EXHIBITIONS > Stories on Earthly Surviving
Curator: Krzysztof Candrowicz
Co-curator: Emma Bowkett
"Think we must” says prominent quote of Virginia Woolf. However, thinking is merely a first footstep, since fundamental changes appear only if thoughts are carried into actions. Therefore, what can we do beside thinking to save our planet?
It has become evident that human influence on environment reached a hazardous stage.
There is a need of immediate change in order to minimalize devastation of the natural ecosystem. Recently, we have received a few serious wake up calls. In 2016 more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries (including most of living Nobel laureates) signed 'Warning to humanity' listing issues to be undertaken in order to save Earth. Donna Haraway in her convincing statement “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene” pointed firmly that if we continue this massive destruction we need to take the responsibility for a complete annihilation of the planet. Her striking question “whether we are Eichmanns of the 21st century?” will be verified within next decades. However, the time to prevent is now.
Human Nature links stories about people, nature and the science of our relationship to the wilderness.
Lucas Foglia grew up with his extended family on a small farm, thirty mile east of New York. The forest that bordered the farm was a wild place to play, yet was ignored by their neighbors, who commuted to Manhattan. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy flooded his family’s fields and blew down the oldest trees in the woods. On the news, Foglia heard scientist blame the storm on climate change caused by human activity. He realized that if humans are changing the weather, then there is no place on earth unaltered by people.
After the storm, Foglia began photographing in cities, and the forests, farms, deserts, ice fields, and oceans. At a time when Americans, on average, spend ninety-three percent of their lives indoors, he photographed government programs bringing people back into contact with nature, neuroscientist researching the beneficial effects of spending time outside, and climate scientist measuring the degree to which human activity influences the atmosphere.
We used to understand nature as all parts of earth besides humans and our creations. But, if there is no place on earth unaltered by people, then nature no longer exists. At he same time, research suggests that time in wild places is integral to our health and happiness.
Human Nature focuses on our current relationship with nature, on how we need wild places even if they have been shaped by us.
Soup is a description given to plastic debris suspended in the sea, in particular the mass accumulation that exists in an area of the North Pacific known as the Garbage Patch. The series of images aim to engage with, and stimulate an emotional response in the viewer by combining a contradiction between initial aesthetic attraction and social awareness.
All the plastics photographed have been salvaged from beaches around the world and represent a global collection of debris that has existed for varying amounts of time in the world’s oceans.
Captions reference the plastic objects with a list of “ingredients”, providing the viewer with the realization and facts of what exists in the sea.
BEYOND DRIFTING: IMPERFECTLY KNOWN ANIMALS
Plankton form a diverse group of microscopic marine organisms living in the water column, not able to swim against the current; they exist in a drifting, floating, state. In this series of unique “specimens”, the animal species relates to the pioneering discoveries of plankton made by the marine biologist John Vaughan Thompson in Cobh, Cork Harbor during the 1800s. Presented as microscopic samples, objects of marine plastic debris recovered from the same location mimic Thompson’s early scientific discoveries of plankton.
Current scientific research has found that plankton ingest microscopic plastic particles, mistaking them for food and at the base of the food chain they are themselves a crucial source of food for many larger creatures. The potential impact on marine life and ultimately human beings is currently of vital concern. In terms of plankton, and of action, we are “beyond drifting” and must bring into focus the “imperfectly known animals”.
A large part of Italian political history of the last fifty years is undeniably shrouded in mystery. Until today, some of its stories and events, public and private, major and minor, remain untold, dismissed, and even censored, in some cases. From north to south, often the country finds itself united in the name of forgetfulness. Memory – the act of practicing memory – on the other hand represents a powerful medium for people to recall lost belongings and to reclaim what has been forgotten, stolen. Since the 1960s, in the mist of the so-called “economic miracle”, Italy’s cultural and political powers established an extensive, radical process of transformation of territories and traditions, in the name of a progress to be fed with new roads, new machines and industries, and definitely a new identity. An identity which had to be able to connect - technically and politically - the most isolated areas of the country with one another, bringing its remotest citizens to that promise of change. The Calabria region, case-study of our visual exploration, is an ancient land where the challenge of modernity has imposed its language and aesthetics, slowly oppressing the territory’s human and natural landscape. In fourth person is a multimedia research about its anthropological, geopolitical and environmental transformation over the last 50 years, whose “narration” remains fragmented. Created along the A3 Salerno – Reggio Calabria highway, symbolic storyline of our project, the research investigates transversely the iconography and the stories of a landscape suspended between utopy and betrayal. Photographs, objects, documents and videos are reassembled as a collective mosaic of an imaginary us: in fourth person.
The Crossing is a long-form work concerned with human impact and a ‘wounded’ Australian ecology in which our legacy is undeniably carved into everything we’ve touched; water, land, air... The work reflects on nature in states of disappearance, adaptation and transition. Following on from a series of work documenting the effects of climate change and aftermath of severe bushfires at Lake Mountain (Victoria, Australia), The Crossing continues my engagement with man’s fractured relationship to the natural world. The works speak of our collective state of urgency, drawing on what remains and what is at stake while suggesting notions of our own arrival and departure in relation to the natural world.
The extent to which natural disaster protection became part of the European landscape is the topic of State of Nature. Claudius Schulze travelled about 50,000 km across Europe, photographing with a large format view camera down from an aerial work platform seemingly picturesque landscapes.
But each of those idyllic sceneries contains imperfections: alpine panoramas are crossed by snow sheds, the North Sea coast is furrowed by breakwaters. In each of the photographs protective structures rise into the landscape.
In the age of the Anthropocene climate change and extreme weather constantly increase the threads of gales, floods, and avalanches; it‘s civil protection agencies maintaining ordinary life. These pictures are not about defining the boundary between “artificial” and “natural”. On the contrary, the defences are the pre-requisite to these landscapes: the sunshine sparkles on the surface of the mountain lakes only because it was artificially dammed, the dunes only rise because they are protected against storm surges.
In the “First World” the lawns are watered, the rivers kept in check by levees, the mountains opened up to winter sports. It’s no wonder Europeans tend to regard nature as picturesque, appealing, tamed. They forgot about nature’s sublime and threatening side thanks to the defenses put in place. Civilization is well protected against the dangers of nature and those that come from environmental pollution and unrestrained carbon emissions.
The accompanying book is published by Hartmann Books.
Of River and Lost Lands is a series of photographs, presented at times as a audio-visual installation, that depicts a gray, melancholic landscape by the river Padma in Bangladesh.
The river plays the central character in the story. At first, the place seems abandoned. Drowned and broken houses, floating trees are all that remains. These are traces of life that was once here. As the series continues, the land and the people come into view and find their place in the story. Together they portray a complex relationship between nature and human beings that is at once intimate and ruthless, defined by dependency and destruction. The river gives so much to its people and at times it takes away everything.
The days are overcast and filled with haze, creating timelessness in the atmosphere of these villages. Over the years the river has changed its course. When the monsoon arrives and the river runs fast, the lands get washed away and disappears. Riverbank erosion generally creates much more suffering than other natural hazards like flooding. While flooding routinely destroys crops and damages property, erosion results in loss of farm and homestead land. Most places seen in these photographs do not exist anymore. As a result, these photographs survive as visual documents of these vanished lands.
Phobos Ex Machina is focused on photography as media of influence in post truth world. Authors would like a convince a visitor that tress are deadly dangerous using variety of post-truth tactics: information bubble, anchorism, neglect of probability, and regressive bias. In Classical Greek mythology Phobos is a personification of the fear. Deus Ex Machina term was coined from Greek tragedy, where a machine is used to bring actors playing gods onto the stage. Phobos Ex Machina examines how manipulation through fear affects our choices. The internet and social media held out the promise of a ‘many-to-many’ forum, of a truly democratic communication tool free from government or corporate influence. But this promise is under assault. Interested powers have employed fear as a tool to stimulate a desired action. Algorithms amplify one view at the expense of another. They distort our perception of reality, and thus our choices – choices we believe we have taken independently. Emotion and the media are in a dangerous circularity leading us into a fear-driven world.
The exhibition is a showcase of nine artists whose work digs deep into political and environmental narratives defining our global world. With strength and determination, they make work that unflinchingly challenges social structures and depict abuses of power on our natural environment.
in partnership with Triennial of Photography Hamburg and British Embassy Lisbon
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