“On the streets of #Miami, an artist has been showcasing the increasingly delicate dance of climate change, water and everyday life. As scientists and politicians in Paris wrestle with the complexities of battling climate change, Lars Jan is inviting people to view it in a way that he said makes people “feel climate change in their guts, rather than just understand it.’’ He brought the installation, “Holoscenes,” to Miami this week.
A woman stands in a 3,500-gallon Plexiglas tank as it slowly fills with water. Or not so slowly — 12 tons of water are pumped into the tank over the course of a minute. She is holding a basket of persimmons, until it floats out of her hands, spilling the fruits to bob and twirl in the water. She tries to gather them back up, her skirts floating around her. Behind her, palm trees are silhouetted against the sky, and a crowd gathers.
Jan, an artist and director, created Holoscenes as a response to pictures of flooding in Pakistan four years ago:
“So this image popped into my head of a man turning pages of a newspaper in a totally mundane room as it slowly filled with water,” Jan recalls. “He would take a big breath and hold it, but he doesn’t react to the flood with any sense of crisis. He comes up for air and goes back to reading his newspaper. I wanted to show people adapting to this crisis on an everyday basis.”
The artists in the tank aren’t told when the waters will rise or recede — a pretty direct translation of the very real uncertainty of climate change — but they carry on with their tasks just the same: coiling a hose, playing a guitar, getting dressed. The lack of reaction speaks to a human resilience in the face of catastrophic change, Jan says. It also seems like a pretty apt dramatization of our ability to ignore disaster even as it unfolds around us.
LARS JAN is a director, designer, writer and media artist, and founding artistic director of Early Morning Opera, a multidisciplinary art lab based in Los Angeles specializing in live performance.
The son of first generation émigrés from Afghanistan and Poland, Jan is committed to international artistic exchange. In summer 2005, as artist-in-residence at Kabul University, he taught and developed public art projects throughout Afghanistan. In 2003-04, he lived in Kyoto, where he trained and performed as a head puppeteer under Abe Hidehiko, designated an "Intangible Cultural Treasure" by the Japanese government. He also traveled on two recording expeditions through rural Ukraine with virtuoso vocalist Marjana Sadowska, resulting in their performance collaboration, Without Ground.
A Saudi woman in an abaya, buying flowers in a mall