Saturday, December 26, 2009

Human/Nature: Artists Respond to a Changing Planet

What is art? Nature concentrated.
-Honore de Balzac

Komodo Dragon

From a recent issue of Orion magazine:

The traveling contemporary art exhibition Human/Nature: Artists Respond to a Changing Planet was born of a five-year collaboration between the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive, and the environmental organization Rare.

The collaborative project sent eight artists to eight World Heritage sites for residencies:

All of the World Heritage sites that the artists visited were under pressure of some sort: a lack of funds for management, an overabundance of tourists, the effects of climate change, industrial development, intensive agriculture or grazing, and more. The artists were free to ignore these issues—but their commitment to creating work about the sites ensured that they would confront them.

The World Heritage program divides its list of 828 sites into three distinct categories. There are cultural sites (such as the Great Wall of China), natural sites named for their biodiversity (such as the Gal├ípagos Islands or any of the seven other sites the artists visited), and twenty-five sites that are considered mixed, such as Guatemala’s Tikal National Park, named for its Mayan temples (cultural) and its location in a large swath of neotropical forest (natural).

Relatively few World Heritage sites are in North America, but the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is on the list.

Interviews with the eight artists are on the Orion website.

Mobile Ranger Library, by Mark Dion, for the Human/Nature exhibit

Mark Dion created a “functional work of art” featured in the exhibit. Inspired by his hosts at Komodo National Park in Indonesia, Dion designed a cart that could be pushed over rough terrain and hold all the materials the rangers need in their work.

Slideshow of the exhibit:

A review of the exhibit, from Wunderkammer: A Journal of Environmental Art:

The Human/Nature website:

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