The Politics and Culture of Environmentalism in the 20th and 21st Centuries
Product of more than two years of critical investigations around climate science, creative practices and eco-politics, Visual Natures is a continuation of the journey started in 2021 with the data-driven installation Earth Bits – Sensing the Planetary and the public programme Climate Emergency > Emergence, curated by the first maat Climate Collective.
This research project surveys political, social and cultural forms of collective agency that, over the course of the last one hundred years or so, demonstrate how the transforming human understanding of “nature” – philosophical, biological, economic – informs the ways in which we organise, sustain and govern our communities as an expanding planetary construct, both in concept and practice. The resulting mapping cross-references four subjects of analysis – artistic production and cultural events, technological innovations and scientific findings, social movements, and deliberations of global governance – loosely following a chronological order from the 1950s until today. The presentation defies the challenge of its encyclopaedic character by way of a thematic organisation along three main concatenated clusters – Deep Ecology 1950–1990, The Planetary Complex 1990–2010, Multinaturalism 2010–2020 – each converging around expanding meanings of ‘ecology’ and environmentalism that from the 1960s onwards have grown central in international public debate, as phenomena of global growth, natural resource scarcity and pollution became provenly intertwined.
Deliberately appropriating an expression by architect and artist Paulo Tavares (member of the maat Climate Collective 2021), “visual natures” points towards a post-anthropocentric, non-hegemonic politics and aesthetics of environmentalism to emerge as a democratic and egalitarian paradigm of coexistence within nature that transcends human-centred worldviews and refuses the ecological violence of extractivism.
Commissioned to the Brazilian architect Carla Juaçaba, the spatial design in which the research is presented aptly takes inspiration from The Conference of the Birds, a Sufi parable written in the 12th century by the Persian poet Farid al-Din 'Attar – a moral allegory of sovereignty and truth-seeking through shared sacrifice. She states: “The exhibition design is a ‘conference space’ in which we are birds discussing a new ordering between nature and man and between science and democracy, while redefining the idea of progress. It is a political space, since the discussion is about coexistence and to ‘find the right way to compose a common world, the kind of world the Greeks called a cosmos’ (Bruno Latour).”
The research contents are presented in a custom digital interface designed and developed by the studio dotdotdot in a continued collaboration with the museum since the 2021 installation Earth Bits. Visitors can browse the multimedia contents – images, videos, texts – following the three main thematic chapters distributed chronologically across the 42-seat assembly designed by Juaçaba, each provided with a touchscreen through which scrolling the interface vertically allows to compare findings across the four subjects of analysis, while swiping horizontally moves through time.
The exhibition includes a Climate Library, a reading area incorporated in the installation where a vast reference list of books and publications pertinent to the various subjects addressed in the research is made available as a digital catalogue and partially in physical form.
The main body of the installation Earth Bits from 2021 is also being presented once again featuring the CO2 Mixer console and a new version of the video Planet Calls.
A series of articles and contributions extrapolated from the research will appear at maat ext. over the course of the exhibition.
Visual Natures and Earth Bits are both made possible thanks to the partnership and continued support of Novo Verde and ERP (European Recycling Platform) Portugal.
Art direction: Beatrice Leanza
Research and curatorial team: Beatrice Leanza, Nuno Ferreira de Carvalho, Rita Marques, Camila Maissune, Maria Kruglyak, Amir Halabi, Bárbara Borges de Campos
Interaction design by: dotdotdot (Alessandro Masserdotti, Laura Dellamotta, Fabrizio Pignoloni, Giovanna Gardi, Nicola Buccioli, Mariasilvia Poltronieri, Davide Bonafede, Simone Bacchini, Nicola Ariutti)
Installation design: Carla Juaçaba
Visual identity: Lisa H. Moura (maat)
Production: Francisco Soares
Audiovisual production: Nuno Fernandes Paula
Agnes Denes and Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, Alan Sonfist; Allan Sekula Studio; Allora & Calzadilla and The Gladstone Gallery; Ana Mendieta Estate and Galerie LeLong; Antero Kare; Armin Linke; Ars Electronica Archive; atelier d’architecture autogérée; Auburn University Rural Studio and Timothy Hursley; Betsy Damon and Asia Art Archive America; Bildmuseet, Ken + Julia Yonetani, Robert Williams, Bryan McGovern Wilson and David Mabb; Biosphere 2, University of Arizona; Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center; Bright Ugochukwu Eke; Carla Maldonado; Carsten Höller Studio; Casa Río Lab; Cecilia Vicuña Studio; Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation; City of Kent Art Commission: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum's Library; David OReilly; Decolonizing Architecture Art Research (DAAR); Delhi Greens; Dennis Oppenheim Estate; Dia Art Foundation; Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Dineo Seshee Bopape and Galerie Sfeir-Semler; Diogo Evangelista; documenta archiv; Dominique Mazeaud; Eduardo Kac; Eli Noyes; Elizabeth A. Povinelli and Karrabing Film Collective; Eve Andrée Laramée; Evelyn Roth; Formafantasma; Fotoarchiv Kunsthalle Basel; Fundación Nicolás García Uriburu; Gail Gelburd; Gene Bernofsky and Richard Kallweit; Georg Dietzler; George Gessert; Grant Kester; Günther Zamp Kelp; Hartware MedienKunstVerein (HMKV); Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison; Himali Singh Soin with David Soin Tappeser, Jordan Nasser and Viveka Chauhan; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institute; Hope Ginsburg; Jean-Baptiste Decavèle, Marianne Friedman-Polonsky and the Fonds de Dotation Denise et Yona Friedman; Jean-Paul Jungmann; Jenna Sutela; Jens Hauser; Julia Connor and the John Cage Trust; Julie Martin and GB Agency; Juliet Kepes Stone; Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler; Kathryn Miller and Michael Honer; Katie Paterson and Ingleby, Edinburgh; King County Arts Commission; Kunstmuseum Lichtenstein; LACMA, Balch Art Research Library and Malcolm Lubliner: Lara Almárcegui; Latitudes (Max Andrews and Mariana Cànepa Luna); Laura Gustafsson and Terike Haapoja; Lemna International; Les Abattoirs / Bibliotheque des Abattoirs: Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway; Liu Xiadong and Lisson Gallery; Lloyd Kahn; Lonne Van Brummelen and Siebren de Haan; Lucia Pietroiusti; Lucy Davis and the Migrant Ecologies Project; Ludwig Forum, Aachen; Mabe Bethônico; Maria Thereza Alves; Marjetica Potrč and Galerie Nordenhake; Mark Dion and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery; Massimiliano Gioni; Maya Lin Studio; Mel Chin; Michael Callahan, Gerd Stern, Carl Solway Gallery and Paige Rozanski of National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Michael Rakowitz and Barbara Wien Gallery; Michael Wang; Milton Becerra ("Meteorito", 1985); Minerva Cuevas and Kurimanzotto Gallery; Monira Al Qadiri; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Nicole Fournier ("Live Dining", 2005-ongoing); Nils Norman; Nobuo Sekine Estate and Blum & Poe; North Carolina State Archives; Olafur Eliasson Studio; Orin Langelle; Orkan Telhan; Ou Ning; Pamela Seymour Sharp; Patricia Johanson; Paul Rosero Contreras; Paula Cooper Gallery; Paulo Arraiano; Pedro Neves Marques; Pekka Niskanen; Peter Fend and Ocean Earth Development Corporation; Peter Marshall; Petri Eskelinen; Platform; Pori Art Museum; Prof. Heinz Mack Atelier; Robert Horvitz and Fabrice Florin; Robert Morris Estate and Castelli Gallery; Sanjay Kak; Sharjah Biennial; Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago; Søren Dahlgaard, Elena Gilbert, Paolo Rosso of Microlima and Amani Naseem ("Maldives Exodus Caravan Show", 2013-2017); Stalker; Steve Kutz and Steve Barnes / Critical Art Ensemble; Studio Brandon Ballengée; Sue Spaid; Superflex; SUPERFLUX (Anab Jain and Jon Ardern); Susan Snodgrass; Tavares Strachan; The Aspen Institute and Ferenc Berko Estate; The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller; The Land Foundation; The Rauschenberg Foundation; Tue Greenfort; University Archive of Berkeley UC; University Archives of Illinois Institute of Technology; Unknown Fields Division (Liam Young and Katy Davies); Urban-Think Tank and Alfredo Brillembourg; Uriel Orlow; Ursula Biemann; Ute Hörner and Mathias Antlfinger / CMUK; Verbier Art Summit; William Irvin Thompson Estate; ZKM – Center for Art and Media and Bruno Latour
Novo Verde e ERP (European Recycling Platform) Portugal