I created this piece 'thought bridge' during the high summer heat in southern Austria. Over a few days I sought out the cool and shade of the forest to work with my hands and a few simple tools to get to know the forest / myself more closely through its making.
Social Sculpture's expanded conception of art refers to connective aesthetics, of art being a connective practice, helping us to tune into deeper aspects of ourselves, of thought, ideas and also of the world around us. These ideas have helped me make sense of the art making process. I feel myself enter a different mode of being, engaged, focused, more fluid and reflective, attentive to inner senses, feelings and impulses and how they intertwine with the physicality of finding, collecting, placing and shaping of objects and the environment of the outer world. A deeper more intuitive intelligence begins to emerge to accompany the more assertive rational modes the world usually asks of me. I begin to feel closer to the forest around me and the forest more present in me. I can begin to wonder where I begin and the forest ends.
Zen Master Thich Naht Hahn, speaks of our need to go beyond talking about ‘the environment’ as this leads people to experience themselves and the earth as two separate entities. Social Sculpture, drawing on J.W von Goethe, considers that we need to develop 'new organs of perception' to help us understand ourselves and our world in a more connected way. It understands our imagination to be an ‘organ of perception’ and that if we can awaken our attention to it and find ways to cultivate it, we could come to know ourselves and our world in a new, more connected way.
The climate crisis is demanding we make some enormous changes to the way we act in the world. We need to really look deeply to consider where these changes need to be. The roots of the climate crisis spring from our very sense of separation from ‘our environment’, indeed from the very concept of ‘the environment’. This dualistic mode of thinking and its emphasis on rational thought, has disconnected us from ourselves, each other and the earth. We have an inner climate crisis that is intimately entwined with an outer climate crisis. If we do not attend to this ‘crisis in our perception’ as we go about responding to the screaming urgency of the changing biosphere, we may find we have no real solutions. We do indeed need 'system change not climate change' - but what does this really mean and how is our very thinking involved in creating the problem in ways we may not, from our cultures' more rational disconnected mode, have seen.
Endorsing the calls of Joseph Beuys, of the potential of art to transform society, I feel there is more at work in our urges to 'engage creatively' to the challenges of climate change than we may have at first considered. At work in the woods, and doing my best to awaken to the impulses of imagination, I find a warm comfortable familiarity, it is new, but not only and I am wondering how close this sense may be to how our ancestors may have felt living very closely, and connected, to the ecosystem that they were woven intimately into. Thought bridge has been an alchemical process, grown from these questionings of our disconnection and what may be involved in building bridges of connection once more.