I’m stoked to contribute my first academic book chapter in Communicating in the Anthropocene: Intimate Relations” edited by Vail Fletcher and Alexa Dare. I’ve given the final chapter: Subversive Art: Communicating the Climate Crisis on a Planetary Scale, which details my art practice, specifically The Apocalypse Project body of work.

cover art by Nina and Sonya Montenegro from The Far Woods art house

The purpose of Communicating in the Anthropocene: Intimate Relations is to tell a different story about the world. Humans, especially those raised in Western traditions, have long told stories about themselves as individual protagonists who act with varying degrees of free will against a background of mute supporting characters and inert landscapes. Humans can be either saviors or destroyers, but our actions are explained and judged again and again as emanating from the individual. And yet, as the coronavirus pandemic has made clear, humans are unavoidably interconnected not only with other humans, but with nonhuman and more-than-human others with whom we share space and time. Why do so many of us humans avoid, deny, or resist a view of the world where our lives are made possible, maybe even made richer, through connection? In this volume, we suggest a view of communication as intimacy. We use this concept as a provocation for thinking about how we humans are in an always-already state of being-in-relation with other humans, nonhumans, and the land.

The book is edited by C. Vail Fletcher And Alexa M. Dare with contributions from Carol Adams; Paul Alberts; Katharina Alsen; Anne Armstrong; Joshua Trey Barnett; Christianna Bennett; Peggy Bowers; Suzanne Brant; Chelsea Call; Laura C Carlson; Patricia Castello Branco; Amal Dissanayaka; Marybeth Holleman; Jessica Holmes; Kathy Isaacson; Deepani Jayantha; Michaela Keeble; Marianne Krasny; Libby Lester; Todd Levasseur; Lyn Mcgaurr; S. Marek Muller; Anna Oehlkers; Peter Oehlkers; Elizabeth Oriel; Emily Plec; Joshua Potter; Paul Pulé; Jenny Rock; Madrone Kalil Schutten; Ellen Sima; Richard Stedman; Carie Steele; Mark Terry; Mariko Oyama Thomas; Keith Williams; Çağri Yilmaz and Catherine Sarah Young.

Order the book here.

It’s been a strange year yet I tried to make the most of it. Here is how my 2020 rolled:

• I did my lone residency outside Australia for Collaboratoire in the Philippine surfing capital of Siargao island for the Reimagining Sustainability module.

• Now in Sydney with a travel ban, I did residencies and fellowships online with the Space Art Summer School hosted by the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics, Saari Residence, and The Curator is the Weather with 68Art Institute Copenhagen.

• One of my short stories, “Good Harvest”, won first place at the Bright21st Stories of Inspiring Futures and Alternate Realities. I wrote for or was written about in the Culture360 magazine of the Asia-Europe Foundation and Tvergastein Interdisciplinary Journal of the Environment in Norway.

• “The Weighing of the Hearts” was exhibited at das weisse haus in Vienna and The Peace Studio in the US; and “The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store” continues its odyssey with the Victor Papanek retrospective in the Museum del Disseny in Barcelona, the Design Museum den Bosch in the Netherlands, and C-mine design centre in Belgium. 

• The year-long virtual program of the Obama Leaders Asia-Pacific with the Obama Foundation ensued, and I had a lot of fun running Supercharge art sessions with some  of the leaders’ communities and the children of some of my fellow Obama Leaders.

• I spoke in Speculative Futures Bangkok, Speculative Futures Sydney, inVivo Conference for Planetary Health, and the University of the Underground as one of their educators for their New Politics and Afrofuturisms program.

• I now speak better German and some basic Russian. I also learned some more making skills thanks to the immense patience of the UNSW Design Futures Lab. 

• I passed Year 1 of my PhD! Hurray!

If you’ve been a part of my year at all, thank you very much! I hope 2021 gives room for more ways to make art and connect with people and make the world better for everyone. See you all next year!

Earlier this month, the inaugural cohort of the Asia-Pacific Obama Leaders officially wrapped up its year-long program in a virtual celebration. It has been an amazing and humbling opportunity for an artist to be engaged with 199 fellow leaders in the region working on making the world a better place and I’m really excited for ways to be more engaged in the next year and beyond.

Get involved with the brilliant work of the Obama Foundation at http://www.obama.org

I’m honoured and excited to be one of the first residents at the Sydney Observatory. This is one of my favourite places in Sydney and I’m really happy to expand my practice here in 2021 for Australia’s winter season, as well as to meet all of my amazing co-residents. I think investigating the skies and space and making connections here on planet Earth is important for us to make better choices to preserve it. What a ray of hope for 2021. Ad astra!

Sydney Observatory Residents. Image: Ken Leanfore

From the Sydney Observatory website:

The Sydney Observatory Residency Program offers space in-kind at the Observatory and will see the selected residents collaborate with the Museum on projects that engage audiences with the Observatory’s disciplines, collection and program.

In its over 160 years, the Observatory has led many significant projects, including the creation of the colonies first meteorological records, the chartering of over 430,000 stars in the southern sky and has employed dozens of female ‘computers’ and scientists to measure the stars. Government Astronomers worked and lived in the building until 1982 when Sydney Observatory became part of the Powerhouse.

The 11 residents selected for the inaugural residency program in 2021 work across a diverse field of practices from astrophysics, science, philosophy and the environment to visual art and theatre:

  • Leading environmental historian Nancy Cushing will explore the working and social history of Sydney Observatory’s Time Ball, focusing on what it meant to the people to who managed it.
  • Artist and scenographer Elizabeth Gadsby, together with award-winning theatre and opera director Imara Savage and soprano and composer Jane Sheldon, will collaborate to create an audio-visual installation inspired by eyewitness accounts of solar eclipses authored by four women: astronomer Maria Mitchell, editor and observatory assistant Mabel Loomis Todd, and writers Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard.
  • Contemporary visual and contemporary artist Michaela Gleavewill create a new series of work inspired by the astronomical data in the Gaia and Hipparcos star catalogues.
  • Amala Groom, a Wiradyuri artist whose practice is informed and driven by First Nations methodologies, will engage with the Observatory’s collection of Time and Timekeeping to expand her research on the relationships between time as a western construct and Wiradyuri epistemologies.
  • Annie Grace Handmer, researcher at University of Sydney School of History and Philosophy of Science, and host of Space Junk podcast, will present a series of interviews with the team at the Observatory as a behind the scenes exploration into the collection and stories within the building.
  • Spanish-Australian astrophysicist and science communicator Dr Ángel R. López-Sánchez will create a body of images connecting the Observatory, the city, and the Sky through Astrophotography.
  • Astrophysicist Rami Mandow will further develop a community project SpaceAusScope, providing the tools for space enthusiasts to build their own backyard radio telescopes.
  • Award-winning poet Kate Rees aims to develop a language of the nocturne and night, inspired by the collection, history and sky views from the Observatory.
  • Chinese-Filipina award-winning artist, designer and writer Catherine Sarah Young will research into the archives to explore how rain was measured and historical references to extreme weather in Sydney, as part of her work exploring climate change and the environmental future.

Hello friends,

inVivo, a collaborative network for planetary health, is holding its 9th annual conference virtually from December 2-9. I’ve been invited to speak at Session 2 for a short talk on “The Artist as Rebel” and by artist, I mean all of us.

There is an opening keynote by Cornel West and keynote address by Deepak Chopra and lots of speakers from various disciplines. 

Register here: https://www.invivoplanet.com/registration.html

Full program here: https://www.invivoplanet.com/program.html

You can view my talk here.

Hope to see you! 😘

[Sydney & the Cloud] Stoked to be the finale of Speculative Futures Sydney this year! I talk imagination, design, and systems on December 8th, Tuesday, 6:30-8PM AEST. Registration needed here.

About this event:
How can we use art and design for systems change? In this interdisciplinary talk, the artist examines how human imagination can be used to examine, reflect, and change various societal systems particularly within the context of sustainability and regeneration. Through the lens of original artworks executed in various places worldwide, we will analyse how creativity may be “useful” in alleviating systems disturbances and redefining our relationship with the natural world. It includes insights on how art that subverts consumer-driven forms can be harnessed to create empathy about inaccessible topics, as well as how artistic collaborations with researchers, advocacy groups, and local communities can create discourse and instigate conversations about asking different questions about the climate crisis.

Agenda:
6:25 pm Virtual doors open
6:30 pm Talk beings (30-40 mins)
7:15 pm Q&A (15mins)
7:30 pm event ends

About Catherine Sarah Young
Catherine Sarah Young is a Chinese-Filipina award-winning interdisciplinary artist, designer, and writer who creates works that investigate nature, our role in nature, and the tensions between nature and technology. Trained in molecular biology, contemporary art, and interaction design, she has various artistic bodies of work which investigates climate change and our environmental futures (The Apocalypse Project), science and society (Wild Science), and Future Rx (sustainability and regeneration). She has an international exhibition, awards, and fellowship profile and works with scientists, industry, and communities, most recently in Berlin, Vienna, Beijing, and the Amazon rainforest. She writes science fiction and has been practicing taekwondo for more than twenty years. She is currently a Scientia PhD scholar at UNSW Art and Design working on climate change and sustainability and an Obama Leader for Asia-Pacific.

Update: View the talk on YouTube here.

The Weighing of the Heart” is currently on exhibition for the group exhibition “Stress Rehearsal” at das weisse haus in Vienna, one of my previous and favorite home cities! Thank you to The Peace Studio to which I first presented this work, curator-in-residence @malousolfjeld for her support, the UNSW Design Futures Lab , my accidental home for the past month, and my PhD supervisors!

The Weighing of the Heart

2020

Australian bushfire remains, resin

Human heart sculptures are cast out of ashes and other organic remains from the Australian bushfires. I reference the scene of the “Weighing of the Heart”, a spell in the Egyptian Book of the Dead in which the heart of Imhotep is weighed against a feather. If the heart fails to balance it will be eaten by the beast, Ammut, and Imhotep will be condemned. If the scales remain balanced, Imhotep enters the afterlife with the other blessed dead. In casting the ashes with resin, I arrest metabolism of the remains back into the soil, creating objects of memory in a political landscape that forgets the bushfire crisis periodically, only to remember them when the next bushfire crisis commences with greater intensity.

From the curatorial statement:

with Mohamed Allam, Will Benedict, Daniel Mølholt Bülow, Gillian Brett, Rah Eleh, Rachel Fäth, Line Finderup Jensen mit Adnan Popovič, Juri Schaden & Parastu Gharabaghi, Lola Gonzàlez, Hanna Husberg & Laura McLean, Mohammed Laouli, Yein Lee, Elisabeth Molin, Jean Painlevé, Oliver Ressler, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Catherine Sarah Young
curated by Malou Solfjeld (Curator in Residence 2020)

Exhibition duration: October 29 – December 12, 2020
Exhibition start: October 28, 2020, 4-9pm


Expressions of solidarity on balconies, grounded planes on international airfields, tales of a reviving non-human natural world – for many, the COVID-19 pandemic nurtures hopes for more communal, equal and caring futures. At the same time, however, the global health crisis gives reasons for more dystopian prospects of co-existence on this planet. Among other things, it further mobilises xenophobic sentiments and multiplies social inequalities. More so, it has thwarted the momentum of climate activism in the media to the extent that scholars like the French philosopher Bruno Latour have declared the pandemic a “dress rehearsal” for the exacerbating climate catastrophe ahead of us. 

Deliberately emphasising and yet not isolating ecological queries and concerns, the group exhibition “Stress Rehearsal” zooms into the abyss; into the bushfire in Australia, oil tanks sinking into the ocean, into the sea level rise on the Maldives and open landfills in Morocco. It brings together works by an international cohort of artists to critically reflect on the entanglements of the global pandemic, climate crisis, mass extinction, social inequality and turbo-capitalism. Gathering a hybridity of perspectives from the past, present and future, “Stress Rehearsal” collapses the linearity of time in order to activate our senses in the here and now. What is our individual as well as our collective responsibility towards more livable futures? What kind of new forms of agency do we need to craft in order to co-shape worlds-in-common – on- and offline, with the living and the non-living? 

The exhibition unpacks questions like these in three different sections; We created this beast (referring to Bram Ieven and Jan Overwijk’s eponymous text), The pandemic as a dress rehearsal (in line with Bruno Latour’s essay Is this a dress rehearsal?) and The pandemic is a portal (alluring to Arundhati Roy’s eponymous article). The latter division is conceived as a laboratory of sorts, an accumulating digital archive of links and texts, videos and images. It serves as a multi-vocal platform where artists, curators, scholars, activists and visitors alike are invited to contribute and negotiate visions and perspectives on how to live together otherwise. The show consciously hosts a majority of video works as a means to reflect on contemporary modes of perception and consumption. It has been developed by the curator Malou Solfjeld with the support of Alexandra Grausam, Aline Lenzhofer and Frederike Sperling from das weisse haus team.

Find the link to the exhibition here.

I’m excited to be selected as one of the educators of the New Politics and Afrofuturism programme of the University of the Underground and Magid Magid. The tuition free programme—which will run from 19th October 2020 to March 2021—is calling for Black Radical imagination and pop-culture as powerful vehicles for propelling progressive social justice narratives to mainstream audiences, with a focus on afrofuturism, black activism, climate justice along with political theory and practice.

From the programme:

As a part of the programme, Magid along with the selected students of 14 will work together on producing meaningful experiences and interventions answering: What would a world where both people and the planet thrive look like? What would the values, systems and culture of that world be? You can join the programme as a visiting participant by registering your interest anytime on hello@universityoftheunderground.org – we can than share the schedule with you. We would recommend a donation to our charity as a part of the online programme. Recommended donation is 5-10 euros a class and according to what you think you can afford. Your donation will go towards supporting the tuition-free programmes at the University of the Underground, and educators fees. We recommend 100-200 euros for a month access (or 10-15 lectures). Thank you. If you wish to donate: http://universityoftheunderground.org/donate

The University of the Underground is a free, pluralistic and transnational university with headquarters in Amsterdam and London- and actively working with both institutions and nightlife. As a charity, the hope of the University of the Underground is to bring generations together to democratise access to public institutions and trigger changes and critical reflections through the use of creative and experiential practices.

I will speak about my interdisciplinary art practice as well as run a workshop called “Rewriting the Problematic?: Counternarratives”.

Find the full faculty list here: http://universityoftheunderground.org/new-politics-afrofuturisms-programme

[COPENHAGEN] Stoked to hold a recorded Zoom conversation with Hugo Hopping of SixtyEight Art Institute for The Curator is the Weather, to which I was supposed to participate in person except that I am in Sydney and cannot leave because of the Australian travel ban. Gracias and tak for including me despite these challenging circumstances. Have fun, you all!

From the organisers:

THE CURATORIAL THING (4th Edition)

The Curator is the Weather
Organised by SixtyEight Art Institute
1 – 9 October, 2020

Evening Talk Series: 2, 6, 7, and 8 of October
From 18:00 to 21:00
Location: Gothersgade 140
At the Social Sciences Faculty Library of Copenhagen University

SixtyEight Art Institute is pleased to announce that our 2nd, 6th, 7th, and 8th of October Evening Lecture Programme is ready!

The Evening Lectures will be open to the (physical) public for free (observing the Covid-19 Danish Health Authority recommendations) and it will be streamed and made available online for 120 DKK/16 EUR. This fee helps cover our film production expenses and it gives access to all four days of Lectures to our (virtual) public from remote locations.

The Curatorial Thing, Evening Lecture Programme, will be inviting the voices of artists and curators who are bringing particular attention to issues such as climate change and new technologies that can contribute to a more nuanced understanding of how #art, #science, and #technology can approach the building of a future of mutual relations, taking into account the continual #evolution of human nature in and with the natural world after #climatechange.

The evening lectures will be held at the Social Sciences Faculty Library of Copenhagen University (Det Samfundsvidenskabelige Fakultetsbibliotek) at Gothersgade 140, 1123 Copenhagen next to the Botanical Gardens.

The Curatorial Thing (4th Edition) is being organised/led by Hugo Hopping and Christopher Sand-Iversen for SixtyEight Art Institute.

REGISTRATION is on EVENTBRITE

Registration for physical or ‘in-person’ attendance is free while live streaming is 120 DKK/16 EUR. But register and choose via this Eventbrite Link or in Bio:

https://www.eventbrite.dk/e/the-curatorial-thing-the-curator-is-the-weather-tickets-121918059197

See the full programme here: https://madmimi.com/p/7fbf411/ or on Eventbrite to access the presentation summaries. Looking forward to your participation and support.

I don’t know how I missed this, but one of our Supercharge art sessions is on the Obama Foundation Asia Pacific Leaders webpage together with the amazing activities of other leaders. Friends and colleagues in art, education, environment, and advocacy, I’m now taking expressions of interest for those who need free art classes for their communities. Open to everyone around the world, and anytime within 1PM-12AM AEST! ❤