“[Banerjee’s] exacting nature studies have made him a notable figure in the environmental movement. His three photographs here [Tufts University Art Gallery] are big in scale, in spirit, in impact. They’re magnificent, really. He concentrates on animal life: reindeer, migratory birds, caribou. The most striking image in a show full of striking images may be his photograph of caribou migrating in the snow. Seen from above, they look like ants atop sugar or cotton. This isn’t a bird’s–eye view. It’s a God’s–eye view. From that perspective, humans look no less insect–like. All are God’s creation, though only some have stewardship.” —Mark Feeney, The Boston Globe, review of Seeing Glacial Time: Climate Change in the Arctic exhibition, 10 February 2014
“The most powerful work in the show is Banerjee’s large–scale color photographs. … An advocate for Arctic conservation and indigenous human rights, Banerjee holds masters degrees in both physics and computer science, which is somewhat ironic given that his work is the most aesthetically interesting. The e–publication that accompanies the exhibition includes extensive notes by the photographer that informatively and thoughtfully address the effects of climate change in the regions he covers.” —Dr. Michelle Lamunière, caa.reviews, College Art Association, review of Seeing Glacial Time exhibition, 22 October 2014
On 23 January 2015, the Nottingham Contemporary in the UK opened a major exhibition, RIGHTS OF NATURE: ART AND ECOLOGY IN THE AMERICAS. The exhibition is curated by Dr. TJ Demos and Dr. Alex Farquharson, with Irene Aristizábal. The Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones selected Rights of Nature as the EXHIBITION OF THE WEEK. Eight of my photographs of Arctic Alaska from the permanent collection of Lannan Foundation are included in the exhibition. On 24 January, the Nottingham Contemporary presented an international conference, RIGHTS OF NATURE. Throughout the day there were many wonderful talks and spirited conversations. TJ Demos gave an expansive and critical overview; I spoke about the Arctic, while Brian Holmes took us to Argentina; Eriel Tchekwie Deranger of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation told us about the devastation from tar sands extraction adjacent to her homeland in Alberta; Ursula Biemann took us to Ecuador, Elizabeth Peredo to Bolivia, Fernando Palma Rodríguez to Mexico, and Mabe Bethônico to Brazil—are just a few examples. You can view the entire conference on YouTube on two separate sessions [MORNING SESSION | AFTERNOON SESSION]. My talk, “Rights of Nature—Says Who?” starts at 2:15:01 and ends at 2:40:39 of the morning session. I begin with a rift and end with a mend.
The Rights of Nature international conference, Nottingham Contemporary, UK, 24 January 2015.
Subhankar’s lecture, “Rights of Nature—Says Who?” begins at 2:15:01 and ends at 2:40:39.
President Obama Calls on Congress to Protect Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Wilderness
On 25 January 2015, the U.S. Department of Interior released a Comprehensive Conservation Plan to “better sustain and manage” the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Furthermore, President Obama announced his “plans to ask Congress to designate the Coastal Plain and other core areas of the refuge as wilderness.” Following the announcement, the conservation community placed a full–page ad in The New York Times to thank the President, in which I’m a signatory. For more information about the Arctic NWR, see my books, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land (Mountaineers Books, 2003), and Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point (Seven Stories Press, 2013). The Gwich’in Nation, the conservation community, and millions of people across the United States, are hoping that after all these years the Congress will heed the President’s call.
President Obama announcing his decision on 25 January 2015 (watch on YouTube).
Shell’s Arctic Ambition In Relation to President Obama’s Arctic Ocean Decision
On 27 January 2015, the White House announced that President Obama is withdrawing “9.8 million acres in the waters of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas” in Arctic Alaska from future oil and gas lease sales. The areas designated as off–limits by the President include the biologically rich Hanna Shoal in the Chukchi Sea. On January 29, Shell announced its intention to drill in the Chukchi Sea during the 2015 open–water season. The Real News Network (TRNN) Executive Producer Sharmini Peries did a two–part interview with Leah Donahey, Arctic Ocean Campaign Director at the Alaska Wilderness League, and I. The part I focuses on Shell’s announcement in relation to President’s decision. Shell still needs several permits from the Obama administration before it can return to the Chukchi Sea. The tribal Iñupiat community members and environmental organizations are urging the President to deny Shell those permits. READ THE WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCEMENT |
THE GUARDIAN ON SHELL’S ANNOUNCEMENT
The Real News Network interview, part I (watch on YouTube).
In part II of the interview with Sharmini Peries, Leah Donahey and I discuss climate, conservation and exploitation in the Arctic Ocean, as well as the fact that the United States will take over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council this April and its significance.
The Real News Network interview, part II (watch on YouTube).
On 30 January 2014, Shell announced that the company has shelved its plan to drill in the Alaskan Arctic in 2014. The Inupiat community, in partnership with environmental organizations, had filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Interior, for not properly evaluating the environmental impacts of drilling in the Arctic Ocean. The US Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit agreed; handed us a victory, following which Shell shelved its 2014 drilling plan.
READ THE ARCTICLE ON COMMON DREAMS
For more information on the campaign to stop Shell’s Arctic drilling, see my essay “BPing the Arctic?” (READ ONLINE)
in the paperback edition of the anthology, Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point (Seven Stories Press, 2013); my letter to the editor “Can Shell Be Stopped?” (READ ONLINE)
in The New York Review of Books (6 June 2013);
and my interview “Looming Deadline Creates Window for Protests to Stop Shell’s Arctic Drilling” (VIEW ONLINE) with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on Democracy Now! (20 July 2012).
Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point
Edited by Subhankar Banerjee
Seven Stories Press, New York, hardcover 3 July 2012, updated pbk 22 October 2013
Read my introduction, “From Kolkata to Kaktovik”, in Arctic Voices (READ ONLINE )
“In Arctic Voices, long–term issues of global importance—the exploitation of wild places for fossil fuels, and whether we’re determined to ride our energy binge to the grim end—are made immediate and vivid … One of the great strengths of Arctic Voices is that it shows how Alaska and the Arctic are tied to the places where most of us live. … In this impassioned book, Banerjee shows a situation so serious that it has created a movement, where “voices of resistance are gathering, are getting louder and louder.” May his heartfelt efforts magnify them.”—Ian Frazier, The New York Review of Books
“Part of our failure to recognise the dangers at stake is that the Arctic still tends to be perceived as a big barren desert of ice, apolitical and disconnected from our political concerns, up for grabs. The book Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point offers an encyclopedic approach to reframe such understandings.”—Manuela Picq, Al Jazeera
“The volume’s most outstanding feature is that it shows the Arctic not as a sublime wilderness devoid of human beings, but as a region in which people have been living for a long time, and in which contemporary developments threaten not only nature, but in a great measure also indigenous cultures. … Through making both victimisation and resistance visible, Arctic Voices is itself an important contribution to the struggle for environmental justice in the far North.”—Reinhard Hennig, Ecozon@: European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment
Art and Politics Now
by Anthony Downey
Thames and Hudson, London, 21 October 2014
“Artist, educator and activist Subhankar Banerjee’s project Land–as–Home (2000–) consists of two large–scale series, Arctic and Desert. Both are concerned with a number of interconnected issues, not least the shelter and food that the earth affords its inhabitants and how these basic elements of life are under threat from industrialized societies. … In Gwich’in and the Caribou (2007), we see two members of the Gwich’in community skinning caribou, an image that reflects on the broader issue of their struggle to save the calving ground of the caribou from oil and gas development.”—Andrew Downey, excerpted from Art and Politics Now
Undermining: A Wild Ride Through Land Use, Politics, and Art in the Changing West
by Lucy R. Lippard
New Press, New York, 15 April 2014
“The photographers represented in this book are among those who are deeply aware of the meanings embedded in their images, even when they are not obvious. Some, like Subhankar Banerjee, known for his stunning images of the Arctic and his eloquent advocacy on its behalf, declare themselves activists first and artists second. … Many are not challenging their medium in art world terms, because individual style may not be their primary concern; in fact, it can be difficult to distinguish their works. Yet there is a fundamental disjunction: when even the most critical photographs are exhibited, they become art objects. Their activism is in danger of being diminished by context.”—Lucy R. Lippard, excerpted from Undermining
Critical Landscapes: Art, Space, Politics
by Emily Eliza Scott (Editor), Kirsten Swenson (Editor)
University of California Press, Berkeley, June 2015
The book includes an essay by Professor Ashley Dawson, in which he discusses my work.
A Companion to American Art
by John Davis (Editor), Jennifer A. Greenhill (Editor), Jason D. LaFountain (Editor)
The book includes an essay by Professor Alan Braddock, in which he discusses my work.
The Environmental Dance
by Subhankar Banerjee
in Social Text journal Periscope dossier Radical Materialism, November 2014
Edited by Ashley Dawson and Emily Eliza Scott (forthcoming
Routledge Handbook of Religion and Ecology
I’m writing the Art chapter in the Environmental Humanities section of the anthology, Routledge Handbook of Religion and Ecology. Edited by Mary Evelyn Tucker, John Grim, and Willis Jenkins (Routledge, 2016
Emergent Possibilities for Global Sustainability: Intersections of Race, Class and Gender, Vol. II
I’m writing an essay “Long Environmentalism: An Interpretive Study of Collaborative Engagements” that will appear in the anthology provisionally titled, Emergent Possibilities for Global Sustainability: Intersections of Race, Class and Gender, Vol. II. Edited by Phoebe C. Godfrey and Denise Torres (Routledge). This essay is based on a keynote lecture, “LONG ENVIRONMENTALISM,” I gave at the 27th Annual Meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts, PostNatural, at the University of Notre Dame in 2013.
Ecocriticism and Indigenous Studies: Conversations from Earth to Cosmos
I’m writing an essay “Bearing Witness: Seeing the Far North Anew” that will appear in the anthology, From Earth to Cosmos: Indigenous Eco–Perspectives of Resistance, Resilience, and Multi–Species Relations. Edited by Joni Adamson and Salma Monani (Routledge, 2016).
The Varieties of Environmental Violence
by Subhankar Banerjee, Los Angeles Review of Books, 22 November 2013
This essay is a review of Rob Nixon’s book, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Harvard University Press, 2011, paperback 2013)
“Slow Violence is an important contribution to the growing field of ecocriticism… Nixon further broadens the scope of ecocriticism by bringing postcolonial studies to the table… Slow Violence is the first book in environmental literary studies to explore the connection between natural resource extraction and petro–imperialism… Slow Violence eschews dense prose and indecipherable academic jargon for the rigorous, clear writing of someone with the mind of a critic and the heart of a humanist. From now on, thanks to this book, no discussion on environmentalism would be complete without taking slow violence into account”.
Ought We Not to Establish ‘Access to Food’ As a Species Right?
by Subhankar Banerjee
in Third Text special issue Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology
Volume 27, Issue 1, January 2013, Routledge, London
Edited by T. J. Demos
“The Gwich’in do not inhabit the coastal plain, they do not go there to hunt, they do not even walk there, and yet they are making a claim for its protection. For all these reasons, I would call this a right–to–food claim; by making this claim they are fighting to protect access to food for human and non–human communities—caribou for the Gwich’in, and cotton grass for the caribou, during calving time”.
Photography’s Silence of (Non)Human Communities
by Subhankar Banerjee
in all our relations, the 18th Biennale of Sydney catalogue (Biennale of Sydney, 2012)
Edited by Catherine de Zegher and Gerald McMaster
“I think photography is a kin of philosophy—both help us raise questions about ‘our time’. In that regard, photography can never be dead, as any time is different than what came before. In the climate ravaged Anthropocene era that we have entered, photography has an immense potential to help us raise new questions about the survival of all species”.
Of Survival: Climate Change and Uncanny Landscape in the Photography of Subhankar Banerjee
by Yates McKee
in Impasses of the Post–Global: Theory in the Era of Climate Change, Vol. 2 (Open Humanities Press, 2012)
Edited by Henry Sussman
“Banerjee is concerned with…a relay between media and survival [as Judith Butler writes in, Frames of War: When is Life Grievable?], which he stages in terms of the specific formal and historical problems pertaining to photography as a medium. The images exemplify [Eduardo] Cadava’s axiom that ‘there can be no image that is not about destruction and survival, and this is especially the case in the image of ruin’ … Banerjee’s images are ‘images of ruin’ … The uncanniness of landscape identified by [Jean–Luc] Nancy…is exacerbated by Banerjee throughout his oeuvre… Marked by traces, trails, and vestiges of a global ecological history…Banerjee’s uncanny landscapes speak to a project of climate justice… To paraphrase Walter Benjamin’s remark on Eugene Atget—Banerjee photographs every single inch of the Arctic as if it were the scene of a crime”.
Photography Changes Our Awareness of Global Issues and Responsibilities
by Subhankar Banerjee
in Photography Changes Everything, (co-published by Aperture and the Smithsonian Institution, 2012)
Edited by Marvin Heiferman
“Perhaps in both of these motifs—land–as–scenery and man–altered–landscape—photography has moved too quickly from scenery to destruction, without paying enough attention to the complex relationships and the lived experiences inhabitants have with a land. Perhaps this is inevitable, because American land conservation, from its inception, has tended to separate man from nature, and the medium of photography only reinforces such a philosophy. … Perhaps at no time in the history of humankind has our planet’s ecological fabric been this degraded and life on earth so threatened. … Edward Steichen…once said, The mission of photography is to explain man to man and each man to himself. This is a tall order, but I think photography must also play a critical role in establishing our relationship to the environment and all other species with whom we share this planet.”
Reframing the Last Frontier: Subhankar Banerjee and the Visual Politics of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
by Finis Dunaway
in A Keener Perception: Ecocritical Studies in American Art History, (University of Alabama Press, 2009)
Edited by Alan Braddock and Christoph Irmscher
“By the time Senator Boxer displayed one of his polar bear pictures, Banerjee had moved beyond the dueling frontier visions that have tended to frame the debate over oil drilling. Perhaps he had realized as well that these visions ultimately reinforce one another, as they both portray ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] as a remote place, disconnected from everyday life. Banerjee’s striking aesthetic compositions, together with his attention to ecological context, reframe the Arctic landscape and question some of the reigning assumptions about the relationship between nature and culture in modern America. His work makes viewers feel closer to the Arctic, not only by offering memorable portrayals of the region, but also by repeatedly reminding them of the ties that bind this distant land to their own lives.”
Dead Piñon Where Birds Gather in Autumn: On My Way to the Powerline, 2009, 30x90 inches. Subhankar Banerjee.
[group] Rights of Nature: Art and Ecology in the Americas
Curators T. J. Demos and Alex Farquharson
Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK, 23 January – 15 March, 2015
[group] Desert Serenade: Drones, Fences, Cacti, Test Sites, Craters and Serapes
Curator Christie M. Davis
Lannan Foundation Art Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 12 July – 31 August, 2014
[group] Vanishing Ice: Alpine and Polar Landscapes in Art, 1775–2012
Curator Barbara C. Matilsky
Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, Washington, 2 November 2013–2 March 2014
Tour schedule: El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, 1 June - 24 August 2014
McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Ontario, Canada, 11 October 2014 - 11 January 2015
The 144–page EXHIBITION CATALOGUE is published by Whatcom Museum and distributed by the University of Washington Press
[group] Seeing Glacial Time: Climate Change in the Arctic
Curator Amy Ingrid Schlegel
Tufts University Art Gallery, 30 January–18 May 2014
The exhibition is accompanied by an E-BOOK. Art Review: Mark Feeney, “At Tufts, going far north to look at climate change”, The Boston Globe, 10 February 2014
[group] In Residence: Contemporary Artists at Dartmouth
Curators Michael Taylor and Gerald Auten
Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, 18 January–6 July 2014
The 160–page EXHIBITION CATALOGUE is published by the Hood Museum of Art and distributed by the University Press of New England
[group] (Re-) Cycles of Paradise: An Exhibition at the Intersection of Art, Gender, and Climate Change
Curators Corinne Erni and Anne–Marie Melster
ARTPORT_making waves, July 2014
The (Re–)Cycles of Paradise catalogue gives an overview of the exhibition that was curated and produced by ARTPORT_making waves to explore the complex and multifaceted relationship between gender and climate change. It was commissioned by the Global Gender and Climate Alliance for the 2009 United Nations Conference on Climate Change, COP15, in Copenhagen. It then traveled to Mexico in 2010 and 2011, and was concluded in Los Angeles in 2012 at the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions. I participated in the exhibition along with sixteen other artists from around the world.
Rights of Nature—Conference
I’ll partipate in the Rights of Nature conference, which is in conjunction with the exhibition of the same title.
Nottingham Contemporary, UK, 24 January 2015
Environmental Photography—A Symposium
Artist lecture by Subhankar Banerjee
Co–hosted by the Hasselblad Foundation and the University of Gothenburg
University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden, 23–24 April 2015
Humanities for the Environment—A Symposium
I’ll give a lecture and facilitate the concluding three–hour long workshop at the Humanities for the Environment symposium.
Hosted by the ASU’s Institute for Humanities Research.
Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, 30 October – 2 Novemember 2014
Art and Activism—A Panel
Subhankar Banerjee, Daniel Heyman, and Sana Musasama; moderated by Dr. Michael Taylor
Co–hosted by the Hood Museum of Art and the Institute of Arctic Studies at the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 24 April 2014
The Real News Network: Interviews | Panels | Debates
Global Expansion of Fossil Fuel Transport, Drilling Underway as UN Climate Summit Approaches
Subhankar Banerjee with Sharmini Peries, 4 September 2014 VIEW ONLINE
Debating the New EPA Rules for Carbon Emissions from Coal
Subhankar Banerjee, Jeff Biggers, and Daphne Wysham; host Paul Jay and Jessica Desvarieux, 3 June 2014 VIEW ONLINE
TRNN Debate: Is Obama Doing Enough to Fight Climate Change?
Subhankar Banerjee and Daniel Weiss; host Jessica Desvarieux, 20 May 2014 VIEW ONLINE
TRNN Panel: IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
Subhankar Banerjee and Joshua Howe; host Anton Woronczuk, 16 April 2014 VIEW ONLINE
TRNN Interview: UN IPCC Report, Part I—Physical Science Basis
Subhankar Banerjee with Jaisal Noor, 27 September 2013 VIEW ONLINE
TRNN Interview: Why Climate Deniers Are Plain Wrong
Subhankar Banerjee with Jaisal Noor, 27 September 2013 VIEW ONLINE
TRNN Interview: Colorado’s Biblical Floods Linked To Climate Change
Subhankar Banerjee with Jaisal Noor, 19 September 2013 VIEW ONLINE
TRNN Interview: Obama’s Climate Change Policies Are Imperialistic and Despotic
Subhankar Banerjee with Jaisal Noor, 19 September 2013 VIEW ONLINE
Looming Deadline Creates Window for Protests to Stop Shell’s Arctic Drilling Subhankar Banerjee in conversation with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez Democracy Now!, 20 July 2012