ExhibitionGaia in the Anthropocene

Sjoerd Kloosterhuis & Madelon van Schie

Myths used to fulfil our need to understand nature and ourselves. In our contemporary society, which is dominated by reason, myths seem to have become superfluous. Nature has been demoted from a mysterious and awe-inspiring actor to a mere decor that can be controlled and used. Despite our enlightenment ideals, our view of the world is becoming increasingly dystopic.

In recent decades we have become all too painfully aware of mankind’s negative impact on the state of our planet. More and more often, we are ruthlessly confronted with unpredictable natural phenomena that have turned out to be a direct result of people’s behaviour: hurricanes, floods and extreme periods of drought.

This both worries and challenges us – because the future of our planet is undeniably in our own hands. How can we design a new relationship with the earth and develop a new understanding of nature? And can myths play a meaningful role in this?

These questions are the starting point for the group exhibition Gaia in the Anthropocene. It explores the options that myths offer us in this time of growing anxiety and uncertainty about the future of our living environment. The romantic longing for a society based on alternative values plays a key role. These visual artists turn to the power of imagination, the intangible, the irrational or the poetic, either to offer an escape from the ominous reality or in an attempt to counteract the disenchantment of the world.

The exhibition reflects the growing attention for nature-related myths in visual arts, and the general attention for the Anthropocene, the era dominated by mankind. Gaia in the Anthropocene aims to contribute to an alternative and renewed view of the world, but first offers the visitors an opportunity to step away from contemporary reality for a brief moment of time.