The start of October brings with it the opening – on Monday October 5th at 12:30 SLT – another provocative exhibition at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas.
Nitroglobus remains one of my most-visited (and most written about!) galleries because month in and mouth out, Dido encourages some of the most engaging artists to display their work there, and to do so within the frame of a theme she – or more usually the artist – has set. The result is that each most, Nitroglobus plays host to art that can provoke, evoke, emote, and engage on a level that I personally cannot help but find magnetic.
For October, the gallery is playing host to an installation put together by two artists working together under the banner of Dreamers & Co. They are Nette Reinoir (Jeanette Reinoir) – who is exhibiting her work within a gallery for the first time – and Livio Korobase, and they are supported in part by drawings from the portfolio of physical world Dutch artist, Redmer Hoekstra.
Entitled Animals on Earth, the installation is designed to encourage us to use this time of enforced pause in our lives courtesy of the SRS-COV-2 pandemic to consider what is happening to the world’s ecosystem – its flora and fauna – directly as a result of mankind’s impact on the planet.
Modern societies have been treating Mother Earth as if it was their property; extracting resources, polluting constantly, changing the landscape, killing the animals and destroying its natural balance.
Since the Industrial Revolution, humanity has killed 83% of all wild mammals and half of all the plants on Earth. Two hundred species of living beings are extincted every single day. We collectively need to change so many things in areas such as the use of plastic, meat consumption, contaminating energies, day-to-day overconsumption and more.
– Statement by the artists
Now to be sure, statistics and figures need context, and those relating to “daily” extinction rates can be called into question, as they tend to be inconsistent. For example, in 2015 the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment concluded that perhaps some 24 species of plant, insect and animal became extinct either regionally or globally every day – but the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity put the figure at “up to 150”, a far larger number, even allowing for the “up to”. Other models present further differing rates, and all appear to be distanced from the fact that historically, we have “only” seen around 800 global extinctions of animals (land, air and marine), during the last 400 years.
However, this does not negate Animals on Earth‘s thematic message. The current epoch – the Holocene – is regarded as encompassing the sixth mass extinction level event (ELE) this planet has seen, the Anthropocene extinction; and event that is still very much on-going, and potentially accelerating. It has its roots in natural climate change as the Pleistocene period, with its rolling waves of ice ages, gave way to the warmer, wetter Holocene period, leading to the extinction of many of the large mammalian species that had acclimatised to the cold, dry ice ages, and an a matching marine megafungal extinction event that brought an end to many marine reptiles and fish due to changing sea temperatures.
But this period of extinctions was influenced by another factor: the rise of humans as organised hunter-gatherers, which gave rise to the first wave of over-hunting, accelerating the demise of many species. It was the start of a trend of human intervention and meddling in Earth’s ecosystem that has continued throughout the Holocene period such that within a few thousands of years, humankind has had one of the most dramatic impacts the Earth’s biomass has witnessed.
From over-hunting, to disrupting natural environment as a result of increasing agricultural needs (notably livestock rearing) through to large-scale urban and other development and its associated infrastructure and waste, humans have significantly altered the world’s biomass in multiple ways, own of the biggest being the distribution of mammalian life on Earth, which in 2018 was shown to be 36% humans, 60% livestock (notably cattle and pigs) and just 4% wild animals (source: The biomass distribution on Earth, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). Nor does it end there; as the pre-eminent apex predator, human kind is regarded as a megahunter due to our predisposition to hunt and kill creatures pure for “sport” – an act that significantly increases the risk of regional (and even global) extinction of multiple species.
Thus, through our actions, we are directly responsible for continuing the Anthropocene extinction, and thanks to our broader impact on the climate, we are pretty much its primary driver. Our actions are bringing multiple species of fauna and flora and biota dangerous close to the edge of global extinction, we have irrefutably been responsible for many regional extinctions (rendering portions of the world and its oceans no longer habitable by species that once occupied them, even if those species survive to some degree elsewhere) over the last several decades.
It is all of this that Animals on Earth tries to encompass, and it tries to do so not by brow-beating with facts and figures or by doing so by being unduly heavy in its imagery, but by presenting us with images and models and interactive elements that in places fun (do make sure you kiss the frog) and which also serve to get the grey matter working, even if subconsciously.
Flow with the thoughts and you’ll discover nature illustrates the Creator’s powers, whoever he/she is. Most of us, however, fail to appreciate nature because we’re entangled in our fast-paced lives, and life’s problems cloud our minds from grasping its beauty and lessons. Climate change, overpopulation, pollution, unfettered urbanization, and wars cause disasters to the natural environment. Little wonder we see less of nature and more of guns, nukes, and bloodshed in our cities.
Statement by the artists
Rich in colour thanks to Nette’s images, and very interactive thanks to Livio’s models and scenery (be sure to mouse-over things carefully – even Redmer Hoekstra’s drawing are more than they seem – Animals on Earth encourages the visitor to consider Earth’s biodiversity as represented by the creatures with who we share the world, and presses us to imagine what life would be like in general terms were we to lose them.
With much to see and do – and to mull over / research – Animals on Earth officially opens to music by DJ Gorilla on Monday, October 5th, appropriately enough, and will remain open through the rest of October.
- Nitroglobus Roof Gallery (Sunshine Homestead, rated: Moderate)