Fading Faces — en français

Une nouvelle exposition de photographies d’art passionnante de Karl-Kristian Jahnsen Hus est arrivée à Oslo, en Norvège. Lisez mon entretien avec l’artiste.


“FADING FACES”, nouvelle exposition de photographies d’art de Karl-Kristian Jahnsen Hus en collaboration avec Silk Agency (Norvège).


FADING FACES se compose de 25 portraits grand format de Simians, dont 20 en noir et blanc et 5 en couleur. Les œuvres sont principalement exposées au format 200 x 133 cm, mais toutes sont également disponibles dans un format plus petit (133 x 88 cm). Les œuvres d’art sont datées de 2017 à 2021 – représentant ainsi quatre années de travail sur le terrain et dans l’atelier/laboratoire de l’artiste. Les œuvres sont en éditions de 5 et 11 ; avec des prix correspondants de 2021 de NOK55.000,- et NOK18.000,-. Cette exposition a été inaugurée dans une galerie Pop-up au 40 Henrik Ibsensgate à Oslo, conceptualisée et conduite par Silk Agency. La période d’exposition actuelle est du 29.10.21 au 21.11.2021.


INTERVIEW AVEC :KARL-KRISTIAN JAHNSEN HUS (ARTISTE).
Questions d’entretien posées par Adam Donaldson Powell (artiste/auteur/critique – Norvège) et Katya Ganeshi (auteur/artiste/militant pour les droits des animaux – Russie).


ADP : Bonjour ! Cette exposition est fascinante – tant par le sujet et les idées qui la sous-tendent que par la quantité et la qualité du travail artistique qui y est consacré. Katya et moi aimerions vous poser quelques questions. Karl-Kristian, pouvez-vous nous parler de votre propre processus en ce qui concerne ce projet artistique… Quelle était l’impulsion, comment avez-vous planifié et exécuté les voyages, les coopérations et les autorisations pour photographier ces magnifiques animaux ? Et quelle est l’intention de l’exposition ? S’agit-il d’une exposition d’enseignement et d’apprentissage social ainsi que d’une exposition de vos idées et compétences créatives ? 


KKJH : J’ai toujours eu un lien profond avec la nature. C’est le visionnage d’un documentaire intitulé “Virunga National Park” qui m’a poussé à me lancer dans ce projet spécifique. Écouter les histoires des gardes forestiers et les entendre dire “Je suis prêt à sacrifier ma vie pour le parc national et les animaux qui y vivent” a eu une résonance profonde en moi. Avant de voyager, je trouve quelqu’un de la région qui peut m’emmener dans le comté que je visite, nous établissons un plan de voyage, puis je m’y rends. Pour mon installation artistique “Fading Faces”, j’ai capturé des images de cinq pays différents, montrant des visages d’animaux avec lesquels l’homme-animal se reconnaît facilement : les singes. L’installation artistique est conçue pour aider l’homme-animal à ouvrir son cœur au monde vivant qui l’entoure. Il s’agit d’une combinaison d’enseignement pour l’apprentissage social et de démonstration de mes idées et compétences créatives. Personnellement, je pense que l’art doit donner aux participants quelque chose à penser et à ressentir. 


ADP : Avez-vous des histoires ou des anecdotes sur ce processus de quatre ans – concernant les défis et les difficultés, les expériences étonnantes ou amusantes ? Parlez-nous de certaines d’entre elles.


KKJH : Lorsque l’on photographie, on peut se laisser absorber par le processus, en voulant toujours obtenir le meilleur de ce que l’on peut faire. Lorsque j’ai commencé le projet, je me suis concentré sur la capture des meilleures expressions possibles, mais cela ne m’a pas permis de profiter du moment présent. La mentalité de toujours se critiquer, et de ne pas être satisfait de ce que j’avais me donnait parfois la sensation de me noyer. Je me suis donc laissé aller à prendre du recul et à observer davantage, me permettant ainsi d’être plus enjoué. Cela m’a apporté beaucoup de joie, et je pense que cela a fait de moi un meilleur photographe. J’ai vécu de nombreuses expériences merveilleuses en voyage, et elles sont plus nombreuses que les mauvaises. De nombreuses situations ont été effrayantes, comme le fait de se faire charger par deux grands dos argentés ou d’avoir un grand orang-outan mâle se balançant du haut d’un arbre et essayant de m’attraper. Maintenant, en regardant en arrière, je pense que ce sont toutes de bonnes histoires. 

ADP : Ces dernières années, de nombreux débats ont eu lieu sur les questions éthiques liées à l’utilisation par les artistes d’animaux (vivants ou morts) dans les expositions d’art. Cette exposition particulière s’inscrit dans le cadre de la responsabilité sociale et de l’éthique du “ne pas faire de mal”, c’est-à-dire que ni les animaux ni leur environnement n’ont été blessés ou influencés négativement. Pouvez-vous nous parler de votre propre éthique/politique artistique et sociale en ce qui concerne la question de l’utilisation des animaux dans l’art ? Cette exposition ne vise-t-elle pas à permettre aux animaux d’apprendre aux humains à mieux respecter les autres animaux, nos habitats partagés et non partagés… et, en fin de compte, à sauver toutes les espèces, y compris les humains ? Parlez librement, en tant qu’artiste et en tant qu’amoureux des animaux. 


KKJH : Pour moi, le spécisme informe ma pratique. L’obligation morale et le respect de la vie sont essentiels dans mes œuvres. Une grande partie de mon art – pas seulement ma photographie – encourage une plus grande sensibilisation au monde naturel. Les animaux et la nature ont en effet été une source d’inspiration pour les artistes à travers les siècles. Je pense que nous devons envisager la création d’œuvres d’art incluant des animaux non humains d’une manière éthique. Comme pour l’art incluant l’animal humain, il y a beaucoup de choses que les artistes ne feraient pas, car elles sont inhumaines. Il me semble que certains artistes ne prennent pas toujours soin et ne respectent pas le contenu de leurs œuvres, mais cela n’est peut-être que le reflet de la brutalité des sociétés humaines envers la planète. Ce manque d’obligation morale pourrait être la raison pour laquelle l’artiste peut parfois sembler être une personne cruelle et sauvage. Il se peut aussi qu’il tente de refléter le manque d’empathie de l’espèce humaine envers le monde vivant. En fin de compte, en tant que créateur d’art, il faut considérer ce qui est éthiquement juste, et ce qui ne l’est pas.


ADP : Vous avez principalement choisi de réaliser ces portraits en noir et blanc. Je pense personnellement que le portrait en noir et blanc est souvent très efficace dans l’art du portrait, car il ajoute au mystère, à la subjectivité et à l’intimité du moment capturé. Mais pourquoi avez-vous – en tant qu’artiste – choisi principalement la photographie en noir et blanc pour cette série ? Quels appareils et objectifs avez-vous utilisés ? A quelle distance avez-vous pu vous approcher des animaux, et où ces photos ont-elles été prises ? 


KKJH : Je pense que les normes acceptées sur la façon dont une photographie est “censée” être présentée nous ont incités à choisir le noir et blanc classique. Il a fallu beaucoup de temps à la photographie pour être acceptée dans le monde de l’art. Comme le format noir et blanc a été le premier à arriver, il a apparemment plus de valeur pour certains que pour d’autres. Au cours de ces quatre années de photographie, je me suis rendu compte que j’appréciais beaucoup plus la photographie en couleur, et ce n’est qu’après avoir été initié à la photographie analogique que j’ai commencé à aimer la photographie en couleur. Les anciens maîtres de la photographie pensaient que le noir et blanc était le moyen de montrer l’âme, et que la couleur ne pouvait pas le faire. Il peut être difficile d’argumenter contre cela, car on a appris et pensé que c’est un fait. Les photographies montrant les âmes des animaux que j’ai rencontrés sont ce que l’on verra dans l’installation. J’ai sélectionné quatre photographies en couleur, deux prises avec un appareil numérique et deux prises avec un film de moyen format. Pour moi, la vibration de la couleur est un aspect important de la vérité et de l’expression artistique, et j’apprends encore comment différentes personnes perçoivent les images en couleur par rapport aux images en noir et blanc. Je cherche à montrer davantage ce que j’aime personnellement, à travers mes photographies… et les images en couleur sont parmi les plus appréciées par les visiteurs. Pour cette installation, j’ai utilisé quatre appareils photo différents. J’ai commencé avec un Canon 5D Mark iii, avant d’investir dans un Canon 1DX Mark ii, un Leica M10 et un Mamiya afd645. J’ai utilisé une grande variété d’objectifs, mon principal choix étant le Canon EF 28-300 mm, dont la conception et la fonction me conviennent. Les 25 photos différentes ont été prises en Éthiopie, en Ouganda, au Rwanda, en Tanzanie et en Indonésie. Le niveau de professionnalisme entourant la gouvernance des différents parcs nationaux a varié, et il existe des règles concernant la façon dont on doit se comporter avec ces animaux sauvages. Vous pouvez vous approcher, mais pas trop – ceci tant pour la sécurité des animaux que pour la vôtre. Nous pouvons nous transmettre des maladies entre nous. Parfois, la limite de la distance est franchie, par exemple lorsqu’un jeune gorille m’a donné un coup de poing ludique dans les côtes. 


ADP : Quel est l’effet escompté de cette exposition ? Et où espérez-vous l’emmener à l’avenir ? 


KKJH : L’objectif est d’ouvrir l’esprit et le cœur des gens au monde vivant qui nous entoure. Je veux montrer l’installation au plus grand nombre de personnes possible, et je me soucie davantage de l’impact qu’elle aura que de vendre complètement la série de photographies. J’ai reçu beaucoup de réactions positives de la part des personnes qui ont visité l’exposition. 


ADP : Et maintenant, Katya Ganeshi, ma collègue en Russie, a quelques questions à vous poser, Karl-Kristian. 


KG : Comment la pensée humaine peut-elle être modifiée avec l’aide des singes (et d’autres animaux) ?


KKJH : Par exemple, la construction du mâle alpha dans la société humaine, où l’on doit être fort, sans peur, impitoyable et sans lien avec ce qui est considéré comme féminin, est différente dans d’autres groupes d’animaux. Lorsque j’ai rencontré des chimpanzés, j’ai (bien sûr) vu le côté que nous, les humains, considérons comme un alpha. Cependant, ce n’est qu’un aspect du rôle de chef de groupe ; il faut aussi être aimant et prendre soin des autres membres du groupe.  Pour moi, c’est cela la vraie force.


KG : La pensée des singes peut-elle dépasser celle des humains à l’avenir ?


KKJH : Si la société telle qu’elle est connue s’effondre et que nous n’avons plus de système sur lequel compter pour notre survie, beaucoup d’entre nous mourront de faim car la nourriture ne pourra plus être obtenue dans les magasins. Nous devrons alors retourner à nos racines : être des chasseurs-cueilleurs vivant de la terre. À l’heure actuelle, la plupart des humains ne sont pas en mesure de se nourrir sans le confort de notre société. Si nous nous tournons vers le règne animal, nous constatons qu’il est capable de subvenir à ses besoins, et je pense que nous avons beaucoup à apprendre d’eux lorsqu’il s’agit de vivre avec la nature au lieu de la détruire. 


KG : Le philosophe Bruno Latour considère que les scientifiques modernes sont les mêmes “sauvages et barbares”. Partagez-vous son opinion ?


KKJH : Malheureusement, beaucoup de mal est fait au nom de la science “pour le bien de l’humanité”. Jouer à être des dieux et nuire à la vie par cette justification est un signe certain de spécisme. 


ADP : Merci à Karl-Kristian, Jesper et Katya. Katya et moi vous souhaitons le meilleur succès possible pour cette exposition très importante.

Voir l’exposition virtuelle ici :

https://www.karl-kristianjahnsenhus.com/360-virtual-exhibition

Dr. Steve Best. How To Destroy Civilization.  

Dr. Steve Best. How To Destroy Civilization. 

“Imagine the amazing good fortune of the generation that gets to see the end of the world. This is as marvelous as being there in the beginning”.
— Jean Baudrillard

  1. Apocalypse

Many past cultures have thought that they lived in apocalyptic times and expressed a foreboding sense of doom and ending. From the Book of Revelations to cyberpunk, apocalyptic visions have been a mainstay of human culture. In contemporary 21st century conditions, the signs of apocalypse are everywhere, from collapsing ice shelves in the Arctic to wildfires raging in California, Australia, and Brazil; from superstorms pummeling coastal towns and island communities to millions of refugees fleeing the ravages of drought, poverty, famine, and conflict; from lingering specters of nuclear annihilation and (bio)terrorist attacks to species extinction, and runaway climate change. And now the scourge of a global pandemic inflicting suffering and death around the globe, a massive economic meltdown, and cities turned into ghost towns or petri dishes. Authoritarianism rises, democracy wanes, power concentrates into ever fewer hands.

Whereas all the apocalyptic visions of the past were rooted in fear, paranoia, fantasy, and superstition, visions of chaos and collapse today find grounding in mathematical projections and scientific facts. In our current era, apocalypse is an immanently unfolding objective reality that we are accelerating toward at breakneck speed. For the last 50 years or so, postmodern forms of culture and theory have articulated pronounced feelings of exhaustion and endings. We have heard much about the death of metanarratives; the end of history; the disappearance of the social; the demise of truth, reality, and the subject; and of course, the death of postmodernism itself. Postmodernism arises amidst paradigm shifts that register across the disciplines. but these changes barely scratched the surface of seismic changes unfolding in society and the objective world that had allegedly disappeared into the text. For what we are witnessing is not the end of modernism or modernity, but rather the inevitable collapse of the expansionistic, growth-oriented enterprise we call civilization — the dominant institutional structures and ideologies that human beings have built over the last 10,000 years during the Holocene epoch.

Our present moment is so radically novel and extreme we have to think of it in geological, not merely historical terms, for we have created a new geological epoch — we are transitioning from the Holocene to the Anthropocene.[1] Humans have expanded their technological and world-altering prowess to such an extent they have disrupted every living system on the planet – most evidently in the emergence of a sixth (human-caused) mass extinction (right now, 150 species go extinct every day) and with the rise of fossil capitalism and its causal effect in global warming – and created a radical break in the history of humanity and the earth itself.

As we glean by its name, Anthropocene means “age of the human” (literally, “Anthropos,” human, and “cene,” new”) and it marks the time when human beings became the main driving force of natural change on the planet, surpassing or equal to the powers of nature itself. Humans have become a powerful super-agent driving changes in the planet, and there is no natural process – not wind, not rain, not tides and sea levels – that humans have not altered. Today, “natural disasters” are really social disasters – disasters caused by human disruption and degradation of natural processes. Indeed, we have pushed back the next anticipated Ice Age by some 50,000 years and possibly the ones that would come after that.  In contrast to the stability of the Holocene, the current Anthropocene epoch is highly unstable and extremely hostile to humans and other life forms. By 2050, vast areas of the earth will be uninhabitable; indeed, many areas today are already.

  1. Orgy

Baudrillard asks, “What would life look like after the orgy?” Well, let’s open our eyes and look around at the detritus and decay. What is the orgy but the last 10,000 years of wanton growth, extraction, plunder, slaughter, colonization, consumption, and destruction of the predatory, growth-oriented, ever-expanding and globalizing system we now call advanced capitalism? And what we’re witnessing now is not the collapse of a local ecosystem, but of the planetary ecosystem, not any particular empire – Roman, Mayan, and so on – but of the human empire itself.

Viruses are parasites who depend on a host they hijack and take over for their own purposes, with no mind of the sustainability of the enterprise, until the host dies. Humans too, although they have their own reproductive machinery, are parasites, and our host is planet earth, its “resources,” and all of its resplendent biodiversity. We have hijacked this planet, exploited its animals, and we are mindlessly killing our host and thus killing ourselves. Viruses act only to reproduce, humans often seem to operate with similar lack of consciousness. A smart virus spares its host, at least until it can spread to other hosts, but earth-bound humans do not.[2]

  1. Zoonosis

What happens after we indulge in a prolonged orgy? Well, one likelihood is that we contract a disease. After centuries of ever-increasing slaughter, plunder, population growth, territorial expansion, relentless consumption of the earth’s finite resources, habitat destruction, and species extinction, Western civilization has contracted many diseases, the latest being COVID-19.

“All societies end up wearing masks,” Baudrillard says in his book, America, and now this is literally true in the streets and stores around the world, where people are not confined to home. We are all carriers or potential carriers, but no one is safe because the clever virus delays symptoms, some people are asymptomatic, and the seemingly healthy person next to you could be an infected host. This uncertainty, danger, and enforced distancing breads paranoia, isolation, mental illness, and the degradation of social existence. And because we live in a globalized world, a supersonically-connected planet packed with densely inhabitable urban zones, it is axiomatic that a virus anywhere is a virus everywhere, and thus we share the same fate.

With the emergence and spread of their empire over this earth, Homo sapiens came into ever-more intimate contact with other animals and the viruses they carried, leading to the rise of zoonotic diseases – bacterial and viral diseases transferred from (nonhuman) animals to human (animals). Roughly three-quarters of new or emerging diseases that infect humans originate in animals. Older zoonotic diseases include the bubonic plague, rabies, and influenzas (including the “Spanish” flu of 1918-1919 that killed between 50-100 million people). Newer diseases originating from animals include AIDS, Ebola, Marburg, Lyme disease, West Nile fever, SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 — which most likely came from a live animal market in Wuhan, China.

Zoonotic diseases began with animal domestication, they have afflicted humanity throughout the history of civilization, and they will plague us long into the future, so long as we continue our rapacious extraction of resources, destruction of habitat, decimation of biodiversity, and exploitation of nonhuman animals. Infectious agents such as viruses involved in zoonotic diseases can hide or lurk within a reservoir host (like a bat), waiting patiently.

Microbes are everywhere in the bodies of species with which they have evolved but can cause disease or death in humans when there is a spillover. The Ebola virus, for instance, doesn’t cause disease in bats but is lethal when it crosses over into human bodies. Similarly, the West Nile virus doesn’t cause illness in birds, but does in humans, just as Lyme disease is an affliction of human beings, not ticks or rodents. In each case, there is a spillover when human beings encroach upon, disrupt, and degrade habitats and ecological systems – through logging, road building, mining, creating farmland, rapid urbanization, and population growth – and bring animals into closer contact with us.

Eating wild animals killed in the “wet markets” of Asia or as “bushmeat” in Asia and Africa are a more direct pathway of disease transmission. Intensive confinement of thousands of animals in factory farms provides a very efficient means of transmitting zoonotic diseases. We saw this in 1997-2009, when a highly pathogenic strain of H5N1 bird flu spread from poultry farms in China to numerous countries. In April 2009, a novel combination of swine virus genes – producing the H1N1 swine flu — circulated in pig farms in North Carolina then jumped to humans and quickly became a global pandemic, killing thousands of people, and still circulates seasonally worldwide. It is important to note also that we live in a post-antibiotic age, where the “miracle” cure for bacterial diseases is often no longer effective, to an important degree because of the overuse of antibiotics in feed to control disease spread in factory farms.

Like humans, pathogens do not respect species boundaries. Overall, nearly eight billion people, many with advanced technologies and rapacious appetites, are tearing ecosystems apart and within these ecosystems are millions of different kinds of viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. As Sonia Shah observes in her book Pandemic, society operates with an erroneous paradigm of disease, treating diseases as foreign invaders into our territory, when in fact we are the invading species encroaching on the habitat and communities of animals and ecosystems. It is wrong to say that these diseases are happening to us, rather they are the unintended results of what we are doing to the natural world. All too often, we are the causes, not effects, the culprits, not victims, of pandemic-inducing pathogens. Why is it, we must ask, that the microbes that have existed for ages suddenly begin “causing” diseases? In the last fifty years, we have lost over 60% of all wildlife, as over three hundred infectious diseases have emerged or remerged around the world. It is no coincidence this is happening as the human empire expands and globalization increases. Zoonotic diseases spillover to humans far more readily in disrupted and fragment systems than intact and diverse ecosystems.

Ironically, while the virus is hidden and invisible, it acts to make dramatically visible numerous crises and problems in nations such as the US. Better than any Marxist theory of crisis, the virus showed that the world capitalist system is extremely fragile and built on a house of cards that can be toppled by an ill-wind. More so than depressions, world wars, or terrorist attacks, COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill. It exposed the mighty US Empire as a third-rate power and a failed state in its inconceivably feeble response to the pandemic and the plight of its citizens. It revealed Emperor Trump to be without clothes — not only grossly incompetent as a leader, but a truly dangerous sociopath indifferent to the suffering he causes. Trump not only presides over the greatest health crisis in a century, he is a health hazard, a danger to public safety. The new pandemic laid bare our debilitating dependence on China for drugs and medical supplies. Moreover, the virus shed a blinding light on the already clear racial and class inequalities in the US, for the poor and people of color have the least resources, the worst access to healthy food and health care, and are the most vulnerable. As well, COVID-19 laid bare the nihilistic logic of capitalism, when anxious elites insisted that the elderly, the vulnerable, and “essential workers” will have to be sacrificed for the greater good of the economy and revivification of the sacred “American Way of Life.” Just as surely, the virus put on display the supremacy of politics over science, ideology over facts, and personal ambition over public health. The respect for and preeminence of science has never been lower in this country. Perhaps most of all, the virus pulled back the curtain on how radically unprepared the world is for crises, especially the much larger planetary crisis already unfolding. It surely is a vivid reminder of our dysfunctional relationship with nature, and a warning to be heeded.

  1. Climate Emergency

If a virus can stop the world in its tracks in just a few weeks – shutting down sports events, ending university classes, confining people to their homes, and throwing armies of workers into unemployment — what kind of chaos does the far greater challenge of runaway climate change portend? Flooding, superstorms, drought, desertification, asphyxiating heat, and so on – these are the conditions the earth is preparing for us. But the climate emergency is a problem of the present, and not the distant future. If the chaos and suffering we already are witnessing has occurred with the planet heating up just over one-degree Celsius average temperature since the Industrial Revolution, what lies ahead on the current trajectory leading to a possible 4-degree spike by the end of the century?

In addition to the numerous forms of chaos climate change will unleash on the world, it will aggravate the problem of viral outbreaks. As temperatures climb higher, so too do diseases spread. Increasingly, mosquito-borne diseases such as yellow fever, Zika, and malaria will migrate northward. Malaria alone already kills a million people every year, and by 2030, the World Bank estimates that 3.6 billion people will have to reckon with it, 100 million of them as a direct result of climate change. And as humans continue to decimate forests and habitats, we will confront ever-new viruses hidden away, just as both old and new terrifying diseases are locked in the melting Artic ice.

Thus, COVID-19 is just a warm-up and trial run for the crises of far greater magnitude coming with climate change. Unlike COVID-19, however, there is no vaccine for runaway climate change, no technofix allowing global capitalism to ignore its addiction to growth. Both COVID-19 and climate change are global problems, but climate change is not solvable within capitalist society and demands far more radical vision and solutions to Anthropocene crises. Human beings globally will have to learn how to develop sustainable lifeways and to radically change both their social institutions and their anthropocentric and speciesist worldviews, values, and practices. If there is one positive development to emerge with this pandemic, it should be awareness of how complacent and humanity is for a crisis like a global pandemic and how urgent is the need to develop global cooperation, medical infrastructure, and support systems for the most vulnerable.

  1. Post-Human Postscript

“There is hope, though not for us.” – Kafka.

What is most surprising about this new global pandemic is many were surprised at all, given that we are doing everything necessary behaviorally, sociologically, and economically for such outbreaks to erupt. For decades, scientists have been warning about the imminent danger of pandemics, and with our ecologically alienated and disruptive lifeways we continue to ensure that there will be plenty more pandemics and catastrophes to come. Here in the US, Trump ignored urgent warnings of an emergent pandemic in the first two months of 2020, squandering two critical months needed to stop the spread of the virus. and when he took office in 2017 he gutted medical infrastructure and research projects on infectious diseases, moving critical resources from public health to the military and defense industry. Infectious diseases and climate change, however, force a radical rethinking of what we mean by “security” and there is surely no danger greater that pandemics and the furies of an unbalanced planet. In addition to new models of security that must include environmental components, we need new holistic models of health that recognize the interconnectedness of the well-being of humans, (nonhuman) animals, ecosystems, and the planet as a whole.

Short of a safe and effective vaccine, the coronavirus will never disappear, it will hide and emerge where there is opportunity, and exist alongside of newer and perhaps even more deadly viruses to come. Countless pathogens could evolve to become serious threats to humans, and must now be considered a cost of development. The constant danger, uncertainty, and need to contend with deadly viruses and infectious diseases, and above all with the catastrophic effects of climate change, is a fact of life in the disrupted world of the Anthropocene. We have turned a corner as a species, there is no going back.

To Baudrillard’s quote that opened this essay: exactly what “world” is ending and why? The physical “world”? The planet? Not likely – the earth is 4.6 billion years old, will exist for another 5 billion years before being devoured by the sun. The planet has survived and thrived through tremendous climatic and geological changes and five mass extinction events, and it will survive the current sixth mass extinction event and the Anthropocene epoch that humans are rapidly bringing about. The problem is these new planetary adaptation conditions will not be hospitable to human life.

Isn’t it rather that the “world” that is now ending is the Holocene epoch and the ten-thousand-year-old experiment we call “civilization,” an experiment that has not turned out well and now stands at a critical crossroads? Given the portentous changes still to come, I would hardly say that we are living after the apocalypse, but rather that we are living now during it, amidst its infant beginnings. Our brief window of opportunity is closing and by the end of this century infectious diseases, runaway climate change, drought, famine, scarcity, disease, and war will reveal their full horror. We are facing the greatest challenge in human history – are we up for the task? Or will this experiment of intelligent apes armed with potent technologies end tragically? We are well aware of the consequences of a failed state, but what if the true problem we face is the possibility that we will prove to be a failed species? If so, and we persist in being destructive parasites rather than responsible members of the global biocommunity (Gaia), the planet and its sundry life forms will only heal, revivify, and regenerate, but only in our wake.

***********************************

“Nature’s Way,” by Spirit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f53Rfnilhww

[1]  I am well aware of the intense debates raging about the semantics, periodization problems, and politics of the discourse of the Anthropocene, and can’t deal with them here. Suffice it to say, I believe the Anthropocene is an entrenched scientific and cultural concept here to stay, just like the discourse of the postmodern, which many thought was merely transient. The concept is useful in forcing us to grasp the magnitude of changes we are unleashing on the planet, and the need for radical changes.

[2] While human beings literally act like parasites, viruses, and cancers on the planet, such discourse are problematic in its association with the dismal position of eco-fascism, which by all means we want to avoid.

Painting: “The Scream” / “Isbad”, Adam Donaldson Powell, 60 x 80 cm., oil on canvas, 2020.

Fading Faces.

An exciting new art photography exhibition by Karl-Kristian Jahnsen Hus has reached Oslo, Norway. Read my interview with the artist.

“FADING FACES”, Karl-Kristian Jahnsen Hus new art photography exhibition in collaboration with Silk Agency (Norway).

FADING FACES consists of 25 large-format portraits of Simians, 20 of which are black-and-white and 5 in color. The artworks are mainly exhibited in 200 x 133 cm. format, but all are also available in a smaller size (133 x 88 cm.). The artworks are dated from 2017 to 2021 — thus representing four years of work in the field and in the artist’s studio/laboratory. The works are in editions of 5 and 11; with corresponding 2021 prices of NOK55.000,- and NOK18.000,- 

This exhibition opened at a Pop-up gallery at Henrik Ibsensgate 40 in Oslo, conceptualized and driven by Silk Agency. The current exhibition period is from 29.10.21 to 21.11.2021.

INTERVIEW WITH:

KARL-KRISTIAN JAHNSEN HUS (ARTIST).

Interview questions posed by Adam Donaldson Powell (artist/author/critic – Norway) and Katya Ganeshi (author/artist/animal rights activist – Russia).

ADP: Good morning! This exhibition is fascinating — both in terms of the subject matter and ideas behind the exhibition, and the amount and quality of the artistic work put into it. Katya and I would like to pose some questions to you. 

Karl-Kristian, can you tell us about your own process as regards this art project … What was the impetus, how did you go about planning and executing the travel, cooperations and permissions to photograph these beautiful animals? And what is the intention of the exhibition? Is this a teaching and social learning exhibition as well as an exhibition of your creative ideas and skills? 

KKJH: I have always had a deep connection with nature. The main force that got me started with this specific project was from watching a documentary named “Virunga National Park”. Listening to the rangers’ stories and hearing them say, “I’m willing to sacrifice my life for the national park and the animals living here” resonated deeply with me. Before traveling, I find someone local that can take me around the county that I am visiting, we create a plan for the trip, and then I go there. For my art installation “Fading Faces” I have captured images from five different countries, displaying faces of animals that the human-animal easily recognise itself with: monkeys. The art installation is made to help the human-animal open its heart to the living world around them. It is a combination of teaching for social learning, and of showing my creative ideas and skills. Personally, I feel that Art should give the participants something to think about and feel. 

ADP: Do you have any stories or anecdotes from this four-year process — regarding challenges and difficulties, amazing or funny experiences? Please tell us about some of these.

KKJH: When photographing one can become consumed by the process, always wanting to achieve the best that one can do. When I started the project my focus was much on capturing the absolute best expressions I could get, but that focus did not allow me to enjoy the moment. The mentality of always criticising oneself, and of not being satisfied with what I had sometimes gave me the sensation of drowning. So I have let myself step back and observe more, thus allowing myself to be more playful. This has given me much joy, and I think it has made me a better photographer. I have had many wonderful experiences while traveling, and they out-weigh the bad ones. Many situations have been scary: like being charged at by two big silverbacks or having a big male orang-utan swinging down from a tree and trying to grab me. Now, looking back, I think of them all  as good stories. 

ADP: There has been much debate in recent years regarding various ethical issues in relation to artists’ usage of animals (living and dead) in art exhibitions. This particular exhibition embraces social responsibility and the ethic of “doing no harm”, whereby neither the animals nor their environments have been harmed or influenced negatively. Can you tell us about your own artistic and social ethics/politics as regards the question of using animals in Art? Is this exhibition not about allowing the animals to teach humans about better respecting other animals, our shared and not-shared habitats … and eventually saving all species, including humans ourselves? Speak freely, as an artist and as an animal lover. 

KKJH: For me speciesism informs my practice. Moral obligation and respect for life are  essential in my works. Much of my art — not just my photography — encourage greater  awareness to the natural world. Animals and nature have indeed been a source of inspiration for artists through the centuries. I think that we have to look at creating art including non-human-animals in an ethical way. Much as with art including the human-animal, there are many things artists would not do as it is inhuman. It seems to me that some artists don’t always take care of and respect the content that is displayed in their art; but that is perhaps merely a reflection of human societies’ brutality towards the planet. This lack of moral obligation might be the reason why the artist can at times seem to be a cruel and savage person. Or it can be that one tries to mirror the human species lack of empathy towards the living world. In the end, as the creator of art, one has to consider what is ethically right, and not.

ADP: You have primarily chosen to make these portraits in black-and-white. I personally feel that black-and-white portraiture is oftentimes quite effective in portraiture, in that it adds to the mystery, subjectivity,  and intimacy of the moment captured. But why have you — the artist — mainly chosen black-and-white photography for this series? What cameras and lenses have you used? How close were you able to get to the animals, and where were these photos taken? 

KKJH: I think that accepted standards of how a photograph is “supposed” to be displayed has informed us in the way of choosing classic black and white. It has taken photography a long time to be accepted in the Art World. As the black and white format was the first to arrive, it apparently has more value to some than others. Through this four year journey of photographing I now see myself enjoying color photography much more, and it was not until after being introduced to analog photography I came to love colour photography. The old photography masters thought that black and white is the way to display the soul, and that colour can not do so. That can be hard to argue against as one has learned and thought that it is a factum. Photographs displaying the souls of the animals i have encountered is what one will see in the installation. I have selected four photographs that are shown in colour, two shot on a digital camera, and two shot on medium format film. To me, the vibration of colour is an important aspect of truth and artistic expression, and I’m still learning about how different people perceive the colour images in contrast to the black and white ones. I aim to show more of what I personally love, through my photographs … and the colour images are some of the favourite ones in the eyes of the visitors. For the installation I have used four different cameras. I started with a Canon 5D Mark iii, before investing in a Canon 1DX Mark ii, a Leica M10 and a Mamiya afd645. There have been a varity of lenses used, my main choice of lens being a Canon EF 28-300mm, as the build and function suits me. The 25 different photographs are shot in Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Indonesia. The level of professionalism surrounding the governance of the different national parks has varied, and there are rules in place regarding how one should act around these wild animals. You may get close, but not too close — this for both the safety of the animals as well as your own. We can transmit disease between each other. Sometimes the limit for the distance is broken, for example when a young gorilla punched me playfully in the ribs. 

ADP: What is the hoped-for effect of this exhibition? And where do you hope to take it in the future? 

KKJH: The aim is to open up peoples’ minds and hearts to the living world around us. I want to show the installation to as many people as possible, and I care more about the impact it makes than completely selling out the photograph series. I have gotten much positive feedback from the people who have visited the exhibition. 

ADP: And now, Katya Ganeshi, my colleague in Russia has a few questions to ask you, Karl-Kristian. 

KG: How can human thinking be changed with the help of monkeys (and other animals)?

KKJH: For example: the construct of the alpha male in human society, where one has oe be strong, fearless, ruthless and not connected with what’s looked upon as feminine is different within other groups of animals. When experiencing chimpanzees I have (of course) seen the side that we humans refer to as being an alpha. However, that is only one side of being the leader of the group; one also has to be loving and to care for the others in the group.  To me that is true strength.

KG: Can monkey-thinking outperform human-thinking in the future?

KKJH:  If society as known fails and we no longer have a system to depend on for our survival, many of us will starve to death as food could then no longer be obtained at stores. We will then have to go back to our roots: being hunter-gatherers living off the land. As of today most humans cannot perform the task of feeding oneself without the comfort of our society. When we then look to the animal kingdom we can see them being able to sustain themselves, and I think we have much to learn from them when it comes to living with nature instead of destroying it. 

KG: The philosopher Bruno Latour considers modern scientists to be the same “savages and barbarians.” Do you share his opinion?

KKJH: Sadly there is a lot of harm being done in the name of science “for the better of humanity”. Playing at being gods and harming life through this justification is a sure sign of speciesism. 

ADP: Thank you Karl-Kristian, Jesper, and Katya. Katya and I wish for the best of success with this most important exhibition.

Norsk versjon:

“FADING FACES”, Karl-Kristian Jahnsen Hus ny kunstfotoutstilling i samarbeid med Silk Agency (Norge).

FADING FACES består av 25 storformatportretter av Simians, hvorav 20 er svart-hvitt og 5 i farger. Kunstverkene er hovedsakelig utstilt i 200 x 133 cm. format, men alle finnes også i en mindre størrelse (133 x 88 cm.). Kunstverkene er datert fra 2017 til 2021 – og representerer dermed fire års arbeid i felt og i kunstnerens atelier/laboratorium. Verkene er i opplag av 5 og 11; med tilsvarende 2021-priser på NOK 55.000,- og NOK 18.000,- Denne utstillingen åpnet på et Pop-up-galleri i Henrik Ibsensgate 40 i Oslo, konseptualisert og drevet av Silk Agency. Gjeldende utstillingsperiode er fra 29.10.21 til 21.11.2021.

INTERVJU MED KARL-KRISTIAN JAHNSEN HUS (KUNSTNER). Intervjuspørsmål stilt av Adam Donaldson Powell (kunstner/forfatter/kritiker – Norge) og Katya Ganeshi (forfatter/kunstner/dyrerettighetsaktivist – Russland).

ADP: God morgen! Denne utstillingen er fascinerende – både med tanke på emnet og ideene bak utstillingen, og mengden og kvaliteten på det kunstneriske arbeidet som legges ned i den. Katya og jeg vil gjerne stille noen spørsmål til deg. Karl-Kristian, kan du fortelle oss om din egen prosess med dette kunstprosjektet … Hva var drivkraften, hvordan gikk du frem for å planlegge og gjennomføre reisen, samarbeidene og tillatelsene til å fotografere disse vakre dyrene? Og hva er intensjonen med utstillingen? Er dette en undervisnings- og sosiallæringsutstilling så vel som en utstilling av dine kreative ideer og ferdigheter?

KKJH: Jeg har alltid hatt en dyp forbindelse med naturen. Hovedkraften som fikk meg i gang med dette spesifikke prosjektet var fra å se en dokumentar kalt “Virunga National Park”. Å lytte til skogvokternes historier og høre dem si: «Jeg er villig til å ofre livet mitt for nasjonalparken og dyrene som bor her», ga meg dyp gjenklang. Før jeg reiser finner jeg en person som kan ta meg rundt i fylket jeg besøker, vi lager en plan for turen, og så drar jeg dit. For kunstinstallasjonen min «Fading Faces» har jeg tatt bilder fra fem forskjellige land, som viser ansikter av dyr som menneske-dyr lett kjenner seg igjen med: aper. Kunstinstallasjonen er laget for å hjelpe menneske-dyret til å åpne hjertet sitt for den levende verden rundt dem. Det er en kombinasjon av undervisning for sosial læring, og av å vise mine kreative ideer og ferdigheter. Personlig føler jeg at kunst skal gi deltakerne noe å tenke på og føle på.

ADP: Har du noen historier eller anekdoter fra denne fire år lange prosessen – angående utfordringer og vanskeligheter, fantastiske eller morsomme opplevelser? Fortell oss gjerne om noen av disse.

KKJH: Når man fotograferer kan man bli oppslukt av prosessen, og alltid ønske å oppnå det beste man kan gjøre. Da jeg startet prosjektet var fokuset mitt mye på å fange de absolutt beste uttrykkene jeg kunne få, men det fokuset tillot meg ikke å nyte øyeblikket. Mentaliteten med å alltid kritisere seg selv, og å ikke være fornøyd med det jeg hadde, ga meg noen ganger følelsen av å drukne. Så jeg har latt meg gå tilbake og observere mer, og dermed tillatt meg selv å være mer leken. Dette har gitt meg mye glede, og jeg tror det har gjort meg til en bedre fotograf. Jeg har hatt mange fantastiske opplevelser mens jeg er på reise, og de oppveier de dårlige. Mange situasjoner har vært skumle: som å bli overfalt av to store sølvrygger eller å ha en stor mannlig orang-utang som svinger seg ned fra et tre og prøver å gripe meg. Nå, når jeg ser tilbake, tenker jeg på dem alle som gode historier.

ADP: Det har vært mye debatt de siste årene om ulike etiske spørsmål i forhold til kunstneres bruk av dyr (levende og døde) i kunstutstillinger. Denne spesielle utstillingen omfavner sosialt ansvar og etikken om å “ikke gjøre noen skade”, der verken dyrene eller deres omgivelser har blitt skadet eller påvirket negativt. Kan du fortelle oss om din egen kunstneriske og sosiale etikk/politikk når det gjelder spørsmålet om bruk av dyr i kunsten? Handler ikke denne utstillingen om å la dyrene lære mennesker om bedre respekt for andre dyr, våre delte og ikke-delte habitater … og til slutt redde alle arter, inkludert mennesker selv? Snakk fritt, som kunstner og som dyreelsker.

KKJH: Når man fotograferer kan man bli oppslukt av prosessen, og alltid ønske å oppnå det beste man kan gjøre. Da jeg startet prosjektet var fokuset mitt mye på å fange de absolutt beste uttrykkene jeg kunne få, men det fokuset tillot meg ikke å nyte øyeblikket. Mentaliteten med å alltid kritisere seg selv, og å ikke være fornøyd med det jeg hadde, ga meg noen ganger følelsen av å drukne. Så jeg har latt meg gå tilbake og observere mer, og dermed tillatt meg selv å være mer leken. Dette har gitt meg mye glede, og jeg tror det har gjort meg til en bedre fotograf. Jeg har hatt mange fantastiske opplevelser mens jeg er på reise, og de oppveier de dårlige. Mange situasjoner har vært skumle: som å bli overfalt av to store sølvrygger eller å ha en stor mannlig orang-utang som svinger seg ned fra et tre og prøver å gripe meg. Nå, når jeg ser tilbake, tenker jeg på dem alle som gode historier. KKJH: For meg er artsisme grunnlaget for min praksis. Moralsk forpliktelse og respekt for livet er avgjørende i mine arbeider. Mye av kunsten min – ikke bare fotograferingen min – oppmuntrer til større bevissthet om den naturlige verden. Dyr og natur har virkelig vært en kilde til inspirasjon for kunstnere gjennom århundrene. Jeg tror at vi må se på å skape kunst inkludert ikke-menneskelige dyr på en etisk måte. På samme måte som med kunst inkludert menneske-dyr, er det mange ting kunstnere ikke ville gjort, siden det er umenneskelig. Det virker for meg som om noen kunstnere ikke alltid tar vare på og respekterer innholdet som vises i kunsten deres; men det er kanskje bare en refleksjon av menneskelige samfunns brutalitet mot planeten. Denne mangelen på moralsk forpliktelse kan være årsaken til at kunstneren til tider kan virke som en grusom og vill person. Eller det kan være at man prøver å speile menneskeartens mangel på empati overfor den levende verden. Til slutt, som skaper av kunst, må man vurdere hva som er etisk riktig, og ikke.

ADP: Du har først og fremst valgt å lage disse portrettene i svart-hvitt. Jeg personlig føler at svart-hvitt-portretter ofte er ganske effektive i portretter, ved at det øker mystikken, subjektiviteten og intimiteten til øyeblikket som fanges. Men hvorfor har du – kunstneren – hovedsakelig valgt svart-hvitt-fotografi til denne serien? Hvilke kameraer og objektiver har du brukt? Hvor nærme var du i stand til å komme dyrene, og hvor ble disse bildene tatt?

KKJH: Jeg tror at aksepterte standarder for hvordan et fotografi “skal” vises har informert oss om hvordan vi velger klassisk svart-hvitt. Det har tatt fotografering lang tid å bli akseptert i kunstverdenen. Siden svart-hvitt-formatet var det første som kom, har det tilsynelatende mer verdi for noen enn andre. Gjennom denne fire år lange reisen med fotografering ser jeg nå at jeg liker fargefotografering mye mer, og det var ikke før etter å ha blitt introdusert for analog fotografering jeg begynte å elske fargefotografering. De gamle fotomestrene trodde at svart-hvitt er måten å vise sjelen på, og at farge ikke kan gjøre det. Det kan være vanskelig å argumentere mot ettersom man har lært og trodd at det er et faktum. Fotografier som viser sjelene til dyrene jeg har møtt er det man vil se i installasjonen. Jeg har valgt ut fire bilder som vises i farger, to tatt med digitalkamera og to tatt på film i medium format. For meg er fargevibrasjonen et viktig aspekt ved sannhet og kunstnerisk uttrykk, og jeg lærer fortsatt om hvordan forskjellige mennesker oppfatter fargebildene i kontrast til de svarte og hvite. Jeg har som mål å vise mer av det jeg personlig elsker, gjennom fotografiene mine … og fargebildene er noen av favorittbildene i øynene til de besøkende. Til installasjonen har jeg brukt fire forskjellige kameraer. Jeg begynte med en Canon 5D Mark iii, før jeg investerte i en Canon 1DX Mark ii, en Leica M10 og en Mamiya afd645. Det har vært brukt en rekke objektiver, mitt hovedvalg av objektiv er et Canon EF 28-300mm, ettersom konstruksjonen og funksjonen passer meg. De 25 forskjellige fotografiene er tatt i Etiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania og Indonesia. Graden av profesjonalitet rundt styringen av de ulike nasjonalparkene har variert, og det er regler for hvordan man bør opptre rundt disse ville dyrene. Du kan komme nærme, men ikke for nærme – dette for både sikkerheten til dyrene og din egen. Vi kan overføre sykdom mellom hverandre. Noen ganger brytes grensen for avstanden, for eksempel når en ung gorilla slo meg lekent i ribbeina.

ADP: Hva er den forventede effekten av denne utstillingen? Og hvor håper du å ta det i fremtiden?

KKJH: Målet er å åpne opp folks sinn og hjerter for den levende verden rundt oss. Jeg ønsker å vise installasjonen til så mange som mulig, og bryr meg mer om virkningen den gir enn å selge helt ut bildeserien. Jeg har fått mange positive tilbakemeldinger fra de som har besøkt utstillingen.

ADP: Og nå har Katya Ganeshi, kollegaen min i Russland, noen spørsmål å stille deg, Karl-Kristian.

KG: Hvordan kan menneskelig tenkning endres ved hjelp av aper (og andre dyr)?

KKJH: For eksempel: Konstruksjonen av alfahannen i det menneskelige samfunn, hvor man må være sterk, fryktløs, hensynsløs og ikke koblet til det som blir sett på som feminint, er annerledes innenfor andre grupper av dyr. Når jeg opplever sjimpanser har jeg (selvfølgelig) sett siden vi mennesker omtaler som en alfa. Det er imidlertid bare én side ved å være leder for gruppen; man må også være kjærlig og ta vare på de andre i gruppen. For meg er det sann styrke.

KG: Kan apetenkning utkonkurrere menneskelig tenkning i fremtiden?

KKJH: Hvis samfunnet som kjent svikter og vi ikke lenger har et system å være avhengig av for å overleve, vil mange av oss sulte i hjel ettersom mat da ikke lenger kunne skaffes i butikker. Vi må da tilbake til røttene våre: å være jeger-samlere som lever av landet. Per i dag kan de fleste mennesker ikke utføre oppgaven med å mate seg selv uten komforten til samfunnet vårt. Når vi så ser til dyreriket kan vi se at de klarer å opprettholde seg selv, og jeg tror vi har mye å lære av dem når det gjelder å leve med naturen i stedet for å ødelegge den.

KG: Filosofen Bruno Latour anser moderne vitenskapsmenn for å være de samme «villmennene og barbarene». Deler du hans mening?

KKJH: Dessverre er det mye skade som blir gjort i vitenskapens navn “til det beste for menneskeheten”. Å leke med å være guder og skade livet gjennom denne begrunnelsen er et sikkert tegn på artsisme.

ADP: Takk Karl-Kristian, Jesper og Katya. Katya og jeg ønsker lykke til med denne viktigste utstillingen.

En español:

Fading Faces — en Español

En français :

Fading Faces — en français

Here are a few of the ape portraits in the exhibition:

See the virtual exhibition here:

https://www.karl-kristianjahnsenhus.com/360-virtual-exhibition

Karl-Kristian J. Hus was raised on a small island called Bjorøy at the Norwegian coast on the outskirts of Bergen. Exploring the field of fine art photography while working as a carpenter and constantly developing relations and interest in the object of nature and animals, has given him a unique sensation. After using a broad selection of means to enhance this skill, he is now immersing his expertise through visual arts school in Australia.

Exhibition list:

Faces of the ones without a human voice – Solo – 2018 – Vault Studios Bergen

Wild Ones – Group – 2019 – Lyons Gallery Sydney

Open Day Exhibition – Group – 2019 – University of Wollongong

Fading Faces – Solo – 2020 – Veiten 1 Bergen city, Norway

Fading Faces – Solo – 2020 – 2021 – Seimsfoss Industrial hall, Norway

Fading Faces -Solo – 2021 – Henrik Ibsens gate 40, Oslo, Norway

29.OKTOBER – 21.NOVEMBER

Åpningstider:

Man-Fre: 14.00-20.00

Lør: 11.00-18.00

See ADAP’s youtube video on the photographer here:

Visit Karl-Kristian’s website at https://karl-kristianjahnsenhus.com/