Feedback NA! Fund academy

My feedback to the Nature Addicts Fund  Academy in Kassel during dOCUMENTA(13)

“Farmers must breed diversity, not uniformity”

”Anything that enhances diversity is good. Anything that reduces diversity is a colonization act”

”Individuality is beautiful for diversity”

Vandana Shiva at the Seeds conference.

These quotes of Vandana Shiva appeals to me in my work. In a wider perspective same things are happening in most other spheres of life, where economy, consumption, production and uniformity are counteracting decentralization, small scale production, individuality and diversity. When commodities, phenomenon’s and apparently even life is being multiplied and streamlined these things easily becomes what is ‘right’ and ‘normal’, even though the objectives behind production often are subjective and arbitrary and with the purpose of gaining profit rather than knowledge – and what is normal you don’t have to question. It becomes invisible.

As I said in my presentation in Kassel, in time I’ve come to understand that the concepts of beauty which I’m challenging in my work is not only the beauty of object’s, but also all kinds of life’s considered  normality’s, political correctness’s, neuro-typicalities etc. This way challenging all kinds of prejudice in favor to open mindedness, acceptance of life as it is, and considering differences as assets rather than the opposite. In an environmental perspective this includes also protecting and caring for the ‘not so beautiful’ features of nature and life. Such as mosquitos, ugly animals, bad weather, primeval forest, violent or dysfunctional animal behaviors and so on. Therefore I particularly liked Maria Thereza Alves imported fishes in her piece in the Ottoneum. I also liked Pierre Huyghes ‘invisible’ reorganization of his space. Maybe I would have liked it even better without the sculpture, then the border between art piece and park would have been even more uncertain.

Another issue I’m addressing in my work is the complexity in judging when and if we can allow ourselves to enjoy the modern life-style in consuming commodities, in travel and in enjoying high and low culture. Living life has an environmental and ethical cost and I don’t want to feel guilty about it – but to a certain extent I do. As a solution many of us turn to spirituality or small acts of political and environmental correctness – and that makes us happy again. This is a for me key issue to discuss – Can we and/or how do we continue with our lifestyle and at the same time engage in environmental work to make a better world?

In the western world we have settled with this level of comfort and I don’t think we are ready to discard it. I don’t think we by ourselves will learn to consume less. At least not so much less that would be needed. What I believe is most important to start with is awareness and acknowledging the effects our life-style has on nature and society. We may continue our lives as we live them and maybe not feel too guilty about it, but if we are aware, then we can engage in movements and have a chance of changing things politically, in science and in technology. As artists we can be observers and communicators with a similar role as journalists but with the benefit of not necessarily having claims of truth. Because of that I think we as artists can be sharper, faster and use fiction, metaphors, and provocation as tools in saying what we want. In this perspective a group such as the one formed in the NA!F academy becomes interesting since it creates and somewhat synchronizes a discussion around environmental issues among artists from different disciplines and countries. Even more so if we could also establish a contact with science and technology and start a productive brainstorming dialogue between facts and fiction, vision and realism.
I can picture myself a lot of interesting borderline projects coming out of such cooperation.

Other works at dOCUMENTA(13) I could relate to was Kader Attias ‘Repairs’ of soldiers faces and ceramic bowls, Walid Raads performance and narratives, Haris Epaminonda and Daniel Gustav Cramer large three floor installation with planetary spheres and dreamy objects, Wael Shawkys Cabaret Crusades, just to mention a few.

In the academy I have gained several ideas of pieces, issues and themes that I will realize in my work in the coming future. To Illustrate some of them I’m attaching a mind map I made after coming home to Stockholm.

And finally, the contacts we have made in the group will for sure generate cooperations and projects and my personal experiences of the academay has had an impact in my own work. Thank you, again Nature Addicts Fund, The Artists and the team.

Linus Ersson