Chance had it that straight after coming back from Turku I went to Toulouse. In these two cities art and science combine to remind us « how fragile we are ».
« We » means us humans here on earth.
In Turku, the work of art is permanent, and is called the Time Walk. A 13,7 km walk from the observatory to the astrophysics department in the centre of the city. It takes about 4 hours to cover the 13,7 billion year history of the universe (which ages as you walk). Along the way over a hundred rough granite blocks remind us of some key events during that time. Our technological culture is about one centimetre long. That’s a very Finnish way of putting us humans in our place and reminding us of our transience on this planet. Few words. The lead artist I suppose you could call her is Kirsi Lehto, the plant biology professor we saw last week.
In Toulouse,the work of art is temporary and is called the Anthropocène Monument. It concerns the last 4,7 km of the Turku walk. The bit where earth appears. It’s about the possible change of name of our geological era. It’s an exhibition in Les Abbatoirs, Toulouse’s contemporary art centre. We have been in the current Holocène, interglacial, geological epoch for 11600 years. 1,16cm of Kirsi’s walk. In 2016, the International Commission on Stratigraphy will rule on the proposed new name. Anthropos = man/human. The exhibition shows why the name deserves to be changed. Man has interfered lots and is interfering more and more. In Toulouse there are many words. Many wise words. Much art. There is a fantastic Museoaerosolar balloon (flying work of art) too. The lead artists are Bruno Latour and Bronislaw Szerszynski, both sociologists of science, world experts on controversies and antiprogrammes.
You can visit both places. In Toulouse the exibition closes 4th of January. In Turku natural erosion of granite is the only problem.
Bu what are we actually going to do about it?…