Currently on view at Pratt Manhattan Gallery, Amazonia explores some of the key themes of the 21st century. This group exhibition encompasses more than the usual ecological art-based project, mainly focused on climate change and the fate of the earth and its inhabitants; both leitmotifs are subtexts for this project, but not its primary emphasis. Amazonia aims to build on the premise that environmental problems require analysis in cultural as well as scientific terms, because a contemporary outcome of this kind of investigation requires both: ecological knowledge and its cultural articulation. The Amazon rainforest territory is losing a generation of native leaders due to agricultural invasion, lack of health care, and fires programmed to expropriate the land.
Amazonia features the exceptional work of 11 international artists: Javier Andrada, Claudia Andujar, Barbara Brändli, Federico Guzmán and Andrés Corredor, KIMIKA, Margaret Mee / Malu De Martino, Susana Mejía, Simone Michelin, João Musa, pablo sanz, and Sergio Vega. These artists employ mixed media and documentary practices to explore the multifaceted narratives of the Amazon, encompassing ecological, tribal, journalistic, and spiritual perspectives.
For curator Berta Sichel and Assistant Curator Patricia Capa, much of the conceptual and theoretical framework of this project comes from Greg Garrard’s book Ecocriticism, a critical survey of divergent “positions” within current thinking about the natural environment. A senior lecturer in English Literature at Bath Spa University in the UK, Garrard examines several key analogies governing ecocritical practice, such as the wilderness, animals, native forest-dwellers, and the apocalypse: “the Earth” and its future(s). These are crucial subjects for the ample field of cultural studies.
As in Garrard’s book, this exhibition touches on several themes, but all of the works included are centered on the Amazonian rainforest, its native societies, and ecologies. The variety of approaches within the conceptual framework is intended to make a vibrant exhibition, rich with a plurality of artistic languages among works created from the 70s to the present. Amazonia assembles a lively group of creative people and nearly 50 years of artwork into a narrative. In doing so, the exhibition attempts to offer a new discourse addressing “wild geography” — a term used by Garrard — to discuss climate changes in a highly technological society.
Amazonia remains on view through December 9. Pratt Manhattan Gallery is located at 144 West 14th Street in New York City. Pratt Manhattan Gallery is free and open to the public.
To learn more, visit pratt.edu.