"Not to preserve art but to use art to keep the image of the earth alive. " - states the introduction to the second floor of the exhibition After Nature at the New Museum. This gives me an intriguing thought of the future role art could and might play within the larger spectrum of things within cultural, social, global issues. Exploring this exhibition , After Nature, presented to me a conversation in which was being approached from many different "languages", but also in which the conversation was being directed towards a spectacle of sorts. The idea of the end of nature or say the possibilities of what could be after nature is, to me, what feeds this current or specific discussion of natural "realities."
The exhibition approaches many fantasy like scenarios of what our world(earth) could look like post a devastating or astronomic conclusion to nature a la "Mad Max". Key to the exhibition is the fantasy like approach to much of the work. The idea that we, as "self" directive creatures, can have the vast imagination and in a sense desire to construct fantasies of events and scenarios in which all we know to be is in danger of extinction or is extinct is fascinating. This brings me to think of how popular media, for the most part, addresses many issues of global destruction, killer viruses, massive killings, etc. We are fascinated by our decay. I'm just playing with thoughts here , but I am driven to think that the way we think about ourselves , our bodies, say that we are immortal, that we will decay, and that there is nothing we can do about it, may have some influence over the way we perceive the potential and realistic decay of our home, Earth. It's a far stretch but then again one to give thought to.
We nurture that which we feel needs help to grow. But we are asked to make decisions about pulling plugs when there is little or nothing that can be done. Why then are we fascinated with exploring, as in this exhibition, the potentials for an "after" when we still haven't reached a conclusive position with the prevention of any of these fantasies to become realities. The conversation does porduce a n awareness. It makes us think beyond a far and away issue and brings it home to something to think about today. But as the begining quote from the exhibition states, I believe art can begining to function as not only participator in larger conversations but as contributor.