Artistic expression, be it music, prose, poetry or the visual arts, reveal the essence of how we live – our joys, fears, beliefs, and future expectations. Today, surfacing fears about the impacts of climate change loom large in our cultural environment and have motivated artists to create work inspired by the increasing and startling scientific data coupled with their personal and esthetic sense of global warming.
In the show “Our Anthropocene: Eco Crises” at the Center for Book Arts in Manhattan, 27 artists from all over the world share their personal take on the devastating impacts of climate change, from diminishing glaciers to ravaging forest fires and devastating droughts, to garbage/waste fouling our oceans to floods and erosion. The show’s name is taken from the current codified geological epoch, the Anthropocene. The works here are mostly in book form which makes the message accessible to the viewer. Book art is what the Center for Book Arts has always been about and is known for cutting edge book art featuring traditional and contemporary artist books celebrating books as art objects. Hand-made, original art books are innovative, unconventional and take many forms. Some are sculptural, most are meant to be picked up, read or to view images. In this show books are shaped like trees, with word-filled pages fanning out, multiplying the tree shape. Others are accompanied by boxes of artifacts that bring to life the contents of the partnering book, such as a collaborative work by Thorsten Baensch/Karin Dürr/Carolin Röckelein/Zoe Zin Moe, “I Love You/Plastic Has a Price” and is about garbage, packaging and waste.
Susan Reynolds’ piece “Fire in the Forest” is about her experience during the 2013 Silver Fire that devastated 138,000 acres of the Gila National Forest in New Mexico, just miles from her home. Her handwritten journal chronicles the facts of the fire, Reynolds’ emotional reactions, and photographs of the extent of the devastation. The journal is accompanied by a fold out exhibition box covered by a hand-drawn leafless forest and within the sections are a charred beer bottle, burnt drinking flask and a small log, now a chunk of charcoal.
The dramatic photographs of glaciers in a book by Ian Van Coller are both stunning and deeply alarming. Coller draws the viewer in to bottomless crevices or gleaming glaciers that are cracking and melting, catching a moment of geological erasure and that these icons hold the earth’s history, a moment that will soon be gone. Shu-Ju Wang’s book “The Medium is the Baggage” shows us various packaging material used with the products we buy that ends up as waste.
The show’s premise is undeniable: we have caused our own ecocide and in the not too distant future, ultimate mass extinction. The artists in this exhibition include
Alma Collective (Christoph Both-Asmus/Owanto/Robbin Ami Silverberg/Andreas Wengel/Hervé Youmbi), Thorsten Baensch/Karin Dürr/Carolin Röckelein/Zoe Zin Moe, Sammy Baloji, Julie Dodd, Stephan Erasmus, Nuno Henrique, Daniel Knorr, Guy Laramée, Gideon Mendel, Barbara Milman, Heidi Neilson, Tara O’Brien, Sara Parkel, Susan Reynolds, Ian Van Coller, Shu-Ju Wang, Käthe Wenzel, Thomas Parker Williams, Michelle Wilson, Philip Zimmermann.
The show is up until March 31. A short and concise video about the show is here.
Center for Book Arts
28 West 27th St, 3rd Flr
New York, NY 10001