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The Work of Art in the Time of Climate Change

The Work of Art in the Time of Climate Change

Agents of Change: Facing the Anthropocene
Curatorial Presentation & Artist Talk
Liz Miller (Feminist Media Studio) , Nina Czegledy (Leonardo) and Jane Tingley (SLOLab, York)
March 21 2022
11am - 12:30 p.m. 

By Joel Ong, Director of the Sensorium and assistant professor, School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design:

There’s a growing realization in this epoch that much of the crisis we face is caused by decisions that externalize environmental costs and hide the true level of violent extractions and waste from view.  As we encounter the real possibilities of metabolic interventions into the planet by industrial complexes and institutions, art and poetics play an important role in the interdisciplinary approach we all seek, and it is this trajectory that has gained much momentum in changing our narratives and behaviours around climate change.  

At Sensorium and AMPD we are looking at ways to consider environmental solutions as a form of new civic knowledge, such as in collective imagining with communities of practice through site-specific and sustainable eco-scenographics; creative transductions of environmental data, film, sound; simulated evolution and mixed reality worldmaking; and collaborations with scientists and engineers across the campus. These research-creation works are very much indebted to intersectional discourses in feminist, queer, critical disability and Indigenous studies that elevate the aspects of the environment that are traditionally neglected when thinking about climate action - what Marisol De La Cadena calls the ‘anthropo-not-seen’.  Here I will highlight Professors Mary Bunch, Dolleen Manning and team’s work “Emerging from the Water” (2022), Professor Jane Tingley’s “Foresta-Inclusive” (2021), student alumni Ella Morton’s “Kajanaqtuq” (2020) and Nicole Clouston’s “Lake Ontario Portrait” (2017-), that consider the plurality of ‘ worlds’ other than our own.  These works have been featured in recent Sensorium group exhibitions.

But beyond the aesthetics, art aspires towards a shift in consciousness towards the care and intimacy that we need to encounter, and be accountable to, our environments.  As  Bioartist Jennifer Willet writes, “ notions of love are typically eschewed by academia and science as romantic, popular, or religious; but love can also be interpreted as a radical political act in the face of instrumental rationality”.  Could we say this month, that we love our environment? 

As part of Climate Change Month, Sensorium will be hosting a curatorial presentation and artist talk around the exhibition Agents for Change: Facing the Anthropocene (2020) on March 21st from 11 am - 12:30 pm. The presenters are Elizabeth Miller (Feminist Media Lab, Concordia), Nina Czgledy (Leonardo Network) and Jane Tingley (SLO Lab, AMPD).  A listening booth will also be set up to show Liz Miller’s work The Shore Line (2017) that week, an interactive Documentary that features over 40 collaborative videos made with individuals who are confronting the threats of unsustainable development and extreme weather with persistence and ingenuity.  

"For the exhibition Agents for Change | Facing the Anthropocene, we wanted to highlight the often underrepresented voices of women artists and activists in an exhibition on environmental change. Women are so often on the front lines of this type of work (activism), and we wanted to put together a show that highlighted the stories that women artists want to tell. These stories were of course extremely diverse – starting with science, research, and observation – but for me the most exciting part was the interest in highlighting the stories of both human and non-human subjects. The works in varying degrees were informative, experiential, and interactive – and together helped the viewer develop empathy and better understanding of how deeply impactful human activity is on life on this planet – air, water, earth, plant, animal, insect, human. It is extremely important to have diverse representation in gallery exhibitions because ultimately this assures diversity in the stories that get to be told for public consumption. We need this as a society to assure that we begin to comprehend (and hopefully develop sensitivity to) the complexity and diversity that surrounds us in our everyday lives.”

Jane Tingley, Curator 
Director, SLOLab, York University

Register here.

A recording of the panel presentation is available here.

Come to the Scott Library
for an installation of The Shore Line by Professor Liz Miller (Concordia University) from March 28th - 31st The Shore Line is a collaborative web documentary profiling the efforts of educators, artists, architects, scientists, city planners and youth organizations from nine countries taking actions along our global coasts. The project was exhibited as part of the Agents for Change: Facing the Anthropocene exhibition co-curated by Nina Czegledy (Leonardo Network) and Professor Jane Tingley (SLOLab, AMPD, York University).

Visit the project at the Scott Library or on your device here.