ecological crisis – Social Change Notes

Of course Beuys is not the only artist to explore the human/nonhuman boundary and its ethical-ecological implications. Consider, for example, Maya Lin’s What is Missing?, an ongoing online project on the history and contemporary data of extinction, or Sam Easterson’s Museum of Animal Perspectives, featuring various non-human animal “cam” videos, or Nato Thompson’s exhibition Becoming Animal: Contemporary Art in the Animal Kingdom (Mass MoCA). Such projects deserve critical attention and, in my opinion, praise for their engaging, non-destructive, cynicism-free probing of the ethics and aesthetics of species ecology.

Posts about ecological crisis written by Jan Van Leiden II

Ecological crisis | kracktivist

Posts about Ecological crisis written by kracktivist ..

In the contexts set up by Araeen’s manifesto, it is an encouraging development that artists who do not portray themselves necessarily as environmentalists, and whose practices include a wider range of concerns, nonetheless address ecological issues with great acuity. One example is Sean Martindale’s Nature (2009), homespun by comparison with the elaborate and expensive installations of Horn, Eliasson and many others, but equally telling. Martindale carefully crafted large, cardboard block letters spelling N A T U R E and deposited the word/idea/concept/sculpture on the curb outside his home for pickup by the recycling crew. He was acting as a good, green citizen, putting his cardboard out for collection. He videoed the ensuing drama from a hidden location across the street, capturing cars stopping and backing up for a better look, pedestrians taking pictures of and discussing this gentle intrusion into their urban landscape. He caught the denouement, when city workers loaded the letters into their truck, compressed them, and drove away. If ecology can be defined as the science and humanistic perspective that studies the interactions between organisms and their environment, then this is an ecological artwork. It is low tech, made of recycled materials, and it disappeared within a few hours. Nature is not represented or pictured here in the typical mode of a landscape painting. Neither is the impossibility of its representation presented, as in the category of the Sublime. The work is conceptual to the extent that Nature is presented as language, as a concept. What Martindale catalyzes (and with what? A performance, a sculpture, an intervention?) is conversation about Nature, at home and on the street, his street. His work suggests that Nature is the ultimate global/local concern.


As reclamation initiatives demonstrate, art and artists can do more than raise awareness of pressing ecological problems (crucial as that activity is in itself). In addition to the participatory and organizational dimensions of such projects, art has the advantage of making an emotional impact often unavailable to us now from the seemingly endless empirical data on climate change we receive through the media. This point is made well by scientist turned photographer and filmmaker James Balog in the documentary Chasing Ice (2012), directed by Jeff Orlowski. Balog’s team documents the rapid recession of glaciers in Alaska, Greenland, and Iceland not by spinning out numbers (though there are statistics) but by photographing and filming this remarkable evidence of climate change. Balog might well have used veteran ecological artist Iain Baxter&’s tongue in cheek but emotionally truthful maxim to describe the impact of this work: “A word is worth 1/1,000th of a picture.”

Hardly a day goes by without the new causing us to wonder about some aspect of our ecological crisis: Where will we dispose of our garbage?

"Faith Encounters the Ecological Crisis"A Different Spirit

Ecological art, and by extension ecological art history, have always been with us, whether we have recognized this or not. As our unfolding ecological crisis becomes more evident and palpable, we will have no choice but to become more accustomed to wondering what art says—in its materiality, its form, its idea—about the environment.

Ecological Crisis and the Tragedy of the Commodity

[All] art—not just explicitly ecological art—hardwires the environment into its form. Ecological art, and the ecological-ness of all art, isn’t just about something (trees, mountains, animals, pollution, and so forth). Ecological art is something, or maybe it does something. Art is ecological insofar as it is made from materials and exists in the world. It exists, for instance, as a poem on a page made of paper from trees, which you hold in your hand while sitting in a chair in a certain room of a house that rests on a hill in the suburbs of a polluted city. But there is more to its ecological quality than that. The shape of the stanzas and the length of the lines determine the way you appreciate the blank paper around them. Reading the poem aloud makes you aware of the shape and size of the space around you (some forms, such as yodeling, do this deliberately). The poem organizes space. Seen like this, all texts—all artworks, indeed—have an irreducibly ecological form. Ecology permeates all forms. Nowadays we’re used to wondering what a poem says about race or gender, even if the poem makes no explicit mention of race or gender. We will soon be accustomed to wondering what any text says about the environment even if no animals or trees or mountains appear in it.

This has since become clear in the current ecological crisis

Second, there are countless examples to testify to the fact that art has long since departed from the studio and become practical in the ways ecology would seem to demand. In fact, art has crossed over into the domains of engineering, architecture and design in order to do so. Cheetham mentions the pioneering artist-duo Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison, and Basia Irland. There are many others too: Alan Sonfist, Betty Beaumont, Patricia Johanson, Jackie Brookner, Mel Chin, Agnes Denes, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, to name only a few American artists who are primarily known for their site restorations. The list of artists who are developing an ecoaesthetics would be very long if we were to include artists around the world who are reflecting on ecology in ways other than restoring balance to neglected sites, and who, for example, deal with the intersection between ecosystems, economic systems, and political systems, or forms of visuality and representation that contend with the phenomenological limits of the human body and their overcoming through technology, or interspecies relationships. Moreover, we should consider those works that already fall within the parameters of eco-art in ways that go beyond praising the literal restoration that they accomplish. This domain of practice is lively, complex, deep and conflicted, and these artists are well aware of this complexity. We do not help things by reducing their knowledge, skill, labor, and the subtlety of their visual interventions to gestures of guardianship and protection. The call for ecoaesthetics is being answered, and so instead of exacerbating the situation with ever more desperate calls to action, we might instead get involved in thinking critically about the terms by which ecology enters into, and is developed through, our visual field, sensorial life, embodied reality, and forms of representation.