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Fragile Earth: Seeds, Weeds, Plastic Crust

29 June to 29 September 2019

Image Credit: Climavore – On Tidal Zones, Cooking Sections 2017, Atlas Arts

Our summer exhibition presents artistic responses to current urgencies around ecological change. Fragile Earth: seeds, weeds, plastic crust includes an extensive public programme of thinking, making and exploring the Tees Valley with communities, artists and specialists.

The planet is made up of complex and co-dependent systems and the earth has lost half of its wildlife in the last 40 years[1]. Human activity has endangered, damaged and made extinct habitats, animals, plans and organisms. Oceans are swelling as polar ice melts; fresh water is shrinking; carbon-based energy sources are depleted and plastics are polluting our waterways.

Faced with this scale of destruction, Fragile Earth: seeds, weeds, plastic crust, considers what we can do. How do artists help us to visualize, feel and understand the scale of the problem and the need for change? How do art practices and projects set the tone for change in industrial, commercial and governmental behaviours? The exhibition presents existing works and the beginnings of new commissions that engage with the particularities of the Tees Valley.

Wayward design a portable garden to be used in locations across the Tees Valley, which connects with a set of display structures for the exhibition. London-based duo Cooking Sections continue their study of the area’s exploitation of natural resources throughout the exhibition and beyond. Artist Donna Kukama (based in Cape Town) spends an intensive period in Middlesbrough working with local communities to gather stories about migration that find form in a library of plants.

North East artist Laura Harrington is developing a new video work that traces the River Tees back to its source (co-commissioned with Tyneside Cinema). Work by Zina Saro-Wiwa (New York City, USA and Niger Delta region, Nigeria) shows the complex cultural, political, industrial and agricultural landscape of the Niger Delta region. Other artists include: Zheng Bo, David Lisser and Uriel Orlow.



[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/29/earth-lost-50-wildlife-in-40-years-wwf


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