Bjork explains FOSSORA; her MUSHROOM album

See Lauren Fournier’s Fermenting Feminisms:

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Art and Climate Change

  • Several references are from the readings
  1. WORLD ON FIRE: How should Art Reckon with Climate Change? New York Times Magazine, 2022.

2. Dowsing for Remediation with Alana Bartol, Valérie Frappier, C Magazine 2022. PDF on blog.

3. Plastiglomerate: On Kelly Jazvac, Kirsty Robertson, e-flux journal, 2016. Article link

What is the ethical duty of artists?

Environmentalist Bill McKibben asked –

“Where are the books? The poems? The plays? The goddamn operas?” he wrote in an op-ed for Grist. “Compare it to, say, the horror of AIDS … which has produced a staggering outpouring of art that, in turn, has had real political effect.” For future generations looking back on the present, “the single most significant item will doubtless be the sudden spiking temperature. But they’ll have a hell of a time figuring out what it meant to us.”

What can art and artists actually do?

Chicago-based curator and early supporter of environmental art Stephanie Smith cautioned that a glut of superficially righteous exhibitions could give hits of easy virtue to viewers and museums alike –

“If sustainability or climate change become art trends du jour, we risk providing a palliative to ourselves and to our audiences without contributing much to artistic production, nuanced debate or lasting social change”

How are artists representing the environment?

Representing nature as the sublime and untouched – Thomas Cole

Spoiled and poisoned, developed – Ed Burtinsky

How are contemporary artists re-imagining our place in the natural world, and proposing alternative relationships with our environment?

Imagining alternative relationships – Mary Mattingly, Future Farmers

Just over a mile up the Bronx River from Hunts Point, Mary Mattingly has docked her newest floating project, Swale, a garden on a 130-by-40-foot steel barge. After discovering it is illegal to forage or even grow food in public parks in New York City, Mattingly conceived of producing a forest of edible plants on the water, to circumvent those laws and let people gather food for free.

Amy Franchescini (Future Farmers)

Making the absurdity of our moment visible

Space of persuasion/affective experience of large and complex concepts –

Educating/making the scope of the catastrophe felt – and ACTUAL remediation: Alana Bartol

The artists is interested in reciprocal relationships to land, and asks – “How do (I and other settlers) actually relate to land, and to what it’s already communicating?

She is exploring “extractive capitalism” while simultaneously “entangled with and benefitting from it.”

Kelly Jazvac– Plastiglomerates:

“In 2013, at the suggestion of oceanographer Charles Moore, geologist Patricia Corcoran and artist Kelly Jazvac travelled to Kamilo Beach, Hawaii to study a new stone formation. What they found was a new substance that was a mix of melted plastic and natural materials such as coral, sand, wood and volcanic rock. They called the stones “Plastiglomerate” and a co-authored manuscript of their findings can be found here:

From Kelly Jazvac 


“Human action on the beach had created what Corcoran and Jazvac named “plastiglomerate,” a sand-and-plastic conglomerate. Molten plastic had also in-filled many of the vesicles in the volcanic rock, becoming part of the land that would eventually be eroded back into sand.”

“The term “plastiglomerate” refers most specifically to “an indurated, multi-composite material made hard by agglutination of rock and molten plastic. This material is subdivided into an in situ type, in which plastic is adhered to rock outcrops, and a clastic type, in which combinations of basalt, coral, shells, and local woody debris are cemented with grains of sand in a plastic matrix.” (KJ) More poetically, plastiglomerate indexically unites the human with the currents of water; with the breaking down, over millennia, of stone into sand and fossils into oil; with the quick substration of that oil into fuel; and with the refining of that fuel into polycarbons—into plastic, into garbage. “


“The naming and dating of the Anthropocene, an as-yet formally unrecognized and heavily debated term for a geologic epoch evidencing human impact on the globe, relies “on whether humans have changed the Earth system sufficiently to produce a stratigraphic signature in sediments and ice that is distinct from that of the Holocene epoch.

Whichever (if any) start date is chosen, plastiglomerate—a substance that is neither industrially manufactured nor geologically created—seems a fraught but nonetheless incontrovertible marker of the anthropogenic impact on the world; it is evidence of human presence written directly into the rock.

After collection, the samples gathered at Kamilo Beach were analyzed so as to categorize the plastics and the natural sediments that together created the plastiglomerate whole. Following this, Jazvac showed the plastiglomerate in art exhibitions as sculptural ready-mades, to demonstrate human impact on nature. 


Plastic soon shed its utopian allure, becoming hard evidence for the three c’s—the triple threat of capitalism, colonialism, and consumerism—as well as a kind of shorthand for all that was inauthentic and objectionable about postwar everyday life.

Plastiglomerate is a remainder, a reminder, an indicator of the slow violence of massive pollution. It brings together deep geological time and current consumerism.

Plastiglomerate is what Heather Davis calls “accidentally or incidentally” aesthetic. It is precisely the facticity of plastiglomerate, its infrangibility, its constituent components and analysis as both artwork and geological specimen that make it fascinating. Plastiglomerate demonstrates an already existent artistic relationship between human and planetary action that can’t really be improved by rendering that relationship as solely human. Or perhaps more disturbing still, it demonstrates the Anthropocene as a performance, an artwork with the end act of planetary destruction.

Kelly Jazvac - Plastiglomerate and Plastic Samples (detail 1) (conglomerate rocks gathered on Kamilo Beach with geologist Patricia Corcoran, Hawaii, and ceramic stands) 2013

The ready-made geologic being of plastiglomerate speaks to more than pollution: also geology, the deep time of Earth, colonization, human-animal knowledges, currents of water, and the endless unfolding and collapse of life on Earth. We might conclude that “we have come into existence with and because of so many others, from carbon to microbes to dogs. And all these creatures and rocks and air molecules and water all exist together, with each other, for each other. To be a human means to be the land and water and air of our surroundings.”

Excerpts from Plastiglomerate: On Kelly Jazvac, Kirsty Robertson, e-flux journal, 2016.

Spaces of reflection, remembrance –

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Roni Horn, Library of Water, 2007 – ongoing

Water covers 70 per cent of the earth’s surface. “It’s always the same and it’s never the same,” says Finnish artist Elina Brotherus. Hear her, Olafur Eliasson, Bill Viola, Marina Abramović and four other artists on the vital substance. Water: a place of danger and opportunity. American video artist Bill Viola, in whose work water is a stable participant, fell into a lake at the age of six and saw “probably the most beautiful world I’ve ever seen.” Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson uses water as an “element of something moving in an otherwise static landscape” in his 2014 installation ‘Riverbed’ and Danish artist group Superflex uses water in their “post-apocalyptic movie” ‘Flooded McDonald’s’. A substance with many uses, meanings and possibilities, Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi – praised for his ability to build innovative architecture on water – says: “There’s a whole life cycle in water, a whole economy.” Also featured in this video is Serbian artist Marina Abramović, Czech artist Klara Hobza and American artist Roni Horn.

Transform our experience of time/scale of our lives relative to the world – John Cage, Katie Patterson,change%20%E2%80%94%20the%20first%20since%202013.

Modelling/embodying alternative cultures and worldviews –Tania Willard, Bush Gallery



Protest, fight – Public Studio

From the Declaration of Responsibilities and Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms, Public Studio, 2018, Toronto.

Express hope/resist cynicism and apathy –

Transform/reduce environmental impact of art’s production and exhibition –

Tara Donovan and Piet Hein Eek – who have made discarded, everyday materials the centre of their work. Watch their exciting approach to re-using materials. “The materials wait to be used again.” British sculptor Phyllida Barlow (b.1944) uses materials from her former sculptures – from their experimental stage. To Barlow, sculpturing is not about perfection but about recovering lost moments. Flexibility is key to American artist Elliott Hundley (b. 1975), who uses materials he’s found washed up on a beach in his artwork. Wrapping paper, rocks and beads are all part of a magnificent collage pieced together by chicken wire and straight pins. “In a way the artist works with remnants, society’s remnants.” Danish poet, writer and artist Morten Søkilde (b. 1974) dubs himself “a thing-finder” and uses these things he finds on e.g. the street to create his poetic, dream-like miniature models. When re-using materials in such a manner, there are suddenly infinite possibilities, and one’s own ideas are the only limitation. American fabric sculptor and performance artist Nick Cave (b. 1959) describes his art as “a second skin that hides gender, race, class.” An array of discarded materials makes up his artwork, and he often frequents thrift stores and flea markets, searching for something “that has a pulse to it” and can be the beginning of something new. “It always starts with material,” says Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek (b. 1967), who uses e.g. scrap wood to build furniture – his goal being to optimize and take maximum advantage of the things around him. Starting out, people thought he was crazy to use leftover-material, but his approach has now set a new trend. American artist Tara Donovan (b. 1969) was initially drawn to everyday materials – such as straws – because they were easily accessible, inexpensive and mass-produced. She works to the point where the flexible material, which makes up her magical sculptures, transcends itself, thus creating a sort of artistic structure. All interviews by Marc-Christoph Wagner, Christian Lund and Jonas Hjorth, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

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Class announcements

Class trip for Wednesday Oct 26th!

2pm Meet in Toronto at MOCA

4:30pm: We will also be visiting Gallery TPW and Art Metropole.

Pho Phuong at 6?

Ron Benner’s Corn Roast at the Art Gallery of Guelph

Community Corn Roast + Fall Season Launch
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
Community Corn Roast + Fall Season Launch
Wednesday, September 14 | 5:30 – 8:30 pm
Free | In person
Donald Forster Sculpture Park
Remarks at 6:30 pm | Exhibition walkthrough at 7 pm

Celebrate the launch of the AGG’s upcoming season and the fall harvest with an opening reception on Wednesday, September 14 at 5:30 pm. As well as ᖃᐅᑕᒫᑦ | Qautamaat, the gallery’s new fall exhibitions include Anahita Norouzi: Planting Displacement, guest curated by Amin Alsaden, and Homecoming, featuring Anita Cazzola, Laura Grier, and Justine Woods and curated by Erin Szikora, recipient of the 2022 Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators.
Visiting artist Ron Benner brings his roving corn-roasting wagon, Maize Barbacoa, to the Art Gallery of Guelph for a Community Corn Roast. Part sculpture, part installation, part performance, enjoy fresh local corn and celebrate the artists and curators in attendance.
Based in London, Ontario, Ron Benner’s artistic practice and research often focuses how the globalization of seed circulation and farming methods has impacted local communities and contexts, his work highlights the connections between colonization and commercialization and the loss of biodiversity as well as global indigenous traditions and cultures.
Remarks are at 6:30 pm. From 7 – 8 pm, join curators Erin Szikora and Amin Alsaden, along with artist Anahita Norouzi for a casual walkthrough and introduction to the new exhibitions opening this fall.
Bring your own blanket or lawn chair and settle in for good conversation about the exhibitions with friends and family, surrounded by the artworks in the sculpture park.
Parking in Campus Lot P23 is FREE with access from College Ave. and MacDonald St. The AGG parking lot is closed during the event with the exception of limited accessibility parking.
The event will be held outdoors and inside gallery spaces. For more information about AGG COVID-19 protocols, please visit our website. Registration is not required for this event.

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Reading Response 1:

Patricia Kashian on Queer Mycology: Mycology as Revolutionary and Political Practice.

A key idea that grabbed my attention when listening to this podcast was Mrs. Kashian asked us to reconsider the ways in which we see fungi. I began to consider how she suggested the ways in which Fungi are viewed negatively despite their highly positive effects upon humanity and the world more genreally. Fungi have been used for tens of thousands of years if not longer as food, medecine among other things and may have even played a role in the development oif the human species as explored in the ideas of human evolution via psychadelic fungi.

I began to consider how fungi is avant garde, its goes and grows where it wants to … it forces us to see the world in a different way and

Artists I thought of during the podcast:

While listening I began to think of the ways in which binary views that are applied to the supposedly sinister fungi are applied to things in the world more genrally and how these binary and broadly brushed ideas and viewpoints might hinder aspects of artistic creation and production. An artist that comes to mind when I think of the avant garde as it applies to art is PAblo TOmek, a painter based in PAris and once a prolific wall painter and now prolfiic gallery artist, his work conurs to me relationships to the fungi… both are mis understood both chalklenge the norms of their respective landscapes adn are important to these landscapes. For the fungi they pop up as rouges in an otherwise semi uniform forest or grass patch… and much like these mushrooms Pablo’s painting would appear by his hand in the city scape braking through the usual and making us reconsider a previously passed by corridor or wall. Although many might not appreciate these wall works, many do and most will have some kind of changed perspective after seeing something rouge appear wheter it is pro-wall painting, anti wall [ainting or indifferent and just a registration of a visual disruption in an otherwise passed by space.

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How Should Art Reckon with Climate Change

By Zoë Lescaze

1/9 – 2006, very recent popularization of climate change as an issue. Impact of Al Gore film on popularization of climate change? I remember watching as kid in school, marked by the drama of the storytelling. Wasn’t he in front of an audience (~live action, they react? Maybe my own memory reaction).

1/9 – rise of climate ‘conscious’ art production, maybe due to extreme politics maybe extreme weather. Climate ‘conscious’ vs. climate ‘addressing’? Connotations of the more active latter term?

1/9 – Stephanie Smith concerned that imbibing art productions with surface level ethical value, i.e. climate ‘conscious’ makes it easy for us to say that the issue is being addressed. Re. holocaust monument/anti-monument. Climate conscious art productions can take the place/act as a stand-in for our own consciousnesses, making it easy to forget the necessity of seeking meaningful change. The art productions stand in place of meaningful change, while enacting none of it. 

2/9 – “alarmist works that function as little more than propaganda.” Value of changing ideology re. propaganda? Does it work, does it invest in later change. Maybe no. 

2/9 – Library of Water, Roni Horn. Collecting artifacts, the stuff, and bringing it into the exhibition space. Medium is the message etc. Her non-climate addressing intentionality. Glacier graveyard. Or opposite cryo-storage (whatever it’s called), thawing glaciers in contained environments in order to one day freeze them again, instead of freezing people to one day thaw and give them new life in the science fiction future.

2/9 – ‘the resulting works are not demands for immediate action but ones that expand our psychological capacity to act.” Right, investing in future action through foregrounding what is going on. Does Lescaze then believe in these tactics? As she says, the scale has changed compared to the AIDS crisis. The forces at work are even less visible, take place over time-scales larger than our regular imaginative abilities… what works can invoke this time scale? Thing to look for. Think nuclear storage and communicating radiation danger into deep future.

4/9 – Falls of the Kaaterskill. Painting, ‘untouched beauty’ etc. made timeless by the addition of indigenous figure. Painter subtracted the tourist viewing platform. Commodification of lands into views. Tourist views made to be out of time. But they are manufactured.

5/9 – emergence of art addressing pollution and development, 2nd half 20th century.

5/9 – Liminal Lacrimosa, Mary Mattingly. Expression of glacial (in the sense of actually relating particularly to glaciers instead of broadly expressing very large slow moving time scale) in concrete forms through drips and tear catching urns of Rome (why Rome?). What does it mean to be glacial? 

5/9 – regionalization of climate change belief. Climate change as existing in public knowledge or belief based on politics, convenience to existing lifestyle and identity formed/entangled with that lifestyle (maybe not lifestyle, maybe economy. Lifestyle is a recent invention).

5/9 – “collaboration between strangers” as necessary to effectively combat climate change.

5/9 – artists seeking ways to reduce climate impact. Shipping via sea instead of air. Action fostered through shame?

6/9 – impossible contraction, irreconcilable difference between art world and climate action because of the extreme overindulgence of high art collectors and consumers. True, but they’re thankfully not the whole picture. 

6/9 – art fairs as comically over-consumptive. A parody of the works they present? 

6/9 – wait a minute. We’re talking about galleries and collectors here when we talk about shipping. This has nothing to do with the work being made. New Yorker might take for granted the high art market and collectors as the de-facto art world but I do not. Talking about art and talking about collectors are two different things. 

7/9 – have a good look at Robert Adams’ “New West” photo series, 1974.

7/9 – ok ok, museums and their corporate sponsors.

7/9 – individual billionaire sponsors, their immoral actions, and their positions on boards and trusts of museums and galleries. They are apparently actively contributing to taste-making in the arts sector. People watch what these institutions put out. 

8/9 – Lescaze calls for greater outrage towards the sponsors and board members whose corporations are actively contributing to the climate crisis. Agreed. The list she expounds is terrible. But, does this have specifically to do with the creation of works at our level on the Canadian side? To what extent are we able to make work freely while relatively outside of the direct sponsorship of these people? I’m not sure. The internet definitely spreads the influencing power of these institutions. 

9/9 – John Cage slowest possible organ work. Expressing long time scale, forcing us to relate to those a long way down the road from us. Placing a possible future out of a doubt of future at all. An expression of belief that there will be a future, or a challenge to make sure that there is one? A reason added to make sure there is one?

9/9 – for the museum guy, it (the organ) forces a notion of hope, imposes a notion of hope.


The function of artworks to create public consciousness, or to take the place of public consciousness around climate issues. AND, one possible route to expressing climate crisis, i.e. expressions of climate change time-scale that impart a notion of responsibility towards the future.

Though the article jumps between the production of artworks, their expressive and consciousness making capacities, and the world of collectors (seemingly to rightfully point out the terrible people and their corporations that still hold too much sway over boards of galleries and museums), the main function of the article is to map out one possible route of making meaningful additions through artwork to addressing the climate crisis. 

While simplistic works that mirror the crisis by representing forest fires and floods can easily and only replace meaningful reflection on the crisis (in the way of some monuments to things that we would rather not think about), works that express a timescale and necessary cooperation with future unborn generations may actually create a climate-conscious responsibility in the viewer/caretaker. John Cage’s “Organ/ASLSP,” while not specifically presenting the climate crisis or what it looks like, is a work that can only be realized through collaboration with future generations because of its time scale. Maintenance and chord changes of the organ must be undertaken by people of the future. Therefore there must be a future, and therefore we in the present must reflect on how our input influences the possibility or impossibility of that future, whether it will be there at all. Forced collaboration with the future is one way of activating a present caretaking of the conditions that will make that future possible.


Dowsing for Remediation with Alana Bartol

By Valérie Frappier

1/3 – Alana asks how we as white settler relate to the land. Especially in ways that are reciprocal. What does she mean by this, reciprocal in the sense that we relate to the land the land relates to us? I.e. how the land changes us and we change the land? Her and I are looking for the same thing insofar as looking for ways in which we relate to the land. I am looking for images and texts which manifest the ways/roots we did not realize held such deep sway in creating our fundamentally extractive relation to the land. Is Alana seeking actual artierlative methods of relating to the land, i.e. non extractive ones?

1/3 – for her dowsing is a reciprocal (as it we both benefit?) act with the land, undoes ways of owning land, the classically western thought projected onto land. LIDAR and magnetic surveys are doing to, rather with working with the land. Especially western ways of acting upon land through cataloging those things we want to take out. 

1/3 – “digging beyond the narrative of compulsory extraction”

1/3 – Alana is jarred by Crowsnest pass interpretive centers as they put on display an untricial attitude towards the content which they describe. This one of the worst mining disasters in Canadian history is presented without mentioning that the mine collapse is most likely due to the creeping of tunnels too close to the surface of the mountain slope. 

1/3 – “what coal mining has meant for the land, water, and more than human species of this ecosystem while considering how this extractive legacy haunts our present.” How does it haunt our human present? I would challenge Bartol to remember the human practitioners of coal mining and other extractive processes—what happens to them? Should this even be a question in the face of the severity of the climate crisis? I might say yes.

1/3 – dowsing as a method of prospecting for coal?

1/3 – “an appropropriate muse” found in Martine de Bertereau (Baroness de Beausoleil) because she is both a pioneering woman (pioneer feminist, feminist pioneer), while also a pioneer of mining. This is appropriate because Bartol has profited from the same capitalism that has been born out of extraction. Contradictions between the feminist and the prospector. Good and evil? The settler (pioneer) and capitalist go hand in hand (a place to challenge her perspective here?).

2/3 – Bartol selects the witch, through de Bertereau (because of her imprisonment for witchcraft), as an embodiment of both capitalism and our ability to find a connection with the earth. A double pronged symbol/muse. “How we fall prey to system of power (the “bad witch”), yet how we also have the ability to heal by rebuilding our connection to the natural world (the “good witch”).

2/3 – “the paradox of our present, clutching to exploitative processes we know have killed and contaminated us.”

2/3 – Bartol collects core samples and rocks from these places. I actually had coal from crowsnest also. How to we as artists use these materials in our work to call to attention the imperative of change away from extractive processes? How do we collect these objects when the impulse to collect and museum-ify objects is a specifically colonial one? Do we create a reciprocal relationship to land when we collect the refuse of extraction to communicate the depth and pervasiveness of our extractive mindset at work, so that we might change it? 

2/3 – review Grassy Mountain Coal project. Was it approved? I believe not. Or still in talks? Could we say that Bartol’s works had any sway over the decisions of local townspeople in Crowsnest? That’s a whole other question. The extent to which post-extractive works are made available to those who live at points and sites of extraction. For whom are these works made? Who actually gets to see them? In what discourse do they actually get taken up? (Think of the satellite images of the tar sands that are purchased and hung in oil exec. offices.)

2/3 – open pit coal mining in the Rockies, the removal of 1976 legislation that banned mining on the eastern slopes of the Rockies (the most visible slopes), and this article failing to mention that very particular fact about that ordinance (the view, the tourist view). Bartol’s exhibition was at the University of Lethbridge–where is this exactly? Also the linking from the exhibition to the webpages of activist, indigenous and community groups, their significant role in the fight.

2/3 – Grassy Mountain was eventually disapproved, the 1976 legislation was put back in place. But that doesn’t mean coal mining doesn’t happen, it’s just kept invisible.

2/3 – inviting visitors to the museum to take packets of native plant seeds to spread over the grassy mountain site. But also remediation being facilitated by non-native plants, i.e. mullein that can actually take heavy metals out of the ground (what happens then when the plant dies? They go straight back into the earth?) Does this point to another layer of irony, we the settlers, the mullein remove the contaminants in the name of remediation, but does it do anything? Can we accomplish anything through our acts of remediation while we thrive on the refuse of extraction—or is the land back (back to native plants) ultimately the better route (land back).

Artworks to look at: orphan well adoption agency—the roles of satire and fiction. The witches hands alongside collected objects/artifacts. 

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