Axis Mundi, 2017
Axis Mundi: The Wounding, The Webbing and The CollapsingThree aspects of the perilous state of our planet: the wounding, the webbing and the collapsing, certainly depict a dire reality. Yet, at the same time, all present a vision necessary for actively healing a living organism. Webbing is a unique matrix inherent in network systems; bleeding is part of the process of purification; and collapsing in on one’s self yields opportunity for regeneration. All three states imagine the multifaceted cycle of an organism’s need to purge and recreate. As in Alchemy, it is necessary to pass through various states of disrepair in order to evolve.
As a vital part of all relationships of depth, being wounded, being caught in a complex web of consequence and the urge for disappearance are all unavoidable stages of intimacy. It follows that the earth, as a living organism, is the embodiment of analogous transformational stages.
Of course, as inhabitants of a fragile and changing ecosystem, we cannot afford to ignore the warning flags of dramatic climate shifts and whole system degradation.
And as artists and activists, our work is to bear witness to the complete picture and illuminate both the devastation, and celebrate the ever-present joy that exists simultaneously.
Rebecca DiDomenico, 2017
environmental Melancholia, Collective social mania, and Biophilia
It is becoming increasingly clear that data, science, facts, figures and images are not changing the collective choices we make. Yet, when we instead attend our anxiety, compulsions, fear, sadness, loss, and forgotten love of the natural world, we begin to tap the truth about how we actually feel about what is happening. This exhibition addresses the issue of current environmental collapse through a unique and different perspective: that of Ecopsychology — the study of relationships between human beings and the natural world via ecological and psychological principles. The artworks reflect three psychological responses to the state of the environment:
Environmental Melancholia is an arrested state of mourning related to overlapping events of environmental destruction. Put simply, it happens when deaths or losses in the environment are not properly mourned. The deaths can be many things: the colony collapses of bees, melting glaciers, and struggling seabirds full of plastic. States of collapse are frequent and repetitive, often fading into the background as a constant, droning state of sadness in our everyday experience.
Culturally, we are encouraged to look away from discomfort and instead turn towards anything that will ameliorate the distress. As our disposable purchases find their ways to distant oceans and landfills, the reality of our part in the decline of the world can be set aside as we see fit. This behavior is Collective Social Mania- the collective experience of manic tendencies such as denial, avoidance, distraction, addiction, and rampant over-consumption.
Artists in this show also remind us of our Biophilia, which is our love for the Earth and our tendency to affiliate it with other lifeforms. It has been proposed that Biophilia has a genetic basis, born instinctively from our deep ancestral roots as organisms amongst other organisms, and our place in this planet’s evolutionary history. It is the reason we feel rested after time in the woods, comforted by growing gardens, energized by the oceans, fascinated by the stars, and are humbled by the pervasive beauty and intelligence of this world.
The works in Axis Mundi ask us to truly feel… openly, wildly, honestly. We can only become aware of our delusions if we courageously face the truth of our individual culpability. As such, the artists in this exhibition have pulled no punches. They have responded to the world they see: a world that confuses, frightens, amazes, and comforts them. Their symbolism is courageous because it is a gift to us: the opportunity to sit with our own fear, pain, amazement, and grief. The artists remind us that to be truly present with what is happening in our world is to touch the point of transformation. If we can hold the horror and the beauty at the same time, perhaps we can heal our world.
-Regan Rosburg, Curator of Axis Mundi