of survival, the weight of noise, the weight of disappearance, the weight of reflection.
In a world driven by an insatiable appetite for spectacle, This savage garden is intentionally quiet, evasive, interventionist. Each site mediates with the horticultural and social history of the Jardim.
how curious, how real is a taxonomy of ideas, they are inscribed onto our current human ways of seeing, knowing and doing and in the end upon our Biosphere itself.
The installation incorporates the dominant visual codes of the „Natural“, such as the romanticized landscapes of the Island, the Desert, the Mountain or those singular entities charged with symbolic power like the palm tree, the shell, the wind, the sun... This self reflective imagery derives from the glorified narratives of the Age of Discovery, Modern Science, Natural History, Popular Mythology as well as the formation of International Trade and Travel. Central to the work is the question of how this Western relation to Nature has shaped many misleading, one dimensional and fragmented stories we share.
Sculptures, objects and photographs are installed in a succession of locations within the gardens of Palácio de Cristal, waiting to to be encountered. Taken together with the central installation at the Acoustic Shell they shape negative space, create inversions and form the triangles of our map making and travel routes. The installation is an attempt to trace the narratives and core conceptional constructs that shape the reality we share – „humanité, tu es mon paysage“.
This project, started in 2017, has been developed through the approximation to an agricultural and human territory that, although small, has enormous complexity and heterogeneity.
The agricultural perimeter of Tchon d’Holanda is a government of Cape Verde project, with funding from Dutch Cooperation.
The major innovation of this initiative is the use of treated wastewater to irrigate the fruit and vegetable plots. The introduction of this technology was intended to address the very adverse environmental conditions of Cape Verde, particularly regarding the availability of rainwater. However, the under-dimensioning of the infrastructure, the lack of resources and lack of investment, monitoring and follow-up in the medium to long term has generated a situation of abandonment, isolation and deterioration of crops. This has impacted on approximately ninety farmers who live off the land in a very precarious manner.
The farmers are hostage to the seeds that are commercially available in Cape Verde, imported from various European countries and poorly adapted to the local climate, with serious consequences for the impoverishment of the local and national genetic and cultural heritage.
This small oasis, in addition to suffering from the usual difficulties of subsistence agriculture implemented in Cape Verde, is an example of the typical contradictions of international cooperation.
At stake is the abandonment and marginalisation of enormous human capital and a collection of accumulated knowledge and experiences.
An immense journey toward an unknown place, through which ‘adaptation and transition’ embodies the human desire of a spiritual return to nature. Stumbling down the rabbit hole, getting lost above the clouds, facing in silence a wall of dark sand, the simulacrum of nature nurtures an emotional resonance toward environmental unbalance by bringing to the forefront a lost sense of wonder and myth. One is alone facing these images. Each instance is conceived as a portal to a specific interplay of matter and light, centered as much on the curiosity of the gaze looking in as in the suggestion of being enveloped by something that lies beyond the visible. Under the surface these portals contain an intrinsic strangeness, part memory, part dream. To go through the looking glass entails a challenge for contemporary society: the need to cultivate empathy - and, by extent, civility - toward what precedes us.
La Vie Au Grand Air II is an intervention proposal specifically developed for the context of the gardens of Palácio de Cristal. It refers us to a reflection on the impact of progressive changes in the socio-ecological status quo, in the context of environmental, identity and technical changes. It considers the human-animal relationship and its surroundings (the garden as an analogy for the planet), the connection between space and structure (as a metaphor of liberation and spatial dystopia) or the nature-technique fusion (exploring the contamination between these dimensions).
It establishes links with a politicized landscape, we cross spaces and structures that invoke reflection.
Faced with the transformation of elements and contexts of a recent and distant past, we travel through a space-image that is constantly restarting.
„The garden is the smallest parcel of the world and then it is the totality of the world.“ Foucault
Uma conversa sobre terra is an ongoing conversational piece that uses the garden with its multiple levels of meaning and histories as a starting point to reflect on longing, belonging and the relation to the world. Using Soil as a metaphor and notions on rooting and uprooting in different life-conditions the work explores interconnected fields in human migration and how we treat the environment and host ourselves in analogy with the threatened eco-systems. Adaption is not only a crucial process in the reaction and regeneration of stressed ecosystems but also a question of resilience-building and conviviality in societies in times of increasing populism in the political landscapes. How do we make the world home?
Portraits are part of these conversations touching upon longing and belonging, language, identities, migration and (post)colonialism in every day‘s experience. Originating from the initial question: when do we decolonize the forest? sentences are used as poetic stand stills interrogating our relation to ecology and world making and turned into Propaganda Banners for the display in the Garden.
As a consequence, the work invites through different time&artwork-exchange-gestures during the Bienal and after to commonly spend money for trees being planted in Portugal in collaboration with the regional organization Cabeço Santo - a growing landscape(image), as a lasting imprint and impact after the Bienal. This contribution seeks an active and expanding framing of landscape photography - responding to local ecological emergencies and the reoccurring Forest Fires, the threats of Eucalyptus Monocultures in a country that is already prone to the impacts of Global Warming.
INTERVENÇÃO NO LOCAL:
One Portrait - One Tree
As part of a site-specific intervention in the context of Ci.CLO Bienal'19, a series of Portrait Sessions will be offered in the Jardins do Palacio de Cristal.
Like an invitation to the public of Porto, everyone can be portrayed in their favourite part of the gardens, embracing local voices about their wishes and what to seed and care for - both botanically and socially.
The answers create a kaleidoscope of diverse wishes, meditating on how to take part and what to tend within our environments and societies.
In a symbolic exchange for the portraits the artist asks for the price of a tree (3 Euro) which will be planted in Portugal in collaboration with the regional organization Cabeço Santo
— as a growing and lasting image and impact after the Bienal.
A growing landscape (image) in one of the most prone countries to the effects of Global Warming and Forest Fires.
MAY 17 > 04:00pm - 07:00pm
MAY 18 > 12:00pm - 03:00pm
MAY 19 > 04:00pm - 07:00pm
JUNE 21 > 04:00pm - 07:00pm
JUNE 22 > 04:00pm - 07:00pm
Reality is always the imminence of something about to happen, transition is the most natural state of things.
We think of the world in our way, under dominion, adjusted to our way. Attentive to what we can control. But life belongs to us to the same extent as death. We always watch that which ends.
To think of the world as a common and changeable place is also to recognise its fragility and non-permanent nature. And this condemnation is its beauty.
In spite of everything that is organised, that is built and abandoned to serve us, it will be in what escapes us that we will be safer. That which exists despite us.
Accordingly, and at this time, it will make sense to become aware of the place we occupy, in which direction we are headed.
This work, in an evident journey between undecipherable times, creates a relationship in what may be a reaction to the way we imagine our "transition" in the world we live in. To speculate a sense of evolution and constant lack of care for the simple things that surround us. It is an animal, a species, a game between sea and land, a play on times and memories.
In the images, a hole in the ground is like a tunnel to an aesthetic perspective, the discovery of new things, new forms. A hook appears in the documented space, the detail that builds the whole. From sea to land, on an exhibition structure that further accentuates this idea of travel, a fragile transport/transition. Archeo establishes here a formal connection with the action of the artist as an archaeologist, perhaps by the form or need to describe in different layers the relationship with the space in which we live, with the transposition of a narrative to another dimension: the archaeology of the metaphor.
The creation of images, from the photograph to the drawings made/collected, raises a set of perceptions about a constructed narrative that reflects a collective need to understand what we "step on", what we live and experience.
A journey between possible new narratives that describe this adaptation, in a world that transits between failures and needs. A place that is on hold.
humanimal stems from the idealization of a world more connected in its elements between nature and humans. This idea- reviews the misaligned separation between us and the world and proposes a transition to a new way of being. The images of the series are thus experiences of new human-nature-animals, adapted bodies in transition.
However, the proposed adaptation does not encapsulate an ecologically or humanly achievable proposal but rather a visual experience about possibilities that can be made real through image. The series is not a statement of purpose – rather it is poetic and utopian – and takes advantage of the milieu in which we dominate and operate: artistic creation. Accordingly, the reflection not only originates from, but is also about making photography.
Anchored in our practice of observing in natura, with special attention to the material qualities of the elements, we explore the formal and material possibilities of leaves, sponges, shells, to enhance their relations with humans, beyond them being just an object.
The bodies we use are our own, exposing us to the experience – of doing and looking. The performativity of these bodies transforming into different landscapes implies what is clearly visible in the images, i.e. that there are several physical shifts – of geography, biome and season of the year – but that our shift is also another, that of repositioning ourselves in a mobile and open-air studio.
In the gardens three structures include eight empowering photographs. Each a visual statement, based on the unusual connection between the staged elements (human-not human-landscape), underlining a reflection on visual relations created between the human body and the natural body, as a single body – albeit ideologically fictional. Thus, like a map is not a territory but only a representation of it, the visual approximations occur within the two-dimensional field, not living up to lateral viewing, or realistic logic. The visible fragility of these fabricated images also underlines the uncertain nature of our future.
This group of artists with different backgrounds shows us different perspectives in addressing ecological issues, whether spiritual, social or political. The various site-specific installations distributed throughout the gardens and the Carlos Alberto chapel are intertwined and involve photography, sound and video, with diverse objects and plants. They form a rhizomatic aesthetic field of figures adapted and in transition. The experience is not meant to be ideal or definitive, but only an invitation to establish other levels of interconnectivity, new possibilities of meaning that naturally remain open.
JARDINS PALÁCIO DE CRISTAL
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