August 14, 2014
Another interesting contemporary art photographer amongst the diverse 2014 Bowness Prize finalists is Claudia Terstappen whom I've posted on before in relation to her In the Shadow of Change exhibition at the Monash Gallery of Art, at Wheelers Hill, Melbourne, Australia.
That pictures in that exhibition were part of a vast archive of landscapes and places undergoing significant change. The picture in the 2014 Bowness Prize continues this as it is part of a series of Vanishing Landscapes and it alludes to the human influences on Australia’s natural environment and the prospect of impending change.
Claudia Terstappen, Bouldering, from Vanishing Landscapes, 2014, pigment ink-jet print
In her Artist's Statement Terstappen says that:
the small signs of human intervention often herald the beginning of larger changes that negatively impact on the ecological system. The small and secret paths of our childhood wilderness have been traded for dirt roads, bitumen and housing developments. Since European settlement, hundreds of species have gone extinct and it is likely that many more species will follow in the near future.
This is especially so with the impact of global warming on the Australian continent. According to the IPCC, the world has warmed by about 1C over the past century and will get even warmer – by between 0.3C and 4.8C – by 2100, based largely on the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
The Great Barrier Reef, for instance, is under pressure from the oceans warming due to climate change, pollution running off the land into the sea, coastal development and direct impacts such as fishing. Then we have the dredging near the reef for the expanded Abbot Point port, near the town of Bowen, will require five million tonnes of seabed to be dug up and dumped within the reef’s marine park. The latest healthcheck of the Great Barrier Reef shows the overall outlook is “poor”, and getting worse
Even though it is unlikely that global action will keep global temperature rises below 2 degrees in Australia the ethical dimensions of climate change have given way to the rhetoric of self-interest and economic rationality--- to focus on protecting Australia’s “international competitiveness”, “domestic economy” and limiting action to our “appropriate” or “full proportionate share” of any global mitigation effort. This form of economic rationality means inaction.
That then leaves us with aesthetic reason.