Photos: Expressions of ecological grief around the world
Glacier funerals, reef grief song contests, art projects, memorials - around the world, as the climate crisis intensifies, communities are
Glacier funerals, reef grief song contests, art projects, memorials - around the world, as the climate crisis intensifies, communities are gathering to mourn the loss of natural formations, species, a landmark or a way of life. Take a look at some of the ways in which people are channeling their ecological sorrow and climate anxiety.
Herald / Harbinger is a permanent public art installation by Ben Rubin and Jer Thorp. It broadcasts the sounds of the Bow Glacier cracking and breaking 200 km away, to the centre of Calgary, one of Canada’s largest cities, almost in real time. The sounds and imagery shaped by data from a glacial observatory are broadcast through 16 speakers and seven LED arrays.(Brett Gilmour)
In Canberra, Australia, social practice artist Toni Hassan’s multimedia project Good Grief (2021) emerged as a response to the 2019 summer of bush fires, which was followed by a devastating hailstorm. It comprises interviews with women living in the city, on the impacts these events had had on their bodies and breath. The conversations were compiled as a book, Conversation Pieces; turned into video stories, a series of photographs, and acrylic paintings on recycled curtains. This one is titled Refuge.(Image Courtesy: Toni Hassan)
A sculpture of the gastric brooding frog, an Australian species that went extinct this century, by sculptor Tim Lees. The species had an astonishing lifecycle: The female would eat its eggs; the tadpole stage occurred in her gut. She would then “deliver” fully formed frogs from her mouth. “Medical researchers hoped the species would point the way to treating peptic ulcers, because for the duration of her ‘pregnancy’, the production of acid in the mother’s gut, necessary for digestion, ceased,” says Sebastian Brooke, director of Eden Portland, an underground memorial to lost species now being built in the UK.(Image Courtesy: Eden Portland)
In 2016, artist Tessa Miller organised a school trip to the Sigatoka sand dunes in Fiji, where sea turtles nest. There, students wrote affirmations on turtle shells made of cloth, committing to protect the region’s biodiversity. The event was organised as part of Remembrance Day for Lost Species, observed since 2011, with small, independent events held around the world around November 30. The idea for such a Day was conceived by a Brighton theatre group; it coincides roughly with the largely ineffective UN COP talks held each year.(Image Courtesy: Lost Species Day)
Above left and right, the view of the Basòdino glacier in Switzerland, in 2002 and 2021. A funeral for it was held in the latter year. It was declared dead after it was forced to retreat from over 1.5 of its 2 sq km area. Among those who attended the funeral were British author Nick Hunt, who wrote in a series of tweets: “After speeches from glaciologists and climate activists, around 200 people walked into the mountains. Each one carried a rock to build the cairn. The cairn was built, facing the glacier… I met an old woman who remembers the glacier in 1952, and a 17-year-old climate activist who knows the ice will all be gone before she’s 40… thanks to everyone who organised this strange, beautiful ceremony... and MIP (Melt in Peace) to Basòdino.”(Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons (L) and Nick Hunt)