Zineb Sedira, Shipwreck series, 2009. C-print. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Kamel Mennour, Paris
A panel discussion focusing on issues related to arts and ecology with Jane Trowell, Director of Platform, Michaela Crimmin, Head of Arts and Ecology at RSA and Robert Butler, the writer for the Economist’s Intelligent Life.
Zineb Sedira’s work is the starting point for a broader discussion.
The coastline Nouadhibou where Floating Coffins was shot has become a large scrap yard for the world’s shipping, and also a point of departure for those seeking ‘a better life’ in Europe. The breaking down of metal boosts the local economy, the hulks threaten local wildlife, while the sea offers perilous possibilities. In contradiction, near to this industrial wasteland lies Banc d’Arguin National Park, a place defined by international arbiters as a World Heritage Site. In defiance of the ecological cost of this dumping, this is the home for migrating birds, including flamingos and pelicans – rare species that flourish because of the natural habitat.
Zineb Sedira’s work reflects on the conflicts within society – ‘Floating Coffins is a space where life, death, loss, escape, abandoned and shipwrecked journeys meet. It’s both a toxic graveyard and a source of survival and hope.’
Robert Butler is an ex-theatre critic of the Independent on Sunday. His theatre publications include ‘The Art of Darkness’, ‘The Alchemist Exposed’ and ‘Just About Anything Goes’. He writes about green issues for the Economist’s Intelligent Life magazine and (since 2000) has edited the Ashden Directory (ashdendirectory.org.uk), a website about environmentalism and the performing arts, for which he also writes ‘ashdenizen’, a daily blog.
Michaela Crimmin leads the RSA Arts and Ecology Centre. As Head of Arts at the RSA, she coordinated the first ground-breaking series of sculptures on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. She is a Trustee for Channel 4’s Big Art Project and has been elected a ‘London Leader’ by the London Sustainability Commission and the Greater London Assembly.
Jane Trowell is the Director of PLATFORM – an organisation that works across disciplines for social and ecological justice. It combines the transformative power of art with the tangible goals of campaigning, the rigour of in-depth research with the vision to promote alternative futures.