Today we’re sharing something a bit different and very special; photographer Elena Cremona and publication The Archive Collective – run by Maela Ohana – are collaborating on the Earth Issue, which focuses on and investigates the relationship between fine art and the environment.
As a platform whose focus is on “the land and the people that live on it”, this subject is pretty important to us. We’re also excited to be supporting another publication for the first time, so click through to read our interview with Elena and Maela!
The Earth Issue is currently being crowdfunded on IndieGoGo, and there’s only a week to go! You can donate here.
First things first, please introduce yourselves
Maela Ohana: I’m Maela, founder of Archive Collective Magazine. I’m a third-culture person with a complicated background, but I’ve been based in Montreal for the past four years. Aside from curating and directing Archive, I do marketing and branding work professionally and try to make time for my own creative projects on the side.
Elena Cremona: I am half-Italian and half-German. Having the opportunity to live in different parts of the world (Germany, California and now England) have shaped the person I am today. I am currently based in London where I work in a photographic lab, as well as working on my own photography which is centred around the environment and climate change.
Tell us your story.
M: Creativity has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember – I’ve always been drawn to artistic expression and its transformative powers on the individual and on society. I studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice but also worked in galleries and art fairs in Asia and Europe, during which time I developed an interest in the curatorial side of the art world. I enjoy the process of bringing different creative voices into conversation with each other through visual content.
E: I don’t think there was a specific time for me when I got involved in photography; I was always drawn to visual arts and the way it can portray certain issues that might be hard to understand in a non-visual matter. I studied fine art photography at the Arts University in Bournemouth where I decided that I wanted my work to focus on raising awareness for environmental and social issues.
Image / Jim Frazer
Please give us some background information about The Earth Issue.
M: The Earth Issue is a collaborative publication between myself and Elena that investigates the potential for art to act as a vehicle for environmentalist activism. The super talented artists we’ve brought together in this issue all work at the intersection of fine art and environmentalism, using their creative work to reflect on or question on our relationship with the natural world.
Over the past year I’ve been trying to organically steer Archive in a more socially conscious direction, by featuring artists that have empowering messages. So naturally when Elena came to me with the idea of curating an environmentally-focused issue, I was totally on board!
I believe that art can advance environmentalist movements in a deep way because it appeals on the level of our intuition, and being inherently trans-disciplinary it is conducive to approaching complex issues in an inclusive and flexible way. The hope is that our project can develop into a wider platform for discourse around critical global topics.
What inspires you?
M: Specifically thinking of the conjunction between art and environmental/social activism, here are a few inspirations:
- Andrea Zittel – in terms of rethinking our relationship to the land, and reshaping her own life around experimental models of sustainable living. Her work is all about process and community building rather than end-result, and I like that a lot.
- Olafur Eliasson because of his large-scale, immersive projects which have managed to capture the public imagination about issue like polar cap melting and the importance of public spaces .
- This essay by Naomi Klein about the pervasive social implications of climate change. – Quirky projects that engage the senses in an attempt to bridge the gap between people and nature … like Jim Nollman’s work playing music with animals.
- And lastly…nature itself! The natural world is an abundant well of inspiration that we can and should tap into, as artists.
Image / Misty Granade
E: I agree – for me nature is my biggest inspiration. I don’t think there’s anything more amazing than getting lost in all the crazy landscapes the earth has to offer. It makes me feel so at ease; a sort of solitude within a romantic landscape.
One of my favorite artists is Richard Mosse and his series The Enclave. It’s the way he conveys such a powerful message of war with such aesthetically pleasing photographs, showing the audience a whole new side of the Congo that might not be visible otherwise.
I’m also a big fan of John Pfahl’s work – his digitally manipulated images of nature which he photographed around Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Wyoming. In this exhibit, the baroque, digitally-inspired transformations he applied to his photographs were, in many cases, no more extreme than the originals he founds in the landscapes.
What shaped most of my work at university was essays and ideas on the ‘sublime’ – from definitions produced by Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant, the idea of the sublime was produced to articulate the particular relationship of humanity to its environment, a reaction of “fear, awe and terror” when faced with landscapes with characteristics of “infinity, vastness, magnificence and obscurity”.
And lastly, I am inspired by all the wonderful artists we have selected for our issue – their dedication to producing work that is directly inspired by nature and their ability to translate environmental issues so well.
Image / Ram Vafa
What are you up to next?
M: We’re hoping to take The Earth Issue a step further and create interactive spaces for sharing, learning and discussion. So far the response to this issue has been really positive and we’ve seen that many artists are truly interested in getting involved with projects that push for environmental consciousness.
We’re very receptive to suggestions, proposals and collaborations, so we’d like to invite anyone working in this realm get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image / Alba Giertz