Practices of Sustainability

On Saturday, 19 July 2014 and Sunday, 20 July 2014, Dutch artist Sabine Bolk will present to the city of London her new public installations, Étude #1 and Étude #2.

On Saturday, 19 July, from 11am to 4pm, Étude #1 will consist of a series of sculptures occupying the pedestrian area of Blackfriars Bridge. In one of the noisiest and most heavily transited area of London, signs and symbols of British visual culture will be deployed to address issues of sustainability in the urban environment.

In the days before the unveiling of the installation, the artist will stage a ritual in the vicinity of the bridge, asking residents and passers by to share any object they want to offer, and inviting them to the unveiling of the sculptures on Saturday. 

The artist will work with the collected objects, and the community will be invited to participate by sharing memories and experiences on the social sustainability of such a transitory area, in the slowness and intensity of an art experience. The temporality of this work will address sustainability as a vulnerable concept, inviting people to reflect on the consequences of their actions on their own environment, and imagine a different experience of the metropolitan everyday. 

On Sunday, 20 July 2014, from 11am to 4pm, Sabine Bolk will present Étude #2, an invitation to non-human species to re-appropriate Victoria Park, an area of the city that is meant to be a free space for both animals and people. Étude #2 will invite people to re-think the visual culture of British rituals to inspire an alternative knowledge that may revitalise our relation with nature, and infuse in the community a different sensitivity towards sustainability. 

Mirroring the project on Blackfriars bridge, in the days before the unveiling of the installation, the artist will go from door to door in the surroundings of the park to ask residents for any organic material they would like to offer, while inviting them to the unveiling of the installation on Sunday. 
Combining the donated materials with birdseeds, the installation invites members of the community to share their thoughts if and when the birds interact with the sculptures, turning the project into an investigation of sustainability in everyday life.

Rituals address values that are contradictory, and meanings that are volatile and constantly negotiated. They offer an opportunity to see how society structures itself, and relates to its environment. Embodying sustainability as a contested concept, the curatorial research project Practices of Sustainability explores the potential of socially-engaged art practices for the amelioration of our relation with the social and natural environment. The project is part of Vanessa Saraceno’s practice-based Doctorate research Sustainability. A New Sensitivity in Contemporary Art at University of the Arts of London. 

Etude#1 and #2 have been generously supported by JAWS, Journal of Art Writing by Students.