The Beauty of Ecological Tragedy

Oil Field #13, Taft, California, Edward Burtynsky

In last week’s Q&A with Susan Szenasy, the organizers of the CoolClimate Art Contest spoke of the role of art in raising awareness about ecological issues. In a similar vein, Ecoaesthetic: The Tragedy of Beauty is an art exhibit that hopes to do for sustainability what war photography does for the cause of world peace: shock us into caring. On view at the Exit Art gallery, in New York, until August 25th, the exhibit brings together the work of nine photographers whose viewfinders have discovered the disturbing beauty of ecological disasters. The images are haunting in a way that is surprisingly reminiscent of pictures of children in war zones. There is the same sense of innocence lost, bringing on an urge to do something.

Ecoaesthetic is the first show organized as part of an art initiative called Social Environmental Aesthetics (SEA).  Conceived by artist Papo Colo, the SEA hopes to build a permanent archive of art that addresses social and environmental issues, and will organize related exhibitions, lectures, and public events at Exit Art gallery.

Here is a little taste of the images on view at Ecoaesthetic:

02Forest Defenders (diptych), Christopher LaMarca

03Remains of the former Pepsi-Cola Bottling Plant, 46-00 5th Street, Long Island City, Queens, Looking West, Anthony Hamboussi

04Midway, CF000313, 2009, Chris Jordan

05Glacial, Icecap and Permafrost Melting XLVII: Cordillera Blanca, Peru, Susannah Sayler / The Canary Project

06Drought and Fires XIV: Umatilla National Forest, Washington State, Susannah Sayler / The Canary Project

07aBeijing Xilu, Jingan District, Shanghai, Sze Tsung Leong

09From the series American Power Ocean Warwick, Dauphine Island, Alabama 2005, Mitch Epstein

All images courtesy Exit Art gallery

Categories: Arts + Culture