This time last year we presented AWARENESS: A Photographic Dialogue of Two Worlds on One Land, a collaborative project with photographer Paula Malinowska, which documented everyday interactions of humankind with nature.
We are returning to this project to celebrate its anniversary, to reflect upon it with fresh eyes, and to revisit the main questions we asked as part of the project. “Land-use ethics are still governed wholly by economic self-interest, just as social ethics were a century ago“ - was a notion taken from A. Leopold's book Should Trees Have Standing (1949) which formed the beginnings of this project: Why do we only protect the parts of the biota which we eat, sell, or use? Would it be so outlandish to consider the designation of rights to nature?
,,Awareness, in the context of this project as well as in the context of the climate crisis, refers to the notion of being informed in order to act more responsibly to our surroundings. The photos in this collaboration aimed to map the environment in which we live, and aimed to be a reflection of the dialogue between the land and humankind. Sadly most of these photos point to a not so well-balanced dialogue, but a monologue of humanity.
The work behind the project sought distinct scenarios which are constantly and repeatedly happening around us, that we're all a part of, whether consciously or unconsciously. Awareness did not aim to cast judgement or criticise, but rather to act as a mirror; to encourage one to consider their lifestyle, and their behaviour towards the environment. It aimed to encourage one to self-reflect. In hindsight I can see that Awareness was a stepping stone, a runway for my current work. In my last semester project titled Wunderbaum, I'm returning to the issue of the dialogue between human and nature. While Awareness acts as a mirror for the unconscious actions between the two, project Wunderbaum is itself the reflection. I wanted the project to be playful, ironic with a slight humorous undertone, though it is not meant to lessen the topic at all. I just feel, that environmentally themed topics are for some people annoying, and sometimes they just roll their eyes when the topic is raised. For that reason I wanted to relieve it, to attract attention and encourage reflection.''
Project Wunderbaum (Magic Tree) captures the dialogue between man and its surrounding. In the epoch of the Anthropocene, the epoch of significant human impact on Earth's geology and ecosystems, this dialogue has changed. It has turned into a monologue of man himself. The main idea of the project is the fact that the behaviour of man to nature is highly influenced by an economical prosperity, which leads to unlimited biologic exploitation. Land is something we grew up upon. Nowadays it looks like a wallpaper with a motive of nature and a fake lawn is enough for us.
“The superficial man of the present, who has lost his connection to the nature and landscape believes, that he has already figured out what is essential.”
Aldo Leopold, 1949
Since the Awareness exhibition, the climate crisis has only become a more and more pressing issue worldwide. The rise in climate-related disasters, and the indifference of governments, has begun to quake an intrigue in individuals to research and assess the impact we as a species are having on our world. We are drawn to see the impact we have on other wildlife’s habitats, and the possibility of losing our own.
There has been a rise in spokespeople for the issue, and a rise in cross-generational collaboration to attempt to reduce, and perhaps reverse, the impacts we have had on the climate, and to raise awareness for people to make collective changes in the right direction. For whilst we may as individuals attempt to be more sustainable, these issues are systemic and real change can only come from the collective power, intelligence, and willingness of humanity as a whole.
See Paula Malinowska's work on her instagram @pm.rasperry