Friday, August 7, 2009

Art in a Changing Climate: Venus Watches the Ocean Rise

There is a special series over at Grist called "Art in a Changing Climate," with this image of Venus in standing water. It takes off from Bill McKibbon's call in 2005 for art about climate change, "What the Warming World Needs Now is Art, Sweet Art."

Four years ago, before Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth was released in book, audio, and video form, McKibbon asked about art and climate change: "Where are the books? The poems? The plays? The goddamn operas?" Now comes the news that An Inconvenient Truth will be staged in an operatic rendition by composer Giorgio Battistelli at the Milan opera house La Scala, premiering in the 2011 season.

In a new essay, McKibbon acknowledges that there is now a flood of work on climate change: "the immune system of the planet is finally kicking in." The Grist series collects a lot of this good (and not-so-good) stuff, including a slideshow tour of green-leaning museums, and a song in which Miley Cyrus "talks about our troubled planet as if it were a needy adolescent." ("All she needs is a little attention/Can you give her just a little attention?")

The sinking Venus reminds me that while I once fervently loved the original painting (especially during a romantic phase in high school), it strikes me as incredibly kitschy today: the boy angels blowing those pink blowsy flowers, Venus' placid demeanor (with her head at that impossible angle), the faithful overdressed's a strangely wonderful view of the beautiful. I bet there are many more altered versions out there. Send me one, if you run across Botticelli's Venus in another environment!

Okay, my own search resulted in this amusing cluster-collapse send-up of Rubens' Venus and Adonis, over at St. Kiki of Assisi. No erotic decluttering going on there.

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