Oxygen, with the subtitle The Suffocated Planet, is the title of a new installation by Terrygold, which officially opens at 13:30 SLT on Friday, January 25th. As with The Rusted Farm (read here for more) before it, it offers art with an ecological theme.
As with The Rusted Farm, Oxygen focuses on the myriad ways in which humans are systematically poisoning our own planet. But where the former dealt with the ruining of the world’s oceans and lands, Oxygen focuses on the manner in which we are slowly destroying the very air we breathe.
At its core, the installation provides a story, told it words and pictures, of a woman born in 2030, a time when the atmosphere has become so polluted people are unable to live outdoors without the aid of a respirator, which to her feels as suffocating as the deadly mix of gases in the unfiltered air. She longs to witness first had the world she has never known; a place where the sky was as blue as her eyes, and where plants and flower grow in abundance.
Her world appears to be that of underground habitation; a place of concrete walls, floors and ceilings, of passages and vast rows of tanks used to sustain our race. But even here the air is not fresh or clean, and the ever-present respirator imprisons her. There is only one place she can escape the cloying grasp of the mask, and then only briefly – and it brings forth all the longing she feels for the world that has passed, together with a renewed hated for the mask she’ll all-to-soon have to return to wearing.
My weekly hour in the municipal greenhouse is almost over; I’m already wearing my mask and in a little while I’ll be back into that fog. 59:55 … 56 … 57 … 58 … 59 it’s here. The Noise.
That “noise” is the sound of her own confined breathing, the beat of her own heart, reminders of her imprisonment.
Through the story, we follow her attempts to find peace, or rediscover all that humanity has lost. These attempts lead her to a truth: that nature is in fact stronger than we might think. While our own foolishness may bring about our own end, Nature herself will ultimately survive and recover, healing the wounds wrought by humanity in our foolishness.
Throughout the installation, the story is told through words seemingly painted on the walls of the drab halls of living spaces, and through self-portraits of Terrygold wearing the all-encompassing mask, a heavy, ugly affair. Through these images we witness her longing, her desires and ultimately, her discovery.
This tale is in many ways dark and sad; even the outcome is tinged with shadow as well as hope for the future or the natural world. However, the message is clear: should we not work with Nature, to cease our wilful destruction of environments, poisoning of water and polluting of the very air we breathe, in order to ensure the continuance all of this fragile ecosystem in which each and every one of us is born and depends upon? Or are we going to continue along a path in which, while it is true Nature through her hardiness will eventually survive and recover, will nevertheless leave humanity’s mark on the world akin to that of the dinosaurs, our passing marked only by the bones of our towns and cities?
- Oxygen: Solo Art (Casvian Caye, rated: Moderate)