Opening on 21 June and running until 3 September 2023, London’s Hayward Gallery is set to present Dear Earth: Art and Hope in a Time of Crisis, a major new exhibition exploring how international contemporary artists are helping to reframe our responses to the climate crisis. The ambitious group show seeks to inspire a renewed sense of connection with the natural world, and invite audiences to consider the unique and evolving role art has to play in today’s climate debate and activism. This timely exhibition will feature works from over fifteen international artists – four of which Something Curated speaks with – foregrounding feminist and diverse perspectives on our relationship with the Earth. The show will also include a multitude of new commissions from artists and community groups including Hito Steyerl, Cornelia Parker, Daiara Tukano, Richard Mosse, Jenny Kendler, Grounded Ecotherapy and Ackroyd & Harvey.

Imani Jacqueline Brown, What remains at the ends of the earth?, 2022. © Imani Jacqueline Brown. Installation view, 12th Berlin Biennale, Akademie der Künste, Hanseatenweg, 11.6.–18.9.2022. Photo:

Hayward Gallery’s Debbie Meniru tells Something Curated: “During the research period for the exhibition, we had conversations with many artists, researchers and curators (to whom we are greatly indebted). Something that emerged throughout these conversations was the need to reimagine our relationship with the Earth and Otobong Nkanga’s declaration that “to care is a form of resistance” felt particularly poignant. We wanted to include both artists who have been working in the realm of environmental art for decades – pioneers like Agnes Denes – alongside several new commissions… Many of the artists in the show are also activists and their activism is a driving force behind their artistic work. We are showing a hanging sculpture by Andrea Bowers called Memorial to Arcadia Woodlands Clear-Cut (Green, Violet, and Brown) that commemorates a California forest that Andrea and two other activists attempted (unsuccessfully) to save from destruction in a tree-sitting protest.”

Meniru continues: “Imani Jacqueline Brown combines her activism with a research-based practice to investigate the hidden wells and pipelines of the petrochemical industry in Louisiana and its connections to the area’s history of settler colonialism and sugarcane plantations. Artist duo Ackroyd & Harvey have been dedicated to activist art for many decades. For Dear Earth, they have created portraits of five London activists who have been fighting against the climate crisis. The portraits are made using photosynthesis and seedling grass and it’s been amazing to see them growing in the gallery during the installation of the exhibition. The work has also established new connections between the sitters and their collectives.”

Ackroyd & Harvey, Life on Life, 2014. Le Cent-Quatre-Paris. Festival Temps d’Image, France. © Ackroyd & Harvey.

Expanding on their work in the show, Ackroyd & Harvey explain to SC: “We’ve drawn on the four cornerstones of a thriving, liveable ecological civilisation – soil, seed, water and air – to grow a series of large-scale photographic photosynthesis works of London based campaigners working cooperatively in their collectives with their communities to reclaim the commons… Principles of social cooperation as exemplified by the collectives we’ve collaborated with show how the paradigm of new social relations is being brought to life standing on the foundation of communal sharing and campaigning for clean water, breathable air for all, climate-adapted open source seed and permaculture/organic food growing practices that benefit people and planet.”

Aluaiy Kaumakan, also known as Wuyuling, is an interdisciplinary textile sculptor and installation artist from the Paiwan Paridrayan tribe of indigenous peoples in Taiwan. She will present The Axis of Life & Vines in the Mountain, a textile installation made using a traditional technique of hooking and weaving, called Lemikalik in Paiwanese. On her work, Kaumakan says to SC: “The intertwining roots of humanity and the land serve as a shared wellspring, from which the act of creation emerges, embracing the very essence of one’s being. This profound connection has not only allowed me to reflect upon the life and cherished memories of my homeland amid the trials of natural disasters and environmental changes but has also illuminated the path towards understanding and resilience. It is through possessing a clear awareness of our origin and our destined journey that we can truly elevate our creative endeavours, transcending the ordinary and venturing into realms of inspiration and innovation.”

Himali Singh Soin, Inverted Map II, 2020. © Himali Singh Soin.

Himali Singh Soin’s interdisciplinary work focuses on the nature of identity, environmental issues and the notion of deep time. On her contribution to Dear Earth, Singh Soin explains: “My video we are opposite like that tells a magic realist tale from the perspective of an elder who has witnessed deep time: ice. Bringing together original poetry, archival material, and footage of high Arctic terrains, the work reflects on the colonial pasts and decolonial possibilities of the earth’s polar regions – glacial landscapes that are increasingly vulnerable in the midst of climate change. In this video, an alien figure (played by me) wearing glimmering garments emerges from the ice and wanders into a coal mine; I am Ice personified, a melting fossil. Interludes of animations based on illustrations from 19th-century British journals recount Victorian fears of a new glacial epoch when ice would subsume the empire. An original score for a string quartet produces a soundscape inspired by the sounds of ice crystals, and polar temperature variances between the Romantic era and the present day. we are opposite like that invites us to imagine future forms of kinship with the lands we inhabit.”

Cristina Iglesias, Pabellón de Cristal, 2014. © Cristina Iglesias. Photo: Dejan Sarić

Cristina Iglesias is a Spanish installation artist and sculptor living and working in Madrid. For Dear Earth, the artist will be presenting an immersive environment that combines glass, bronze and steel with running water. Offering insight into the work, Iglesias expands: “The green glass room, benches and the permeable floor affect the viewer’s perception of space, creating a sense of instability, while the speed of the water draining away, towards the centre of the Earth, makes the passing of time more visible, taunting maybe a sense of vertigo.” Dear Earth will be presented as part of the Southbank Centre’s wider summer season of work centring on the climate emergency. On the thinking behind the exhibition, Meniru adds: “I hope that for some visitors the art in the exhibition will make them reconsider their relationship to the planet and reimagine what this connection might look like in the future… I believe storytelling is a powerful tool that can help to inspire hope and action to change our relationship with the planet.”

Feature image: Jenny Kendler, Birds Watching I, 2018. © Jenny Kendler. Courtesy of the artist.

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