The exhibition is part of a research project on environmental communication where researchers have identified voices, positions, and ideologies that can be linked to the discussion about human-nature relationships.
The 37 ideologies that were identified were then represented through an ideological map developed by communication studies scholar Nico Carpentier at Charles University in Prague (with a design by Irene Straccuzzi), with the artistic interventions intersecting with the academic reflections that drove the map’s construction. The map, together with selected and produced works of art, gives a multifaceted and deepened picture of the struggle about how our world can be interpreted.
A substantial part of the visual material in the exhibition has been produced through participatory art projects, where artists and non-artists from different geographical and social contexts collaborated, resulting in a number of art works that highlight the many layers of interpretations, voices, and conflicts of interest that characterize landscapes, forestry, gardens, and urban environments. This diversity of authors, with all the complexities it generated, symbolizes the multiplicity of voices that engage in the discursive struggles over the environment, the many different discursive positions that human animals can take, the need to bring in the voices of non-human actors into these narratives, and the need for a post-humanist ethics of care, allowing the human and the non-human to take respected and comfortable positions within their world.
The series of photographs visualize the symbiotic potential of human-nature relationships, and the intimate connection between human animals and non-human animals. As a set of representations of natureculture, Smrekar’s work shows the entangled interdependence of nature and culture where humans can only be humans through the interaction with nature, transferring nature from a position of constitutive outside to a constitutive inside. The series also communicates an egalitarian ethos, where, for instance, strength is not an exclusivity, but shared throughout all realms of our world.
The video is a tribute to a scene from Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, activating the latter film’s narrative of the tension between paganism and Christianity. In Bergman’s film, the destruction of the birch tree ends with the extraction of twigs, which are then used in a purification ritual right before the revenge killing of the three herdsmen, by Töre, the father of the women they raped. Here, the tree serves as a dramatic symbol for the vulnerability and destruction of youth, but also for the human relentlessness in instrumentalizing and utilizing anything, including nature. These are meanings that Ljungh’s video cannot escape, even though the actual usage of the birch twigs has been removed from her video. Still, at the same time, the focus on human destructiveness is combined with a demonstration of nature’s resilience, as it takes the human actor in both films considerable effort to eventually destroy the birch tree.
The artwork is a consideration of the position of pigeons in urban environments based on several different circumstances. On the one hand, the work refers to the conflict between birds and humans, where the pigeons are presented as something problematic – a pest that must be eradicated. Here a critical voice is raised against anthropocentrism and its hierarchical approach, which separates nature from culture (giving rise to a dualistic system) and gives humans and their cities a superior and privileged position. But the artwork also emphasizes the aspect of coexistence; a coexistence that takes place at the initiative of the pigeons, and that cannot be dismissed so easily. This adds a perspective that draws more towards cooperation and equality, where the pigeons are also considered to have a right to stay in the urban spaces, symbolized by the humorous staging of the exhibition for pigeons – a play with the limits of anthropomorphic depictions.
The installation combines four photographs and texts, co-produced with female forest owners, integrated into different types of tree artifacts. These different representations of the forest elucidate the tension between utilization, responsibility and care, and the complexities of production and protection in environments where capitalist interests are prevailing. It is a demonstration of the multi-layered nature of human relations with the forest that the conservation of nature entails. Structured by material ownership, and ethics of care, deep affective and aesthetic relations, in search of the balance between utilization and non-intervention, between taking and giving.
Introductory video about the Environmental Ideologies Map displayed at the “Moulding Nature: Discursive Struggles Over the Environment” Exhibition organized at Färgfabriken (Stockholm, Sweden) from 26 August to 26 November 2023.
A brief video impression of the “Moulding Nature: Discursive Struggles Over the Environment” Exhibition organized at Färgfabriken (Stockholm, Sweden) from 26 August to 26 November 2023.