I was invited by the European Cultural Centre to participate in its TIME SPACE EXISTENCE exhibit in Venice, one of several concurrent international exhibits organized during the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, which I wrote about previously here and here.
Six of my wind energy photographs are on display on the second floor of the historic Palazzo Mora in Venice through November 25, 2018.
Grand merci à @CanadainItaly, @QuebecItalia_it, @StillworkGroup et #EuropeanCulturalCentre pour m'avoir parrainé pour l'exposition Time-Space-Existence, Palazzo Mora, à Venise en parallèle de la biennale d'architecture de Venise 2018, jusqu'à 25 nov 2018 https://t.co/Wd4qV7EhdB pic.twitter.com/vUOCLoFfE8
— Joan Sullivan (@CleanNergyPhoto) June 6, 2018
I am very pleased to reprint below the text from my Venice exhibit for members of our Artists and Climate Change community. The original text is published in the exhibit catalogue (pdf, page 308).
* * *
At the dawn of the Anthropocene, there is one constant: everything has changed.
Wise Man has changed. The pale blue dot has changed. The rules of the game have changed. Food/water/energy consumption have changed. Even our DNA has changed in response to all these changes.
Time is ticking… Are sapiens wise enough to halt the further destruction of the fragile ecosystems upon which their very existence depends?
I cling to the belief, with all my heart, that the answer to this question is yes. Perhaps we are not as wise as we think we are, but just wise enough to avoid irreversible climate change for generations, if not millennia, to come. Our clever brains have already designed a multitude of technological solutions to climate change. But we lack the political will to go to scale.
What is holding us back at this existential moment? How can we shift the global climate change conversation from despair to hope, from apathy to action?
I think the answer is right here in front of us, in this beautiful space, in this magical city of Venice. We need… artists!
Throughout history, artists have played pivotal roles challenging the status quo. From medieval court jesters to Lennon/Ono’s masterpiece Imagine, artists have cleverly disguised their lyrics and images as barbs that force our privileged overlords to recognize the truth.
As a photographer, I have found my artistic voice on the construction sites of utility-scale wind farms. Surrounded by heavy machinery, noise and dust, I seek moments of grace and timeless beauty. To me, an industrial wind turbine is not an electrified tower jarring the landscape. It is a beacon of hope, designed by sapiens, powered by nature. My intention is to seduce, to inspire others to visualize – to imagine – what a post-carbon world will look like.
In the past, it was imagination that propelled homo sapiens forward. In the future, it is imagination that will ensure our existence in a rapidly changing world.
It is urgent therefore, for artists and architects and all creative souls to take their rightful place at the table alongside scientists, engineers, city planners, journalists and politicians. Collectively, we must “imagine that which we know” according to the poet Shelley. Collectively, we must design a future of clean abundance and endless opportunity. Collectively, we must immediately start to build this future. A future that, according to architect Alice Guess, not only insures we will persist, but that persisting can be beautiful, comfortable, safe and functional.
The Holy Grail is within reach: a 100% post-carbon circular economy in our lifetimes. To get there, Wise Man needs to embrace the arts, culture and myth. If not, we will lose our humanity in the Human Age.
(Top and bottom photos by Joan Sullivan.)
This article is part of the Renewable Energy series.
Joan Sullivan is a Canadian renewable energy photographer. Since 2009, Joan has found her artistic voice on the construction sites of utility-scale wind and solar projects. Her goal is to help others visualize – to imagine – what a post-carbon world will look like. Joan is currently working on a photo book about Canada’s energy transition. She also collaborates with filmmakers on documentary films that explore the human side of the energy transition. Her renewable energy photographs have been exhibited in group shows in Canada, the UK and Italy. You can find Joan on Twitter and Instagram.
5 thoughts on “Designed by Sapiens, Powered by Wind”
Gorgeous photos and words, Joan!
Thanks Susan! I wanted to be sure that those who were not able to attend the Venice exhibition could read my artist’s statement. Looking forward to meeting you at our next retreat. Bonne guérisson!