A warning, a movement, a collection borne of protest.
In Watch Your Head, poems, stories, essays, and artwork sound the alarm on the present and future consequences of the climate emergency. Ice caps are melting, wildfires are raging, and species extinction is accelerating. Dire predictions about the climate emergency from scientists, Indigenous land and water defenders, and striking school children have mostly been ignored by the very institutions – government, education, industry, and media – with the power to do something about it.
Writers and artists confront colonization, racism, and the social inequalities that are endemic to the climate crisis. Here the imagination amplifies and humanizes the science. These works are impassioned, desperate, hopeful, healing, transformative, and radical.
This is a call to climate-justice action.
This anthology is not to be missed. The pandemic may have defined our year, but the climate crisis defines our time in geological history. See how this roster of talented writers and artists advance the conversation, put the crisis in context and call for climate justice.
Medium: performance documentation
change is a 10-minute performance comprised of a single-channel video projected over a lone singer. The singer’s voice first delivers a rendition of Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come through a vocoder, then moves into spoken poetry. By manipulating archived, found footage and combining it with its interactions between the body and voice, this performance confronts decolonization through an Asian-Canadian lens, notably putting the singer/speaker/artist directly into the environment being challenged. Created and performed at the wake of the pandemic, change’s main function is to respond directly to the xenophobia, Sinophobia, and unabashed racism that the current COVID-19 pandemic and biased mainstream media encourage.
James Legaspi is an emerging Filipino-Canadian multimedia artist currently completing an undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto and Sheridan College, living and working in Brampton, Ontario. Recent activity includes work exhibited at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto and Gallery 44, curatorial work at the Blackwood Gallery, professional experience as a teaching assistant at Sheridan College, and participation in the most recent rendition of Visual Arts Mississauga’s Creative Residency.
Dear Tree, From Shadow
Bijarim-ro in Jeju Island is a two-lane road connecting two nearby towns, Songdang and Gyorae. With justifications such as high traffic for tourists using this road and the convenience of transportation for the residents of Songdang, the provincial government of Jeju unilaterally pushed for the “Bijarim Road Expansion Project” in 2018. Since then, 1,000 cedar trees had been clear-cut around Bijarim-ro.
Upon hearing the news, a small group of people came out to protect the forest. Sometimes with the support of the residents, other times with the extra help from the creatures living in Bijarim-ro forest, they’ve been protecting the forest for the last three years.
I also heard the news about Bijarim-ro, but I couldn’t run out to the forest like them. Perhaps because of their sound of resistance occupying a small corner of my heart, at some point, without thinking, I was out making work with stones by rolling them around in the Bijarim cedar forest. While working there, I met the “Bijarim-ro Cedar Forest Keepers” and was invited to participate in an art event that they organized.
I send this video letter to a tree once faced the light, and to a tree facing the light right now.
제주도 ‘비자림로’는 ‘송당’과 ‘교래’를 잇는 2차선 도로이다. 이 도로를 사용하는 관광객 교통 수요 증가와 ‘송당’ 주민들의 교통 편의를 명분으로, 제주도 도정道政은 2018년 ‘비자림로 확장공사’를 일방적으로 밀어붙였다. 결국 ‘비자림로’ 주변 삼나무 1000여 그루가 벌목되었다.
이 소식을 들은 제주 시민들은 현장으로 뛰어나와 ‘비자림로 삼나무 숲’을 지키기 위한 저항운동을 시작하였다. 때로는 시민들의 호응을 받으며, 때로는 비자림로에 사는 뭇 생명들의 힘을 빌어 3년 간 이곳을 지키고 있다.
나 또한 비자림로의 소식을 들었지만, 그들처럼 ‘비자림로 삼나무 숲’으로 달려가진 못했다. 내 마음 한 켠을 차지하고 있던 그들의 함성 때문 이었을까? 언제 부턴가 나는 작업을 한답시고 ‘비자림로 삼나무 숲’에서 돌멩이를 굴리고 있었다. 그러던 중 ‘비자림로 삼나무 숲’ 지킴이들이 진행하는 문화행사에 참여하게 되었다.
한 때 빛을 향했던 나무에게, 그리고 지금 빛을 향하고 있는 나무에게 이 영상편지를 보낸다.
고승욱/ Koh, Seung Wook
I was born and raised in Jeju Island.
For 20 years, I lived in Seoul, building my art career.
Even though I’ve been back in Jeju for over 10 years,
I’m still learning about the island and
I surprise myself for my ignorance of Jeju.
제주도에서 나고 자랐다.
20년간 서울에서 미술활동을 했고
제주 내려온지 10년이 지나고 있다.
늦깍기 제주공부에 매달리면서
제주에 대한 자신의 무지함에 새삼 놀라고 있다.
판교낙생대공원 / at the Pangyo Paradise Park, Seoul, Korea
두터운 잎 Project/ part of Thick Leaf Project
As time goes as humans love the city forest, the forest loses herself and morphs with our habit. Her power and beauty are destroyed by our impatient and insignificant acts. We think the forest will remain the same, but she loses her language every time we walk through her path. The beautiful path for us is a plastic wind for her.
- How do we express love?
사람이 도심의 숲을 사랑하는 시간이 흐를수록 작은 숲은 자신을 잃고 사람에 맞춰 변해간다. 숲은 그 자체로 힘이 있고 아름답지만, 사람이 만든 성급하고 작은 사건들에 무너져버린다. 숲은 계속 그대로일 거라고 생각하지만, 사람들이 한발자국 걸을 때마다 숲은 빠르게 숲의 언어를 잃어간다. 사람의 아름다운 산책길이 숲에게는 플라스틱 바람인 걸 모른다.
-사랑의 표현은 어떻게 해야 하나
CHOE Rayun is a visual artist who works closely with elements from everyday and nature. She is an active member of Mullae Art Village in Seoul. Site-specificity of Mullae informs her work and directs her attention to nature, human and urban, and their relationship to each other. With her thought provoking works, she offers a moment to share and an opportunity to contemplate. She works in diverse mediums such as painting, drawing, sculpture, video and performance.
Becoming Rock (2018)
Video excerpts from a series of 13 video performances (02:57)
Becoming Rock: Road Rock (2019)
Video still image from performance series ‘Becoming Rock’
Becoming Rock is a series of performative videos that explore the relationship between body and earth through the repeated action of becoming a rock within the landscape. Although it is physically impossible to merge with the land, Jessica Slipp sees the exposure of each repeated attempt as an absurd, awkward, yet genuine and honest gesture to engage with the land.
Jessica Slipp uses rocks as a form and means to compact earth and time. She is interested in what rocks contain and how, when deconstructed, they return to tiny particles of matter – the elemental component to the fabric of the universe and where all of life began. With concern for planet Earth, she looks to Donna Haraway’s rethinking of the Anthropocene and use of the term Chthulucene to describe our current epoch. This encourages the process of thinking, making, and being with all living and non-living species. In this time of ecological crisis and global climate change, it is vitally important to shift anthropocentric modes of thinking about the world to thinking with the world.
Jessica Slipp is a Visual Artist currently living and working in the unceded Indigenous land of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation in Tiohtiá:ke (Montréal). As an interdisciplinary artist her work investigates notions of place, uncovers new perspectives of land & landscape, and challenges the way we exist within the world. She is interested in the the ways that place and identity are embedded in the land through geological, ecological, and human histories, and the intrinsic connection we all share with the world — from the particles that randomly composed it, to the very nature that we embody. Through her artwork she attempts to repattern perspectives towards a more caring and compassionate engagement with the world, and seeks to find new ways of rekindling the fundamental relationship between body and earth.
Watch Your Head is an online journal of creative works devoted to the climate crisis and climate justice.
New work is published monthly!
Check out our latest project: a print anthology published by Coach House Books!
Watch Your Head: Writers & Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis
Coach House Books