Geneseo Campus Activities Board hosted a photo-video art exhibit entitled “Ecologies of Inconvenience” in the MacVittie College Union’s Kinetic Gallery on Tuesday Feb. 23. “Ecologies of Inconvenience” is a multi-dimensional exhibit featuring foodscapes from urban and pastoral environments alike. The exhibit highlighted the nature of humanity and a deep, cognitive understanding of the world humans have created. “Ecologies of Inconvenience” was created by husband and wife duo Cary Peppermint and Leila Nadir. Nadir is a writer and critic and Peppermint is an artist. Both currently teach at the University of Rochester.
Together, Nadir and Peppermint co-founded EcoArtTech—an environmental art collaborative focused on the interconnectivity of modern life and nature. EcoArtTech is composed of conceptual art—art that is meant to convey ideas, mess with form and shift the perception of viewers. “Ecologies of Inconvenience” initiated much contemplation about humanity and the environment.
Four different videos were displayed in the exhibit as well as a photo gallery. The photo gallery displayed exact shots from a few of the videos with blurred filters. The exhibit was visually demanding, with a lot of information presented in a small space.
The first pair of videos displayed on projectors showed the different practices humans use to obtain food. The practices range from being simplistic and obvious to convoluted and difficult to understand. Simple videos show Peppermint collecting water from a spring or making tea in the wilderness. More complicated videos show a military base or a busy highway.
These videos display parts of the food production system that are unidentifiable to the naked eye. The military base represents the wars fought for oil—an important resource in food production—and the busy highway illustrates a method of food transportation. The juxtaposition of simplistic and complex foodscapes is striking and provoked thought about the modern practices of obtaining food.
The second pair of videos titled “Late Anthropocene” and “Wilderness Trouble” were filmed 10 years apart from each other. Both videos rapidly change back and forth in displaying the tranquility of nature and complexity of modern cities in an avant-garde manner. Some of the videos were startling, such as “Late Anthropocene” showing a gas mask hanging on a tree and “Wilderness Trouble” depicting a woman drinking at a bar.
The ending of “Late Anthropocene” was incredibly striking. It shows a beautiful view of the sun setting over a lake with mountains and slowly zooms out. In this situation, filmmakers would typically zoom in to get a better view, but Nadir and Peppermint chose to zoom out to symbolize the destruction humans have caused to the environment.
The photographs on display were also quite intriguing. Most were completely blurred to the point where viewers would have to squint to decipher them. A few looked as if there were a mosquito net placed on top of them.
Nadir and Peppermint provided different reasons as to why the photographs were hazy. Peppermint explained that the blurry filters were homemade and simply added an artistic quality. Nadir added that the unclear photographs would stimulate more thought than clear photographs. The different interpretations revealed that the two viewed their collaborative art in different ways, an interesting characteristic of the writer and artist duo.
One of my favorite juxtapositions of this exhibit was the video in which Nadir walks through a quiet forest with a repeatedly beeping cell phone in her hand. Too often, environmental issues are framed in solutions. “Ecologies of Inconvenience” instead focuses on the cause of environmental issues—the human species.
By raising awareness through thought-provoking art, perhaps the deeper meaning of sustainability will be able to reach viewers through this exhibit.