activism

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Art

REWILD: A Short Film by Splash and Burn and ESCIF Chronicles Rainforest Restoration Efforts in Sumatra

September 10, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

To draw attention to the ecological devastation wrought by palm oil farming in Southeast Asia, the Splash and Burn project (previously) creates and documents large and small-scale art activations. The initiative’s most recent endeavor, titled REWILD and executed with Spanish artist ESCIF, involved carving a rewind symbol into a palm oil plantation in Sumatra, Indonesia, and creating a short film documenting the effort. ESCIF explains, “the idea of going back, of rewinding, is an invitation to reconnect with ourselves; to recover awareness and respect for the earth, which is the ecosystem of which we are a part.”

The land art intervention took place on an acquired plantation within a new forest restoration site made possible by the Sumatran Orangutan Society. After clearing the palms, diverse vegetation has been re-planted. In a release about the project, Splash and Burn explains that the restoration site is located on the borders of the Leuser Ecosystem, one of the most biodiverse places on earth. Sumatra’s forests—and the wildlife populations within—have shrunk by 40% in the past two decades, replaced by palm oil, paper pulp, and rubber plantations. Though not commonly known in the U.S. as a cooking oil, palm oil is the most widely consumed oil on the planet, found in everything from chocolate and instant noodles to lipstick and laundry detergent.

You can watch the trailer of REWILD below. It features an abstract soundscape by Indonesian composer Nursalim Yadi Anugerah. If you are interested in contributing, head to moretrees.info, and follow Splash and Burn (comprised of Ernest Zacharevic and Charlotte Pyatt) on Instagram.

 

 



Design

Put Words into Action with ‘Gerry’, a New Font Created From the Silhouettes of Gerrymandered Electoral Districts

August 13, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Apologies to anyone who shares the name, but two designers in Chicago are taking on electoral gerrymandering in a new font called Gerry. The font, created by Ben Doessel and James Lee, is composed of 26 districts whose absurd boundaries resemble alphabet letters much more than they resemble logical, cohesive population groupings. Alabama’s pronged 1st District bears a striking resemblance to the letter K, while New York’s 8th District looks like an M with its tall legs connected by a curved middle.

“Gerry” is available for download on a dedicated website, UglyGerry.com, which also includes a Twitter integration allowing visitors to thank their Representatives for their contributions to the font. If you’re interested in learning more about Gerrymandering, we recommend this John Oliver segment. (via Hyperallergic)

 

 



Art

A Collaboratively Painted ‘Mural of Brotherhood’ Stretches for Over a Mile on Mexico’s Border

June 26, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

All photographs courtesy of Enrique Chiu

Over the past two and a half years, nearly 4,000 volunteers have converged on the US/Mexico border to assist artist Enrique Chiu with painting a mural. Chiu began the project on Election Day in 2016, and once his collaborative project is complete, the “Mural of Brotherhood” will span a mile of Mexico’s border frontage in Tijuana. Shorter segments will also be created in other regions to connect the project to the southern edge of the border. The wide range of styles, including written phrases and more illustrative narratives reflects the diversity of those who have worked alonside Chiu to complete the expansive mural.

Chiu was born in Mexico and has spent 14 years living in the U.S., both as a child and as an adult. However, he re-rooted himself in Tijuana’s vibrant arts scene ten years ago. In an interview with Hyperallergic Chiu explained, “the murals spread messages of peace to people crossing the border by car or on foot,” and are “intended to be a final glimpse of hope for migrants risking danger as they cross northward.”

A recently released documentary by Alejandro Arguelles Benitez follows the project. You can watch the trailer below, and track the progress of the mural on Instagram. (via Hyperallergic)

 

 



Art

Splash and Burn: An Artist-Led Initiative Raising Awareness About the Negative Effects of Palm Oil Production in South Asia

May 4, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Drone footage still of “Save Our Souls” by Ernest Zacharevic. All images provided by Splash and Burn.

Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter of palm oil, the harvesting of which has been shown to have extremely adverse effects on wildlife and natural resources, including deforestation, fires, and the displacement of people and animals. Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic (previously) witnessed this devastation during his time spent photographing and traveling throughout the country, and decided to found the initiative Splash and Burn to spread public awareness about the resource’s inhumane production.

“A state of global environmental crisis is defining our generation,” Zacharevic tells Colossal. “As consumers, we are so disconnected from the source of our commodities that we do not recognize the impact of our daily choices. This project is an effort to bridge that gap.”

"Save Our Souls" (2018) by Ernest Zacharevic

“Save Our Souls” (2018) by Ernest Zacharevic

The organization’s name comes from slash-and-burn, the cheap practice of burning land to clear the way for new plantations, a method that releases toxic smoke, and has been linked to more than 500,000 respiratory infections. For two years Zacharevic researched these issues effecting Indonesia’s population, meeting with NGOs, locals, and wildlife sites to educate himself on the organizations fighting against the practices and attempting to heal from their destruction.

After researching the area and its local organizations, like the Orangutan Information Centre, the Lithuanian artist invited several fellow creatives to respond to the native landscape and the palm oil crisis through art installations. Since February, international artists have created murals, sculptures, and other works throughout Sumatra. Pieces include an orangutan mural painted by VHILS, Isaac Cordal’s miniature hazmat suit installation, and Zacharevic’s plantation intervention in which he inserted the message SOS into the landscape’s trees.

Mural by Alexandre Farto aka VHILS, image credit: Ernest Zacharevic

Mural by Alexandre Farto aka VHILS, image credit: Ernest Zacharevic

“I wanted to communicate the magnitude of the problem to a wider audience, as well as provide creative outlook, hope, and inspiration to local communities and conservationists,” says Zacharevic in a press release about the work. “From the ground, you would not suspect anything more than just another palm oil plantation, the aerial view however reveals an SOS distress signal. ‘Save our Souls’ is a message communicated to those at a distance, a reminder of the connectedness we share with nature. As more of the forests are lost, we lose a little bit of ourselves in the process.”

So far Splash and Burn has worked with Anders Gjennestad aka Strøk, Axel Void, Bibichun, Gabriel Pitcher, Isaac Cordal, Mark Jenkins, and Pixel Pancho. The ongoing initiative is curated by Zacharevic and coordinated by Charlotte Pyatt. To follow upcoming installations or support the project’s efforts visit the Sumatran Orangutan Society website or Splash and Burn’s Instagram.

Work by Strøk aka Anders Gjennestad (2017), image credit: Anders Gjennestad

Work by Ernest Zacharevic (2017), photo credit: Ernest Zacharevic

Work by Isaac Cordal (2017), photo credit: Isaac Cordal

Work by Ernest Zacharevic , photo credit: Tan Wei Ming

 

 

 



Art Design

Banksy Releases New Miniature Walled Off Hotel Souvenir Series

April 17, 2018

Christopher Jobson

Banksy’s year-old project in Bethlehem, The Walled Off Hotel (previously), has just released a new set of souvenirs exclusively available in the hotel shop. The series of works, which are each hand painted by local artists, depict the West Bank barrier in a crumbling state. A hooded figure is featured beside the wall in several of the works—either contributing a fresh piece of graffiti or physically breaking through the wall with mallet in hand. Banksy views these works as anticipatory objects, pieces that might accurately depict the wall’s end.

The hotel also released a new album during last week’s Palestine Music Expo, featuring international musicians such as Brian Eno, The Black Madonna, Trio Joubran, Roisin Murphy, and Akram Abdulfattah. The work was produced by Block9 during a “Creative Retreat” at the hotel this past February, and includes seven collaborative songs inspired by Palestine’s history. The Walled Off Hotel Creative Retreat Album is now available for free on Soundcloud.

 

 



Art

Soaring Murals of Plants on Urban Walls by Mona Caron

February 1, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Muralist Mona Caron (previously) has continued her worldwide Weeds series, with colorful renderings of humble plants growing ever taller on buildings from Portland and São Paulo to Spain and Taiwan. The San Francisco-based artist often partners with local and international social and environmental movements for climate justice, labor rights, and water rights, and selects plants, both native and invasive, that she finds in the cities where she paints. Caron also integrates tiny details into the main visual elements of her murals:

Several of these murals contain intricate miniature details, invisible from afar. These typically narrate the local history, chronicle the social life of the mural’s immediate surroundings, and visualize future possibility, and are created in a process that incorporates ideas emerging through spontaneous conversations with the artwork’s hosting communities while painting.

Caron regularly shares process videos and photos of completed works on Instagram, and she delves into the narratives behind several of her murals on her website.

Collaboration with Liqan

 

 



Art

Towering Murals by Blu on the Streets of Italy Confront Environmental and Societal Woes

May 29, 2017

Christopher Jobson

La Cuccanga, 2017

From climate change to capitalism run amok, street artist Blu (previously) pulls no punches in his soaring multi-story murals on the streets of Italy. While mixed with a healthy dose of sarcasm and humor, the inspiration behind each artwork is anything but funny as he translates searing critiques into aesthetically beautiful paintings. For instance a 2016 piece criticizing housing problems in the Celadina district of Bergamo, Italy depicts cramped residents as a brightly hued rainbow but leaves a small group of authorities in the lower right completely devoid of color. Collected here is a selection of murals from the last year, you can see more detailed shots by flipping through his blog. You can also get an idea of how he works—perched on a tiny suspended seat—in this short GIF.

Porto Torres, 2016

Celadina, 2016

Catina, 2016

Alta Voracita, 2016