Eveline Kolijn writes:
Dear Lisa and collaborators,
Thank you for including me in your discussion. I feel I am on another planet, living in land-locked Alberta, Canada, and surrounded by many climate change denying politicians and the polluting oil-sands. It pains me, that the current prime minister from Canada, Stephen Harper, is some sort of mentor for the Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott. I disagree with their views and policies bent on muzzling climate change research. Therefore I found it heartening to read an opinion in my national newspaper, The Globe and Mail today from the former chief statistician of Canada, that it is an economic fallacy that carbon taxes are detrimental to an economy. I am quite convinced that you would like to keep politics out of the discussions, but it is a short and easy to read essay and handy to know. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/what-do-these-pms-know-that-economists-dont/article19664297/
I do have a question: I am aware that my perception of topics in the arts in Australia is quite limited. How does climate change feature in the arts in general in Australia?
Although there are quite a few artists in Canada that explore the topic of climate change (for instance Lorraine Beaulieu), it is not a very dominant theme at all. The urban environment and personal topics such as memory or gender issues is much more common and also seems to be considered more cutting edge by many curators. Canadian wilderness is a traditional topic as well, but an old-fashioned romantic version, devoid of environmental issues. Even though Canada borders three oceans (Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific), I find the topic of ocean science even more obscure. Living in this land-locked province, it is very obvious that the oceans are not on people’s minds. What happens in the oceans is far away. What starts to trickle down to some degree is the issue of plastic pollution in the oceans.
To increase awareness that the oceans do matter, I am planning to link my new project on breath, lungs and lung-cancer with art-pieces on diatoms, such as the Ocean Veil and Luminous Specimens. Juxtaposing a topic like lung cancer with marine biology, may trigger curiosity to find out why and what I am combining. Here in Canada, we perceive our forest as the “lungs of the Earth”, but we need to know the oceans are the “lungs of the Earth” too. I hope that my art-pieces make people notice and become aware of this fact. The art is there to be publicly noticed. The information follows from the science.
I am an artist who shares the delight of a scientist in figuring out how organisms connect, operate, are formed, and develop in an environment. Even terrible things can be interesting. Looking at images of lung tumors, I was struck by the cauliflower type shape of them. Googling “fractals and cancer”, I discovered this is a known fact in the science community, and that calculating the fractality of tumor cells can help determine how aggressive a cancer is. As an artist, you can visualize and bring these topics to a general public. Science is so often perceived as “too difficult to understand”. Art can be a bridge in this discussion.
I finally want to add, that a growing important voice in the climate debate and the use of Canada’s natural resources is coming from our aboriginal First Nations people. Pipelines and exploration of natural resources have been blocked or changed on treaty lands. The worldview of the First Nations is different from our “Western” one; and also different from maybe a scientist’s point of view. However, it is surprising how they do meet sometimes. It is interesting to consider indigenous voices in this debate. Learning values from other cultures is essential.
Thank you for reading some of my observations, which were spontaneously triggered by Lisa’s invitation. I hope that this instalment of Living Data will be exciting and successful.
Kind regards, Eveline Kolijn