Artists offer creative actions to ecological issues in Asia

When it comes to ways in which artists address ecological issues, actions can be big or small – it’s the action that is important, however subtle.

Bruised: Art Action and Ecology in Asia, opening on 12 April at RMIT Gallery, curated by Helen Rayment and Thao Nguyen, examines how artists are using creative actions to open discussions around food sustainability and production, environmental catastrophes and human migration in our region. 

The exhibition features 23 Australian and international artists whose work focuses on environmental and social issues in Asia. Balinese artist Made Bayak, whose powerful work critiques the problems caused by tourism-driven development in Bali, will be visiting Melbourne to perform.

“In the face of complex environmental problems, the exhibition examines how artistic response combined with gentle activism can result in a rich legacy and empower further actions in the community,” Rayment said.

“Artists and their work are now one the best ways to stay informed about the state of the world. Artists agitate and share stories that we may not otherwise hear.”

Some of the exhibition highlights include an element of Indonesian artist Tintin Wulia’s major work 855 Kilograms of Homes in Another State, which uses cardboard waste to examine the politics of recycling and the wealth made from human labour.

Made Bayak, Trapped behind bars, 2013, Acrylic paint on map, 110 x 80cm. Courtesy of Made Bayak

Land for Sale, a living grass installation by Arahmaiani, one of Indonesia’s most respected and iconic contemporary artists, provides a powerful and provocative commentary on land ownership.

Using simple materials such as trolleys attached to sculptures of buildings, Isabel and Alfredo Aquizilan’s work reflects on their personal experience of migration from the Philippines, as well as the hardship of such journeys at a time when people are moving around the world at speeds previously unseen in human history.

As part of the exhibition, one entire room in the gallery will be turned into a working kitchen. Bruised Food: a Living Laboratory, a project curated by Marnie Badham and Francis Maravillas, will critically reflect on food and social practice, and present works and events by Elia Nurvista, Arahmaiani, Keg D’Souza, Rhett D’Costa and Stephen Loo.

These weekly food and art events will include a cricket banquet, a meal of salt tolerant plants, and a celebration of stories of migration and Asia including spices and personal histories.

“The action of creative innovation can have a rich legacy and empower the community. A bruise repairs - this exhibition seeks to deliver hope in the face of our complex environmental problems,” Rayment said.

Bruised: Art Action and Ecology in Asia is part of the of ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2019 23 April–19 May, a socially-engaged festival of exhibitions, theatre works, keynote lectures, events and artist talks considering climate change impacts and the challenges and opportunities arising from climate change.

 

Masthead image: Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan, Arrivals and Departures, 2019. cardboard, luggage portable trolley. Photography by Ejian Studio @ Fang Zheng, Ji He, Wang Wenze, Du Hongbin

 

Story: Evelyn Tsitas

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