The world of art has always been the guiding force when it comes to provoking a thought or starting an action against something. Art is a very powerful medium to convey a message to the millions across the world. In modern times, the biggest and most devastating problem that lies ahead of us is the negligence of our environment. The uncultured abuse of the environment is spreading across the globe like a wild fire. It needs to be controlled otherwise it can destroy our very existence. The world of art has been a faithful companion in this quest to stop this abuse. The response given by artists for what Taylor describes as " Environmental Emergency" is similar to the support given by the artists in the times of political unrest like the French revolution, American independence struggle just to name a few. He says "At certain times artists have chosen to engage with the issues of the day, from industrialisation to the struggle against fascism". This report starts off with a comparison of the artists work of the past and present, then the role of art in environmental issues is discussed followed by a discussion about a few recent art exhibitions and finally tails off with some points for the future.
Environmental Issues and Art
Artists of the late 60's and 70's were concerned more with awareness on the issues related to environment like pollution and oil crisis. They used their art as a medium to tell the common people about the hazards they might face in the future if they don't pay attention to what they are doing right now. The contemporary artists of today are more analytical and they focus on how these crises affect us as individuals with major focus on issues like climate change (Dyskara, 2001).
In the recent years, there have been a lot of artists who have come forward and made their voices heard and concerned felt for the environment. Dean Kenning (2008) wrote an article on the present condition of the artists. His article was an eye opener and it shook the world alike. He wrote in his article how artists are caught up in the middle of this uneasy situation where they need to protest against the big multinationals who are a major cause of environmental issues, but needs them to market his exhibition as well (Brey, 2002). Hence the existence of art has come under the scanner and we are caught up in a debate of whether we will ever be able to justify it or not.
Art is generally produced with something that is not needed or rather with something which is extra and is not required. "No artist has ethical sympathies," Oscar Wilde once wrote. "An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. All art is quite useless."(Arendt, 2009). In today's scenario, we need to be quite watchful of our sense of waste that we produce and hence the continued existence of the objects and activities that are excessive to our basic needs raises a question on our hypocritical attitude towards the art forms supporting environmental problems. If we consider this aspect of wastefulness and usefulness, it is fair to say that today when we are facing this unprecedented environmental crisis, a logical conclusion that comes to the forefront is that all the art production should cease and the artists should focus their attention on tasks that are more important and worthwhile in the present situation so that it helps the present cause (Arendt, 2009).
When we say this the next question that looms up is what can be the useful role of art in the present scenario? So in the light of present condition the answer could be not just artworks that preach about the environmental issues but infact a new way of making art so that the artists are not just artists but 'producers' and their art work is seen as a product which is sustainable. United Nations has set up UNEP and its various different programmes are aimed to do just that (http://www.unep.org /). It ran an exhibition "Unite to combat climate change" which features paintings from UNEP children painting competition. "Just what 'useful' role art could play in the twenty-first century? Moreover, instead of this the best solution would be to call new environmental conception (NEC).
It is not just a move towards artworks which speak about issues that are related with environment and related with people, but policies designed for making art though different ways which allows artists to recognise there role as producers (Harrison, 2009). Also, in of the reason for its popularity is freshness it contained as non of the studies been done on same anytime in past. In this case of NEC the upcoming artists in the field can check what would be the best manner to visualise their idea to become important part of work (political and critical).
Keeping this in mind, there have been some recent exhibitions that showcase the exact same thing. Julika Gittner's bulky agglutinations (Economic Units & Daily Allowance, 2002) made from used batteries, plastic bottles, old potatoes and other rubbish held from bursting in swathes of cheap carpet are present in the gallery, but above them are photos of individuals holding these same sculptures (Kenning, 2008). Each one, it turns out, represents the person's 'unique' average daily consumption of energy, water, domestic floor space, etc. But by keeping in mind that statistical data can help to generate such horrible scientific bodies recommend that the excess that pertains the boring ordinariness of life. Additionally, Kunstverein Wolfburg states that "'Green Dreams' at Kunstverein Wolfsburg examined the present moment while casting a wistful glance back to a time of art-ecology synthesis".
One of the theories written was Fallen forest in 2006 which states the technology with natural element by flying a 16- square the freganenece taken or collected from rain forests through 16 meter square fragment of rain forest by sliding it inside the gallery (Tanner, 2009).
Artists' attempts tend to fall into two categories. There is the celebratory work reminding us how nice nature is;and there is the dystopian approach, which paints a stark picture of humanity's future (Milton, 2007). "Occasionally, the two will come together, as inMarcus Vergette's Time and Tide Bell. Situated on the seawall at Apple Dore in Devon, the bell chimes a melody with the rise of the tide; as global warming worsens, this chime will become more frequent".
This radical new paradigm in the modern contemporary art is something that is unique and is receiving rave reviews the world over. According to Harrison, (2009) "It is the unique reactionary potential of art, which Guattari believes has led to an increase in artistic consumption in parallel with the "increasing uniformity of the lives of individuals", as free enterprise went global. The main reason which makes recreation and entertainment different is the way and type of alternative physical spaces which allow opportunity to audience to see the gallery as an offer. Additionally, thinking about their lives with the change of prospective such as, through illuminating and many more.
In spite of all this that is happening in the present scenario, there are many artists that are not willing to come forward in this call. This aspect has been termed as "the green hush effect" (Polli, 2007). Tanner, (2009) highlighted that "In many instances, where a celebrity has got up and made a strong statement, the response has been the opposite of the intended effect". This is because sometimes these celebrities don't walk the talk. Today people are not stupid and hence they question them back. It is very important for the artists to keep this in mind. All the unnecessary lighting, decoration etc. that goes in the exhibition is something that can be done with (Bulut et al, 2009). People are not stupid, they see all this but the major thing is the message which does come across in these exhibitions.
- Arendt, P. 2009. Can artists change the world ? Available at : http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2009/jul/05/can-artists-save-the-world
- Bulut, Dieren; Bulut, Ceiren, Yumrukaya,. 2009. Corporate social responsibility in culture and art ; Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal. Vol: 5, Issue: 5, pgs 132-138.
- Bray, Anne. 2002. The Community Is Watching, and Replying: Art in Public Places and Spaces. Leonardo. Vol: 31, Issue: 2 , pgs 222-232.
- Kenning, D. 2008 . Eco art; Art Monthly ; 313 ; February , pp 1-4
- Milton, A. 2007. Down to fine art ; The Guardian. Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/jan/10/society.guardiansocietysupplement
- Polli, A. 2007. Eco-Media: Art informed by developments in ecology, media technology and environmental science. Technoetic Arts, Vol 5.No. 3, pp 187-200
- Tanner, S.C. 2009 . Radical Nature ; Barbican, London. Available at: http://artrabbit.com/uk/features/features/august_2009/radical_nature
- Dykstra, Steven,W. 1996-01. The Artist's Intentions and the Intentional Fallacy in Fine Arts Conservation. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation. Vol: 35. No. 3. pp 197-218