The exhibition Among the Garbage and the Flowers brings together artists and scientists to question the imaginary divide between the urban and the wild, between anthropogenic and so-called "natural" landscapes.
The Art, Biodiversity and Climate (ABC) Network brings together members of the Flute & Bowl: Oxford Art and Science (coordinated by Anya Gleizer and Katja Lehmann), Oxford ONE network (coordinated by Tristram Walsh), the Biodiversity Network (coordinated by Cecile Girardin) and the Oxford Climate Research Network to bridge the gap that separates the Humanities (and, more specifically, the arts, music, performance and dance) from crucial research into conserving our planetary support systems. This network engages creative practitioners and researchers to build a new common imaginarium of the world as-it-could-be, transcending academic disciplinary boundaries and short-term political incentives.
The ABC Network will take over 6b Center of Contemporary Art - an ideal meeting point between urban wilderness and culture, an island oasis in the heart of the Seine - to explore which natural and cultural forces are shaping our collective future and where we can look for hope among the garbage and the flowers, in the much-anticipated run-up to the COP26 in Glasgow this year.
The Flute & Bowl is an international interdisciplinary collective of artists and researchers dedicated to creating and promoting artistic and ecological initiatives at the crossroads of art and science.
Among the Garbage and the Flowers is organised and curated by the founder and acting president of The Flute & Bowl, artist and researcher Anya Gleizer (University of Oxford), and the philosopher Pablo Fernandez Velasco (TCD, UCL).
The exhibition brings together the works of the artists Bridget Suart, Rowan Ireland, Eleanor Capstick, Georgia Crowther, James Scott, Calder Tsuyuki Tomlinson, Tegan O'Hara, Harrison Taylor, Crystal Ma, Katja Lehmann, Jinjoon Lee, Xia Zhi-Zhou, Alexandra Yakovleva, Ziyue Chen, Stephen Brennan, Catriona Gallagher, Filippo Fabbri, Lynn Hyeong, Sally Levell, Neeli Malik, Sarah Watkinson, Maya Adams, Antonia Jameson, Jenny Lines, Alice Hackney, Loveday Pride, Natalie Waller, Shanley McConnell, Anya Gleizer and Mark Haim.
Made in collaboration with the scientists Leonard Magerl, Hannah Nazri, Thea Stevens, Emily Seccombe, Rachel Qiu Kexin, Imogen Malpas, Amillin Hussain, Kate Cullen, Katja Lehmann, Hohee Cho, Dario Carloni, Samuel Gledhill, Rupert Stuart-Smith, Trisha Gopalakrishna, Oliver Tooth, Noam Vogt, William Sharkey, Kirsty Monaghan, Sophie Taylor, Rosalie Wright, Isabel Key, Constance McDermott.
With the support of the following Oxford labs and research groups: Oxford Net Zero, the Ecosystems Group, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science, the Physical Oceanography Group, the ECI Ecosystem Governance Programme, the Oxford Seascape Ecology Lab, the Advanced Functional Materials Research Unit and the Nature-based Solutions Initiative of the University of Oxford.
The exhibition Among the Garbage and the Flowers emerges primarily from creative process aligning the collaborations of the artists and scientists involved. The Flute & Bowl works through artist-scientist pairs, as well as 8 ABC Network artist-residency programmes organized in well-known Oxford University labs. TheABC Network ran conferences and creative workshops, talks and activities throughout the pandemic, to structure and facilitate communication between artists and scientists from different backgrounds. These meeting points allowed the work developed by each partnership to resonate through exchanges, discussions and moments of collective creation.
In collaboration, there is potential to connect not only artists and scientists, but also the different artistic and scientific disciplines they work within; a key approach to addressing the climate crisis in all its scope – as much social crisis as it is environmental. The artistic disciplines represented in the exhibition range from sculpture, VR, performance, writing, music composition and art-created-by-bacteria, while the research disciplines involved include biology, environmental science, engineering, physics, social science, finance, medicine, geography and chemistry, to name a few. This diversity allows researchers and artists to discover blind spots in their respective methodologies and epistemologies. It is in the plurality of action and thought that we can find collective solutions to our collective problems.
For curator Anya Gleizer, searching beyond our current dominant paradigm is essential to address ecological emergence: "faced with systems collapse – whether we’re talking collapsing ecosystems, or our own socio-cultural networks that they contain – we must work towards a radical reconfiguration of our relationship to the natural world, with wilderness. This wilderness is as much inside us as it is outside the borders of our urban spaces – we need to be careful where we look. When talking about biodiversity or sustainability, we’re talking about systems that can support difference – and often when we set out to measure difference, we use one rubric, one ruler – this is the limitation we are addressing with this exhibition. Art can act as a different kind of compass, flexible enough to embrace different, even divergent methods. Curious enough to question. Attentive enough to notice the contradictions. When we use art to interrogate the relationships between our cultures and natural systems, we start to lose that border that cleaves them apart. What we are left with is the nature of the relating – and that’s the space where action can occur.”
"This exhibition is, above all, a questioning of our paradigms," says Pablo Fernández, co-curator of the exhibition. "We want to assume that nature is what awaits us outside the city, that the urban and the wild are opposite entities such as cold and hot, day and night. Likewise with culture and nature, or the human and the natural world. Continuing to work within this binary is what has brought us to the crisis we face today.”
The group of artists and researchers brought together in this initiative collaborate to question our way of life here-and-now and to find alternative ways of coexisting with the more-than-human world of which we are a part.
The exhibition Among the Garbage and the Flowers is made possible thanks to the support of TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities), the Art, Biodiversity and Climate Network, The Flute&Bowl, Le 6b, la Ville de Saint Denis, Crous Culture, and St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace.
Anya Gleizer +44 (7) 378 325 033 firstname.lastname@example.org
Pablo Fernández Velasco +33 (0)769057401 email@example.com