UNTAMED EXPRESSIONS: Anthropogenic Interventions through Artistic Installations
Our recent article REBORN TO BE WILD: Breathing Life Back to Our Forests explored and exposed the idea of ‘Rewilding’ not just as an advocacy promoted by groups and institutions but more interestingly, as a concept that is shaping the way we live our present for the future. A direction that is both imperative and logical, we view it through the lens of our individual and collective thoughts and actions as we recognize the occurring anthropogenic and anthropocentric realities. With much to be desired, we experiment on a myriad of ways to spread consciousness on this ideal and we develop alternative platforms of expression and execution in conveying our clear message.
For creatives, the opportunities to contribute to the discussion open up a variety of avenues through which we communicate our battlecry. As a powerful medium, we utilize art and its versatility to speak using a universal language that is both visual and experiential–essential aspects and qualities in effective storytelling. Knowing the crucial relationship between the message and the medium, we need to fully understand their dynamics to create a strong combined output.
What do Rewilding and Art have in common? is a question we may ask. Addressed by Rewilding Europe in collaboration with Artists for Nature Foundation, their shared vision and complementary motivations resulted to their mutual agreement on pursuing creative expressions of this odd pair–recognizing the ‘unexpected connection’ between these two key contexts to be equally ‘evident and inspiring’. Together, they march to draw attention to the significant role played by art in stressing the need for a heightened ‘appreciation of nature as an essential element of sustainable development’. Through multimedia that include painting, photography, film, and sculpture, their combined efforts have involved at least 130 artists from across 4 continents as seen through their 14 successful projects.
Beyond these mainstream forms of artistic expressions however, we discover another territory where the same spirit thrives. Through Installation Art–as defined by respected British art institution Tate, let us look at a selection of works done by artists and designers from key locations which reflects the undeniable force of these ‘untamed expressions’.
Jamie North’s Terraforms exhibition in 2014 was one of his showcase installations depicting the fascinating dichotomies of his sculptures. His artistic poetry highlights the bipolarity of things both natural and man-made while showing the active contrasts between human activity and the succession of nature.
British artist Rebecca Louise Law is famous for her immersive installations using natural materials. As her signature, she primarily uses preserved flowers in her artworks which are delicately sewn and suspended. With themes ranging from consumerism, symbolism, life cycles, and of course, sustainability, Rebecca’s installations provide a relaxing and contemplative sense of place. Her huge installation Garten, 2016 was made up of 30,000 mixed flowers donated by the Dutch Flower Council.
Award-winning Australian artist Britt Mikkelsen’s work ‘explores the hidden beauty in nature, the lost things, the things we often ignore in our daily lives’. Through her art, she is able to engage the onlooker to experience the work with a strong ‘sense of wonder’. Done as part of her exhibition Sculpture by the Sea Bondi in 2018, Lair was made with the use of almost twenty kilometers of cotton string inspired by the intricate web spun by the Sydney Funnel-web spider.
The modern Ermenegildo Zegna Global Headquarters in Milan boasts of an architecture that may be perceived as ultra modern, pure, and honest. While the exterior may suggest a brand that exudes a spirit of futurism, it surprises visitors with a welcoming environment that recognizes not only to the company’s heritage but also celebrates and proclaims its manifesto. The Secret Garden at Ermenegildo Zegna Global Headquarters reflects the company’s deep gratitude and respect for the natural world. Their company manifesto reveals The Green Soul of Zegna through its organizational culture and through its initiatives Oasi Zegna and Zegna Forest–both astonishing examples of how a company should truly practice what it has long believed to be its mission.
Sophie Glasser has created iconic images for various international luxury brands and magazines. As an art director and a set designer, she has mounted exhibitions and published photography as well as illustration books. One of her collaborations, Le Bon Marché and Milk, led to her take on a set design fusing furniture pieces and luscious flora. Translated as ‘The Good Market’, her Le Bon Marche work for the Milk Magazine catalog presents the raw combination of home pieces and greeneries.
Hubris Atë Nemesis is a ‘tidal wave of wood’ exhibited at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art and drew inspiration from Maine’s rugged coastal landscape. The artists Wade Cavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen explored the explosive interplay of natural forces, the people, and the built environment. Truly immersive, their work visually shouts the tremendous tidal forces through the use of wood where they courageously merged the viewers’ path with the actual art piece–giving the museum visitors a totally new experience of their visual language and message.
The value of installation art as a manner of expression and communication has become more evident in these works as emerging artists exploit various media and materials. For the public audience, the experience has now gone beyond mere education. With unexpected concepts and ideations, untamed expressions of anthropogenic interventions have amplified the cause for humankind to reassess the real impact our actions bear upon our natural environments.