Humanity's impact on our environment and what the future holds in Jeremy Bolen's new exhibit
Humans have negatively impacted the environment in many ways, like pollution, burning fossil fuels and deforestation. Artist Jeremy Bolen decided to examine the ramifications with his new exhibition, “Because the Sky Will Be Filled With Sulfur.” He uses sculpture, film and photography to tell an unsettling story about humanity’s impact on our environment and how strange our future might look, even in a best-case scenario. The exhibition is on view at MOCA GA through Aug. 6, and Bolen joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes to discuss the exhibit’s pieces and their surreal predictions.
On the Bolen exhibit’s mysterious title:
“I had been working on the title of this exhibition for about six months, talking with a friend and a mentor of mine,” recalled Bolen. “I had some titles I won’t mention here that were not working all so well, and she asked me, why would I want to call it that? And I said, ‘Because the sky will be filled with sulfur,’ And she’s like, ‘Well, you have your title.’ I think she was right. I think in the end, it’s sort of a warning when I think it reads as poetic as well.”
He continued, “It’s a warning of what our future could look like. There’s a high probability of geoengineering things like this happening. But I think with this exhibition, and with the title, I’m trying to form an experience to understand visually the aesthetics of some of these initiatives that could happen.”
Exploring geoengineering with Berlin’s Anthropocene Curriculum Project:
“This project has been this incredible large-scale experimental multidisciplinary research project involving scholars, researchers, scientists from all over the world, all different disciplines included, that have a really extra-inter-multi-disciplinary approach to understanding what’s happening to our climate. So through a lot of the research I’ve done with this group, and my visits to Berlin and visits with the Anthropocene working group and other researchers, I’ve become interested in a lot of these topics involving the Anthropocene.”
“I made a film about four years ago called ‘Born Secret’ with another artist and writer named Brian Holmes and a sound artist named Brian Kirkbride. And that film was investigating the Tennessee Valley Authority in Oak Ridge and the Anthropocene mode of production,” said Bolen. “While I was working on that, we started to get into geoengineering and understanding what the impact was going to be; the interventions into the Earth systems that could occur because of what humanity has done, essentially. So, instead of changing our behavior, we would try to change the Earth systems.”
Artistic impressions of a geoengineered future:
“The show is anchored by four very large panels,” said Bolen. “They are photographs printed onto acrylic onto plexiglass, and they operate, I guess, sort of like a stained glass window. You can see through them, and then an image is projected through them as well … Using photographic film, I photographed the sky, the daytime sky, and then I covered the negatives in sulfur and then re-exposed them. So it’s sort of trying to emulate the impact we’re talking about with solar radiation management, obviously not in any exact scientific way, but as a sort of poetic response to this proposal.”
“There are several floor-standing pieces that are really, in the end, talking about coral bleaching. Obviously, as the world heats up and as more carbon is produced, it’s impacting everything, but the coral bleaching is becoming a larger and larger issue. So there are sculptures that emulate, I think, in a hyperbolic way, modes of cooling and creating shielding for corals. Involved in all these pieces are airplane parts as well; there are airplane tray tables and what they call a personal service unit, which is the air conditioning thing above you when you’re on the airplane. [I’m] thinking about global travel and the impact that has.”
“Because the Sky Will Be Filled With Sulfur,” a solo exhibition by Jeremy Bolen, is on view at MOCA GA now through Aug. 6. Bolen will also deliver a live artist talk at the museum on June 21 at 7 pm. Tickets and more information are available at mocaga.org/calendar/jeremy-bolen-because-the-sky-will-be-filled-with-sulfur.