Exhibition presents works that convey humanity's relationship with nature

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Exhibition presents works that convey humanity's relationship with nature
Jessica Houston (born in 1970), Ideas in Things (Antarctic Peninsula), from the series “Horizon Felt South,” 2018, ink-jet print, 4/5, 120.3 x 180.5 cm (sight). MMFA, Purchase, Hamelys Fund.

MONTREAL.- Ecological issues are of crucial importance in our era of climate upheaval, and it is only natural for contemporary artists to take up these topics in their practice and thinking. Presented at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the exhibition Ecologies: A Song for Our Planet includes installations, videos, sculptures, paintings, drawings and photographs that convey humanity’s relationship with nature. The nearly 90 works, which are being exhibited in rotation, mostly come from the MMFA’s collection and include recent acquisitions by Jocelyne Alloucherie, Shuvinai Ashoona, Olafur Eliasson, Charles Gagnon, Lorraine Gilbert, Jessica Houston, Isabelle Hayeur, Alec Lawson Tuckatuck, Lisette Lemieux, Monique Mongeau, Marie-Jeanne Musiol, Peter Qumaluk Itukalla, Claude Simard and Barbara Steinman.

Deforestation, melting ice caps, pollution, the overexploitation of natural resources, and disappearing plant and animal species are just some of the negative impacts of human activity on the climate and ecosystems. Accelerated by the Industrial Revolution, this activity has caused an unprecedented environmental crisis that affects all living things. Humanity’s destructive force is one of the central themes of this exhibition expressed through the works of such artists as Edward Burtynsky, Isabelle Hayeur and Robert Longo.

While the detrimental consequences of these insults are felt on every continent, it is the human populations living symbiotically with the natural world that are the most adversely affected. In Canada, as in other countries with a history of colonization, the occupation of ancestral lands and the exploitation of natural resources have had disastrous consequences on the environment and way of life of Indigenous peoples, issues that are conveyed by artists such as Adrian Stimson and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun.

Ecologies: A Song for Our Planet also includes sublime depictions of nature that offer a counterpoint to the alarming prospects sounded in the exhibition. The works of Andreas Feininger and Justine Kurland instill wonder before the beauty and power of the world, while those of Lorraine Gilbert and Jessica Houston imagine new worlds made better by human life, with landscapes of composite images or real scenes transformed by colour.

“The exhibition Ecologies: A Song for Our Planet stimulates contemplation on sustainable development and alternatives for a safer world, achieved through a more harmonious relationship between humankind and nature,” explained Iris Amizlev, Curator of Intercultural Arts at the MMFA.

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