On the Cover:
Hugo Aveta, Portal Tiradentes, 2014. Photograph, 95 x 145 cm. Photo: © Hugo Aveta.
Nature, perhaps more than any other, has been the go-to subject for artists since the dawn of humanity. While the artists in this issue continue that tradition in various ways, some do so in a conceptually distinct manner: regarding humans as very much part of, rather than separate from, nature. Some take part in this obliteration of the classic binary in oblique ways, influenced by the philosophical approach known as Object-Oriented Ontology, which views all objects in the world as beings. Hugo Aveta, for instance, titles one of his pieces La conciencia íntima de los objetos (The intimate consciousness of objects) and, describing another work, a video, notes, “a being manifests itself in an object, which, in this case, is sand.” The multidisciplinary artist Daniel Steegmann Mangrané calls his current survey exhibition “A Leaf Shapes the Eye,” referring to the notion, informed by the ideas of physicist Werner Heisenberg, that we are changed by what we view (in this case the natural world) as much as we alter it by looking. Changing the world is also a primary concern of Shirley Tse, recipient of the ISC’s 2023 Educator Award, whose recent work focuses on sustainability and the ways we harm the environment, which, of course, includes us. As she says in a fascinating interview here, the question of how we make communion between human and non-human agents lies “at the very heart of my current thinking and practice.” And, while Raphaela Vogel’s installations and video sculptures do not address this human/natural world binary directly, she does consistently explore interactions between the built and natural environments as well as between humans and animals. Indeed, two recent works gesture at the latter connection: one depicting a herd of giraffes pulling a model of the male reproductive organs, and another of a horse pulling a model of breasts. Regardless of how they conceive nature, the artists in this captivating issue do not exclude humans from it. —Daniel Kunitz, Editor-in-Chief