Nick Edwards

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Nick Edwards’ project “Expedition to the Source of the Dollis Brook in search of the Consequences of the Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful” explores, in part, another potential barrier to making art about climate change created by us. Nature, writ large, has for most of the human history of making art, been seen as immutable in its eternal cycles, especially cycles of regeneration. The Hudson River School of painters in the mid 19th century downplayed the fact that the unspoiled wilderness was fast receding in front of settlement and agriculture. This made it easier for them to refer to the wild as cathedral of the New World. They usually portrayed people as small and helpless in the face of nature. The descendants of these painters now go to Yosemite and make striking photographs of ancient, seemingly permanent stone batholiths, forgetting that they are standing in a tiny fraction of western America, a miniscule token of Nature. The notion of the Sublime is capable of destroying our concept of space and time. The allied notion of the Beautiful is capable of making us blind. Being safely handcuffed to both these artistic behemoths makes it almost impossible to consider that we may be responsible for the decline and death of our planet.

Ron Slemmons
Director, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago.

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