Within the fine arts community, there’s an ongoing discussion about how best to engage the rest of the world in discussions about industry sustainability while also doing due diligence when it comes to global issues: border crises, climate change and the like. This Friday, students all across the nation will ditch school for the day in order to protest with the Youth Climate Strike, and the United Nation’s Climate Summit in New York City will be held on September 23rd. As the summer fades away, the change of season is being accompanied by the renewed sense that climate change is a problem that has to be attacked with vigorous energy. That’s part of the idea behind this year’s EXPO Chicago, which will run from September 19 to 22 featuring a roster of special projects that shine a spotlight on the climate crisis. That certainly includes what might be the most exciting exhibition, organized Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, called “The Coming World: Ecology as the New Politics 2030–2100.”
The Garage Museum is one of the key collaborators with the expo in 2019, marking the first time the institution will be exhibiting in the United States. Garage curator Ekaterina Lazareva will be in attendance, and will help facilitate the exhibition that includes contemporary artists Kim Abeles, Dan Perjovschi, Denis Sinyakov and Alexander Obrazumov. Additionally, Lazareva will appear on a panel about how art can inspire reckonings with climate change entitled “No Plan(et): Ecology as the New Politics 2030–2100” alongside Andrew Wetzler, the Nature Program director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“‘The Coming World’ coincided with a noticeable surge in interest in the ecological agenda in Russia,” Lazareva said in a press statement. “Today Russian art is waking up to ecological themes and, consequently, becoming a unique domain for discussion, experimentation and action. We are thrilled to showcase our exhibit on this global stage.”
The methods by which the artists will be demonstrating the effects of climate change are appropriately varied. Abeles, for example, will be showing a series of portraits that depict current political power players rendered in thick, toxic smog. “My artwork at EXPO represents the international nature of climate change,” Abeles told Observer via email. “It’s an issue that knows no boundaries or country lines. I hope my work will pressure world leaders to do their part to protect future generations.”
Conversely, Obrazumov’s offering has to do with the more quotidian waste produced in corporate offices. These differing artworks deftly point toward the insidious nature of climate change: the phenomenon is truly everywhere, manifesting on a large scale but due, at least in some part, to our most boring habits and in the vivid black clouds that creep through increasingly congested cities.