L’Atelier Rouge’s first installation art exhibition Immortal? focuses on environmental narratives and how making art can raise awareness about saving the planet. It is not a new theme in the art scene, but this Petaling Jaya-based gallery isn’t too concerned about taking on a familiar subject.
The conversation about environmental issues – and how art tackles them – is an ongoing one.
“We seem to think Earth will last forever. No matter what damages we do to the planet, it will survive. No need to be responsible for our actions,” says Iranian artist Anahita Ghazanfari, who co-curated the exhibition with French artist Jael Estrella.
The aim of the artworks, she says, is to make the public rethink their acts – what if planet Earth doesn’t survive?
“We need to teach our friends and family that the physical environment is fragile. It is indispensable, that we have to fix the problems that threaten us.”
Seven artists are part of Immortal?, which features five installations and five sculptures. The artists were chosen based on their involvement in environmental community projects. They are Malaysians Harisudin Rashid and Alan Teh; Ghazanfari and fellow Iranians Reza Moayer and Fathollah Marzban; Frenchman Hermans Jael; and German artist Friederich Farid Zink.
Each installation, given the exhibition’s theme, is made using recycled materials such as wood, old clothes, newspapers and leaves.
Ghazanfari’s work, Comfortable Silence, explores how humans continue to exploit nature without giving much thought to the damage we cause.
“I use my portrait to represent a human face … so as not to point fingers at others,” she says.
Ghazanfari uses painting and photography as her major mediums, and elements of poetry and fantasy have been a part of her works.
Her Any Sign Of Trouble is a poignant work that meditates on the state of nature – and how a dead leaf can never be brought back.
Marzban’s Our Fault is a bizarre installation of a fish with plastic trinkets spilling out of its guts that draws attention to the dangers of food contamination. Often enough, we read about public safety warnings issued around the world about a potential food poisoning outbreak. Outside the confines of the gallery, Fathollah’s work isn’t too far-fetched these days.
“Eventually, we may be eating contaminated food,” explains Ghazanfari.
In her work Precious, self-taught artist Jael has sewn a curtain from fabric waste collected from a local tailor shop. The curtain, however, hides a black circle symbolising a dying planet. The grim message cuts through despite Jael’s use of strong colours to symbolise Mother Nature’s beauty.
Teh’s Habitat 1-3 installations are done with recycled building materials and comprise a steel geometric shape inspired by a bird’s nest, a nest made of welded steel rods woven with branches, and an ant hill made with concrete cube blocks and plants.
“Urban development is causing a huge imbalance in the ecosystem. Nature is being wiped away and replaced with concrete,” says Teh, who warns that too many reckless plans to push urban development in Malaysia will lead to disaster.
“There must be more careful thought (when planning) and some workable methods when it comes to sustainable urban development.”
Immortal? is on at L’Atelier Rouge (Level P1, Lot 100-013, The School, Jaya One, Jalan University, Petaling Jaya, Selangor) till Oct 31. The gallery is open daily from 11am to 8pm. For enquiries, call 011-2641 5278.