Review: LCN: Art & Ecology Panel Discussion

Wednesday 5 September 2018

This post is for all students interested in climate change, activism, art & ecology and reports back on a panel discussion on Art & Ecology organised by London Creative Network (LCN) and held at Space in London. LCN organise artist development days, the talk proposed to:

bring together a panel of art practitioners working at the intersection of ecology, science, activism and art, the session will focus on different perspectives around ecology in the urban and digital space. The discussion will present ways that artists can develop their practice in this field.’

The panel agreed that Climate Change is an urgent matter and creative thinkers can act as agents for change.

  1. Michael Smythe presented Phytology and told us that the idea for the project arose from an organised walk looking for wildness in brownfield sites in and around the city, it’s interesting how this idea never left him, so years later he set out to bring this idea to life. Phytology an artist-led project and one I was involved with early on and now again with the co-creation project Compost Mentis . Phytology has evolved over time and now, in it’s fourth year, it has evolved in ways that was not possible to think of from the start. Phytology is now considered part “cultural institute” for collaboration (human and non-human), informing, learning and engaging people with sometimes complex issues such as: people’s access to land, the value of medicinal plants, occupation and protection by the people for the people. Currently the project is reaching out and is forming bat and pond networks and outreach projects with the aim for Phytology to become run by the community.
  2. Angela Chan is a champion for the under-represented, she chose Worm because they are invisible to most of us yet work hard for ecology. Worm started as an online platform to collect information on climate change, by talking and developing conversations it slowly built up and she has been invited to talk and curate exhibitions giving her a sense of why it’s important to talk about climate change and how art was contributing to discussions on social justice, sustainable practices, decolonisation, ecology and art practice. Worm’s new direction is about giving more talks, curating and working more alongside activists and campaigners rather than big institutions as she feels tokenised as a trans, person of colour and how she believes now is the time to be having these conversations.
  3. Kristina Pulejkovais a London-based multimedia artist who works at the intersection of art, science and technology. Her first project after graduation ‘Switching Heads’ was collaboration about talking about Climate Change in a cultural way – to get people’s stories heard. They used a figure of a head rather that talking to camera as she found it incredible how people were open to talking this way. Meeting and engaging people has become a focus of her work. She has been making a film at The Centre of Alternative Technology in Wales about how people feel about alternative technologies; the premier is on 5 October. She stated it’s very important to think about the materials you use and their impact and to think about longevity from a physical point of view. Carbon Memories tracks a carbon atom from the moment it’s birth in the galaxy through the carbon cycle. Humans are 30% Carbon.  

Points from the panel Q&A session:

  • The word Sustainable has many meanings. ecologies can also refer to sustaining your practice and maintaining a healthy equilibrium
  • The whole idea of legacy and whose legacy? Treading lightly, leaving nothing and adding nothing (carbon footprint)
  • Nature has a lot to teach us
  • What you call yourself: artist? social-activator? Researcher? Activist? Climate Change communicator?
  • Multiple voices and listening to others is very important
  • Don’t be afraid of complexity, be open to these dilemas
  • Make space to talk to others
  • Bring out the bigger questions by being honest in your work, down to earth and every day
  • Get the stories across
  • Be opportunistic, strategic and kind
  • Nurture relationships and think about different ways to fund your projects: Crowd fund, run workshops and give talks, self-fund, help in kind,

 

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