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Ecology as the New Politics at The Garage

  • Doug Aitken - The Garden
June 22, 2019
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

The recent scientific predictions of the future of our planet and the existence of mankind are not bright at all. Despite the most important climate change event known as the Paris Agreement signed by one hundred and ninety-five countries in 2016, environmental awareness is moving slowly, especially when it comes to fossil fuels usage.

Currently, any sort of an initiative towards betterment is of great importance, since it contributes to the global agenda of preservation of ecosystems, slowing of the heat waves, and therefore decrement of the natural catastrophes which cause huge damages in every possible sense.

Artists were always drawn to nature, and some of them even started articulating their fascination and care for nature from the socio-political perspective during the 1960s, at the time of the rise of the environmentalist movement.

The urgency of the green discourse is required more than ever due to the mentioned predictions, meaning that what started five decades ago as a fight for the future is now a fight for the present. That is why the upcoming grandiose exhibition titled The Coming World: Ecology as the New Politics 2030–2100 at The Garage Center for Contemporary Art will offer an astonishing survey on the ecological and environmentalist issues in the visual arts by encompassing works by more than fifty Russian and international artists.

Tita Salina - 1001st Island
Tita Salina – 1001st Island – The Most Sustainable Island in the Archipelago, 2015. Video still. Courtesy of the artists

The Point Of Embarkation

The curators Snejana Krasteva and Ekaterina Lazareva decided to focus on the two timeline references proposed by the popular science and science fiction.

Namely, 2030 is the year when existing resources of oil will be exhausted, while 2100 signifies the year (according to Arthur C. Clarke) when the humans will be able to expand to other star systems. The curators tend to underline the human inability to precisely predict events to come, so the exhibition as a whole will propose a performative understanding of the future which is constructed in the present.

Hayden Fowler - Together Again
Hayden Fowler – Together Again, 2017. Performance documentation. VR designer: Andrew Yip. Photo: Joy Lai. Courtesy of the artists

The Installment

Two main concepts which frame the show are environmentalism and ecology. While the first one explores our relationship to nature (species extinction, overpopulation, climate change, pollution, etc.) and alternative modes of education, consumption, production, and leisure, the second one will investigate ecology in action, a process where nature, human and other species co-perform.

John Akomfrah’s immersive six-channel video installation Purple will open the exhibition; it is a saga about global warming based on archival footage and newly shot sequences across the globe. A number of historical works spanning from sixteenth-century tapestries showcasing the nature for the first time, over the landscape as a genre in seventeenth-century Dutch painting, to 1970s land art and environmental art when a larger social movement promoting new ecological policies was able to integrate them on state and public levels.

The show will also feature works made in collaboration with animals as agents of new interspecies relationships, as well as ones exploring various futuristic scenarios based on scientific predictions and theories.

John Akomfrah - Purple
John Akomfrah – Purple, 2017. Still frame © Smoking Dogs Film. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

The Coming World at The Garage

The exhibition design is made of reusable structures and materials from previous projects, while certain works were reconstructed in situ so that shipment via air traffic could be avoided. For the exhibition, various scientific communities were consulted an engaged, and throughout the same various programs will be launched in order to support knowledge production significant for all humans regardless of race, gender, class, sexuality, etc.

The Coming World: Ecology as the New Politics 2030–2100 will be on display at The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow from 28 June until 1 December 2019.

Featured image: Doug Aitken – The Garden, 2017. Photo: Anders Sune Berg. Courtesy of the artist and ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum. All images courtesy The Garage.