WE ARE NATURE
“We often forget that WE ARE NATURE. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.” —Andy Goldsworthy
We are an inherent community connected and dependent on nature’s pulse. But due to human activity, global warming has been escalating the fastest it’s ever been in recorded history. Humans have become a force of nature that cannot be ignored, as the cause and effect of our own destiny. Resource depletion, extreme weather, land droughts, melting glaciers, species extinction—these events not only test the economy, but all systems of human society. We are seeing their ripple effects turn into crashing waves of consequence.
The most pressing issues we face today stem from the human hubris; we have assumed to be the "master of nature". We forget that humans and nature are an “entangled existence”, entwined in our woes and our joys, as we over-exploit and claim everything in nature for our own use. Nature and other non-human forces become arrogantly excluded from consideration of human actions. Nowadays, a difficult situation compels us to shift the dimension of anthropocentric thinking. If we remain immersed in an anthropocentric perspective, the diversity of nature's voices and these complex realities will undoubtedly be ignored, without taking into account the survival and rights of the "other". "The environment is alive, an ever-changing network of beings with their own purposes and interdependencies.” The consciousness of nature should be perceived and understood by human beings, because we share in its symbiogenesis, its worries, and its problems.
Before we can listen to the demands of nature, we need to know where we stand, what deep-rooted ideas we should leave behind, and how we should change our way of thinking. In "What is Nature", Ruth Wilson mentions that our existing definitions of nature lends the mistake of “[allowing] humans to view themselves as observers and explorers of the natural world, instead of being an integral part of it". There is clearly an inherent flaw in this antagonistic attitude, and it is urgent to overcome these isolating perspectives in order to truly realize the interdependence of human and nature. Only by understanding the fact that one needs to coexist with other animals, plants, and matter, can one truly listen to and respect all beings.
While it is true that both "human" and "non-human" are important subjects of action, human beings do not have the uniqueness of agency. The demands of the "non-human" may easily overlooked by anthropocentric subjectivities, but non-human agency cannot be underestimated. In the face of ecological crises, nature is telling us that ignoring it will lead to greater disasters—far beyond an individual life span. As people exploit and seize without restraint, nature is giving us its powerful, durational warning.
The precarious condition of our environment, this game of chess, concerns all living things. Our fates are bound to these all-altering phenomena, these asymmetrical encounters, and uncertain moments. In the face of climate crisis, WWF in China (headquartered in Switzerland) launches the China Climate Action Week Thematic Exhibition, inviting 15 pioneering artists from around the world to rethink their own dependence on nature, to examine the urgency of our global condition, and to explore how art practices can effectively participate in and contribute to climate action. With global focus on climate change, art can be a subversive tool to change people's perception and behavior towards climate change. Art as action—designed to make a statement, but becoming more.
China Climate Action Week Thematic Exhibition
Inter Art Center & Gallery
Organizer: World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
Official Advisor: Center for Environmental Education and Communications of Ministry of Ecology and Environment
Academic Advisor: Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA)
Robertina Šebjanič & Entangled Others (Sofia Crespo and Feileacan McCormick)
Su Yongjian & Ba Ruiyun