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Social Ecologies

Landscape in art has mythologized, documented, and reimagined the intertwined relationship between humans and the natural world for centuries. And it may reflect more changes than we realize: recent writing on the Anthropocene period that arguably began during the Industrial Revolution highlights the significant global impact of human activities on Earth’s ecosystems.

An Accumulation of Events

2.3 billion years ago. Cyanobacteria cause The Great Oxygenation Event, one of the largest extinction events in earth’s history. Oxygen, a byproduct of cyanobacterial photosynthesis, accumulates, producing a toxic environment for oxygen-intolerant anaerobic organisms.

Tough Acts, To Follow

When the current Venice Biennale compilation, All the World’s Futures, incited critics’ antipathy as “morality-based,” “provocative but also confining,” and “morose, joyless, and ugly,” I knew I had to see it.

Ecological Normalcy

In the summer of 2014, a number of large oil sheens were present on Newtown Creek, the 3.8-mile Superfund site that borders Western Queens and Northern Brooklyn.

Art as Training in the Practice of Freedom

You have asked me what function art should serve with regard to environmental and social concerns. It should be said that we live in a world where art as we know it is corrupt, exhausted, and weak. We see shimmering edifices of cultural wealth erected on the backs of hyper-exploited labor—the pyramids and coliseums of the 21st century—on land turned into concrete.

Oikos and Poesis: Art and Our Planetary Future

Thoreau famously proclaimed that, “in wildness is the preservation of the world.” And, as Gary Snyder explains, the poetic mind, the mind of the creative artist, is a realm of wildness.

REMIXING MESSAGES
A Call for Collaboration Between Artists and Scientists

The environmental issues facing us as a result of climate change are daunting. Scientists are doing important research to address the complex topics such as water supply, food access, air quality, and temperature rise that accompany global warming.

Leave Things Open

Stop the propaganda that pushes people into defiance. Propaganda betrays an underlying fear of art, just art, just patterns for no reason. This fear will saturate everything.

In Conversation

ALEXIS ROCKMAN with Greg Lindquist

For more than two decades, Alexis Rockman has been depicting the natural world with virtuosity and wit. He was one of the first contemporary artists to build his career around exploring environmental issues, from evolutionary biology and genetic engineering to deforestation and climate change.

Eco-Feminism Revisited

The 1970s saw the simultaneous emergence of environmentalism and feminism as important social forces. At the time, it was obvious to many observers that the two movements were related.

Before the Storm Clouds of the 21st Century

The artists tried to change us with innovative models of social practice and the democratic socialist revolution laid a clear path in response to environmental change.

From Eco-Art to Biopolitical Struggle on the Eve of COP21

The timing of this questionnaire is canny. It appears at a moment in which we are witnessing the daily intensification of climate crisis, the strengthening of the climate justice movement, and the radicalization of artists in the orbit of insurgent political formations over the past few years.

An Art of “Why Not?”

I’d like to try to frame the question that’s been posed here less as a consideration of how art might impact thinking about the environment and the various social effects of its continued degradation, and more as an inquiry into how certain styles of thinking might inform art making and shape its ability to effectively influence opinions and action on such issues.

RE: Ecology Draft

I’m sorry I haven’t had more time to dedicate to this incredible opportunity—I’ve been scrambling to get multiple insurance policies, funding, contracts, and materials aligned to build and test the fully engineered bridge prototype next week.

SARAH NELSON WRIGHT and EVE MOSHER

Sarah Nelson Wright is a New York City-based, socially engaged media artist and educator. Eve Mosher is a New York City-based artist and interventionist at the forefront of engaging art to tackle climate change in local communities. Through email exchanges, they discussed the role of art and digital technologies in expressing climate crises.

A BUCKET LIST FOR ARTISTS WORKING IN THE AGE OF ECOLOGICAL COLLAPSE
The Top Ten Things Not To Miss Before They Are Gone!

I can think of nothing more glorious or conspicuously biologically diverse than a thriving reef—rich in hard and soft corals and all the organisms that depend on it. Corals reefs are desperately in crisis.

Land of Syllepsis

The “mining” of virtual currencies rewards the completion of work required to verify, record, and secure transactions. New currency is released when transaction information is accepted into the network’s ledger.

Beyond the Scenic Vista

Imagine that a federal government decided to protect a national forest: would that justify a violent intervention against a group of people who were mining illegally?

Alternative Spaces and the Anthropocene

Alternative spaces are inseparable from social history. They’ve always sought to establish new ways of producing and circulating art beyond the limited options that capitalist relations afford cultural production, even if certain spaces have at one time or another worked against this very mission, becoming sad way stations between educational institution or underground scene and the market.

a collective free association of "A Proverbial Machine in the Garden"

The “machine in the garden” is a cultural symbol embodying the tension between the pastoral ideal and the sweeping transformations wrought by industrialization.

Notes on Landscape/Painting/Photography/the Sublime

The Hudson River School painters hiked mountains, climbed trees, and paddled rivers and streams. But the images they produced weren’t made outdoors. Many of them were painted in the Tenth Street Studio Building in Lower Manhattan. By the 1860s, it was like a small landscape-painting factory.

Panel on Eco-poetics, SVA, September 16, 2010

In forty-five years of painting in the landscape, I only ever made one work that advocated anything. This is it. It shows a long line of wind turbines generating electricity; it’s between Valentine and Fort Davis in far west Texas. I called it True Progress, because I felt it was.

The Appalachian Mountaintop Patrol

The ATV’s motor struggles against the steep incline of the mining road. Junior Walk, the outreach coordinator for the West Virginia anti-mountaintop removal organization, Coal River Mountain Watch, steers us around a hairpin turn.

Just Act Natural…

Eight years ago I gave a visiting artist lecture at RISD that began with the provocation “nature doesn’t exist.” The auditorium squirmed. Too glib?

All Animals That Are Not White Men

Claude Lévi-Strauss observed, “cooking food is a metaphor for the human transformation of nature into culture.” Cooking is the thing that separates us from other animals, but it can also be the thing that brings us together. Cooking and its relationship to domestication and the taming of the wild initiate our long history of manipulating the natural world to suit our desires.

In Conversation

Elene Abashidze and Gio Sumbadze

In September 2015, Curator Elene Abashidze and artist Gio Sumbadze, both Georgian, sat down in Tbilisi, in the Republic of Georgia, to discuss Gio’s work in relation to acceleration, ecology and the Soviet Union.

Blued Trees on the front lines journal excerpts

In February 2015, I connected with a small group of anti-fracking activists opposing fossil fuel infrastructures causing global warming to explore whether we could leverage copyright law to prevent natural gas pipeline expansions.

A Little Inspiration Can Go a Long Way

Some days I wish I didn’t care about climate change—it’s exhausting.

Nature Morte

A few years ago, I started collecting corporate environmental reports, also known as sustainability or corporate social responsibility reports. These led to an expanded book spanning hundreds of pages, organized in a series of eighteen aluminum binders and displayed on a thirty-seven foot table that suggested an assembly platform.

Feral Landscape Love: Novel Ecosystems in the Studio and the Street

Over recent years, in a rapidly gentrifying, concrete-laden corner of Brooklyn, I’ve been making watercolor paint from the wild plants near my studio. In the process, I’ve emotionally and physically entangled myself with a shifting pattern of transitory greenspace.

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