The Aesthetics of Sustainability: Examples to Follow
On May 3rd Examples to Follow: Expeditions in aesthetics and sustainability opens at the Goethe Institute in Addis Ababa. The exhibition is curated by Adrienne Goehler, and as hinted by the title it explores the intersections of art and sustainability. More than 40 artistic positions on display dissolve the boundaries between art, activism and inventions, and connect experiences and methods of environmental initiatives with artistic approaches. Examples to follow is a collaboration between the Goethe Institute, the Heinrich Böll-Foundation and the German Federal Cultural Foundation.
The fusion of art and sustainability is a relatively new phenomenon. One might think that it took its first official and conscious steps in Copenhagen in 2010 with the failed COP15 Climate summit. During the summit Copenhagen was blossoming with artistic and innovative examples of how to address climate change and create a more sustainable world. Major art-institutions arranged thematic exhibitions according to this subject, and the public was projected to climate-arts in all corners of town. But already in 2007, 3 years before the COP15, the idea of Examples to Follow: Expeditions in aesthetics and sustainability was born in Germany. After three years of working hard to promote the link between aesthetics and sustainability the exhibition finally opened in the fall of 2010 in Berlin, few months before the big COP-show went down in the neighbouring capital.
So why merge art and sustainability, and how do two seemingly different spheres of the humanities and science find a common ground? What art can do, and what artists have successfully been doing for decades, is creating awareness about pressing issues in society, and providing new ideas and alternative solutions to problems and challenges we face. Currently the major challenges on a global scale is climate-changes, and one way of meeting these challenges is raising awareness on sustainability, and making people aware of how to better preserve our earth. And when art can be a part of debates on so many other topics, then why not in the climate debate as well. Art is no longer only a means or a medium. It is also a mirror image of our search for paths towards a post-fossil fuel age, towards a new era of human development based on an aesthetic of sustainability (quote from Conceptual Thoughts on establishing a Fund for Aesthetics and Sustainability)
According to the team behind the exhibition, we need visions of a sustainable life that interconnect with the sensuality, lust and passion of acting on our own. Examples to follow! intends to encourage this and to move the cultural and aesthetic dimension of sustainability into the awareness of the senses, thus counteracting the visible erosion of the term. The exhibition aims at raising awareness for the fact that a constructive sustainability cannot make do without the arts and sciences. It needs to learn from them how to think in transitions, interim solutions, models, and projects.
So what the exhibition in fact does is use art as a mediator between bigger sustainable (scientific) ideas and societies (humanities), and thus provide its audiences with new ideas, initiatives, guidelines for action, visions and perspective on how to engage in sustainability on their own. The participating artists have transcended the often incomprehensible and chaotic discussions of sustainable ideas and solutions, and climate changes into something lucid, and you are invited to see for yourself!
Since 2010, Examples to follow! has been travelling the world, picking up artists from each destination it has been to. For the show in Addis the works of two Indian artists will be on display together with a joint German-Ethiopian water-project from 2011. Ethiopian artists Mulugheta Gebrekidan teamed up with German artists Kerstin Polzin and Anja Schoeller to discover the true story of water in contemporary Ethiopia, and their images and sounds from the journey will be presented at the exhibition.
Along with the creation of the exhibition, a proposal to establish a Fund for Aesthetics and Sustainability was written, and work to facilitate conversations with an international audience is constantly explored. So far the exhibition have reached audiences in Germany, India and soon Ethiopia. After Ethiopia it will travel on to Beijing.
OPENING 3 May, 6:30pm @ the Goethe-Institut/Modern Art Museum
During the exhibition at the Goethe Institute several events and screenings will take place. For more info and programmes please visit the Goethe Institute. For more info on the exhibition, Fund and artists, click here
Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla (US | CU), Néle Azevedo (BR), Richard Box (GB), Joseph Beuys (D), Ines Doujak (A), Adib Fricke (D), Galerie für Landschaftskunst (D), Studio Lukas Feireiss und Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today mit Luis Berríos-Negrón (D | PR | UK), Dionisio González (E), Tue Greenfort (DK), Hermann Josef Hack (D), Henrik Håkansson (S), Ilkka Halso (FIN), Cornelia Hesse-Honegger (CH), Folke Köbberling | Martin Kaltwasser (D), Christian Kuhtz (D), Christin Lahr (D), Antal Lakner (HU), Jae Rhim Lee (KR | US), Till Leeser (D), Marlen Liebau | Marc Lingk (D), Susanne Lorenz (D), Petra Maitz (A), Gordon Matta-Clark (US) (Adaption), Gerd Niemöller (D), Dan Peterman (US), Nana Petzet (D), Clement Price-Thomas (US), Dodi Reifenberg (IL | D), Gustavo Romano (AR), Miguel Rothschild (AR), Michael Saup (D), Ursula Schulz-Dornburg (D), Dina Shenhav (IL), David Smithson (US), Robert Smithson (US), Superflex (DK), Jakub Szczesny (PL), The Yes Men (US), Gudrun F. Widlok (D), Xing Danwen (CN), Zuhausekraftwerk (D), Zwischenbericht (D)