THE EXHIBITIONS OF THE MOMENT: A MIX OF SOCIETAL AWAKENING AND ECOLOGICAL COMMITMENT
January 31 2020
Nowadays, art is a way of claiming and expressing oneself. Many artist use their art to woke people about social and environmental matters. They denounce, express themselves, inform about what is wrong in our society. They want to make people react. In 2020 there will be several exhibitions committed to today's world and societal/ecological issues.
First there is the Notre Monde brûle exhibition, at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, from February 21, 2020 to May 17, 2020. Presented as part of the Fragmenting the World season, this exhibition offers a committed look at contemporary creation from the Persian Gulf, where wars and diplomatic tensions have continued to determine the history of this early 21st century. The title explicitly refers to the human dramas generated by the successive conflicts in this region, while integrating in a broader way the ecological catastrophes embodied by the immense destructive forest fires from the Amazon to Siberia via California. The exhibition presents a complex mix of events, like the destruction of Iraqi treasures to the fate of Syrian refugees and the financing of the Taliban through the exploitation of lapis lazuli in Afghanistan, while offering multiple poetic escapes. It also opens its reflection to the problematic of the Anthropocene and to the question of the use of natural resources in order to participate in the debate on the need to change our exclusively utilitarian relationship with the environment.
Wael Shawky, Al Araba Al Madfuna III, 2016 Installation vidéo, 27’02’’ Courtesy de l’artiste
Then there is Le supermarché des images exhibition, at the Jeu de Paume in Paris, from February 11, 2020 to June 7, 2020. This exhibition is based on a book which has the same title. Here, they want to point out that our world is constantly saturated with images. Their number is growing so exponentially - today more than three billion images are shared every day on social networks - that the space of visibility seems to be literally overwhelmed. As if there were no more space, no more interstices. Faced with such an overproduction of images, the question of their storage, management, transport (even if electronic) and the routes they follow, their weight, the fluidity or viscosity of their exchanges, their fluctuating values - in short, the question of their economy - arises more than ever. The works chosen for "The supermarket of images" take an incisive look at these issues. On one hand, they reflect on the upheavals currently affecting the economy in general, such as with cryptomony, for example. But, on the other hand, these works also question the future of visibility in the era of globalization: we are faced with an incessant circulation of images. In the supermarket that is exhibited here, in short, the images of the economy speak each time of the economy of the image.
The next two are in London. The first one is, as Notre Monde brûle, about ecological matters. It’s called Eco-Visionaries, and located at the Royal Academy of Arts, until February 23, 2020. Visitors can discover how architects, artists and designers are responding today to some of the most urgent ecological issues of our times. From climate change to species extinction and resource depletion, the damaging effects of modern life are more tangible than ever. This exhibition examines humankind’s impact on the planet and presents innovative approaches that reframe our relationship with nature. Through film, installation, architectural models and photography, the works in this exhibition interrogate how architecture, art and design are reacting to a rapidly changing world, beyond mainstream notions of sustainability. In the 1950s, scientists started raising serious concerns about the damaging effects of modern life on the environment. Since then, artists have joined the urgent effort to draw attention to the planet’s fragile and endangered ecosystem. This exhibition brings together international practitioners and is a wake-up call, urging us to acknowledge and become conscious of our impact on our environment.
Then there is Formafantasma : Cambio, at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, from March 4, 2020 to May 17, 2020. Formafantasma are an Italian design duo based in Amsterdam. Their work looks at design's ecological and political responsibilities, while probing the global industries that consume natural resources. This project opens a new chapter in the Serpentine's programme, embracing radical approaches to design and developing a platform for practitioners who operate between the traditional disciplines of design, contemporary art, and research. This exhibition puts into question the role that design can play in translating emerging environmental awareness into informed, collaborative responses. Specifically, it will focus on forestry practices and production strategies surrounding wood and wood products. Formafantasma's practice is characterised by experimental material investigations and detailed explorations of the history, context and implications of the transformation of natural resources into commodities. This project seeks connections with science, conservation, engineering and policymaking, adopting a pioneering multidisciplinary approach to contemporary design.
The next one is located in New York at the New museum of contemporary art, and is named Hans Haacke : All connected. It will last until January 26, 2020. It is a major retrospective of the work of Hans Haacke, the first in over thirty years. For six decades, Haacke has been a pioneer in kinetic art, environmental art, conceptual art, and institutional critique. This retrospective brings together more than thirty works from across the artist’s career, focusing in particular on the way he expanded the parameters of his practice to encompass the social, political, and economic structures in which art is produced, circulated, and displayed. The exhibition includes a number of Haacke’s rarely seen kinetic works, environmental sculptures, and more recent works considering the intersection of global capitalism, nationalism, and humanitarian crises around the world. This long-overdue assessment of his work highlights its formal and critical complexity and the remarkable consistency with which he has approached the relationship between art and society.
« Hans Haacke : All conneted », 2019, exhibition view : New Museum, NY. Photo : Dario Lasagni
The last one is also in New York and it’s Countryside the future, at the Guggenheim museum, from February 20, 2020 to August 14, 2020. It is an exhibition addressing urgent environmental, political, and socioeconomic issues through the lens of architect and urbanist Rem Koolhaas and Samir Bantal. It will explore in a unique way radical changes in the rural, remote, and wild territories collectively identified here as “countryside,” or the 98% of the earth’s surface not occupied by cities, with a full rotunda installation premised on original research. The project presents investigations by several universities. The exhibition will examine the modern conception of climate change, migration, human- and non-human ecosystems, market driven preservation, artificial and organic coexistence and other forms of radical experimentation that are altering the landscapes across the world.
The global countryside, highlighted with an abstract representation of the areas addressed by AMO in the exhibition Countryside, The Future. Image: Courtesy of AMO