September 28, 2011

U-n-f-o-l-d: A Cultural Response to Climate Change

Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons The New School for Design
Red Ice 3, Chris Wainwright, 2009.

The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center (SJDC) at Parsons The New School for Design will kick off its fall 2011 programming season with U-n-f-o-l-d: A Cultural Response to Climate Change (September 30–December 15). This exhibition was curated by David Buckland and Chris Wainwright for Cape Farewell in collaboration with the University of the Arts London. The opening reception, on September 29, 2011 from 6:30-9:00 p.m. is free and open to the public.


U-n-f-o-l-d is an exhibition of work by 25 artists, musicians, writers and other creative practitioners who participated in two Cape Farewell expeditions to the High Arctic region in 2007 and 2008, and to the Andes in 2009, where they witnessed firsthand the effects of climate change. Working across multiple media, including photography, sculpture, mixed media, works on paper, video, and sound, the artists explore the physical, emotional, and political dimensions of a complex and changing world stressed by human activity.


Featured in the exhibition are artists Ackroyd & Harvey, Amy Balkin, David Buckland, Adriane Colburn, Sam Collins, Nick Edwards, Francesca Galeazzi, Nathan Gallagher, Marjie de Haas, Brenndan McGuire, Daro Montag, Michèle Noach, Lucy + Jorge Orta, Sunand Prasad, Tracey Rowledge, Shiro Takatani, Clare Twomey and Chris Wainwright; musicians Leslie Feist, Robyn Hitchcock + KT Tunstall; novelist Ian McEwan; and poet Lemn Sissay.


“Cape Farewell resists a didactic approach,” said founder and exhibition co-curator David Buckland. “The personal and emotively charged responses of artists invite audiences to imagine their own relationship to climate change in ways that encourage fascination, curiosity, empathy, and the aspiration for behavioral change.”


Said co-curator Chris Wainwright, “The exhibition also reflects the continuously unfolding tensions that exist for artists between raising awareness about issues while maintaining a creative process that is speculative, intuitive, and sometimes contradictory.”


In association with the exhibition, the SJDC is organizing a series of public programs with local partners. These include panels, work-in-progress presentations, symposia, and performances by artists in the exhibition and other artists and researchers. Featured is the New York premiere of ARTPORT_making waves’ Cool Stories III, a compilation of short video and animations on climate change selected from an international contest. The SJDC has also commissioned the artist collective, The Canary Project, to lead a creative research workshop on the Gowanus Canal, and is collaborating with New School faculty and the culinary performance art group, a razor, a shiny knife, to create a series of edible data visualizations of carbon, soil chemistry and reforestation in NYC. “U-n-f-o-l-d stakes a claim for the artist’s role in addressing climate change,” said Radhika Subramaniam, director and chief curator of the SJDC. “At Parsons, where we foster young artists and designers who can respond to global challenges, it offers us a welcome opportunity to contribute to this urgent dialogue.”


Program partners include ARTPORT_making waves; Eyebeam Art + Technology Center; PositiveFeedback, an inter-institutional arts and climate science consortium led by the Earth Institute, Columbia University; the Center for Creative Research at NYU, and the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities; and at The New School: the India China Institute, The New School for Public Engagement, and WNSR – New School Radio.


U-n-f-o-l-d is the first in a number of exhibitions on view in the SJDC this fall. Please visit the website for a full schedule.


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