critical mass: the art of planetary health

3 October – 6 December 2020

Scientists warn that we have entered the era of the Anthropocene, a period characterised by humanity’s irreversible impact on Earth’s systems. The health of civilisation is intrinsically linked to the health of the environment, yet by our actions we are threatening to destabilise our life-support systems as climate change, loss of biodiversity and the depletion of natural resources are pushing our planet towards the point of collapse. Population growth, high density living and the pollution of water and food resources increase the risk of exposure to infectious diseases and long-term illnesses for people across the world. In a historic move, in September 2015, 193 UN member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a major call for global action against climate change and poverty. With 17 development goals at its core, the agenda tackled our greatest global challenges: to protect the planet, end poverty and improve the lives and health of humanity.

Within this context the science of Planetary Health emerged, a cross-disciplinary field of study that examines the relationships between ecological, economic and social change, exploring new modes of living needed to restore and stabilise our planet. It aims to highlight the connections of environmental change on human health and promote a holistic approach of cross-disciplinary research to develop integrated solutions to meet the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.

Based on the principles of Planetary Health, the multi-disciplinary project critical mass: the art of planetary health explores new and more sustainable practices relating to environmental living, inclusive of food, energy, and resource sharing within an Australian and local context.

The participating artists, social activists and traditional owners provide reflections on eco-anxiety, yet remain hopeful for the future state of the world, as they imagine better scenarios for our planet and future generations; through their creative responses they examine the roles that traditional First Nations knowledge, technology, science and human ingenuity can, and must, play in stabilising our environment and developing a healthier and more equitable society.

More than ever, the health of humanity has shifted into global focus as we navigate our way through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Fundamental changes to the way we live and interact are taking place and inevitably there will be long-term implications for societies, economies and governing structures. As we are forced to re-assess and re-evaluate the systems that we have relied upon for so long, we may find opportunities to create more sustainable and holistic ways to inhabit planet Earth. Innovation and solution-based thinking can be found everywhere in Australia: from within local communities, on a national scale and across disciplines.

With 10 years left to achieve the UN Agenda for 2030 Sustainable Development we must act holistically and collaboratively to ensure that our combined actions contribute towards one goal: the health of our planet and a more sustainable future for all people.

Blue Mountains Cultural Centre recognises the significance of creative and cultural endeavours within the partnership between the Blue Mountains City Council and the Australian Research Council (ARC) in the development of a sustainability model for the region based on the principles of Planetary Health.

Heidi Axelsen & Hugo Moline • Alexander Boynes & Mandy Martin • Russell Drysdale • Simryn Gill • Gundungurra Aboriginal Heritage Association Inc.
Fiona Hall • Hans Heysen • Ona Janzen • Locust Jones • Janet Laurence • Glen Mackie (Kei Kalak) • Andrew Merry • Sidney Nolan • Daniel O’Shane
Rachel Peachey & Paul Mosig • Louis Pratt • Joan Ross • Dean Sewell

A Blue Mountains City Art Gallery Program exhibition

Image: DEAN SEWELL In the Line of Fire 2019, digital photograph on Canon Rag Photographique, 310gsm 100% cotton, 70 x 92cm