Out of Harmony
As the primal creator, one could deem nature herself the world’s true artist. And ‘standing at the junction of art and nature are environmental artists, who are often balanced on an intermediary edge, searching and synthesizing creative, unimagined new ways to redefine our relationship with nature,’ writes art blogger Kimberley Mok.
Environmental art is as old as nature. Whenever artists painted onsite, they developed a deep connection with the surrounding environment and captured these close observations into their canvases. Just think Monet’s impressionist or Henri Rousseau‘s naive accounts of the environment. In the 1970s environmental art then turned into a movement, which critiqued a society out of harmony with the natural environment. This critique opposed outmoded sculpture with new site specific forms, such as Land art, an avant garde notion about sculpture, the landscape and our relationship with it. Land artists were not only portraying the landscape, but engaging it; their art was not simply of the environment, but in it as well. European sculptor Christo gave just one example, when he famously wrapped the coastline at Little Bay, south of Sydney, in 1969.
Home of the Yo-Yo
A long history of sculpture can also be found in Paete, province of Laguna, Philippines. The Wood Carving Capital of the Philippines is famous for its pag-ukit, described by Philippine National hero, José Rizal and now found all over the world, including sculptures in the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, or the modern yo-yo, believed to be invented in Paete.
Not a yo-yo, but a scene from the Philippine’s treasure trove of biodiversity, artist Yvette Co created from a storm struck 100 year old tree. As a representative of Southeast Asia’s biodiversity, just like Cristo’s coastline, the Narra tree itself turns into environmental art in a Philippine interpretation: A six 6 foot eagle in a lush and rich forest habitat, chases after a snake coiled on a trunk, preying on the eagle’s treasure, her one offspring. The scene, followed by a lizard and watched by a rat, shows the plentiful and delicate web of life, the spectator himself depends on. Who could articulate our out of tune relation with, and utter reliance on nature any purer than environmental art.
Executed by the Paete sculptors Roel Lazaro and Jerry Moralita the artwork is part of the exhibit ‘Carvings and Paintings to Save the Forest’. The exhibit is realized by the University of the Philippines and Yvette Co, who re-experienced her love for the science of agriculture and nature, and wants to reconnect people to it. Hosted by the Municipality of Los Banos, lead by its Mayor Cesar Perez and in collaboration with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), the event is suitably placed next to Mt. Makiling. The mountain is a vital habitat, harboring the rich biodiversity depicted in the artworks, and was thus inaugurated as the 33rd ASEAN Heritage Park, in October 2013. Administered by ACB, these parks are representatives of Southeast Asia’s ecosystems and an urgent contribution to the protection of its plentiful values: Its natural resources, we can eat, breath or drink. Its economic assets, we can sell or trade. And like environmental artist remind us, its pure esthetic values, we can simply enjoy and marvel.
The art exhibit will be on display from Nov 24 to Nov 30, 2013, at the bagong Los Banos (New) Municipal Atrium, at Anos , Los Banos. Viewing time is from 9 am top 5pm daily.