Visual Natures  

MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology     Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Technologia / Av. Brasília, 1300-598 Lisboa, Portugal

30 March – September 2022

WTO Protesters Tear Down Fence After Farmer Commits Suicide (2003)                                                          Cancún, Mexico: Protesters tear down sections of wire barricades at the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Cancún, Mexico. Moments earlier a South Korean farmer, Lee Kyoung Hae, 56 years old and father of two, committed suicide by plunging a knife into his heart while atop of one of the wire barricades.             photo: Langelle/GJEP                                                     

This image along with several others by Orin Langelle are part of the exhibition Visual Natures at the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) in Lisbon, Portugal. This research project surveys political, social and cultural forms of collective agency that, over the course of the last one hundred years or so, demonstrate how the transforming human understanding of “nature” – philosophical, biological, economic – informs the ways in which we organise, sustain and govern our communities as an expanding planetary construct, both in concept and practice.

More information on Visual Natures at the MAATis after the other eight photographs by Langelle.

Speaking Out Against the World Bank and U.S. (1995)        photo: Langelle/GJEP                                      Washington, DC: Cecilia Rodriguez, U.S. representative of the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation), speaks at a rally in Washington, DC protesting the World Bank’s 50th anniversary and Mexico President Zedillo’s visit to the U.S. In her speech, she demanded suspension of U.S. military and technical assistance to Mexico for any purpose until human rights violations cease. While in southeastern Mexico two weeks later, Cecilia Rodriguez was brutally raped by Mexican paramilitary.

 

Elder Indigenous Woman with Calla Lilies—takes part in march for world peace in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. The march was led by Bishop Felipe Arizmendi, days before the U.S.’s next “official” bombing of Iraq began. (2003)                                        photo: Langelle/GJEP 

Banner hang. Toronto, Canada (1999)                                                              photo: Langelle/GJEP                 Activists hang 600 square foot banner on the Toronto Convention Center (Canada) where trade ministers from 34 countries had one of their first meetings to plan the Free Trade Area of the Americas. The FTAA was a new neoliberal trade agreement that would expand the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) from Alaska to Chile

 

Nuevo San Gregorio, Chiapas, Mexico Campesinos working in a Milpa (2003)                                                Many of the communities, like Nuevo San Gregorio, were cooperating in an important experiment to demonstrate a more sustainable way of living on the land. They ceased using slash and burn agriculture and ended the use of harmful chemicals. They were developing new organic methods of cultivation based on some of the most traditional means of caring for the land. The community was facing forced relocation from the Lacandon jungle for a conservation project. Nuevo San Gregorio refused and was not evicted.         photo: Langelle/GJEP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Man Bearing a Burden (1996)                                                                                      photo: Langelle/GJEP San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico The graffiti on the wall behind the man bears a political message: Libertad a Presuntos Zapatistas (Liberty to Suspected Zapatistas), a reference to those imprisoned following the 1994 uprising.

Women Traditional Healers  (2011)                             photo: Langelle/GJEP
Amador Hernandez, Chiapas, MexicoWomen prepare their traditional medicines, which they harvest from the jungle. The Mexican government wanted the community to leave the jungle so they could sell the forests for “carbon offsets.” To accomplish this, the government suspended medical support to the village. There are no roads to or from Amador Hernandez and horseback is one of the few ways to travel the fifteen kilometers out of the community. When this photo was taken, the Mexican military was scheduled to arrive in four days to forcibly remove the community. The people of Amador Hernandez refused to leave and were not relocated.

Washington, DC (2003)                                                                                                     photo: Langelle/GJEP      On the morning of 16 April in early morning blockades, like the one above, prevented hundreds of delegates to the World Bank from attending the meetings Langelle/GJEP

Zapatista Commandante Tacho (1996).                                                        photo: Langelle/GJEP                          La Realidad, Chiapas, Mexico

 

 

 

At the MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology     Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Technologia / Av. Brasília, 1300-598 Lisboa, Portugal

30 March – September 2022

 

Illustration: Lisa Hartje Moura.

Visual Natures – The Politics and Culture of Environmentalism in the 20th and 21st Centuries

Illustration: Lisa Hartje Moura.

Product of more than two years of critical investigations around climate science, creative practices and eco-politics, Visual Natures is a continuation of the journey started in 2021 with the data-driven installation Earth Bits – Sensing the Planetary and the public programme Climate Emergency > Emergence, curated by the first maat Climate Collective.

This research project surveys political, social and cultural forms of collective agency that, over the course of the last one hundred years or so, demonstrate how the transforming human understanding of “nature” – philosophical, biological, economic – informs the ways in which we organise, sustain and govern our communities as an expanding planetary construct, both in concept and practice. The resulting mapping cross-references four subjects of analysis – artistic production and cultural events, technological innovations and scientific findings, social movements, and deliberations of global governance – loosely following a chronological order from the 1950s until today. The presentation defies the challenge of its encyclopaedic character by way of a thematic organisation along three main concatenated clusters – Deep Ecology (1950–1980), The Planetary Complex (1990–2010), Multinaturalism (2010–2020) – each converging around expanding meanings of ‘ecology’ and environmentalism that from the 1960s onwards have grown central in international public debate, as phenomena of global growth, natural resource scarcity and pollution became provenly intertwined.

Deliberately appropriating an expression by architect and artist Paulo Tavares (member of the maat Climate Collective 2021), “visual natures” points towards a post-anthropocentric, non-hegemonic politics and aesthetics of environmentalism to emerge as a democratic and egalitarian paradigm of coexistence within nature that transcends human-centred worldviews and refuses the ecological violence of extractivism.

Commissioned to the Brazilian architect Carla Juaçaba, the spatial design in which the research is presented aptly takes inspiration from The Conference of the Birds, a Sufi parable written in the 12th century by the Persian poet Farid al-Din ‘Attar – a moral allegory of sovereignty and truth-seeking through shared sacrifice. She states: “The exhibition design is a ‘conference space’ in which we are birds discussing a new ordering between nature and man and between science and democracy, while redefining the idea of progress. It is a political space, since the discussion is about coexistence and to ‘find the right way to compose a common world, the kind of world the Greeks called a cosmos’ (Bruno Latour).”

The research contents are presented in a custom digital interface designed and developed by the studio dotdotdot in a continued collaboration with the museum since the 2021 installation Earth Bits. Visitors can browse the multimedia contents – images, videos, texts and audios – following the three main thematic chapters distributed chronologically across the 45-seat assembly designed by Juaçaba, each provided with a touchscreen through which scrolling the interface vertically allows to compare findings across the four subjects of analysis, while swiping horizontally moves through time.

The exhibition includes a Climate Library, a reading area incorporated in the installation where a vast reference list of books and publications pertinent to the various subjects addressed in the research is made available as a digital catalogue and partially in physical form.

The main body of the installation Earth Bits from 2021 is also being presented once again featuring the CO2 Mixer console and a new version of the video Planet Calls.

A series of articles and contributions extrapolated from the research will appear at maat ext. over the course of the exhibition.

Visual Natures and Earth Bits are both made possible thanks to the partnership and continued support of Novo Verde and ERP (European Recycling Platform) Portugal.

Credits
Art Director: Beatrice Leanza
Research and Curatorial Team: Beatrice Leanza, Nuno Ferreira de Carvalho, Rita Marques, Camila Maissune, Maria Kruglyak, Amir Halabi, Bárbara Borges de Campos
Interaction design by: dotdotdot (Alessandro Masserdotti, Laura Dellamotta, Fabrizio Pignoloni, Giovanna Gardi, Nicola Buccioli, Mariasilvia Poltronieri, Davide Bonafede, Simone Bacchini, Nicola Ariutti)

On the morning of 16 April in Washington, DC, early morning blockades, like the one above, prevented hundreds of delegates from attending the meetings

Installation Design: Carla Juaçaba
Visual Identity: Lisa H. Moura (maat)
Production: Francisco Soares
Partners: Novo Verde e ERP (European Recycling Platform) Portugal