The current debates concerning climate crisis are constantly sharpening, and its effects are more than evident with the flow of time. The practical measures to decrease CO2 emission, use solar energy and recycle have been conducted in a few wealthier countries in Europe and elsewhere, implying that the changes occurring on a global scale are not be stopped until the politicians realize that this is the humanity’s greatest challenge today.
The art practitioners explore the devastating effects of climate change through various projects aimed to spread awareness regarding our near futures. The upcoming exhibition titled Eco-Visionaries at The Royal Academy of Arts in London tends to contribute by unraveling innovative, exciting and to a certain extent bold works by twenty-one individuals in various media exploring how we can articulate a rapidly changing world.
Already during the early post-war period, the scientists started alarming the humankind regarding the devastating effects of modern living on the environment. The scientific voices were soon joined by the artists and other creative practitioners to spread a wider awareness regarding the harm humanity does to nature.
This particular exhibition appears at the moment when the crisis is inevitable, and the species extinction, food shortage, and the extreme contamination of oceans and other water surfaces become the new normal. Therefore, Eco-Visionaries gather a group of international artists, architects, and designers, among them the renowned Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, who are investigating these environmental issues and propose alternative visions for the future through their work.
Two publications will accompany the exhibition; the first one titled Eco-Visionaries: Conversations on an Uncertain Future, edited by Gonzalo Herrero Delicado and Rose Thompson, with contributions from Dame Dr. Jane Goodall and Timothy Morton, plus conversations with the participants; and the second book titled Eco-Visionaries: Art, Architecture, and New Media after the Anthropocene, published by Hatje Cantz in 2018.
Eco-Visionaries: Confronting a planet in a state of emergency will be on display at The Royal Academy of Arts in London (The Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries) until 23 February 2020.
To bring you closer to the exhibition, we decided to examine the practices of six of its engaged participants acting solo, in a duo or a collective.
Featured image: Andrés Jaque/Office for Political Innovation - Island House in Laguna Grande, Corpus Christi, Texas, 2015, print on a wooden panel. Photo courtesy Andrés Jaque/Office for Political Innovation. Courtesy the Royal Academy of Arts 2019.
London-based design studio called Dunne & Raby was founded in 1994 by Fiona Raby and Anthony Dunne. The studio is focused on using design as a tool for a wider public debate concerning relevant social, technological and cultural issues. Their whole methodology is based on Critical Design, a critical theory approach to design.
Within Eco-Visionaries, they will present the project Designs for an overpopulated planet.
Featured image: Dunne & Raby - Designs for an over populated planet: Foragers, 2009. Lambda print mounted on aluminium. Courtesy of the artists. Photo: Jason Evans.
The theater-based collective Rimini Protokoll consists of Stefan Kaegi, Helgard Haug and Daniel Wetzel. For almost twenty years, they have been producing highly immersive pieces that move from public interventions, to performative installations, and guided audio plays. The production of Rimini Protokoll is a result of constant research and collaboration with experts outside the performing or visual arts.
In the exhibition, the collective will present themselves with the UK debut of win > < win made in 2017. It is an immersive installation exploring ecological empathy by confronting visitors with a tank of live jellyfish, the species which benefit from the effects of global warming.
Featured image: Rimini Protokoll - win > < win, 2017. Installation. Commissioned for the exhibition After the End of the World curated by José Luis de Vicente. Produced by CCCB inCo-Production with FACT, Liverpool, The BLUECOAT and RIBA North. © CCCB, Claudia PM Santibáñez, 2017
HeHe is a Paris-based duo, titled after the first two letters of the names of the founders Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen. Their practice is infused with humor and tends to question the social, ecological and industrial conditions of contemporary living and the paradoxes come out from the digitization of it. To underline the implications of ecological threat, HeHe produces immersive installations that function as the worst technological accidents. The main performers in HeHe's scripted installations are the vast complexes themselves such as nuclear power plants, cranes, oil rigs, as well as machines like cars, trains, and other electric devices.
At the Royal Academy, this artistic duo will present the installation Domestic catastrophe.
Featured image: HeHe - Domestic catastrophe Nº3: Laboratory Planet, 2012 (video still). HD video, 2:59. © HeHe.
This Eco-Visionaries participant is an international artist collective called Futurefarmers founded by Amy Franceschini in 1995. Their activity could be described as a form of cultural activism that is based on the exploitation of the interactive potential found in new media and public spaces. The name of the collective refers to the American agricultural organization the Future Farmers of America established in the early 20th century. Futurefarmers redirect the funds from their commercial projects with clients such as NASA, MTV, and Lucasfilm to more engaged works saturated with deeper meaning.
Featured image: Futurefarmers, Seed Procession, 2016. Part of Seed Journey, 2016 - ongoing. Photograph by Monica Løvdahl. Courtesy of Futurefarmers.
The nomadic design research studio called Unknown Fields is exploring alternative scenarios of industrial ecologies and precarious wilderness amid the end of the world as we know it. According to Unknown Fields, these "distant landscapes are embedded in global systems that connect them in surprising and complicated ways to our everyday lives". The studio uses various media, primarily film and video, to unravel anthropologically inclined re-imagined narratives the face us with the possible futures.
Eco-Visionaries will feature their project called In The Breast Milk of the Volcano released between 2016 and 2018 as a result of an expedition to Bolivia and the Atacama Desert, source of over half the world’s reserves of lithium. This piece aims to critically reflect the sustainability of the lithium-based batteries which charge the most contemporary electronic devices.
Featured image: Unknown Fields - The Breast Milk of the Volcano, 2016-2018 (video still). Video, sound, colour; 10 minutes. Courtesy of the artists.
The multifaceted practice of the distinguished artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is merging of art and science with a special focus on nature. She spent more than a decade exploring synthetic biology and the design of living matter, which resulted in innovative projects produced in close collaboration with engineers, scientists, designers, historians, artists, and museums around the world.
In the exhibition, the visitors will have a unique chance to experience her latest project The Substitute, featuring a life-size digital reproduction of a northern white rhinoceros, whose practically extinct in 2018. The project is based on a rare zoological archival footage and experimental artificial intelligence data.
Featured image: Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg - The Substitute, 2018-19 (video still). Courtesy of the artist. Visualisation by The Mill.