We’re not getting out of here alive OR The Land Show
Max Bellamy, Kate Belton, Mark Bolland, Sophie Jerram, Mizuho Nishioka, Karim Sahai, Johnathon Titheridge, Sebastian Warne and Jane Zusters, curated by Jamie Hanton
We're not getting out of here alive OR The Land Show is a group exhibition with two titles. While one gestures towards a vague and seemingly hyperbolic threat concerning human extinction, the other is simply a prosaic evaluation of the content of the exhibition. The two are, of course, closely related. The exhibition draws on Timothy Morton’s contention in Ecology without Nature that:
“Nobody likes it when you mention the unconscious... because when you mention it, it becomes conscious. In the same way, when you mention the environment, you bring it into the foreground. In other words, it stops being the environment. It stops being That Thing Over There that surrounds and sustains us. When you think about where your waste goes, your world starts to shrink.” (Ecology without Nature, Harvard University Press, 2006, p.1)
In this respect, the work selected for the exhibition is more about the way we perceive, discuss, and record our relations with the land than the land itself. Our daily consumption of images of land - whether it is a picturesque landscape in a tourism advertisement, or a dramatic image of the aggressive power of land in a news report - is marked by the passive positioning of the spectacle and viewer. Visual art is often as guilty of pandering to a never sated nature fetish. The work in We’re not getting out of here alive OR The Land Show, however, explores the tension between this static appreciation of the land and a more active / social involvement with ecological activism.
By highlighting the drastic and irreversible actions others have taken in their attempts to claim a proprietary or capitalistic dominion over the land we are left to contemplate what might be done in response. As Morton so succinctly puts it: “On some days, environmentalist writing seems like patching up the void with duct tape.” The two questions asked again and again are: How do we talk about the land without spiraling into fatalistic cynicism? and How can art enter this conversation in a meaningful way?\