Climate Warnings: The Power of Canadian Environmental Art, Literature and Creative Activism

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On March 2nd, Dr. Laura Moss gave a lecture, “Climate Warnings: The Power of Canadian Environmental Art, Literature, and Creative Activism,” as part of the 2022 University of British Columbia McLean Lecture series. As the climate crisis continues, many artists and writers have raised their voices for awareness, change, and justice. In this lecture, Professor Moss traced imagined representations of the wounded environment from historical contexts to the present in order to question the power and the limits of turning to art in a time of crisis. She focused on works that draw on physical materials from the land and water themselves as they write back to the changing environment.

Feature Image: “Nuit Blanche 2017″ by Viv Lynch is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. “Manitowapow, speaking to the moon” by Julie Nagam. “If you could speak to the watchful face of the moon, what would you say? In the wake of the current global climate crisis Nagam transmits warning beacons to signal and call out the state of today’s shifting environment. Complicity in contemporary issues and human mortality come to the forefront, recalling unclean drinking water, chemically-contaminated lakes, extractions of oil, metals, and gas, and the rapid melting of the polar ice caps. Presented as an audio-visual installation of media-based sculptural domes made from harvested willow saplings, these half-moon geoforms radiate and pulse from inside First Canadian Place. Projected on the wigwam-informed structures are depictions of landscapes both in their natural environment and altered states of industry and destruction caused by human impact. Recordings of ambient outdoor sounds linked to the land compliment the sculptures, creating a 360-degree experience. This installation expands Nagam’s media explorations with domes and a mediated experience of the land.”

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