Christy Rupp, “Watershed Glassware”, 2000
The work of New York based artist, Christy Rupp sparkles with wit and environmental information. Concerned with water issues, bacterial pathogens, urban ecology and genetically engineered foods, Rupp creates glassware, functional sculpture and public spaces populated with artificial wildlife.
Warming skies over the earth
Author Archives: Rahmani Aviva
Articulating our purpose for the proposed conference/ unconference at the School of Visual Arts October 2012
I am very glad Mary Jo has posted on the website. Thank you for kicking things off.
In articulating our goals, I think it is important to separate what we may accomplish Friday, which is conceived as a public interface and be more like a conventional conference (albeit with a different structure) from the more private unconference Saturday, which will allow for more intimate exchanges. These are different tasks with arguably different goals.
Generally, I see our task as simultaneously reaching out and reaching inwards. The world appears to be emerging from a long period of denial and grappling with where to find hope in the face of despair. Historically, this is when people turn to conservative values. But in the anthropocene, this is precisely the point when we must look towards new thinking which is what I think ecoart and the ecoartnetwork can provide. Throughout our history as a group, we have done exactly that outreach/inreach which may be the key to the world’s future.
Globally, people have forgotten that artists are thinkers who often operate simultaneously in the practical and theoretical worlds. I think it is crucial to clarify what we have to offer the world at what seems to be a crucial cultural turning point, for ourselves, our colleagues and the mainstream. Many of us who have an ecological practice have developed specific strategies to address the challenges of the anthropocene, whether in relation to water, other species, community building or restoration work. One purpose of this event is going to be to help educate people to understand that art can be much more than an object or an entertainment.
In relation to the events planned for the School of Visual Arts, we have several tasks. One is presentational: to appropriate and transform from the corporate world ideas of framing, branding and packaging, which help people “get” another approach. A second task is to provide a framework for people to see where and how they can enter the process of transformation required in the decades ahead. These ideas about presentation and collective transformation are what the ecodialog has been about for so long and is one of the strengths we can share. It is why so many of us present at conferences and why we are planning a conference/ unconference of our own. It is also why we have scheduled this event for shortly before the crucial elections in the United States, for the next administration.
When we answer Chris’s questions, pertinent to the conference/unconference, “What is ecoart?” or “How has ecoart been interpreted,” we need to also consider how will we bring a mainstream audience into our world, where art is more than magic, refuge or solace in a turbulent and troubling world?
For example, the question of keynote speakers for Friday night has been discussed, in terms of whether that notion is hierarchal or not. I think that misses the point. Friday night, when our format will be introductory for the public, we need to accomplish several tasks. The first is to give people a reason to see how what we do is unique and important in their own lives. The second is to help us frame what we have to offer, into a broad context they can recognize. The third is to provide a framework to start think differently about how they can participate in a process which offers real hope for change.
The word keynote, musically, means to literally set the tone. This is a platform issue not a hierarchal one. The “keynote” will set the tone for what we need to say to the greater world in terms they can grasp. Our task, if we have presenters such as Bill McKibben, is to help them see where their work and ours dovetail, to give them the guidelines for the topic they will speak to which will hold a hand out to our audience to come into our world and see how it is part of a greater world and greater constituency. The goal I see, is how to make Friday night a keynote in itself, which will include the keynote speakers we designate and give direction to.
I used the word constituency above as advisedly as we have scheduled the event before the election. The world is in campaign mode now. Whether for or against climate change, for or against a particular economic solution. Like it or not, we live in a world of the polis and ecoart must take the stage now to present our case for collective sanity.