George Mason University’s School of Art Presents Atlantika Collective Approaching Event Horizons: Projects on Climate Change

By Editorial Team on August 29, 2022

Wed, 24 August 2022 - Sat, 01 October 2022

Courtesy of George Mason University.

Curated by María Alejandra Sáenz

Atlantika Collective Artists: Gabriela Bulisova, Todd R. Forsgren, Billy Friebele, Mark Isaac, Katie Kehoe, Yam Chew Oh, and Sue Wrbican.

An event horizon alludes to a boundary in space around a black hole beyond which nothing, including light, can escape. Acknowledging the current climate crisis of our planet, Approaching Event Horizons: Projects on Climate Change by Atlantika Collective understands that we are headed towards a point of no return, but resists the idea that a cataclysm is inevitable.

Through sculptural explorations, photography, video, and sound, the seven artists in this exhibition address the growing consumerism culture and raise awareness about the current consequences of the environmental crisis—polluted and contaminated waters, intense variations in temperature, increasing deforestation, and wildfires.

Sue Wrbican questions today’s surreal era and the voracious cycle of consumer culture in Before the Ghost and in Party Popper / Plague Tower she conveys her response to political deal-makings regarding the climate crisis during the ongoing Covid-19 virus. Todd R. Forsgren’s photographic series A Field Guide to Pelagic Plastic Bags warns about plastic pollution in the oceans as he captures numerous images of plastic bags floating in the water. Gabriela Bulisova and Mark Isaac present The Second Fire and A Tree for the Forest, two projects that trace the effects of global warming and the climate crisis in different regions of the world—the Baikal region located in Eastern Siberia, Cyprus, and the Czech Republic.

In A convenient matter, a 13-foot sculpture, Yam Chew Oh instigates a conversation about the rapid consumption of plastic bottles in contrast to their slow degradation and long-term permanence on Earth. Continuing his research on rivers, Billy Friebele uses digital tools to explore the submerged life of these bodies of water, capturing scenes above and below the water in Machines Learn from the River and Inversion/Submersion. Finally, Katie Kehoe presents Superimpositions: Wildfires In My Landscape, a series of animated photographs that reveal the ecological emergency of wildfires. Kehoe also reflects on the absence of trees in her work 200 Trees, part 1, where she documents planting over 100 native trees in rural areas of Nova Scotia, Canada.

Accompanying these works are three large-scale videos presented by Gabriela Bulisova and Mark Isaac (Embers and Effluents), Billy Friebele (Inversion/Submersion), and Sue Wrbican (Ocean Extrusion), and a socially engaged performance experience of planting 100 trees native to Northern Virginia by Katie Kehoe (200 Trees, part 2).

These works not only illustrate the environmental emergency but extend an invitation to relearn our ways of relating with nature and inspire actions to help mitigate the critical consequences of climate change and be in communion with the environment. Actions such as planting and caring for native trees and reducing the consumption of single-use plastics and shipment materials are some proactive steps we can take.

As art historian T.J. Demos writes, “I’m convinced that art, given its long histories of experimentation, imaginative invention, and radical thinking, can play a central transformative role here. In its most ambitious and far-ranging sense, art holds the promise of initiating exactly these kinds of creative perceptional and philosophical shifts, offering new ways of comprehending ourselves and our relation to the world differently than the destructive traditions of colonizing nature.” (T. J. Demos, Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Poli­tics of Ecology (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2016), 19.)

Approaching Event Horizons is a call to action to prevent us from approaching an event horizon. This exhibition encourages all to take steps forward to establish an equitable relationship with nature and calls for building new horizons in search of a better ecological future for the Earth.

Additional programming supporting the exhibition:

  • Making Climate Change Art: Atlantika Collective
    Saturday, September 10
    12-2 p.m.
    Online artist discussion- visit website for details
  • Intersectional Climate Justice: A Call to Action
    Saturday, September 24
    12-2 p.m.
    Hybrid artist talk + GMU food garden farmstand
    3601 Fairfax Drive, Arlington VA
  • 200 Trees: A Performance Action
    Saturday, October 1
    12:30-1:30 p.m.
    A site-specific socially engaged performance
    3601 Fairfax Drive, Arlington VA
    3-5 p.m.
    Live planting of 100 trees
    George Mason University, Fairfax VA

George Mason University School of Art | Art and Design Building, Suite 2050 | 4400 University Drive Fairfax, VA