If San Diego’s sunny disposition isn’t enough reason to migrate there this winter, then the city’s Human/Nature: Artists Respond To A Changing Planet exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art is certainly a special, added draw.
The show gathers the work of eight international artists, each commissioned to respond to one of eight UNESCO World Heritage Natural Sites around the globe. The artists (Rigo 23, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Diana Thater, Ann Hamilton, Mark Dion, Xu Bing, Marcos Ramírez ERRE, and Dario Robleto) take their inspiration from destinations as far afield as the Galápagos Islands (Ecuador), Komodo National Park (Indonesia), and Mount Kenya National Park (Kenya) to produce an eclectic array of artworks dedicated to habitats and human societies in flux. Each has highlighted the delicate relationship between precarious natural treasures and their human populations.
The far-ranging reflections of Human/Nature come together as evocations of the theme of preservation. All of the artists have considered how we remember, that is to say, essentially how it is that we conserve. In contemplating preservation, the artists have gathered various kinds of remnants that document life experiences – including the bones and hair of extinct animal species and the audible and imagined sounds of animals, glaciers, and struggling humans. They have also created storehouses that preserve these memories – among them, display cases, glass beakers, house windows, and even a mobile library.
Probing the fragile balance between sustaining people and natural environments, the exhibition suggests the possibility of a unified, symbiotic, and sustainable relationship between “Human” and “Nature”. Both the planet and a human can either sing in harmony or cry out.
The exhibition is on view at MCASD until February 1, 2009 and was organized by the museum in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA), and the conservation organization Rare.
All photographs by Pablo Mason