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Here are some photos from the exhibition by the Multispecies Visionary Institute (MVI), spearheaded by my friend, the artist, researcher, and curator Sabina Sallis. The Weighing of the Heart was exhibited alongside her and other artists’ works at Gymnasium Gallery at Berwick, UK. Happy to have been part of a show with old Amazonian friends. Thank you MVI, Berwick Visual Arts, and to The Peace Studio for their support!

The Weighing of the Heart is a series that casts the ashes of the Australian bushfire crisis into human heart sculptures. 

I’m thrilled that the project gathered artists, poets, gardeners, and others together.

Click here for more information about MVI.

Images courtesy of Sabina Sallis

(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

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.