Global Stats

CO2 levels (ppm)
415
Average global temp
1.02°C | 1.84°F
Sea Level
97 (± 4.0) mm
Antarctic Mass
↓ 151.0 bmt p/a
Greenland Mass
↓ 277.0 bmt p/a

Up next: Asialink Forum 1: Presentation 1, (Oct 20. 1:00 PM AEST)

Mutable Ecologies

Yoichi Kamimura, Internal Weather (210217_12:23_UTORO), 2021

(an Introduction)

2021 marks 10 years since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and 12 years since the Black Saturday bushfires. In this decade Australia and Japan have experienced an increase in extreme environmental events which have impacted our communities and cultures and opened up questions about the contributing factors of our human activities. Art and design practices offer us opportunities to unpack and better understand the interconnections between these social and environmental ecologies. Art in this sense is not an illustrative instrument nor a replacement for ‘hard science’. Rather it offers us poetic and affective experiences through which new perception and knowledge can emerge; this includes convergence with political action, new ways of feeling and being in the world and ways of practicing and translating identity and culture. T.J. Demos’ understanding of art’s critical role to society, culture and politics elevates it from being merely considered as a consumable resource or a functional tool. Instead, art is acknowledged to be a part of the world, a part of our human perception and a part of a re-imagining of interrelations.

Mutable Ecologies is a transnational project that considers how innovations in art are interrogating the effects of changing conditions to offer new insights and awareness of ecological futures. Leading creative practitioners from Australia and Japan will present their work and research through exhibition, performances and public discussions. This project foregrounds embodied and material perceptions of transformation—including the complicit involvement of creative practices in these transformations through activities, technologies and presentations.

Mutable Ecologies connects practitioners, publics and organisations to build networks and knowledge and strengthen existing partnerships. The project reveals the strong cultural relationship between Australia and Japan, including their shared values and commitment to community engagement and resilience and ecological and sustainable futures.

While anniversaries are moments to look back, they are also opportunities to look out and across histories, the recent past and the present. Contemporary media cycles tend to myopically focus public and political attention on the present, quickly moving on from events and obscuring histories as they focus on particular and often privileged perspectives. Contemporary art is not immune from the same magnetic pull of the ‘new’ and the ‘now’, drawn out of Modernist legacies. The impacts of environmental and human actions are ongoing and even if they occurred a decade, half-century or centuries ago they are still being experienced today. These impacts are particularly palpable for the communities who are returning to or who have been displaced from their homes and lands.

Using an art exhibition that remains largely inaccessible to visitors inside the Fukushima exclusion zone, Don’t Follow the Wind highlights some of these impacts and complexities, including the contradictions and controversies over how this zone is perceived and what it now means to residents, ex-residents and visitors. Hikaru Fujii’s work also explores this zone, focusing on the role of museums and conservators in acknowledging this event through their rescue, rehabilitation, and preservation of Fukushima Prefecture’s cultural heritage. The conversation that unfolds around the rescuing of artefacts and the significance of cultural memory reveals some of the nuanced interrelationships that exist between object, community, trauma and heritage.

While Japan is often spoken of as the only country to have experienced nuclear bombing as an official act of war, the testing of nuclear weapons has had a profound impact on the ecologies (social, cultural, material and political) of many First Nations Peoples, including Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples. Yhonnie Scarce’s work offers material, aesthetic and political references to the nuclear testing conducted by the British in Woomera, South Australia during the 1950s. The work makes visible the effects of this testing on the lands of Scarce’s family. This includes not only physical repercussions but also social and political ones—the alienation from country which was experienced due to the exclusion zone and the colonialist values underpinning Australian society which continues to impact Aboriginal land and people.

In Clinton Naina’s work, climate change is understood through the lens of First Sovereign Nation people. The inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander voices is critically needed in conversations and debates on climate and ecological futures; these communities have a cultural knowledge of country to contribute, as well as a lived experience of the transformation (and often devastation) of land, people and culture through settler, colonial and capitalist actions.

A consistent theme in Mutable Ecologies is artists working with unique ecological sites impacted by human activity. Yoichi Kamimura’s sonic and visual artworks emerge from his fieldwork on the drift ice (ryuhyo) in the Sea of Okhotsk. The ice freezes in Siberia before it drifts down to Hokkaido. Over the past few decades there are significant shifts in this pattern. Kamimura creates immersive and affective installations that reveal the intersection of materials, technologies and environment, drawing attention to our changing climate and the ambiguous relationships that exist between the human and non-human. Polly Stanton’s video work traces the unique terrains of Australia’s salt lakes in the Mallee, providing poetic reflections on the natural world and the industrialisation of it. Her work foregrounds situated and intimate experiences while at the same time offering macro-level observations of these unique landscapes. Approaching a different but similarly complex ecology, Yuko Mohri presents a vernacular ethnographic view of DIY repairs to groundwater leaks in Tokyo’s subway system. Engineered water management has been a characteristic of Tokyo (and Edo) for many centuries, and the ‘instant architecture’ of these repairs reveal idiosyncratic interconnections between humans, our histories and our urban ecologies.

Supporting the exhibition program is a suite of live events and discussions focusing on woodland habitats, cold-climate science and communication, new explorations into atmospheres and microclimates, and the repurposing of food into performable hybrid instruments.

The works in this project have not been made to fix a problem, nor to simplify a situation, or memorialise a history. The problems they unpick are multilayered, the situations everchanging and the histories are still living. The aim of this project, instead, is to recognise and acknowledge the complexities—the relational nature, the felt experience and the often-traumatic humanness—of our everchanging interconnected world.

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(07)Artists

(03)Curators

(05)Events

Takashi Kuribayashi, GENKI-RO / No.0, Toyama, Japan (2020) Photo by Rai Shizuno

‘Asialink Forum 1: Presentation 1’
The tactile and immaterial qualities of woodland habitats
Takashi Kuribayashi in conversation with Bob Brown (Oct 20. 1:00 PM AEST)

Takashi Kuribayashi often says, “The truth resides in places that are invisible. Once you are aware that there is a different world out of sight, you will be living in a different way.” The invisible realm and its attendant threshold has been Kuribayashi’s main focus throughout his career. He is renown for creating evocative installations designed to visualise spaces that cannot be seen in daily life, such as that which lays behind a ceiling or floor, or in a seabed, to reveal these invisible worlds.

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Takashi Kuribayashi studied at Musashino Art University, and on graduation went to live in Germany. In 2002, he was awarded a Meisterschuler at the Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf. Kuribayashi was struck by the division of Germany into Eastern and Western states, which led him into an on-going consideration in various media of the theme boundaries. He has participated in international exhibitions, including solo shows at the National Museum of Singapore (2007) and at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London (2013), and group shows including the Singapore Biennale (2006). In Japan, his Sumpf Land forms part of the permanent exhibition at the Towada Art Center, while he has also taken part in Sensing Nature at the Mori Art Museum (2010), as well as other group events.

Sarah Teasley, Forested hills at the edge of Tendō City, Yamagata Prefecture, Japan, 2012
Sarah Teasley, Forested hills at the edge of Tendō City, Yamagata Prefecture, Japan, 2012

‘Asialink Forum 1: Presentation 2’
Experiencing Woodlands through Science in 1913
Sarah Teasley with Rodney Keenan and Kikuko Shoyama (Oct 25. 1:00 PM AEST)

Design luminary and social historian, Sarah Teasley on ‘Experiencing Woodlands through Science in 1913’ followed by a discussion with forest ecologist Rodney Keenan and earth science and disaster resilience researcher Kikuko Shoyama.

In this talk, Sarah Teasley will explore what happened when one local forest in Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan – with its particular and unique climate, species populations, soil, orientation and location, all with their own material affordances – encountered ideas, technologies and materials from further afield. Working from period experimental reports, contemporary plant biology research and fieldwork, Sarah will suggest that attending to the micro-interactions of wood, water and microbes can illuminate both human power relations and – perhaps as importantly – suggest more ethical and accurate ways to live in the world.

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Sarah Teasley is a historian of design, technology and society, and Professor of Design at RMIT. Her research focuses on two areas: old new (bio)technology and materials, including the living affordances of wood and forests, the social history of design and making. She is particularly interested in highlighting power operations through micro-histories of everyday practice. Her current projects include a study of how designers and makers responded to new processes for working with biomaterials in twentieth-century Japan, and an experimental inquiry into doing social history from a multi species perspective. Her research is highly collaborative and transdisciplinary, applying methods across design research, history and cognate fields. She is the author of Designing Modern Japan (forthcoming 2022), co-editor of Global Design History (2011) and author of numerous articles, book chapters and creative project reports.

Polly Stanton, Skulls, 2018
Polly Stanton, Skulls, 2018

‘Asialink Forum 1: Presentation 3’
Elegy for an Occupied Forest
Polly Stanton with Kohei Fujito and Ruth Langford (Nov 03. 1:00 PM AEST)

Film maker and artist Polly Stanton presents ‘Elegy for an Occupied Forest’. Following her short talk is a discussion with Ainu artist Kohei Fujito and Song Woman and Story Teller, Yorta Yorta woman Ruth Langford.

Pine plantations present eerie lifeworlds profoundly shaped and recomposed by the productions of capital. They are vibrant sites that remake the forest into a strange and occupied landscape of human-made modification and disturbance. In this talk Polly Stanton explores these complex forest assemblages through her moving image work Indefinite Terrains (2019), which traces the delicate ecologies and entanglements of the Moonlight Flat Pine Plantation in Dja Dja Wurrung country (Central Victoria, Australia). By recounting the process of working-with these spaces, as well as thinking alongside a number of writers and theorists, Polly considers the plantation as an ecotone of submerged histories and indeterminate futures.

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Polly Stanton’s films and installations focus on contested sites and extractive zones, presenting landscape as a politically charged field of negotiation, entangled with history, technology and capital. Her mode of working is expansive and site based, with her practice intersecting across a range of disciplines from film production, sound design, fieldwork, performance and publication. Polly has exhibited widely in both Australia and overseas and has been the recipient of numerous grants and Artist-in-Residence programs. She is a lecturer and researcher in RMIT’s School of Media and Communication.

Dress, Target, Heart. Bleach and Beeswax on Velvet. 180 x 90 cm ( 180 x 270 triptych ). 2012.
Dress, Target, Heart. Bleach and Beeswax on Velvet. 180 x 90 cm ( 180 x 270 triptych ). 2012.

‘Clinton Naina: Stolen Climate’
(Nov 10. 6:00 PM AEST)

Join Clinton Naina in hearing about his work “Stolen Climate” and the importance of engaging with First Sovereign Nation people’s perspectives about the ongoing concerns and discourses of climate change and its effect on Country.

Book Here

I was born in Melbourne, Victoria on 18th December, 1971. My mother, Eleanor Harding, who passed away in 1996, was from the Torres Strait Islands. She descends from the Meriam Mer people of the Eastern Torres Strait, also the Ku-Ku people of Cape York and was a political activist and tireless community service worker. My father’s lineage is from Denmark and Ireland.

As an abstract painter, I use domestic materials as my mediums, such as heritage coloured house paint, bitumen paint and domestic household bleach (White King). I also use references from the dominant culture and its images that symbolise language, religion, land, country, targeted, crown and colonisation of the dispossessed.

(01)Coming Soon

‘Asialink Forum 2:
Inhabiting Extremes’
(Nov 24. 2021)

(02)Past Events

(07)Artworks