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By Shamina de Gonzaga
Other worlds, or our world, facing reality through the lens of an organic fantasy
Conversations on climate change and “planetary boundaries,” debates on how to attribute blame for natural disasters, or shoulder the burden of adapting to the new realities of our environment, can remain within the polarized confines of governments, activists and interest groups.
“Is this real?” Even though we may know we all stand to be impacted by rising sea levels and the myriad other consequences of climate change, for many of us,when we hear a devastating prognosis, it can be hard to grasp, perhaps easier to pretend nothing is happening at all.
As our lifestyles appear to be inextricably linked to a situation that by many accounts is past the point of no return, it is perhaps not surprising that much commentary would fall on deaf ears, as we become passive bystanders, unwitting, even unwilling participants, simultaneously victims and agents of matters seemingly beyond our ability to remedy.
With Organic Project, Andrea Juan bridges the physical and conceptual distance separating most humans from Antarctica and its melting glaciers, and hints at a new world. Utilizing some of the products that characterize our “civilization” (technology, synthetic materials), she transforms them into a connecting thread tying us back to the state of nature many of us have forgotten or,in some instances, would prefer to forget.
What role does a creative spirit like Andrea Juan have to play in a universal Antarctic open-air laboratory, monitored by governments and scientific experts? Throughout her artistic trajectory accompanying international scientists, Andrea has witnessed, firsthand, how their tireless investigations frequently reveal new insights, implying how little we once knew and inciting us to question how much more there is to learn.
Introducing elements that are familiar in our daily life as consumers or creators, through Andrea’s work we become part of a poetic journey. Hot pink tulle on melting ice at the Southern extremity of the planet…again the question, is this real?
Engaging our curiosity and sense of wonder, the vibrant colors and unexpected combinations set a different kind of stage, one where the actors may not be limited to experts in the scientific community, one where possibilities we hadn’t envisaged begin to emerge.
Asked how her perspective evolved over the course of the past decade, Andrea shared that “initially, the projects were based on situations of change, as a kind of denunciation or reflection on the climatic changes that were occurring,” but that “over the years, other positive situations began to appear that motivated (her) to seek out solutions to the problems…. It’s not about denying what is happening, but rather about formulating a positive, instead of a catastrophic situation.”
“When one reads statistics, “ she continued, “they are numbers; they provide more exact and truthful information, but also a colder approach…. With images, the sensitivity begins to flow in a different manner, the work transcends reason, enters the soul, and that’s where change happens.”
Just as the “new” species are discovered with the disappearing ice shelf, so too, maybe, can our capacity for imagining andeffecting positive transformations be brought to the surface.
Shamina de Gonzaga is Executive Director of the non-governmental organization, World Council of Peoples for the United Nations (WCPUN), Editor-in Chief of Centerpoint Now, a WCPUN publication, and Co-founder of What Moves You?, an educational media collaborative. A representative of NGOs since 1996, she worked as Special Adviser on NGO relations in the Office of the President of the United Nations General Assembly and was the Chair of the 61st Annual Conference of NGOs “Reaffirming Human Rights for All: The Universal Declaration at 60” (UNESCO, Paris).