Photo by Susannah Sayler/The Canary Project
Susannah Sayler, Glacial Icecap and Permafrost Melting: Cordillera Blanca, Peru, 2008. From The Canary Project
Global environmental struggles are creating an aesthetic.
The planet is entering a new phase.
What is the purpose of art in this global transformation?
A new aesthetic has emerged: "conceptual" art with a purpose, simple devices to help people and the environment around the world.
Materials from industrial waste are recycled to protect nature. People are becoming artists of preservation and dedicated environmental activists, globally and locally.
Ecological events transform the image of beauty into a story of catastrophe, yet the mismanagement of the environment is documented in beautiful images that can be inspiring. Artists interpret the disaster of our incompetent management of the environment by reconstructing images of distress with metaphors that excite the taste and trouble the spirit.
Civil disobedience by all kinds of professionals involving physical risk is a thriving movement. Tragedy is how history puts us together; comedy is how we laugh at that combination. Ecology is how we live in this balance; aesthetics, the unity that makes it work.
Ecoaesthetic is changing the body of art, if not its substance. The planet can exist without art, but we cannot exist without the planet.
Aesthetics is a creation of nature, art our interpretation. Conceit ruins nature. Foolish consumption of resources makes power impotent. We look the same for thousands of years but our planet doesn’t.
Does our planet’s physical change alter our spiritual knowledge?
Do we invent a new nature with the mutation of the old?
Art is beauty, arrogance is the politic of tragedy. Every century is an accumulation of knowledge of centuries before, a build up of waste and contamination…What are we going to do about this?
— Papo Colo, co-curator "ECOAESTHETIC: The Tragedy of Beauty," images by nine international photographers that portray devastating human impact on the environment, on view through August 25 at Exit Art
, New York City.