Written by Ahmad Amaireh
Shifting Grounds: ديمومة featured a series of workshops that shed light on the use of sustainable processes and materials in creating art, as well as talks and performances at the end of each day.
This panel discussion, as part of the event, tackled sustainable art from different angles, trying to explore the viability of eco-conscious art in the market. The guests questioned if the market is open to art that explores organic materials, or eco-conscious processes, and whether or not artists are taking risks if they follow the sustainability route. The overarching question remained in the room: can we even consider sustainable art in the Jordanian context?
The guest panellists represent different art market ‘actors’: Ahmad Abu Ghazaleh, an art collector and founder of MMAG Foundation, Majdoline Al-Ghoul founder of Dar Al Anda, an art institution, and Dubai-based Suzy Sikorski, the founder of Mid East Art.
Al-Ghoul kickstarted the discussion by explaining how the venue where her institution is located is made entirely of upcycled and recycled materials (lights, walls…etc) in cooperation with local artists. She added that she represents several artists that focus on sustainable art and holds regular events to exhibit their work. Sikorski continued by discussing how her platform focuses on the digital aspect of art, naming contemporary artists who repurposed and reused materials to create art, such as Hassan Al-Sharif, Abdulhay Musallam and Abdelrahman Qatanani.
Sikorski noted that despite the increased attraction and value of sustainable art globally, the region, and especially Jordan, remains relatively unaware of its importance. Al-Ghoul noted that despite their effort to promote it, it is overlooked by the public, private and non-profit sectors. Additionally, the concept of art, let alone sustainability, in the educational curricula is mostly absent.
Sikorski and Abu Ghazaleh talked about how sustainable art is often misunderstood, particularly because the materials used to create it are typically organic or raw. They discussed how this causes people to question its durability, which lowers its commercial value. They emphasized how all art is susceptible to damage or expiration, and how people need to be aware of art that exists beyond merely paintings and drawings.
When asked if sustainable art would ever lose its appeal, Abu Ghazaleh disagreed and discussed how a massive part of art emerged from sustainability, referencing John Chamberlain. The panellists also stressed the issue of sustainable art’s accessibility, recalling personal stories from field visits, where they witnessed marginalized communities creating art from simple materials that surround their houses; to be used as a form of knowledge and an awareness tool.
The discussion was concluded by highlighting the significance of activists and artists working together to create a sustainable and environmentally conscious world while stating that art institutions and critics also had a responsibility to advance such ideas.
تصوير جورج الخوري
Photographs by George Al Khouri