Wit(h)nessing Interdependent Loss in the Pandemic Year of 2020
Remembrance Day for Lost Species, November 30th, is a chance each year to explore the stories of extinct and critically endangered species, cultures, life ways, and ecological communities.
Whilst emphasizing that these losses are rooted in violent and discriminatory governing practices, the day provides an opportunity for participants to make or renew commitments to all who remain, and to develop creative and practical solutions. Remembrance Day for Lost Species honors diverse experiences and practices associated with enduring and witnessing the loss of cultural and biological diversity. Participate in any way you choose.
-Founded in the U.K. 2011
In response to Remembrance Day for Lost Species (RDLS) I founded THE GRIEVING PLANET PROJECT in 2019. It is the directive for my work as an artist, guiding the creation of works and exhibits that offer welcoming, safe space(s) to acknowledge the feelings of grief, anger and helplessness experienced with the past, present and anticipated extinction and endangerment of species and ecosystems. Grief work is a passageway to empowerment, spiritual awareness, and creativity. It is a powerful key to open doors of responsibility for, and commitment to, all sentient beings of our ‘island home’ – earth. It aids in navigating despair and the tragic consequences of revenge.
A year ago I started a group of art pieces for Earth Day 2020. This project of paintings, prints, installation objects and artist’s book is for my exhibit, Standing With the Grieving Planet. The exhibit, postponed because of the pandemic, continues to evolve. One of the pieces in the exhibit is “Lamentations for My Planet”, a Japanese Style Orihon book in concertina format that opens to 6 feet in length. The first page dated January 7, 2020 ( see photo) is the transposed photographic image of an adult kangaroo escaping one of the thousands of engulfing infernos raging in Australia. This book, a current work in progress, holds written and visual work of ecological grief, lamentations for the loss of biodiversity on the planet. Now, at the end of November, I reflect daily on the over 200,000 human deaths in the United States, multiplied around the world because of the Covid-19 Pandemic. I can only imagine the depths of individual grief creating a tsunami of despair in the lives of individual survivors around the planet. There is a direct connection between the loss of planetary ecosystem and the spread of pandemics. Recent studies repeatedly show that a healthy biodiversity is essential to human health. The loss of biodiversity is directly linked to the rise of deadly diseases1. Biodiversity loss tends to increase pathogen transmission across a wide range of infectious disease systems. These pathogens can include viruses, bacteria and fungi. Humans are not the only ones at risk: all manner of other animal and plant species could be affected.2
I take the questions and pain of how to hold all of this with open heart and vast mind with me on my early morning mountain forest walks. How do I as an artist, a woman committed to the well-being and happiness of all sentient beings wit(h)ness to this? In the silence of approaching winter a visualization of a world wide pulsating mobius strip appears. No beginning, no ending. Pulsating with the rhythm of a heart beat in continuous movement: In/out, around and through. I will be exploring this more in further posts.
1 3 March 2020, “The loss of biodiversity, the rise of deadly disease” in BEYONDKONA
2 16 June 2020, “Vertebrates on the brink as indications of biological annihilation and the sixth mass extinction.” In PNAS 117 (24) 1 June 2020