Laumeier Sculpture Park Examines Art and Global Climate Change Through Its 2021 Spring Exhibition

Laumeier Sculpture Park

Laumeier Sculpture Park’s newest exhibition titled The Future is Present: Art and Global Change will examine the intersections between art and some of the world’s most pressing issues: climate change, environmental crisis and the related global repercussions. The Future is Present explores the innovation of artists and their commitment to understanding humankind’s material impact on nature and technology’s role in understanding this global emergency. The exhibition will be on view February 6 – May 9, 2021.

Continuing Laumeier’s initiative focusing on Art and Global Change, which began in 2020, The Future is Present will emphasize the urgency of topics ranging from deforestation and astronomical phenomena to tech waste. The artists assembled bring perspectives from across the planet, and they will use video, sound, virtual/augmented reality and upcycled materials to address this theme. Exhibiting artists are: Daniel Canogar (Los Angeles/Madrid), Hannah Chalew (New Orleans), Jake Chapman (London), Pete Froslie (Norman, OK), Jenny Kendler (Chicago), Van McElwee (St. Louis), Elias Sime (Addis Ababa), Calum Stirling (Glasgow) and Marina Zurkow (New York).

The Aronson Fine Arts Center, which was closed for most of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will re-open to visitors on a limited basis for this exhibition. Starting February 6, viewing hours will be Thursdays, 12-5 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Safety protocols such as temperature checks, face coverings and capacity limits will be in place based on the current mandates from St. Louis County.

Here is a sampling of the work that will be on view as part of The Future is Present

Fascinated with the relationship between global political and economic structures, Oklahoma artist Pete Froslie will exhibit his recent work Leviathan: Elegy for Ice, 2019, a two-channel video installation documenting the artist’s two, month-long expeditions to the Arctic Circle to collect underwater recordings of melting ice in Norway’s Svalbard fjords. 

Chicago-based artist Jenny Kendler’s The Playhead of Dawn, 2018 reworks a massive dataset of geo-tagged birdsong recorded by citizen-scientists for the Xeno-canto project. Using LED screens to identify and locate over ten-thousand species of birds through a chorus of sounds, the installation provides a twenty-four hour chorus that loops in time with the rotation of the Earth— reminding visitors of the interconnected nature of our vast ecosphere. 

The Future is Present will also feature a large wall mounted sculptural assemblage by Ethiopian artist Elias Sime. In his work, TIGHTROPE: (31) While Observing…, 2018, Sime repurposes salvaged electronic components such as wires, motherboards, electrical circuits and keyboards to create a piece that resembles an aerial view landscape. Made of e-waste, it explores the dangerous balance between the possibilities presented by technological progress and its harmful impact on the environment.

According to Laumeier’s Curator Dana Turkovic, the exhibition’s title is inspired by a quote from Bertrand Picard, a co-pilot of the first solar powered balloon to attempt to circle the world non-stop. Turkovic says, “Describing his experience, Picard explained ‘when landing, it was like going back to the past’ realizing his ability to push the boundary of existing knowledge in his field of study.” 

She adds, “In the spirit of this ground-breaking exploration, the exhibition will examine the insights of artists, highlighting how the visual culture sector is not only reflecting our world back to us, but doing so through the lens of technology, taking charge on our environment and reminding us that our future is the present.”