Category Archives: buoys

Lost In Space

During a time of year when we crave the solitude of the deep forest, we revisit a few paragraphs of an essay by William Deresiewicz, dating from 2009. The image is from the solitary studio of Michel Nedjar.

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What’s Truly At Stake

Now comes a timely interview published by The Intercept between journalist Jon Schwartz and the novelist Suki Kim. Born in South Korea yet  having lived in the U.S. since the age 13, Kim spent much of 2011 teaching English to the children of North Korea’s elite, attending the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, an experience that became the subject matter for her remarkable 2014 book, “Without You There Is No Us.”

Below, two excerpts from the interview that we found particularly compelling, intercut with images from the work of Song Byeok.

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TAKE OFF YOUR CLOTHES

 

LET ME TASTE IT

HOPE

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Of Silence and the Flood

This week, we turn to an interview on Democracy Now: the voice of George Monbiot, who articulates a number of uncomfortable issues not addressed by the media storm surrounding hurricane Harvey’s itinerary over the past week.

Images are from 36.5, a “duration performance with the sea” conceived by Sarah Cameron Sunde.

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From Sunde’s project website, we relay the following:

36.5 / a durational performance with the sea is a time-based project spanning seven years and six continents: New York-based artist Sarah Cameron Sunde stands in a tidal area for a full cycle, usually 12-13 hours, as water engulfs her body and then reveals it again. The public is invited to participate by joining Sarah in the water and by marking the passing hours from the shore. The project began in 2013 as a response to Hurricane Sandy’s impact on New York City and the parallel that Sunde saw in the the struggle for an artist to survive on a daily basis and the struggle of humanity to survive in the face of sea-level rise. The project was developed in Maine, Mexico and San Francisco 2013-2014, and launched on a global scale in The Netherlands in 2015. The fifth iteration was recently completed in Bangladesh. The performance is filmed from multiple perspectives and then translated into a multi-channel video installation that can communicate with a wider audience. 

Plans are underway for future iterations in New Zealand, Brazil, and Senegal, and working towards a large-scale iteration in New York City with an anticipated date of August 2020. 36.5 acknowledges the temporary nature of all things and considers our contemporary relationship to water, as individuals, in community, and as a civilization.

 


By Its Very Nature

Soil scientist Fred Magdoff is co-author of Creating an Ecological Society: Toward A Revolutionary Transformation. In a recent Truthout interview, Magdoff summarizes his critique of the entrenched notion that extractive capitalism mirrors and embodies “human nature”.

Images are from a 1982 project by Agnes Denes, Wheatfield, during which  a 2-acre wheat field was planted on a landfill in lower Manhattan, two blocks from Wall Street and the former World Trade Center, while facing the Statue of Liberty.

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In her Artist Statement for the project, Denes wrote:

Planting and harvesting a field of wheat on land worth $4.5 billion created a powerful paradox. Wheatfield was a symbol, a universal concept; it represented food, energy, commerce, world trade, and economics. It referred to mismanagement, waste, world hunger and ecological concerns. It called attention to our misplaced priorities.


Future Forest

Now comes artist Katie Paterson, who has planted a small forest in Norway. In 2114, that forest will supply paper for a special anthology of books. Between now and then, one writer per year will contribute a text; the accumulating anthology will be held in trust, unread and unpublished, until the year the forest transforms into manuscripts that will be presented in a specially designed room in the Oslo public library.

So far, Margaret Atwood (2014), David Mitchell (2015), and Sjón (2016) have contributed texts for the project. Below, excerpts from an interview with Paterson first published in Apollo.

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Digressions

In the midst of political chaos inside a White House that increasingly resembles a Frat House for the Criminally Insane, we turn to the subtle depths of a passage from Fernando Pessoa in his masterful Book of Disquiet.

Images are from an artist book titled Seis Ventanas, by Ioulia Akhmadeeva.

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And a brief excerpt from his Discontinuous Poems, in the voices of one of his alternative selves, Albert Caeiro:

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Followed by one more image from Akhmadeeva, Reminiscencia:


Family Pictures

Now comes a montage of text and images from a project by artist Steve Locke, first exhibited in 2016 at the Gallery Kayafas  in Boston: “the Family Pictures we have long pretended did not exist.”

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The exhibition included a Reading Room that included the following texts:

 


This History of Terror

This week, we stay with the voice of Bryan Stevenson, founding director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. In excerpts from an interview on PBS in 2016, Stevenson outlines the genesis of EJI’s powerful proposal for a National Lynching Memorial. Images are taken from the concept video, which can be — and should be — viewed in its entirety here.

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Lost in Space

As various toxic billionaires continue to fantasize about expanding their contact networks and Twitter feeds into the universe, we turn to a revealing author/reader exchange published in the New York Review of Books. The images, relayed from an exceptional series of paintings by Jeremy Geddes, have been added by DP.

Let’s begin with an excerpt from author/physicist Freeman Dyson, who closes his October, 2016 review essay with the following ecstatic vision of our “escape” from the planetary cage:

When we first read the above, particularly the last paragraph, we thought the former Princeton physicist must be in some sort of perverse competition with Stephen Hawking, the prize being free tickets on the Bezos Express. We filed it away in our ever-expanding Annals of Hubris and Delusion, for future reference.

ASCENT

Thus were we relieved to see a thoughtful response in the most recent NYRB, jointly submitted by the distinguished mathematician Simon Altmann of Oxford; Sa’id Mosteshar from the London Institute of Space Policy and Law; and Alan Smith, from the Mullard Space Science Laboratory:

HYPOSTASIS

THE STREET

We note in particular the astute observation that what earthbound humans think of as “life” may not include whatever other life may exist elsewhere in the cosmos; surface area, starlight and food surely do not exhaust the possible parameters for “life”. While Dyson’s foolish insistence on such narrow requirements are surprising, coming from a scientist of such long and varied experience, his response casts an even dimmer light on the issue of human encroachments elsewhere in the universe:

To construe the issues concisely raised by Altmann, Mosteshar and Smith as “a clash of cultures”, thereby placing himself beyond substantive intellectual engagement, constitutes an astonishing, willful misreading. Yet the dramatic shift in his views regarding human identity at loose in the universe between his original essay and the above response is even more astonishing.

In the original essay, Dyson describes humans as “midwives” and active “creators of a living universe”; highly evolved beings making a conscious science-driven decision to send “Noah’s Arc seeds” into infinity. But in his response to the letter, humans are suddenly reduced to being merely “part of nature”, thus “free to evolve and diversify” — just like a virus or fungus. What’s more, those who voice ethical, environmental or philosophical objections to such a darkly determinist view of human existence clearly do not understand the basic expansionist nature of all life. Fine for gathering taxes and pushing paper, but no room on the Bezos space train for such dolts and ditherers. Oh my….

Finally, while Dyson in all his blustering arrogance hardly warrants analysis of his painfully weak grasp of Shakespeare, he might do well to meditate long and hard upon other words from Twelfth Night, as spoken by the fool, Feste: “Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun, it shines everywhere.” 

WHITE COSMONAUT


Wild Law

Two highly significant environmental justice victories over the past year flow from courts extending legal rights to two rivers: the Whanganui in New Zealand, a living ancestor to the Maori people; and the Ganges, together with its main tributary the Yamuna, sacred to all Hindus. The decision in favor of the Maori emerged from one hundred and forty years of negotiation, and was cited as a critical precedent by the court in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand.

Extending from Thomas Berry’s ideas of nature-based jusrisprudence, we excerpt the 2011 manifesto for earth justice, Wild Law, by Cormac Cullinan:

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In a related story, we take note of a clueless tourist and former Playboy model named Jaylene Cook, photographed in her birthday suit in front of Mount Taranaki, considered a sacred burial ground and ancestor by the local Maori. We will not compound Ms. Cook’s naked ignorance by reproducing the image here; it has gone toxic-bacterial in the meme-swamp formerly known as the world wide web.