Artists Respond at MCA San Diego

Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle. “Human Nature” project, 2007/08. Courtesy Artists Respond

Human/Nature: Artists Respond to a Changing Planet opened last week at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. The pioneering artist residency and collaborative exhibition project is the first of its kind to operate on a large scale to investigate the relationships between fragile natural environments and the human communities that depend upon them. Each of the eight participating artists took two trips (one in 2005 and a return in 2007/2008) to eight UNESCO World Heritage sites around the globe to create new work informed and inspired by their experiences in these diverse cultural and natural regions.

The exhibition at MCASD features new commissioned works by Mark Dion, Ann Hamilton, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Marcos Ramírez ERRE, Rigo 23, Dario Robleto, Diana Thater and Xu Bing. The artists’ personal site selections produced a range of engagement, such as Hamilton’s visit to the Galápagos, where she observed many of the animals for which the islands are known: land iguanas, finches, sea lions, and tortoises. The artist returned home thinking about such concepts as buoyancy and balance in relation to human life and natural landforms, concepts that go to the heart of Human/Nature. In response, Hamilton created a poetic text that inventories the animals and plants of the Galápagos, citing population figures and incorporating words from Charles Darwin’s famous texts about the islands. Local elementary schoolchildren recited the words from a boat circling the islands. The exhibition installation features video footage documenting the children’s performance and including images of a wavering horizon line shot from a camera suspended in water.

Other explorations include Mark Dion’s travels to the Komodo and Rinca islands inspired by a childhood fascination with the Komodo dragon and Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle to the Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaíno, where he was inspired to create an installation that emphasizes the natural beauty and ecological importance of the area in addition to raising awareness of the industrial development that threatens it.

For full project descriptions, visit the Artists Respond website.