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The Anthropocene is here, and artworks may help us feel, understand and deal with it.

The world is changing around us in ways that are sometimes more, sometimes less evidence or explicit. Those changes are reflected in the term Anthropocene, a catch-all term used to indicate the transition from the stable climates that had nurtured most human experience, to a far more dynamic climate caused by global warming.

The complete entanglement of everything is a reflection on how this changing environment feels and is understood by artists, primarily fro Otepoit/Dunedin. The Anthropocene is irreversible but might be mitigated if we humans change the ways we generate and use energy, the waste we produce, and the ways we share resources. It is a time for mourning, and a time to pay attention to the non-human entities both living and inorganic that have been ignored as being irrelevant to human flourishing, but on which we depend entirely.

Whether explicit or implicitly, the artworks in this exhibition address the causes, the impacts and the ways forward even though they were made in the context of the artist’s everyday work rather than in the development of a theme. They reflect the shared concerns of the contemporary world. The themes of the Anthropocene are emergent: they are the felt life of the situation, held within artworks, because artworks hold the things we value and care about, and give us space and time to negotiate what we feel.


March 2021

Image credit: Jodie Gibson, © Dunedin School of Art, Otago Polytechnic, all rights reserved.