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(Paris and digital) I’m happy to contribute a heart to C40 Cities for their digital campaign, A Letter to Nature. C40 is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change.

The Weighing of the Heart is a sculptural series where I cast human heart sculptures out of the ashes of The Australian bushfires. I’ve been doing this since 2020 after the 2019-2020 Black Summer.

C40 support cities to collaborate effectively, share knowledge, and drive meaningful, measurable, and sustainable action on climate change.

From C40:

C40 has teamed up with a collective of incredible artists who have unique visions of the world they want to live in. Their art challenges us to imagine a future where people and biodiversity thrive, and cities are more resilient and equitable.

C40 has teamed up with a collective of incredible artists who have unique visions of the world they want to live in. Their art challenges us to imagine a future where people and biodiversity thrive, and cities are more resilient and equitable.

The third artist in this series is Catherine Sarah Young. Catherine’s piece ‘The Weighing of the Heart’ casts ashes from the devastating Australian wildfires of 2020 into a heart-shaped sculpture. This video features the sculpture on a background of illustrations by Catherine, that represent hope and recovery.

Catherine said: “The casting of the ashes allowed for the creation of permanent sculptures and removes them from the processes in their landscapes, resulting in art that registers the effects of climate change.

“In this image, the sculptures are made from matter in a real-world catastrophe, but the illustrations arise from my imagination and stems from hope that we can rise above this and repair our relationship with the planet.” 

About the artist: Catherine Sarah Young uses her background in molecular biology and collaborations with scientists to produce innovative, interdisciplinary and experimental artworks that explore our natural world and environment.

I will be presenting The Weighing of the Hearts and Burned Lines for ASLE-USA’s Emergence/y Conference in a few weeks!

The Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE) seeks to inspire and promote intellectual work in the environmental humanities and arts.

The Weighing of the Heart is a sculptural series where I cast the residues of the bushfires into human hearts.

Burned Lines is a series where I rewrite climate change denier text addressed to me using ink made from the ashes of the bushfires.

Register at http://www.asle.org

I’m stoked to present my Burned Lines project in an academic conference next week for Re-MEDIAting the Wild: The 16th Conference on Communication and Environment. 

Burned Lines is an art project where I rewrite my hate mail, tweets, and press from climate change deniers using ink made from the ashes of the Australian bushfires. 

Register here: https://theieca.org/conference/coce-2021-online

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.

(USA and International)—The Peace Studio supports, trains, and unites the next generation of artists, journalists and storytellers to inspire people everywhere to become active peacebuilders. Earlier this year, they began commissioning creatives to generate peace offerings in response to the isolating COVID-19 pandemic in their 100 Offerings of Peace Campaign. I’m stoked to have contributed to this awesome and necessary campaign on Day 23; my piece is about the Australian bushfire crisis.

Human hearts cast out of resin, bushfire ash, soil, stones, flowers, etc.

“I moved to Australia in September 2019, and what I viewed initially as a move to a country that was relatively safe from climate catastrophes quickly turned into a move to ground zero because of the bushfire crisis. I decided to use the ashes to create art as a way forward for healing and regeneration. I reference the scene of the “Weighing of the Hearts” of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, in which the dead person’s heart is weighed against a feather. This peace offering asks us, what weighs our hearts down or makes them lighter?”

“One day I woke up and a piece of the planet was in my heart,” is how my art/sci/nature/sci-fi video offering starts. Check out the video here: https://thepeacestudio.org/day-23/

The Peace Studio is co-founded by Dr. Maya Soetoro, also consultant to the Obama Foundation and whom we in the Obama Leaders: Asia-Pacific cohort have the honor of being with. Let’s do what Yo-yo Ma (Day 25) says and to create art and post it online with the hashtag #OfferPeace. Please support their wonderful work on @the_peace_studio and www.thepeacestudio.org.