This video captures a collaborative effort to explore the role of art in both local and global environmental issues. Through a creek walk that engages both the environment and community members, the authors hope to assess the efficacy of their project and reinvigorate dialogue of art and environmental issues
Climate change is a global phenomenon with diverse and often unclear local indices. This project is concerned with the artistic negotiation of a particular local context of environmental transformation – the creek systems of the Illawarra region, New South Wales, Australia. Subject to industrial and suburban development, directed into sluiceways and drains, and criss-crossed with roads and railway lines, the creeks flow from the inland escarpment to the sea. Informed by contemporary socially engaged art practice and notions of ‘ground-truthing’, our approach is to walk the creeks – to start at the beach and to follow the creeks upstream as far as we can. We encounter weeds, trash, fences, dead-ends and occasional bits of carefully crafted ‘natural creek line’. We walk in small groups and invite people to join us. We take photographs and write about the walks. The walks are structured as conversations in which we collectively engage with neglected everyday indices of environmental change.
In pursuing this project we regularly encounter questions concerning the role of art in engaging with both local and global environmental issues. Our aim here is to produce a video of one of our walks in which we not only explore a particular creek line but also discuss issues related to art and environmental activism. It will be framed as a plein air dialogue considering issues such as: the role of art in discerning local features of global environmental change; the shifts in art entailed in rendering it as literal experience and conversation; and the potential risks associated with subsuming art into activism. Our specific interest, in this context, is in discovering whether our local activities can be effectively communicated via a short film and contribute to another level of discussion that innovatively ties together local and global concerns.