I recently revisited the beautiful song Woodstock by Joni Mitchell, which seems to be more relevant than ever to keep in mind when working with the theme of Human Ecology and the Anthropocene.

I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, where are you going
And this he told me
I'm going on down to Yasgur's farm
I'm going to join in a rock 'n' roll band
I'm going to camp out on the land
I'm going to try an' get my soul free
We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it's the time of man
I don't know who l am
But you know life is for learning
We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation
We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil's bargain
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Creaturely vulnerability and brotherhood in the Anthropocene. About letting go and listening

One main question comes to mind when I am thinking of the Anthropocene and our impact on the planet: How did we get this far removed from understanding the balance of the earth and our ecosystem?

What connection was forgotten, broken or lost that made us move so far away from a balanced co-existence? How did we come to see ourselves as so superior to other beings (sentient or not), that we execute unrestricted exploitation of the earth transforming nature without concern for depleting resources, global consequences and the wellbeing of the future (generations)?

It seems we have forgotten where we came from and that we are animals too. That we share a “bodily vulnerability” as the French writer and philosopher George Bataille so beautifully describes it. The fact that our actions have consequences, and that the consequences can be far-reaching and irreversible, got lost in translation along the way.

 According to Bataille pre-historic humans had an affective entanglement with animals and a wish to negate human life - even a wish to move backwards to recover further creaturely intimacy. Perhaps if we were to move backwards too, if we were to access our genetic memories, our actions would be different. We might be able (and willing) to negate some of the consequences of the anthropogenic impact on our earth and ecosystem. At the very least we would be capable of making conscientious choices based on life-based ethics and an understanding of “creaturely brotherhood” (Bataille).

Human Ecology // Images in the Anthropocene - A European Art Laboratory and Residency

© Bärbel Praun, Untitled from the series "this must be the place", 2015

In 2016 & 2017 I will be working at The Independent AIR's residency on the theme of Human Ecology //  Images in the Anthropocene.

The residency is a working European art laboratory which takes place in the south of Portugal. A group of 6 emerging photographic artists will collaborate, discuss and inspire each other to work under the theme Human Ecology // Images in the Anthropocene.
During the residency we will be guided by a team of internationally established artists and mentors, who will conduct several workshops throughout the residency period. My fellow artists in residence are: Clément Verger, Ana Catarina Pinho, Constantin Schlachter, Michelle Palazzi and Bärbel Praun