A short while back I made an experimental work #TrumpTweets of the USA President Donald Trump tweeting about climate change (or rather about its inexistence). I selected a few tweets from the past years (2012, 2015, 2017), printed them and froze them into blocks of ice. Finally, I left these blocks to room temperature to slowly melt and filmed the process. With this work, I was playing with the relationship between irony and mockery in politics and serious global issue causing drastic effects on natural landscapes, ecosystems and animal species, testing the idea of humour in serious context.
Then, as today we had a snowstorm in London (“Beast from the East”) which caused mayhem around England and Scotland, I started another work with similar ideas on mind. I collected today’s “storm snow” into a 3 litre jar, melting it and collecting more over and over again until I had the jar filled with melt water. I plan to use this water for a “snow archive”, deviding the water and storing it in smaller containers including date, time and place of collection. I also went on Twitter and collected some tweets people , institutions and news agencies shared with #Snowmageddon and #londonsnow hashtags. Most of these collected tweets are humorous or ironic dealing with the snow mayhem around the country and empty Tesco shelves after a wave of panic-buyers preparing for some sort of a climate armageddon rushed to a shopping spree. I plan to store some of these tweets with the water jars containing the melt snow, either by painting them on the jars or using them as prints.
Collecting and archiving things found in nature has always interested me, as collecting mementos from places I’ve been to subtitude and assist my naturally bad memory. Sometimes the memento is a stone, a piece of bark or root, other times it’s a photograph or a container filled with sand or water. I also tend to leave marks to places I’ve been to, temporary, naturally vanishing traces; lines or words drawn in sand or ice, stone piles or merely foot prints. They confirm that our lives and presences are temporary, and so should our marks we leave behind, making room for the new.
Today I have been researching the way artists use collecting and archiving in their practices. For instance, the body of work of Damien Hirst’s is primarly about dealing with death and the physical process of dying through collecting; skulls, wings and animal carcasses are transformed into a collection of grotesk curiosities and displayed as an archive behind a glass. Death becomes a material and an object, which is exhibited inside a white cube setting.
A very different artist who’s work I’ve been following recently is Katie Paterson – two of her projects involving collecting and archiving as a process to address environmental problems such as climate change and excessive deforestation can be found via links below:
Katie Paterson’s projects Hollow (http://katiepaterson.org/portfolio/hollow/), 2016 and Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, Solheimajökull (http://katiepaterson.org/portfolio/langjokull-snaefellsjokull-solheimajokull/), 2007.
Polluted Water Popsicles (above), created by Taiwanese art students Hung Yi-Chen, Guo Yi-hui and Cheng Yu-Ti of National Taiwan University of Arts is also highly interesting project and deals with a lot of the same themes I have been talking and writing about; collecting, transformation, transparency, impermanency, environment and geopolitics.