THE WEATHER REPORT PROMISED RAIN
11 March – 15 April 2023
Held at Berman Contemporary
Join Chrisél Attewell for the opening of her exhibition, THE WEATHER REPORT PROMISED RAIN, on Saturday, 11 March 2023, at 11:00 am for 11:30 am.
The exhibition contemplates the predicted possible futures of the planet’s ecosystems due to climate change, which is mostly brought on by humanity’s impact on the planet’s ecologies. Chrisél questions how we can engage with our landscapes differently so that partial healing can be possible through her exploration of the Cape landscape.
In the exhibition, Chrisél invites the public to explore the fictional landscape she created in the gallery space, suggesting practices of wayfaring and ‘polite curiosity.’ She asks us to look closer, engage more, and consider more carefully the shape and depth of the footprints we leave behind.
Curated by Els van Mourik
Curatorial Statement by Els van Mourik
What makes Chrisél Attewell’s exhibition so exceptional is the conversation between the elements from our natural environment sand, water, ocean species, plants and the reality based approach in her work. Translating complex contents and narrative quality into a walk in physical space, where you can be sure that she will always strive to ensure that the viewers can meet with her work at eye level, to experience important aspects of her artistic journey.
Her current studio, close to the Atlantic and Indian Ocean, influences and broadens her perspectives on human driven planetary impact, which is strongly reflected in this exhibition, which addresses current issues related to global crises, climate change, and social inequality. Sustainability and ecology, inclusion and interaction are the fields in which she questions the role of human beings and defines other visions for human coexistence.
During the last few years, Chrisél Attewell has developed a curious practice, a notion coined by author and history of consciousness philosopher, Donna Haraway (2015), and inspired by philosopher of science, Vinciane Despret (2014). In the context of her practise, she develops hypotheses for artistic research: is ‘staying with a trouble ’ a way of (artistic) thinking and being in the world? In this way, she is holding space for the possibility that surprises are in store, that something interesting is about to happen… But only if one cultivates the virtue of letting those who do visit intra actively and collectively shape what occurs.
In inviting visitors to remove their shoes and walk barefoot through the sand, it is asking one to be curious, to openly observe oneself and others in action during the experiment. To dive beneath the waterline of freighted conversations, to test, learn and adjust in behaviour when new information surfaces. Time for experiments and reflection can seem like luxury or self indulgence in comparison with the daily issues that need solving. There is often a lack of time to pause and reflect on what is happening in the moment, or we fear that our reflections might reveal what we don’t yet know. Paradoxically, reflective practices such as art exhibitions can fuel the acquisition of new knowledge, and ignite transformative change.
In this exhibition, Chrisél Attewell invites you to engage with the potential of the hybrid artistic walking method: wayfaring, inspired by anthropologist Tim Ingold, who has developed powerful ideas about ethical ways of being in the world. Centred on ‘becoming knowledgeable’ through the continuous practice of ‘wayfaring’, Ingold’s ideas are a call for finding ways to live and act responsively and ethically with our human and other than human environments. The slow pace of walking acts as a counterpoint to busy lifestyles by providing a period of calm and direct engagement with the environment. Walking in nature allows both the feet and mind to wander, providing a platform for contemplation and, ultimately, deeper understandings of self, place and belonging to emerge.
“Wayfaring is the fundamental mode by which living beings inhabit the earth. Every such being has, accordingly, to be imagined as the line of its own movement or more realistically, a bundle of lines.” Tim Ingold (2011)
The Cape landscape provides abundant opportunities for Chrisél Attewell to engage with the natural environment. The weather report promised RAIN is an exhibition based on the artist’s own walks through the local terrain, with the aim to reveal insights into the often implicit, yet deeply meaningful, relationship between self and the landscape. However, the land she travels is not the high, hard ground with the good light, the well trodden paths with clear signs. Rather, it is what the philosopher Donald Schön called ‘the swampy lowlands’, where the conditions are dramatically different, what to do is more uncertain, and progress is neither linear nor clear. Or as the poet John Keats put it: ‘there is nothing stable…; uproars your only music’. Through her painting process, the artworks reimagine those countless walks, including the physical achievements, despair, movement, shifting perspectives, confusing thoughts, and layered, embodied experiences, which are explored through materials, texture and colour, and made visible to the viewer.
1. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene is a 2016 book by Donna Haraway. In a thesis statement, Haraway writes: “Staying with the trouble means making oddkin; that is, we require each other in unexpected collaborations and combinations, in hot compost piles.”