MECO360: I do not have a title

Sarah Goffman | March 2017

Sarah Goffman, 2017, Rock collection on Rubens. Digital photograph.

 

Having finished installing my exhibition at Wollongong Art Gallery, I passed a football sized and shaped rock in the street. It was casually sitting on the pavement close to a shop window. Had it been put there? Dropped there? Grey and smooth, with a shattered right side area, perhaps a river rock. I saw that rock in passing, or it saw me, and I said to myself ‘if only I had seen this the day before yesterday, I would’ve grabbed it’. Because a rock means so much; it implies the presence of the past, and represents Earth. Too late and too heavy to pick up, the rock sits in my brain on hold. I might have to begin my next exhibition with a rock just to make amends.

On the train from Sydney to Wollongong I always sit in the bottom of the quiet carriage, near the back, next to a double window for maximum viewing pleasure. Going down, I sit on the left hand side; coming back I like to sit on the left till the first stop, Thirroul, so I can enjoy the mystical escarpment, but then I move to the right so I get full and wide-distance ocean views. Once I was on the train and a teenager declared loudly, “I hate the ocean”…hm.

I check the window for hair product right away when I sit down and give it a wipe with a cloth if necessary. It’s a bit disgusting how much gunk adheres to the window glass and I don’t want to have to peer through it. I have promised myself that when I complete my thesis, one of the things I would do would be to go out on a train cleaning bombardment. Armed with cloths, vinegar and newspaper I will give some carriages a once over.

There’s a rock that we travel past outside of Stanwell Park, which always catches my eye. It’s huge and egg shaped with blue spray paint on the underside, looking like a scribble. In my diary I’ve written “has been placed there”. But I don’t really know, do I? I think about that rock and how big it is, how I’d love to have it in my home, or to sit next to it. I think about the graffiti on it, and that vandalism which only serves to accentuate the natural colours of the rock.

Sarah Goffman, 2017, Rocks that look like faces museum. Digital photograph.

A few weeks ago I got the chance to have a day at Wattamolla, in the Royal National Park. It was a great, warm sunny day and the ocean was surprisingly calm. We got to the carpark early, around 9am, only to be greeted by the hugest pile of plastic plates, plastic forks, plastic bags, dozens of water bottles and foul smelling containers. It was like a party of fifty had had chicken and chilli take-aways, leaving the entire (I’m not exaggerating) mess on the ground, next to the (empty) bins…fuck! We cleaned it up of course, getting stinking sauce all over us. Whoever left that is a real asshole. I pity them. Down at the beach was heaven, and we sat near the rocks on the far left. I couldn’t stand to look at the giant beauties, as they had been spray painted with (blue) tags, and there was such a discrepancy between their natural wonder and the offensive tags, it hurt me to see it. We went for a walk around the lagoon, and kept finding human rubbish tossed and discarded. I recall going there years ago, and finding a full six pack of Coronas, a chopping board and knife set, and all the packaging that had made that picnic into a reality…I still have the chopping board and knives (we drank the beers). But really, really!

We waded into the lagoon and found a rock facing the water, pristine and perched like the holy Mother of God. I felt fortunate that we explored sufficiently to find it, and it sits in my mind, giving me hope for humanity, hope for nature and hope for life as it persists.

 

See Sarah Goffman’s exhibition, I am a 3-D Printer, at the Wollongong Art Gallery, March 10—June 18, 2017. 

 

MECO360: Hope remains while the company is true…

Agnieszka Golda | 1 June 2016

ForEverything that is1

Agnieszka Golda and Martin Johnson, “For Everything That Is,” 2016, installation detail, ink on canvas.

The sound of a familiar voice directs my attention towards my favourite movie. The opening narration to the cinematic rendition of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings told by the elven Lady Galadriel of Lothlórien:

The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was, is lost…

surely strikes a chord in all those particularly sensitive to climate change and shifts in ecological conditions. It’s uncanny how Galadriel’s poetic expression of lament evokes Paul Crutzen’s important remarks: “The world has changed too much… we are in the Anthropocene.” While Tolkien’s fantastical Middle-earth exposes the devastating impact of industrialised modes on nature, the geologic concept of the Anthropocene warns of an approaching climate tipping point. Lets hope, that it becomes an affective device, as the Last March of the Ents (urged by the most unlikely creatures imaginable, the Hobbits) for shifting beyond a state of human centred perspective.

Agnieszka Golda and Martin Johnson, "For Everything that Is," 2016, installation detail, ink on canvas.

Agnieszka Golda and Martin Johnson, “For Everything that Is,” 2016, installation detail, ink on canvas.

I’m yet again captivated by the view outside my studio window. There, in close proximity, stands an ancient mountain called Mt Keira. Lush and green, its peak surrounded by a crown of puffy white clouds, serves as a timely reminder of forests’ extraordinary capacity to influence local weather and stabilise regional climate. This remarkable ability to manage water has earned forests the prestigious status of being the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet. In fact, while more than two thirds of all terrestrial species survival directly hinges on forests, the ecological resilience of forests depends strongly on their biodiversity. Sadly, the long-term, cumulative effects of anthropogenic impacts on forests have brought about their colossal disappearance and therefore equally irreversible loss of the diversity of life on Earth.

Agnieszka Golda and Martin Johnson, "For Everything that Is," 2016, installation detail, found wood, amethyst crystals on found concrete.

Agnieszka Golda and Martin Johnson, “For Everything that Is,” 2016, installation detail, found wood, amethyst crystals on found concrete.

My recent collaborative projects are driven by a strong interest in deep ecology, mindfulness and unearthing ecocentric strategies for responding to the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event. This ecological crisis raises important questions for artists: how can artistic actions and imagination, bolster and safeguard Earth’s energies? Even though, portrayals of diminishing ecosystems give rise to feelings of dread, collaborations often instigate unforeseen alliances and resistances that can instill feelings of hope – a desire for change in a particular place. As Galadriel reminds us: Yet hope remains while the company is true.

Agnieszka Golda and Martin Johnson, "For Everything that Is," 2016, installation detail, found wood and amethyst crystals.

Agnieszka Golda and Martin Johnson, “For Everything that Is,” 2016, installation detail, found wood and amethyst crystals.