June 17, 4-5PM AEST: How can art and science work together to contribute towards sustainability? I’m stoked to give a talk on The Creative Resistance: Art, Science, and Systems Change, and be on the panel on Arts-based Methods for Transformations 2021! I’ll be speaking about my art practice since 2013, and will focus on my PhD work here in Sydney. See you there!
About Transformations 2021: Enabling Positive Tipping Points in an Uncertain World
In 2020 a tipping point may have been crossed on how societies worldwide deal with multiple overlapping crises. On an unprecedented scale we see groups and communities mobilizing to re-imagine and transform the pre-pandemic systems which led to current vulnerabilities, risks, and unsustainable practices. This challenging but also fertile moment calls for urgent knowledge synthesis able to enact positivetipping points and tipping interventions towards new regenerative development trajectories.
Keynote speakers: Jessica Clark – Research affiliate at MIT Open Documentary Lab, publisher of Immerse.news
Kate Raworth – Co-founder of Doughnut Economics Action Lab
Ailton Krenak – Philosopher and indigenous movement leader of Krenak ethnicity, Brazil
Heila Lotz-Sisitka – Distinguished Professor at Rhodes University
Honored and happy to be part of this group exhibition:
From SixtyEight Art Institute:
Invitation to our next exhibit:
Memoirs of the Abyss: Three Ecologies and More
5 June – 7 August 2021
SixtyEight Art Institute is very pleased to be able to launch its new exhibition programme, Memoirs of Saturn, with the exhibition ‘Memoirs of the Abyss: Three Ecologies and More”, a group show curated by Malou Solfjeld. Challenging the common tendency to think of ‘infinity,’ limitlessly, the exhibition Memoirs of the Abyss aims to contribute to a ‘finite turn’ by moving away from the idea of endless abundance towards more sustainable forms of cohabitation with nonhumans and their ecosystems. In this way, the exhibition directly engages with the idea of re-imagining the concept of ‘prosperity’ that is central to the themes of the Memoirs of Saturn exhibition series, which this upcoming exhibit inaugurates.
Opening: Saturday 5 June, 13:00-17:00. Gothersgade 167, København K
Drinks will be served, featuring some special new wines among other offerings. We encourage you to come throughout the afternoon, giving time and space to others to enjoy the exhibition, which will be open to a restricted number of guests at a time.
Memoirs of the Abyss is a collaborative artistic and curatorial research project, which examines various ecosystems with a shared awareness of the entanglements of terra (Earth, Soil, Gaia) and territory. The structure of the project reflects this research approach and output, dividing the exhibition across SixtyEight’s own space and a number of events, where public projects will be made accessible in several locations around Copenhagen, while artworks central to the gestation of the project will be shown at SixtyEight’s space on Gothersgade 167.
Catherine Sarah Young Elena Lundqvist Ortíz Enar Dios Rodríguez Madeleine Andersson Signe Vad
Curated by Malou Solfjeld
ABOUT THE WORKS
The work of Enar de Dios Rodriguez focuses on how human actions change and radically alter ecosystems, often leading to invasive operations that destroy biodiversity. In her 2020 video piece Vestiges, the narrative follows the million-year journey of minerals as they become grains of sand. After water, sand is the material most extracted by humans — in 2014, humans consumed 40 billion tons of sand, which makes the artist speculate whether we might run out of sand before we run out of time. Her latest work, Liquid Ground, narrates humanity’s past, present and future underwater excursions, including the current mining of the seabed.The themes of the work will be articulated through a screening at Koncertkirken on 26 June, the church on Blågårds Plads, Nørrebro, followed by a “Samtalekøkken” in which the audience will have the chance to discuss the work with the artist, the curator and SixtyEight Art Institute, while enjoying a meal and natural wines. More info about this event to follow shortly.
Philippine artist Catherine Sarah Young’s work Arctic Ice Chess initiates dialogues about the geopolitical issues at stake in the ‘battle for the Arctic’. As the players discuss and play, the pieces — toy soldiers frozen in ice cubes — melt onto the board, which features a map of the Arctic and its indigenous peoples. The kings and queens are flagged as nations who have political, industrial and economic stakes in oil and shipping, and stand to gain from the melting ice and emerging maritime routes, whereas the pawns represent countries that will be affected by rising sea levels.Over the summer a chess tournament will take place alongside Copenhagen Harbour, in which invited players will discuss the causes and effects of melting ice in the Arctic, and related political and climatic issues. Exact times and dates will be announced during the exhibition period.
From these macro-political issues of climate change and national interests, Danish artist Elena Lundqvist Ortiz zooms in on the bodily and intimate yet universal abyss, which transforms women in all cultures and layers of society. The ongoing work Birth Within the Abyss is situated in the woods north of Copenhagen, and will be open for participants to take part in a creative and transformative process collectively created as a Summer Solstice Rebirth event on Sunday 20 June. Limited space means that interested participants are required to sign up here. First come, first served basis for this reservation. Participants will be invited to stay the night in the forest, where a shelter will host us.In SixtyEight’s front exhibition space on Gothersgade an open laboratory will be running, where material gathered through the curatorial research will be presented. Visitors are invited to reorganize the different elements presented on a wall-size investigation board, and add new inputs of their own.
In the back room, the exhibition becomes bodily, personal, and intimate, by touching upon global issues such as stress, (climate) anxiety and depression amongst humankind. Featured here are Signe Vad’s Death to the Death Starand Placenta Rug, and hearts cast in ashes from the Australian bushfires by Catherine Sarah Young – originally commissioned as peace offerings by The Peace Studio during lockdown. A cocoon-like hammock, a place of restitution and transformation, is accompanied by an open journal titled “Memoirs of the Abyss”. The journal begins with an essay called “Birth within the Abyss” byElena Lundqvist Ortiz, followed by thoughts from the past year about what has individually and collectively been ‘given birth to’, shared by each artist represented in the show, as well as some empty pages for visitors to write on.Finally, Madeleine Andersson’s video Dirty Fossil Fuel is hidden away to surprise visitors in a private space with its humorous yet deeply serious take on humanity’s drive to exploit the Earth’s resources. Find the darkroom and let the shame of excitement fill you. The seduction is explicit, dirty and driven by raw energies, revealing the human tendency and desire for short-sighted behavior and self-destruction.
Malou Solfjeld is an independent curator based in Copenhagen. For three years she ran the residency program and curated a number of exhibitions at CCA Andratx, Mallorca. Her curatorial research interest centres on sustainability, climate, care and ecological concerns. She holds an MA in Art History from the University of Copenhagen, and also studied Neuro-aesthetics at the University of Bergen, Norway.
Catherine Sarah Young holds an MFA in Interaction Design from the School of Visual Arts, New York. She has also studied at the Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University, New York and holds a BSc in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from the University of the Philippines, Manila. She is currently resident at the Sydney Observatory, Australia.
Elena Lundqvist Ortiz holds an MA in Modern Culture from the University of Copenhagen with a specialisation in gender studies and hydrofeminism, and a BA in Art History. She is a member of the Earth Weavers community and the Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology. As a curator she has developed various platforms, previously The Syndicate of Creatures with Signe Vad and Astrid Wang, Hydra with the Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology.
Enar de Dios Rodriguez holds an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. In 2020 her work Vestiges (an archipelago) was celebrated at the PLJ Film Festival in Sarajevo and later in Vienna at This Human World. She is currently in residence at the Laboral Centro de Arte in Giron, Spain, where she will present her Liquid Ground project as a large scale solo exhibition by the end of June 2021.
Madeleine Andersson is an MFA student at The Royal Academy of Art, Copenhagen, and holds a BFA from Konstfack, Stockholm. Through humorous, often self-deprecating video installations, she seeks to highlight the emotions and relations that entangle western European lifestyle and climate change. She investigates this mainly through language and performance, aiming to twist and contort the rhetoric of climate discourse to find its limitations and possibilities.
Signe Vad holds an MFA from the School of Photography, University of Gothenburg. She has been active in self-organizing numerous exhibitions spaces and projects on the Copenhagen art scene for many years. She is currently working on the project Office of Emergency, an activist and collaborative project, which addresses the biodiversity and climate crisis, approaching the future as a soon to-be situation, and the human race as a part of the common biodiversity (www.ooe.zone).
Our Entangled Future, a climate fiction anthology of inspiring and hopeful stories, will have two virtual readings this month. I will be reading my olfactory story, The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store, for the second event. The series is hosted by cCHANGE Transformation in a Changing Climate and AdaptationConnects at the Department of Human Geography of the University of Oslo. Come spritz your favorite scent while I read you my story!
Series 1: 9:00 -10.30am CEST, Thursday 13 May 2021 (5-6:30PM Sydney) Series 2: 9:00 -10.30am CEST, Friday 21 May 2021 (5-6:30PM Sydney)
I’m stoked to be interviewed by Jo of Occupational Hazards! Thank you for having me!
• • • • • • Catherine Sarah Young is an award-winning artist, designer, and writer. She uses her background in molecular biology, fine art, and interaction design to create interdisciplinary, experimental artworks on the environment.
We discuss her unique approach to climate change awareness, including taking inspiration from the Egyptian Book of the Dead to produce art on the Australian bushfire crisis, as well as creating perfume and sewer soap to make the effects of climate change more tangible (because, as she points out, we all have “dying polar bear fatigue”).
Cat has collaborated with researchers, industry, and non-profit organizations all over the world. She is currently a Scientia scholar at UNSW Sydney working on climate change and sustainability, an Obama Leader for Asia-Pacific, and part of Team HB6 of @homewardboundprojects for Antarctica (100 women with a background in STEMM – science, tech, engineering, math, and medicine).
Despite the international acclaim she has received, she places more value on “milestones of resilience” and incremental improvement, drawing from her taekwondo training (she’s a second-degree black belt) to impart life lessons.
This episode is dedicated to all the interdisciplinary thinkers, martial artists, anyone trying to approach a problem from a creative new angle, as well as everyone going through the process of “unlearning.”
OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS is a series of candid conversations with inspiring people as they share their path to finding their calling and all the gritty realities of their jobs. Whether you want to demystify your dream job or get a peek into other people’s work lives, then this is the podcast for you.
Available via the link in bio, Apple, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts.
Happy 75th anniversary to the Fulbright Program! I remember my time as a Fulbright scholar at the Interaction Design program of the School of Visual Arts in New York City from 2010-2012, where I explored my multi-hyphenate path art, science and design path with some wonderful mentors and colleagues. Almost a decade later, the projects I did as an MFA student remain the foundation of my art practice today. It was an honour to turn all my thesis projects into TEDx talks I delivered at Yale. Living in New York was one of my most memorable times, including my interning at the American Museum of Natural History, reading poetry at the Bowery Poetry Club, training for my first degree black belt in taekwondo, and giving my first (very nervous) talks. Capping my experience was graduating from Radio City Music Hall with Laurie Anderson as our keynote speaker. Living in NYC was life-changing—it supercharged my resilience and skills in working with others from diverse backgrounds. These were some of the best two years of my life that launched a lifetime goal of pursuing art, design, and research to address planetary issues and positive change.
The Fulbright Program now operates in 160 countries and has provided over 400,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds and in all fields the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to complex global challenges. Learn more about the world-changing work of the program at Fulbright75.org.
It just got real for #TeamHB6! I can’t wait to be your artist at Antarctica!
From Homeward Bound:
“What better day to introduce to the world the amazing cohort of women that make up Homeward Bound’s 6th cohort? Happy #InternationalDayofWomenInScienceand Welcome #TeamHB6! This inspiring group of women are all at different stages of their careers, they work across a huge range STEMM disciplines, and are spread across the globe, but they all understand the need for more women at the table.”
One of my wonderful PhD supervisors here in Sydney asked me a bunch of questions about what martial arts to get her kids to learn and suggested it would be helpful to get all my comments in one post so here I go:
I’ve trained in taekwondo for more than twenty years in various countries and was taught by over 40 coaches (only two were female) with some former Olympians / Asian Games / ASEAN Games medallists and military guys. If I had a favorite part, it was poomsae (forms / patterns that simulate a fight) and all the kicking drills. I never competed despite some cajoling by some coaches because I felt like I already have to compete so much at work with all these art fellowships and competitions that I just wanted something for myself. I picked taekwondo because it was one of the most available and standardised, so wherever I am in the world, there would be a dojang to train in. I don’t think there is a “best” martial art despite what some people say. I have nothing against any of them and just stuck with one as you gotta commit so you can progress in your skills. I think having a good coach that instills the right values and proper skills in you as well as training consistently are the most important things.
Here are the martial arts I’ve tried:
• Taekwondo (mostly kicks) / Hapkido (a bit of everything, including traditional weapons…I find this to be one of the more balanced martial arts) / Karate (mostly striking) / Kung fu or wushu (training methods inspired by old Chinese philosophies; a lot of animal mimicry and traditional weapons) / Aikido (self-defense that also protects the attackers from injury) —These are all great and usually easy to find a gym to train in if you’re in a major city.
• Kendo (swords) and capoeira (There’s singing and musical instruments which hits my Filipino side, and I find that capoeristas tend to be the friendliest and most socially well-adjusted martial artists.) — These are great, too, though I have a harder time finding studios and may try them out if I find one nearby.
• Judo has a lot of flipping and jujitsu a lot of grappling and I’m not so keen on these as I don’t like the idea of my head hitting the mat or touching a bunch of sweaty guys, but go for it if it’s your thing.
• I’m also throwing in Eskrima/Kali/Arnis/Silat and other Southeast Asian martial arts as someone who did some of these for gym class growing up, though these are more niche and I recommend these for older kids. I sometimes do arnis and capoeira to cross-train with taekwondo. I like giving arnis sticks to my taekwondo coaches as goodbye presents, too.
I personally recommend any of the martial arts with a strong belt system—these develop discipline and perseverance in kids because they know they have to go through a certain training period before progressing to the next step which is a great metaphor for life. Many coaches will incorporate some lessons from other martial arts; for example, I often trained hapkido self-defense moves in taekwondo. Some people think martial arts are not practical but these are about self-control and not getting into a fight to begin with. Most of the deadliest people I know are the most zen and have the highest emotional intelligence and empathy.
For me, the location of the studio was very important because it meant I could train more consistently. The dojang I got my first degree black belt in was three blocks away from design school in New York and the one I got my second degree black belt was six doors down from my first art residency in Seoul so I trained almost everyday. I don’t think being a black belt is the end of anything or that I’m the best at anything, but it does signal some level of competency and more importantly, a sense of transcendence and the beginning of something bigger.
Over the years I’ve seen that many people (myself included) get into martial arts because of problems—either external ones such as issues at work or school or in relationships, or internal ones such as behavioral issues and anger problems, etc. Martial arts is great because you learn to take hits and keep going despite setbacks, and most importantly, to learn and master oneself. I’ve had depression twice as an adult and taekwondo was the one of the things that pulled me from the abyss. I knew growth was happening when instead of bringing my depression to training, I ended up bringing what I learned in martial arts to the real world, and now I feel like I can take on anything. As a woman who’s more on the femme side and seems too happy in training (nothing makes me happier than the sound of my foot hitting a kickpad), no one is more shocked that I “graduated” than me, but that’s just because I kept at it and didn’t see the black belt as the end. (On a side note, never ask “How long does it take to get a black belt?” to a coach. It irritates the beejezus out of them and from what I’ve seen, those were my classmates who usually don’t achieve it because they never stuck around long enough and were too impatient.) It took me 13 years to get my black belt because I travelled a lot and had to unlearn some things from the previous studio, and so on.
While the coaches are obviously important, I also don’t want to place excessive value on them, as I would learn later on as an adult. The guru-fication of masters (hello Cobra Kai) feels like how Gwyneth Paltrow gooped yoga; the best coaches I’ve had taught me to be self-reliant and resilient even when I left the studio and the country.
I think the best thing about martial arts is traning a sense of responsibility for yourself and for others, and knowing that everything in life is part of your overall training to be a good human. You know when you’ve progressed a bit when you’re assigned to teach someone who is new to class, and some of the most humbling moments I’ve had were having to help teach kids with behavioral issues, or in one class, a mom and her young son who were a survivors of domestic violence.
As a kid, I had some romanticised notion where I thought of martial artists as the most well-rounded people in society (i.e. not just kick-smart, but also book-smart and current events-smart). We do not live in an ideal world and so while I love taekwondo to bits there have been not-so-happy times, such as being around the dumb jock and/or sexist archetypes, those who turned out to be conspiracy theorists (LOL), and a mild sexual harassment case nine years ago in New York that was quite traumatising and gave me PTSD for years afterward and almost made me give up the sport. I think this is partly an effect of the extreme commercialisation of martial arts (and everything else in our neoliberal world) that prioritises belt progress and competition above overall character development and education; I imagine there are academic papers out there that write about athletes’ bodies being used for political gains in events like the Olympics only to toss them aside once they’ve earned their medals, for example. But it has brought me some of my best friends in the world; a sixth sense of showing up, following through and finishing what I started; and I think this has protected me as a woman in the art world (and any world) especially as someone who has lived and worked in many countries in challenging situations. I have never had to hurt anyone and I hope I never have to, and that’s when you know your training worked.
Some other things to think about when finding a gym/studio/dojo/dojang:
• Coach – Obviously they must keep students safe, train them with honor, start and end class on time, etc. I like the studios with assistant coaches especially if the class Is large.
• Culture – Some studios are designed to get students to compete and rack up medals, while some are mainly for fitness. I am an old lady and choose the latter.
• Alignment with the international governing body (e.g. World Taekwondo, World Karate Federation, etc.) as these are how they standardize the curriculum so you know it’s legit. If you or your kid transfers to another studio then at least you’re not starting entirely from scratch.
• Practical things like equipment and uniforms and whether you have the budget to buy and maintain them
One can debate forever as to which martial art is the best one for you and your kid, but I think the most important thing after trying some classes and narrowing your choices is to begin. The second most important thing is to see it to the end and get your black belt. The third most important thing is to keep going even after. Now isn’t that what we must do in life as well?
I hope this helps! Get your kids (or yourself) into martial arts!