NEW YORK - A group exhibition comprised of art and design works by Anne Katrine Senstad, Si Jie Loo, Jamie Martinez, and Studio Roosegaarde will be on view starting June 1st, 2019. Society is faced with climate change, pollution, rising sea levels, and massive ecologically driven migration. Many sustainable lifestyle theories advise people to “buy green,” invest in a “clean” car or only eat organic food. But is it wise to rely on consumerism to provide a solution to the very problems it has helped create? In this interdisciplinary exhibition, artists and designers think beyond “eco” art made from recycled materials or projects that simply paint an apocalyptic scene in order to address the urgent and ongoing ecological challenges the planet is faced with. The exhibition will be on view from June 1st to June 11th every day from 11am to 6pm at 191 Henry Street, New York, NY. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, June 1st from 3pm to 6pm.
The first incarnation of Anne Katrine Senstad's memorial piece, The River of Migration, existed as a large outdoor light and land installation at Life is Art Foundation in 2010. The piece consisted of 72 solar-powered lights placed along a mountainside in Santa Rosa, CA. They formed a symbolic “human river” on what was historically Mexican land. Each of the 72 lights refers to a specific case where a person was brutally massacred by cartels after refusing to be used as a drug trafficker. Using light to create a memorial, Senstad illuminated the urgent migration issue with her symbolic river of light. The project honored the 72 nameless souls who died during the migration process and simultaneously spoke for all victims of migratory violence. The solar panel lights were lit from dusk till dawn, when most people cross borders illegally, and illustrated the very nature of the migratory action. The lights created a geographical mapping of the California landscape and served as a gestural, lyrical, and critical comment on migration policies, border wall politics, and the intensifying climate and political refugee crisis. Unnatural deaths of migrants are intimately connected to climate change and resource enclosures fueled by the growth of global wealth inequality. It is critical to revisit this work today as it raises awareness of the new, and more elaborate, forms of human trafficking as a global business as well as the financial structures on which it capitalizes.
Si Jie Loo’s wall installation, Privilege of Taste, consists of ceramic cups and sourced coffee powders that sit on two contrasting shelves. Through her work, she visualizes the complicated relationship between choice and the illusion or lack of choice and points to the unbalanced power between labor and consumption in our society. The Malaysian coffee that Loo grew up drinking is sweet tasting and light brown. It is made from a lower grade coffee powder mixed with hot water and condensed milk. There was no comparison between tasting the powdery coffee like residue and the “fair trade” coffee, grown in exotic African countries, served by gourmet coffee shops in developed economies. During colonial times, the British took the best quality coffee for exporting. The remnant of imperial power embodied in today’s global economy continues to enable the sale of higher-end Arabica coffee so that it can be enjoyed in the UK and other powerful and developed markets. Similarly, Malaysia exports higher-grade oil and gas and imports a lower grade from abroad for local use. The majority of people in her father’s village earned their living by rubber tapping - a process that involves collecting latex from a rubber tree. When Loo was a child, her grandparents and neighbors were asleep by 8pm and were up for work at 2 am so that they could collect rubber milk for processing. Although developing nations like Malaysia are known for supplying some of the best natural resources to the developed markets, the lives of the vast majority of laborers are nowhere close to the luxurious lifestyle of the people who benefit from their labor. Today, Loo is an artist living in the western world producing what is considered to be a luxury good. While making art is laborious and sometimes soul-baring, consuming art usually takes place in a clean, pristine, and often sterile white box by a privileged minority of wealthy clients. To Loo, how we taste coffee serves as a metaphor for the profound difference between the elitist contemporary art connoisseurship and the cultural producers who supply it.
Jamie Martinez’s oil painting on cotton, VR Unity Global Warming, is a direct response to the intensifying threat of climate change. An empty hot dog truck, a Chimera, a pyramid, flying parachutes, an isolated ladder, and mountains submerged by flood waters are among the elements that make up the surreal composition. Martinez’s process involves using Virtual Reality software to construct a collage of visual fragments. He then translates the VR simulation into an oil painting in order to document this new dream-like dimension that was created in the virtual world. Although a human figure is not visible in the painting, the cataclysmic scene suggests that anthropocentric activities on earth contribute to accelerated global temperature and rising sea levels, which will eventually lead to mass extinction. Actions to correct these problems must be massive and collective.
The SMOG FREE PROJECT is a long term campaign for clean air in which Daan Roosegaarde and his team of experts have created the world's first smog vacuum cleaner. The 7-meter tall SMOG FREE TOWER uses patented positive ionisation technology to produce smog free air in public spaces and allows people to breathe and experience clean air for free. Creating a tangible souvenir, Roosegaarde designed the SMOG FREE RING, which is comprised of compressed smog particles. Roosegaarde has been inspired by nature's gifts, such light emitting fireflies and jellyfish, from an early age. His fascination for nature and technology is reflected in his iconic works such as WATERLICHT (a virtual flood which shows the force of water), and SMART HIGHWAY (roads that charge throughout the day and glow at night). “A lot of the problems we’re facing—rising sea levels, air pollution—are, to me, an issue of bad design,” Roosegaarde tells Fortune in an interview. “We have created this current situation, now we have to design our way out of it.” To Roosegaarde, design is about setting goals for our future and creating standards to achieve that vision. The Dutch artist and entrepreneur has a name for it: ‘schoonheid’ meaning beautiful and clean. This concept takes shape in new social core values like clean air, clean water, and clean energy.