Cecilia Vicuña, Semiya (Seed Song), 2015, color, sound, HD video, 07:43, Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.
In 2006, a major earthquake rocked the island of Java causing massive destruction and loss of life. The disaster inspired Indonesian artist Arahmaiani to work with local students, asking what was needed in their community in the face of such a devastating environmental issue.
The students chose two inspirational words, “Intellect” and “Courage,” which were sewn onto brightly colored flags. Arahmaiani’s “Flag Project” has since grown into a global initiative. Communities across Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Japan, China, Tibet, Germany, and Belgium have worked with the artist to identify environmental problems in their region, think through solutions, and select keywords for new flags.
This global, participatory project is among many works in the international touring exhibition Actions for the Earth: Art, Care & Ecology that engage with the worldwide climate crisis through practices foregrounding collaboration and restorative intervention.
The Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University partners with Independent Curators International (ICI) to present Actions for the Earth: Art, Care & Ecology on view from January 26 through July 7. The exhibition considers how artists use strategies of kinship, healing, and restorative intervention to foster a deeper awareness of our interconnectedness with the earth.
Actions for the Earth turns to an international and intergenerational group of 18 artists and collectives to engage with overlapping, worldwide crises of our time. Ongoing climate change, entrenched social inequity, and renewed concerns over public health have all underscored the need for approaches that take on global responsibilities while caring for local environments. The works in the exhibition foreground reciprocity and exchange, offering healing practices of regeneration, care, and nurture. Simple actions suggest new ways to dream, listen, and remember, and in doing so, reconnect to ourselves and the earth as well as one another.
Actions for the Earth serves as a resource for current times, where we might find new antidotes to oppressive structures of power and grasp how nature, health, and sustainability are intertwined within a constellation of living networks. The exhibition is created by Western Australian-based curator Sharmilla Wood, and is guest curated at The Block by Stephanie Smith, Chicago-based independent curator, writer, and arts leader.
“The Chicago region has a long history of socially engaged, ecologically attuned art practice,” says Smith. “Actions will resonate with past and current work in our region; it brings a rich mix of international perspectives to the shared, urgent work of taking better care of each other and the planet.”
About the Exhibition
Dates: January 26–July 7, 2024
Venue: Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University
Address: 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, Illinois 60208, United States
Artists include: Ackroyd & Harvey, Lhola Amira, Arahmaiani, Sayan Chanda, Hylozoic/Desires (Himali Singh Soin & David Soin Tappeser), lololol, Ana Mendieta, Zarina Muhammad, Patrina Munuŋgurr , Pauline Oliveros, Yoko Ono, Eric-Paul Riege, Tabita Rezaire, Cecilia Vicuña, Katie West, and Zheng Bo
On Saturday, February 3, The Block will host a free opening conversation on art, climate crisis science, and resilience. Actions for the Earth guest consulting curator Stephanie Smith will be in dialogue with Dekila Chungyalpa, Director of the Loka Initiative; Teresa Montoya, Artist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago; and Kimberly Marion Suiseeya, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Environmental Policy and Culture, Northwestern University. RSVP
Lead funding for Actions for the Earth is provided by the Hartfield Foundation as part of an initiative to support ICI’s commitment to new curatorial voices who will shape the future of the field. Actions for the Earth is made possible with the generous support of ICI’s Board of Trustees and International Forum. Exhibition graphics by Untitled Agency, Marrakesh. The Block’s presentation of this exhibition is supported in part by the Illinois Arts Council Agency, the Bernstein Family Contemporary Art Fund, the Dorothy J. Speidel Gift, and the Alsdorf Gallery at The Block Museum Endowment. The Block Museum presentation of the exhibition was coordinated by consulting guest curator Stephanie Smith.
Courtesy of The Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University.