Quantcast

Haunting Views of a Planet Declining Faster for Some Communities Than for Others

Popular

Demian DinéYazhi´'s "Rez Dog, Rez Dirt," 2013. Courtesy Demian DinéYazhi´

By Ingrid Abramovitch

Carolina Caycedo's nets hang and sway from the ceiling of the Whitney Museum of American Art, each one distinct in shape, color and composition. They range from softly rounded to elongated and geometric; some are white, while others have been dyed in bright oranges and reds. Caught in their knotted structures are objects that speak to a vibrant world: embroideries, seeds, dried plants, candles, framed religious images and musical instruments. "They are atarrayas, fishing nets that you throw by hand, and I think super beautiful," said the artist. "They were given to me by fisherfolk in Colombia near the Magdalena River, not far from where my father has a farm."


Caycedo calls the hanging sculptures Cosmotarrayas, an amalgam of their name in Spanish and the word cosmos, since each one encompasses its own small world. And they are indeed beautiful. Like the work of the five other artists in a new exhibition titled "Between the Waters," which opened at the New York City museum on March 9, Caycedo's art is inspired by a common theme: the impact of ecological damage and abuse on communities.

Carolina Caycedo's "Esto No Es Agua/This is Not Water" (still), 2015Courtesy Carolina Caycedo

Organized by assistant curator Elisabeth Sherman and curatorial assistant Margaret Kross, the exhibition focuses on the precarious state of the environment. "The idea for the show came out of talking to artists and listening to their practices," said Sherman. "We started to notice several artists working on themes that connect environmental issues with civil rights and human life."

Caycedo, for example, has created several projects that refer to the construction of hydroelectric dams in South America and the consequences for local populations. Another artist, Lena Henke, contributed sculptures that tell the story of New York City neighborhoods that were gouged from the map in the 1930s by city planner Robert Moses to make way for expressways.

Cy Gavin's "Aubade II (Spittal Pond), 2016Courtesy Sargent's Daughters

The show includes the work of two painters: Cy Gavin, an artist whose colorful maritime canvases are inspired by his father's native Bermuda and its historical role in the Atlantic slave trade; and Torkwase Dyson, whose abstract works are drawn from scientific drawings of water tables. Meanwhile, Atlanta artist Erin Jane Nelson conjures octopuses in textile collages created out of transparent fabric, spices and dried foliage. "The motivation comes from environmental anxiety," Nelson said. "Dealing with climate change, ocean acidification, and other emerging and enormous threats is not particularly uplifting, but I try to make empathetic narratives and objects that make space for catharsis and reconciliation."

Erin Jane Nelson's "Touch.tank.1," 2016Courtesy Erin Jane Nelson

Sherman said that several of the artists mentioned Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor as a major influence on their work. The book, by Princeton humanities and environment scholar Rob Nixon, examines climate change, deforestation, oil spills and war in the global south. "They are interested in how the politics of the land plays out on marginalized communities," she said. "It's not 'kumbaya,' but there is a message of 'We're all in this together,' along with a challenge to the notion that humans have a right to dominate the land."

Demian DinéYazhi´ is a Navajo artist who grew up in Gallup, New Mexico. His work at the Whitney, which combines video and text, originated in his "increasing sense of alienation, frustration and anger" at recent politics, including the Trump administration's decision to build the Dakota Access Pipeline despite protests at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. "Indigenous land has always been political," DinéYazhi´ said. "On the reservation I come from, the land has always been under threat, from the issue of water rights to extraction industries like coal and uranium."

On view in "Between the Waters" is DinéYazhi´'s 2010 Rez Dog, Rez Dirt, in which the artist, now based in Portland, used his iPhone to capture video of his grandparents' land and added narration about his feelings of disconnection. "It is about being tied to who I am, but realizing my current life is about migration," he said. Another piece, Burying White Supremacy, created by DinéYazhi' with artist Ginger Dunnill, combines drone photography taken on a Navajo reservation superimposed with conceptual instructions on "how to bury white supremacy." Stark but ultimately hopeful, the piece depicts the green shoot of a plant emerging from a barren landscape strewn with gray tumbleweeds. "I'm trying to show that we have ways of adapting," the artist said, "and of spreading our intelligence."

"Between the Waters" is currently on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City and is accessible to the public for free.

Reposted with permission from our media associate onEarth.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

MStudioImages / E+ / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Backpacking is an exciting way to explore the wilderness or travel to foreign countries on a budget.

Read More Show Less
Tim P. Whitby / 21st Century Fox / Getty Images

The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.

Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.

The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A protest march against the Line 3 pipeline in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 18, 2018. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

By Collin Rees

We know that people power can stop dangerous fossil fuel projects like the proposed Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline in Minnesota, because we've proved it over and over again — and recently we've had two more big wins.

Read More Show Less
Scientists released a study showing that a million species are at risk for extinction, but it was largely ignored by the corporate news media. Danny Perez Photography / Flickr / CC

By Julia Conley

Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.

Read More Show Less
DoneGood

By Cullen Schwarz

Ethical shopping is a somewhat new phenomenon. We're far more familiar with the "tried and tested" methods of doing good, like donating our money or time.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pixabay

Summer is fast approaching, which means it's time to stock up on sunscreen to ward off the harmful effects of sun exposure. Not all sunscreens are created equally, however.

Read More Show Less
Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images

The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.

Read More Show Less
Flooding in Winfield, Missouri this month. Jonathan Rehg / Getty Images

President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.

"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.

Read More Show Less