UNIVERSITY’S ART EXHIBIT TACKLES CLIMATE CHANGE
The University Art Museum began the fall semester with the environmentally conscious exhibit “Future Perfect: Picturing the Anthropocene.” With a bevy of different mediums, each artists’ work attempts to capture “how we view the past, how we perceive the present, and how we imagine the future” in context with environmental issues.
Although it debuted July 12th, interested students have been able to stop in since the beginning of the semester. Over the course of the semester, the Museum hopes the exhibit becomes a hub for conversation and reflection on topics of art and the Anthropocene. The projects vary from film, photography, sculpture, as well as a stop motion film that is being worked on throughout the semester by SUNY alumni Colin C. Boyd
Boyd’s film Galleon depicts a desolate world no longer occupied by humans but instead by creatures reminiscent of species that have long since been extinct. Having the set be built over time as opposed to being completed before the opening allows a more collaborative element to the piece and subsequently the exhibit altogether. Moreover the inclusion of technology from 30 years in both the past and the future reinforces the Future Perfect motif.
One image of the future is seen with Jacolby Satterwhites Reifying Desire 6, a video clip part of a larger series that visualizes “a new Eden” or a future free from “patriarchal constrains and destructive impulses that feed our relationships to each other and to the natural world.” Equipped with 3D images of floating reproductive systems and green animated men having sex with each other, Satterwhites’ vision is a specific one. While passing by it might be easy for one to dismiss it as vulgar or unnecessary provided one ignore
Tommy Hartung’s The Bible depicts Old Testament stories in a fragmented, often confusing collection of videos. For example, a clip of tanks running over rubble made of recyclables intercut with iPhone footage of actual war zones. “Why are you filming this?” One civilian asks the cameraman to which he replies “people need to see what’s happening here!”
These clips remind us that while discussing how horrible the future will be, so many people are living that horror now. Additionally, the found footage often takes place in poorer areas where climate change will have its worst effects.
Truth be told I failed to fully tune into what was going on for the only sound that was playing was coming from the projector. Considering I was the only person in the exhibit at the time, I feel the film would be better viewed in a more enclosed setting or at least in one where louder volumes wouldn’t disrupt students or faculty.
By choosing to include the term Anthropocene instead of just imagining the future, the co-curators take the right step into not only acknowledging the importance of climate change and art. Whether we notice it or not the blockbuster films we have that discuss climate change come in the form of movies like World War Z and 2012. However these movies do not truly depict the end of mankind, for Brad Pitt or Matt Damon still lives to keep man alive.
We think of ourselves as separate from nature, able to exist without it because we have the ability to manipulate it… or at least we thought we did. This planet cannot sustain us forever and provided space colonization becomes a legitimate exit plan most will never step foot on another planet. What we can do is slow the process and raise awareness wherever we can, and I’m happy to see that the arts are participating in the conversation.