Seven Thousand Oaks is an inspiring and captivating new festival celebrating the work of artists engaging with sustainability and the environment.
Melbourne - June 17 to July 24th
The inaugural Seven Thousand Oaks festival (7KO) will host over 20 artists exploring the issue of sustainability in venues including the Heide Sculpture Garden, Guildford Gallery, The City Square, Donkey Wheel and in the Wimmera district in country Victoria.
There will be programs presented by artists from across a range of creative fields including visual art, music, education, public art and installations.
The festival is the brainchild of Miyuki Jokiranta who established 7KO, a not for profit organisation, to create a space where art and sustainability connect. Miyuki is a radio maker, a linguist and a cultural researcher whose goal is to raise awareness around meaningful issues. Completing her Bachelor’s in Journalism, at New York University, Miyuki freelanced for a range of National Public Radio programs, including their flagship environmental science program, Living on Earth. She went on to complete a Master’s Degree in International Affairs at New School University, where she focused on the impact of cultural activity on quality of life.
Miyuki explains further where the inspiration and idea for 7KO festival came from;
"The name of the organisation and the festival comes from an art work of the same name. Joseph Beuys was a German artist who was active in the 60s and 70s, was one of the founding members of the German Greens party and was interested in the role of the arts in shaping society. He came up with the idea, '7000 oaks', where he planted seven thousand oaks around the world. As part of the work he asked people to help him in the actual planting of the trees, and encouraged discussions on the issues they represented and challenged people to take these ideas and incorporate them into their individual lives.
I had just returned from a long stint overseas and was trying to figure out how to fit back in when I read about the 7000 oaks work. The ideas really resonated with me, so I wrote to the remaining Beuys family (Joseph having passed away a few years ago) and asked if I could extend the philosophy behind the work and create an organisation that would support a community of artists working with similar Beuysian ideas. They graciously accepted and that's how 7KO was born."
So how has Miyuki been able to put such an unique and inspirational event together?, "It has been hard work in order to realise the inaugural festival, but made a lot easier when I'm surrounded by three amazing curators and several creative visionaries."
There is also another motivation and necessity for the inception and development of the 7KO festival and that is through the transformative power of art, addressing the critical issue of sustainability through cultural contexts, resulting in the exchange of ideas and discussion between artists as well as opening up and bringing art into the public sphere.
"Compelling new works are being created by artists as they grapple with the threats to our natural environment, fusing both creative and practical approaches. 7KO is intended to inspire, foster dialogue amongst artists and the public and support best practice", said Miyuki Jokiranta.
In a similar way, the objectives of 7KO are to Educate, Celebrate and Connect artists through creating a repository of information for artists addressing sustainability in their work, and to celebrate and support artists engaging in the issue of sustainability by finding space for their work in the public sphere.
The festival will also provide a forum for connecting artists who are working with the idea of sustainability with cross-disciplinary professionals to share best practise and sustainability solutions.
The festival kicks off on June 17th at Guilford Lane Gallery with Adaptation, the visual art exhibition and the first event within the 6-week festival program. Guy Abrahams, Al Gore Climate Change speaker and director of the Christine Abrahams Gallery, will open the festival. More Information
Next in the 7KO line-up is Touch at a Distance at Heide Sculpture Garden. Touch at a Distance is a day of music, installations and soundwalks in the Heide Sculpture Park and will take place on Sunday June 20. It explores the importance of listening to and developing a more sustainable approach to our presence in the environment and community. Artists from around Australia will inhabit Heide's beautiful gardens throughout the day, allowing you to wander and experience the event at your own pace. More Information
Every Saturday during the festival the public art program, Arena, will take place on the streets of Melbourne at City Square, where five artists will present a series of interactive public artworks. These will include works by Sarah Duyshart, QingLan Huang, Jen Rae and Public Assembly artists Lynda Robert and Ceri Hann.
The artists each will develop artworks/interventions, endeavouring to use sustainable practices, processes and materials that engage the public and encourage them to become participants in shaping the outcome of the work. More Information
A unique event which has been put together by the organisers as part of the festival is the unique Plant Out, a tree planting on July 16 - 18. This is an event which has been organised in association with local Landcare group, Project Platypus. More Information
Other concurrent programs and events happening as part of the festival include an event at Donkey Wheel which will be a day of workshops, talks, and demonstrations. 7KO will open the floor to community leaders and creative masterminds working on the frontlines of the art and sustainability conversation.
In the beautiful Wimmera region artists, festival workers, supporters, and the public will be invited to participate in the planting of she-okes as a means of extending the original 7KO project by Joseph Beuys and providing an opportunity to learn about and experience the re-establishment of native Australian flora.
Opportunities to creatively contribute to positive change are growing. I think more and more opportunities are going to crop up for social-issue based creative work. There is a feeling of malaise around the climate crisis conversation and the arts are so dynamic and full of exceptional thinkers and practitioners, I think the space is opening up to re-imagine the ideas that the scientists, politicians and economists have put on the table to find, hopefully, much more fun and engaging ways to participate in changing the direction we are heading.
Several creative networks already exist where people can contribute to the dialogue, Bindarri and 7KO being just two, that people can hook up with.
I'm really excited about the festival as a whole and have spread the festival program over a number of weeks so hopefully people will be able to come along to most of it. I think 'Arena' on City Square will be pretty arresting, as five artists fill the space with fallen trees and snowscapes, weatherstorms and narrowcast (a radio broadcast with a small receiver area) a live-mix of content gathered on the street that same day. Also 'Touch at a Distance' music program at Heide will be the first of it's kind. Instead of one stage and playing times, people will be given a map to wander through the sculpture park and stumble on the seven musicians, installations and soundwalks offered throughout the day.
The festival is just a physical manifestation of some of the ideas that have been gestating on the website for a couple of years. Along with a news and resources section, I'm building a catalogue of artists working within the field of ideas and a supplier database that lists arts suppliers with more sustainable approaches to materials. I'm curious to see how the festival goes as to whether it's the right format, but 7KO definitely has a future in putting artists and art works into public space and in the forefront of the sustainability dialogue.
The term 'creative industries' conjures up an image in my mind of a steam train barreling down the tracks from industrialization to doomsday, with the mind control engineer shoveling fresh beings into the furnace with an ipad on a stick. Maybe I'm attempting to wake the sleepers up ahead with a morse code whistle blow, but will this derail this insane train of thought or just amuse it's thinker?
The notion of sustainable self interest, that is to say that improving things for people fairly locally will ultimately improve your own situation. It might be said that 'An I for a you and the whole world is supported'
Research what's in your food and water so you can eat well and be well to think well and do well.
I'm planning on running group learning activities in Public spaces, where people can step out of line with out stepping on toes.
It depends from what perspective your looking from - I have a background in architecture, yet my practice looks at the social space in between buildings, or uses sound as a form of temporal architecture or strives to enable a creative 'bottom-up' rather than a 'top down' approach...
Also, I think it's important to be a good listener - listening to the site, it's conditions, it's social & political context, it's people and let that drive the work. I'm also interested in how to create an authentic and emotive engagement -
yet touches the world lightly - through temporal or fleeting mediums.
Going on protest marches in my uni days in the early nineties started to feel futile.... I had thought that social change could be facilitated through architecture - but the medium of art (as a spatial medium) I found to be far more potent - especially after seeing works of immerse installation artists like Christian Boltanski.
Stop and really listen! Question everything and keep positive.
Learn to stop, keep positive, question everything and listen!
My work addresses issues of sustainability through an interdisciplinary art practice and research. In today's unprecedented climate, artists are in a unique position to address issues such as the environment. Art has a transformative capacity to critique and question social norms and present alternative perspectives to problems and solutions. It's creative potential is limitless and it can offer alternative visions for a better world. Art has the ability to transcend the narrow limits of specialization because it is moderated through different criteria than most disciplines. It embodies a freedom of thought and expression, often costs less, achieves greater community support and in most cases is not expected to result in profit and/or published results. Artists have a greater sense of fluidity to synthesise new ideas and communicate connections between seemingly disparate points outside of disciplines and thus capable of redefining the scope of a project at any stage.
In 2004, I watched a water main break in the streets of Montreal, Canada. It was below 30°C. Due to the freezing temperatures, the gushing water began to create an ice sculpture on the sidewalk. As hundreds of litres of fresh water streamed out of the broken pipe, hardly anyone stopped to notice. It marked a poetic turning-point moment for me. I learned later that water main breaks were a common occurrence in Montreal, where the old fresh water pipes run parallel to the old waste water pipes. It is a water contamination catastrophe waiting to happen. At the time, I was doing my Masters in Studio Arts at Concordia University and reading the McDonough and Braungart's book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. I started to question my role as an artist and as a producer of objects in a time of great ecological uncertainty.
Failure is not an ending point and questioning leads to new discoveries. Self-sustainability is essential for you to continue day-to-day, month-to-month and into the future. Lead with your vision and integrity and nurture your relationships at home and out in the world. I love Joseph Campbell's phrase 'Follow your bliss' and the rest will unfold.
"You begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss and they open the doors for you.I say follow your bliss and don't be afraid and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be." - Joseph Campbell
On a pragmatic level - finish my PhD. In the upcoming near future, I am working on a dynamic collaborative project with a with an environmental lawyer and waterways engineer. Our project uses art to communicate an environmental issue to a larger population, with the aim to achieve legislative and policy reform on the issue. It is my hope that this work will lead to other projects for myself and other artists interested in working collaboratively on real-world social and environmental issues.
The ability or freedom to remain abstract. You don't have to use words. Which means you don't feel like you're bombarding the viewer. Of course informing the public is crucial however it is nice to offset this literal dialogue with visual / aural experiences for the general viewer, which at a glance may not necessarily be obviously related to the issue at hand.
I was asked. I chose to respond because I saw an opportunity to respond to an issue using a 'non-flooded' medium. ie. art. The public are often presented the with the science and politics associated with climate change. It is a saturated topic in many people's mind and it therefore runs the risk of people 'turning-off' from it. Being an artist that doesn't focus on issues of environmental sustainability I saw an opportunity to contribute to the move towards a universal change of attitude. Relating my work to issues of environmental sustainability was an example of any single person or business placing the issue as a priority alongside their day to day choices/activities. it should also be said however that a lot of the themes in my artwork do relate to the issue of environmental sustainability on a poetic level. eg. fragility, temporality, fleetingness, traces, irreversibility etc.
The power is in the individual. Every person's contribution matters. Not only have I refined my methods of selection and consumption in my art practice, but this process has also found me turning down products or promotional offers, for example, from other businesses in the community that I feel could improve the efficiency of their business/practice without having to resort to unenvironmentally sound approaches/policies. I think what you choose to engage in is just as important as choosing and demonstrating what you don't take part in.
Using up all the materials in my studio to date. I have a tendency to accumulate masses of mediums and materials. I have found it refreshing to have to carefully consider everything I purchase and consume. I have been surprised at how many times I was able to improvise with what I already have had in my studio as opposed to just heading down the the hardware store.....again. It will be difficult as my projects tend to exist on a large scale with peculiar parameters, however this process has heightened my value of efficient methods, efficient material and efficient design.
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