Art Climate Ethics – What role for the arts?

Found plastics on Robe beach altered by Victoria Osborne and Philip Millar

I wove these different coloured ropes into this handbag shape as a container for plastic items we found on Robe beach in South Australia.

“Art, nature and I became vital and inseparable companions.” GUY ABRAHAMS: AN ART DEALER’S EPIPHANY

I’ve been working on an adult literary novel called Man of clay for fifteen years. I’m hoping to put it up on this website shortly. In the book a character called Willliam wonders whether to take over his mother’s art gallery, just like Guy did. In the above mentioned article, Guy, the CEO of Climarte, speaks eloquently about art and nature and recommends we go to a discussion called Art Climate Ethics: What role for the arts? So we did.

Found plastics arranged as if stuffed into a toy bird

Plastics found on Robe beach – an homage to Chris Jordan by Philip Millar and Victoria Osborne

And what a wonderful discussion it was. Not only did we get to see Fiona Hall, Mandy Martin, Damon Young and Peter Cristoff but also Chris Jordan.

Damon Young is a philosopher and writer who set his discussion, or provocation, about the Anthropocene Age in a sea of jellyfish.

Mandy Martin is an artist, a painter, who has decided to go for her activism. She doesn’t care if there’s negative consequences. She’s too busy getting her message out in delicious landscapes, colours and textures. She showed us some of her work painted around powerstations and mines. One was called Vivitur Ex Rapto, or Man lives off greed. She told us we are all implicated because of our need for resources.

Peter Christoff is an academic. His most recent book is Four Degrees of Global Warming: Australia in a hot world. He believes the public knows about climate change. He thinks they have had the information but they are angered or frustrated or made helpless by the knowledge of impending doom. Generally, he said, they think someone else will look after the problems some other time. He thinks we have an ‘imagination deficit’. I totally agree with this notion. I think most Australians cannot imagine anything much further in the future than the next footy season. Is that just human nature?

Fiona Hall is an eloquent artist but her speech was marred by her use of arrrr and ummmms … Her work is brilliant.

Chris Jordan is the man behind the shocking images of plastic-stuffed albatross. He’s also made a film about Midway, the island of the albatross, here’s the trailer for Midway. He spoke about the need for a shift in consciousness. Humans must become more radical, as in the word origin from ‘root’. We must go back to our roots. He talked about how our society has placed our thinking in the amygdalla – the place of fear – the lizard part of our brain. Everything humans, particularly the West, seems to do comes from reacting to fear. Like America, rushing off to war for no apparent reason. He believes art has the ability to take thinking out of fear and put it in the limbic part of the brain or our feelings. We need to feel anger and grief because of the loss of our charismatic fauna – ‘artworks of God’ – the sacred miracles of our world. We need to acknowledge our collective sadness, move through the grief and become activists.

Here’s a link to his TED talk which focuses on his Running the numbers work.

Whale tale of plastic spade handle

We took several bags of plastic bits and nylon rope away from this beach holiday.

Please leave a comment - would you travel this way??