Axis Mundi: Artists on Ecopsychology
Curated by Regan rosburg for the Biennial of the americas
"It is becoming increasingly clear that data, science, facts, figures and images are not changing the collective choices that we make. Yet when we instead attend to our anxiety, compulsions, fear, sadness, loss, and forgotten love of the natural world, we begin to tap the truth about how we actually feel about what is happening. This exhibition addresses the issue of current environmental collapse through a unique and different perspective: that of EcoPsychology - the study of relationships between human beings and the natural world via ecological and psychological principles. The artworks reflect three psychological responses to the state of the environment:
Environmental Melancholia is an arrested state of mourning related to overlapping events of environmental destruction. Put simply, it happens when “deaths” or losses in the environment are not properly mourned. These deaths can be many things, such as colony collapse of bees, melting glaciers, and struggling seabirds full of plastic. States of collapse are frequent and repetitive, often fading into the background as a constant, droning state of sadness in our everyday experience.
Culturally, we are encouraged to look away from discomfort, sadness, fear, frenzy, and confusion… and instead turn towards anything that will ameliorate the distress. As our disposable purchases find their ways to distant oceans and our plastic bags pile up in cupboards, the reality of our part in the decline of the world can easily be set aside -- as we see fit. This behavior is Collective Social Mania, and it is the collective experience of manic tendencies, such as denial, avoidance, distraction, addiction, and consumption.
Lastly, artists in this show remind us of our Biophilia: our love for the Earth, and our connection to everything in it. Biophilia is born instinctively from our deep ancestral roots as organisms amongst other organisms, and our place in this planet’s co-evolutionary process. It is the reason we feel rested after time in the woods, comforted by growing gardens, energized by the ocean, fascinated by the behaviors of plants and animals, and humbled by stars.
The artworks in Axis Mundi ask us to truly feel... openly, honestly, wildly. We can only become aware of our delustions if we courageously face the truth of our individual culpability. As such the artists in this exhibition have pulled no punches. they have responded to the world they see: a world that confuses, frightens, amazes, and comforts them. Their symbolism is courageous because it is a gift to us, the opportunity to sit with our own fear, pain, amazement and grief. The artists remind us that to be truly present with what is happening in our world is to touch the point of transformation. If we can hold the horror and the beauty at the same time, perhaps we can heal our world."
Gallery View of Exhibition at PlatteForum Gallery
21 artists responded....
Stay tuned for more images of the exhibition, like this piece, "Ourglass" by Tarah Rhoda.
Omega is Rosburg's immersive installation that comments on the ubiquity of plastic, our overconsumption and our culpability in a massive problem of consumption and denial. Stay tuned for more information.