Environmental themes are increasingly present in the artistic field, both in the context of biennial e s and of group and solo shows. Might the greater dynamism of Berlin, Copenhagen, Montreal or Moscow on these topics be explained by their geographical position , since global warming is more advanced and more visible in the Northern countries ? This world tour of exhibitions in different types of venues reflects a commitment to and awareness of a new era. The falteringof anthropocentrism and the re-enchantment of our perception of living things are major components of this art in times of ecological crisis.

In Montreal and Vienna, two biennials eager for transformation

The Helsinki Biennale is coming to an end, having inaugurated a more ecological way of hosting such an artistic event . Up next is the MOMENTA biennial in Montreal, entitled Sensing Nature , which announces the trend of the new artistic season in 2021 : more invested in ecology, linked to the social sphere, than ever before . Curator Stefanie Hessler has positioned herself at the intersection of environmental and social justice, drawing on intersectionality and putting humans to one side to focus on other interspecies relationships. The biennale’s 51 international artists and 15 exhibitions include Intimacy of the Unknown b y Anne Duk Hee Jordan who  combines monarch butterflies, amphibians, bacteria and fungi from the perspective of community and interspecies equity at the MMFA (Montreal Museum of Fine Arts). The museum will also present an exhibition of your vote to ecology until February 22nd , 2022 : Ecologies , A song for our planet.  

Another revealing biennale focused on environmental issues was the Vienna Biennale for Change , which ends on October 3, combining art, design and architecture un der the eloquent title  : Planet Love, Climate Care in the Digital Age . Its central exhibition, Climate Care, Reimagining Shared Planetary Futures at MAK (Museum of Applied Arts Vienna), brings together an impressive number of artists, designer researchers and collectives. Historical figures like Mark Dion and Amy Balkin rub shoulders with climate scientists like Ed Hawkins , EcoLogicStudio , FormaFantasma  designers and young artists like Nicolàs Lamas .

Solo  exhibitions by engaged artists

A number of solo exhibitions by artists working on environmental issues have also revealed the importance of this topic on the artistic scene, with a strong , visible engagement in northern European countries and in Germany.

Berlin, home to a great number of artists committed to the topic of the environment, is undoubtedly driving with activity. Until September 26 th , Jakob Kudsk Steensen had transformed The Halle am Berghain into a swamp, a place he explored through its history and ecology. For his part, Tomás Saraceno inaugurated We Do Not All Breathe the Same Air in his new gallery, Neugerriemschneider ( following his exhibition at the Esther S c hipper G allery), and introduced eco-design principles: the exhibition is powered by solar panels and the opening hours of the gallery adapt according to the amount of external sunlight. Finally, on September 15 th , Julian Charrière celebrated 10 years of collaboration with the Dittrich & Schlechtriem gallery in Berlin with the exhibition Soothsayers .

Since August 20, Rune Bosse has been sprouting trees and plants in the Gether Contemporary Gallery in Copenhagen. Not very far away in Oslo in Sweden, Sissel Tolaas , an iconic and engaged figure of olfactory art, will present RE  at the Astrup Fearnley Museet from October 8 th (read the interview with Sissel Tolaas in Impact Art News  here ). This artist-scientist uses the sense of smell to act emotionally on visitors’ consciousness , and to raise awareness about the major issues related to climate change.

At Mu.ZEE, Ostend, Belgium, open since September 4, Exhumer le futur retraces twenty years of artistic practice by Maarten Vanden Eynde , a pioneering  artist who attempts to respond to ecological issues: energy, raw materials, global warming, biodiversity… Starting from a distant future, he takes a retrospective look at the current world and humorously questions our perception of progress , renam ing our specie s Homo Stupidus Stupidus .

For his first major solo show in New Delhi, which opened on September 19 th , Manish Nai presents new works made from different materials, whose identities are called into question (read the interview with Manish Nai in Impact Art News  here ).

In Korea, the Barakat Contemporary in Seoul presents Mark Dion ’s first major solo exhibition,  The Sea Life of South Korea and Other Curious Tales which opened on September 8.  The artist , an amateur ecologist, archaeologist, and sometimes naturalist, presents a cabinet of curiosities of plastic objects collected in the Korean Sea , the laboratory of a marine biologist, and the majority of his sculptures and drawings from the last few years.

Large-scale group exhibitions

Moscow, which had already held a major thematic exhibition on ecology in 2019 at the Garage, continues on the same theme the Tretyakov Gallery wi th Living Matter , taking inspiration from Russian scientist Vladimir Vernadsky (1863-1945), father of “biosphere”.
300 works by 55 artists from Russia, Denmark, Finland, but also from Japan and the United States are brought together in the exhibition which provide the opportunity to discover the specific productions of Russian artists such as Irina Korina , Anastasia Potemkina or Alexey Martins .

EARTH BEATS, the changing face of nature will open on October 9 at the Kuntshaus in Zurich, with 120 works by artists ranging from Ursula Biemann to Gustave Courbet.
It  retraces the evolution of our relationship with nature over two centuries, with a focus on ecological issues.

Whil st waiting for social and environmental movements to propose a post-carbon and post-patriarchal society, the oil industry is continuous ing its course and feed ing our global economy and movements, exacerbating global warming and plastic pollution. The Wolfsburg Art Museum in Germany has been exploring this “oil age” since September 4 th , from fascination about its benefits to amazement at its current consequences for the planet and humanity. The exhibition featuresthe iconic work denouncing climate skepticism,  Western Flag by John Gerrard (see the talk link )The name of the main sponsor , Volkswagen, raises a host of questions: greenwashing or awareness?

Next month, Impact Art News will travel across France to discover this equally remarkable artistic trend.


Alice Audouin 

October 2021


Exhibitions mentioned in the article:

Sensing Nature , Biennale Monumenta , Montreal, from September 8 to October 24, 2021

MOMENTA X MMFA: Anne Duk Hee Jordan, intimacy of the unknown , Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, from September 4, 2021 to January 2, 2022

Ecologies, A song for our planet , Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, from March 10, 2021 to February 27, 2022

Vienna Biennale for Change, PLANET LOVE. Climate Care in the Digital Age, Vienna, from 28 May to 3 October 2021

Berl-Berl , Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Halle am Berghain, Berlin, from 10 July to 26 September 2021

Solo Exhibition by Tomás Saraceno , Neugerriemschneider, Berlin, from September 17 to October 31, 2021

We do not all breathe the same air , Tomàs Saraceno , NeugerriemschneiderSeptember17to October 31,2021

Soothsayers , Julian Charrière, DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM, Berlin, Germany, from 15 September to 27 November 2021

States of Beeing , Rune Bosse, Gether contemporary, København, Denmark, from 20 august to 2 october 2021

RE , Sissel Tolaas, at the Astrup Fearnley Museet in Oslo in Sweden, from October 8, 2021 to December 12, 2021

“Exhuming the future” , Marteen Vanden Eynde, Mu.ZEE, Ostend, Belgium, from September 4, 2021 to January 16, 2022

Regenerative Visions , Manish Nai, The Dhan Mill, New Delhi, India, from September 19 to October 24, 2021

Mark Dion: The Sea Life of South Korea and Other Curious Tales , Barakat Contemporary, Seoul, from September 8 to November 7, 2021

Living Matter , Western Wing of the New Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, from September 4 to October 10, 2021

Oil, Beauty and Horror in the Petrol Age , Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany, from September 4, 2021 to January 9, 2022

EARTH BEATS | THE CHANGING FACE OF NATURE , Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland, from October 9, 2021 to February 6, 2022

Other exhibitions to discover:

ALGA , Tue Greenfort, Eres Foundation, Munich, Germany, from September 22, 2021 to January 29, 2022

Fresh Air , Fabrice Hyber, RX gallery, New-York, from September 2 to October 23, 2021

Liquid Life , Kistefos Museum, Norway, from 23 May to 17 October 2021

Our Plastic Ocean , Mandy Barker, Street level photoworks, Glasgow, Scotland, from 7 august to 10 october 2021

The Sowers , Fondation Thalie, Brussels, from 9 September to 21 November 2021

Sea Art Festival 2021: Non-/Human Assemblages , Busan, Korea, from 16 october to 14 november 2021

Art Encounters , Timisoara, Romania, from 1st october to 7 november 2021

The green path , Museum of fishery and shipbuilding of fishery boats in Perama, Athens, from 30 September to 19 November 2021

Tomás Saraceno: Event Horizon , Frederiksbergmuseerne, Copenhagen, Denmark, from 20 June 2021 to 30 November 2021

Credits: Exhibition Berl-Berl, Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Halle am Berghain, Berlin / / Anne Duk Hee Jordan, Staying with the Trouble, 2019, still from the video Exhibition Intimacy of Strangers / Intimacy of the Unknown, Museum of Fine Arts Arts de Montréal / CLIMATE CARE, Reimagining Shared Planetary Futures, Thomas Wrede, Rhonegletscher -Panorama II [Rhône Glacier Panorama II], 2018, Pigment print on fine art paper, 80×260 cm/120×390 cm, Courtesy Beck & Eggeling, © Thomas Wrede/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn / Rune Bosse, exhibition States of beeing, Gether contemporary, photo by David Stjernholm

Find all the articles from Impact Art News n°33 – September 2021

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