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Dear friends,

Happy May! Many, many thanks to those of you who contributed to my Burning Worlds newsletter Patreon account. As always, contributions are entirely voluntary--this newsletter remains free to all. If you decide to donate, however, THANK YOU. Your support goes directly to keeping this newsletter alive every month.

This month I have for you a fascinating interview with Tali Weinberg, an artist who utilizes weaving, sculpture, thread drawing, and works on paper to visualize climate data. As she says in our interview below, weaving "is a way to speak beyond binaries." She understands "big data" to be "a relatively patriarchal, capitalist, colonial form of knowledge" and weaving as a way to reinsert knowledge from women and indigenous peoples. The resulting artwork--Woven Climate Datascapes--is a thought-provoking and multi-dimensional way of asking questions and seeking answers about the world that goes beyond straightforward scientific inquiry.

I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did!

Until May,

Amy

PS - If you enjoy this newsletter, please spread the word by sharing this link. Thank you!
 
INTERVIEW WITH ARTIST TALI WEINBERG
 

Amy: Please tell us about your ongoing project, Woven Climate Datascapes. What inspired it?

Tali: The Woven Climate Datascapes project encompasses several series I’ve been working on since 2015, growing from an exploration of the ways we come to understand climate change: data, journalistic narrative, and embodied and affective experience. I weave climate data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration into abstracted landscapes and waterscapes. I code the data and materialize it with plant-derived fibers and dyes and petrochemical-derived medical tubing. 

Each series within the project starts with a different set of questions, but the overall impetus is this: Weaving the data is simultaneously a reification and an abstraction, a respect and a critique. Data is valuable in its capacity to condense a vast amount of labor, knowledge, and time into a form that can be consumed quickly. But its value as an abstraction is also its shortfall. It obscures its material origins and the violence climate change truly is. One the one hand, weaving draws attention to this illegibility and limitation. It becomes a space to reflect on what we do not see, whether that is the injustice of climate change or our personal relationship to a place. Further, a number of the pieces reflect on the ways the data has been aggregated—the process of breaking and dividing we go through when trying to understand—and that there are politics and assumptions embedded in these aggregations. On the other hand, through the act of weaving, I am building up information, weft thread by weft thread, thereby reinserting time and labor and reconnecting with the material and embodied knowledge from which the data was produced. 

Amy: What draws you to the use of textiles and weaving in particular? 

Tali: Because data is a relatively patriarchal, capitalist, colonial form of knowledge, in this project weaving becomes a way to (re)insert other forms of knowledge—knowledge that is embodied, gendered female, indigenous, and relational more than representational. 

At the same time, weaving, to me, is a way to speak beyond binaries. It is cerebral and embodied knowledge; material and relational; high and low tech; object-making and social practice; math and art; political and personal; tied to capital and care, domestic and industrial production. 

I also draw on the long history of textiles—and weaving especially—as a subversive language for women and other marginalized groups. In this context, especially given the current political climate, the project could be seen as a sort of subversive, feminist archive. 

Amy: As an artist, do you also see yourself as a kind of climate change communicator?

Tali: I see my work as a form of inquiry. It’s a way to engage with the world and pursue questions that are usually some combination of social/political, scientific, and personal. 

I view the datascapes more as interpretations of and personal engagements with data, rather than as data visualizations. Their compositions are determined as much by elements of landscape and the body, by my own embodied and affective experiences of place, as they are by a data-driven understanding of climate change.

Amy: Given the politicized nature of climate change (at least in the United States), your work could be seen as a kind of activism. Do you see yourself as an activist?

Tali: I do think art has a role to play in the cultural shifts necessary to address the climate crisis. There is value in what art can do to focus attention, create space and time for shifts in perspective and perception, and hopefully evoke feelings of care, love, and empathy.

At the same time, I don’t want to compare art-making to the incredible, risky, vital efforts of those on the front lines protecting our water, air, land, and health—especially the indigenous communities and communities or color taking on extractive industries and fighting for environmental justice. 

Amy: Who’s your ideal viewer? Someone who already believes in climate change, or someone who doesn’t? Or perhaps someone in between?

Tali: Ideally, the datascapes have the potential to speak to those with varied perspectives on climate change. For those already engaged, I have seen the work act as a focal point for grieving and reflection. For those who would rather ignore climate change, the work is a way to open up conversations and make the crisis personal. 

Amy: What’s next for you?

Tali: Thanks to a grant from Tulsa Artist Fellowship, I am currently finishing up Bound, a sculpture that traces multiple forms of entanglement in the face of anthropogenic climate change. Bound is comprised of over 300 sets of climate data which is materialized as 1500 feet of medical tubing wrapped with threads dyed with plant and insect-derived dyes. 

It is a project that explores the relationship between the damage done to the earth and the damage done to our bodies by the petrochemical industry, even as our lives are reliant on and seemingly inextricably intertwined with this industry. Petrochemical-derived medical tubing is a pipeline that runs through and around our bodies, used in medical interventions for illnesses that often have the same causes as ecological destruction. This summer Bound will be in a group show in New York and in the fall, it will be in a solo show in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Extending from Bound, my research for new work is focused on the knot that is climate change, extractive industry, illness/toxicity, and displacement (and more broadly, home, loss of home, our multivalent relationships to place).

Tali Weinberg is a multidisciplinary artist and educator. Her work is held in public and private collections and is exhibited internationally, including at the Berkeley Art Museum, University of Colorado Art Museum, Center for Craft, Philbrook Museum of Art, and Zhejiang Art Museum. Her research is supported by multiple grants and residencies: a three-year Tulsa Artist Fellowship, a Serenbe Fiber-Focus Fellowship, a Windgate Fellowship to Vermont Studio Center, a Collins Foundation-funded residency at Oregon College of Art and Craft, a Lia Cook Jacquard Residency, and Caldera, among others. Weinberg has taught at California College of the Arts (CCA), Headlands Center for the Arts, Penland School of Craft, and New York’s Textile Arts Center and lectures throughout the US. She holds an MFA from CCA and an MA and BA from New York University.

The Burning Worlds newsletter interviews are syndicated monthly on Artists & Climate Change.

May's "Burning Worlds" Column

For this month's Burning Worlds column over at the Chicago Review of Books I speak with author Belle Boggs about her latest novel, The Gulf, and the roots of climate change denialism.
 
More "Big Data" Climate Art

Chicago-based artist Alisa Singer incorporates global-warming statistics in her latest exhibition Environmental Graphiti: The Art of Climate Change (via Hyperallergic)
Is Climate Fiction Science Fiction—or Something Else Entirely?

Jeff Turrentine muses over the question over at the NRDC blog, onEarth, by examining Pitchaya Sudbanthad's latest novel, Bangkok Wakes to Rain.
A Song Composed of Climate Data

A seismologist named Lucy Jones--who also happens to be a classically trained musician--composed a song out of climate data. The effects are chilling. (via Popular Science)
365 Books For Your Climate Change Library

I had the great pleasure of helping my friends over at Literary Hub compile a list of 365 books about climate change and environmental concerns. 
 
Interview with Cli-Fi Author Terese Svoboda

I interviewed Terese Svoboda about her latest cli-fi collection, Great American Desert. We also discussed the American Midwest's response to climate change and how growing up there helped shape her view of the world. (via Guernica)
Buy Tickets Now to "Climate Speaks"

At "Climate Speaks 2019" on June 14 at the Apollo Theater, students from across New York City will perform original poems, raising their voices about the climate crisis, intergenerational justice, and how the disruption of the climate is affecting them and their communities. The event is hosted by NYC's Climate Museum in partnership with the Department of Education’s Office of Sustainability and with special thanks to Urban Word NYC. Learn more.
ABOUT THE EDITOR: Amy Brady is the deputy publisher of Guernica magazine and the senior editor of the Chicago Review of Books, where she writes a monthly column called “Burning Worlds.” It’s dedicated to exploring how contemporary fiction addresses issues of climate change. This newsletter expands that project by looking at the work of artists in all mediums. Amy’s writing on literature, culture, and the environment can be found or is forthcoming in The Village Voice, the Los Angeles Times, Pacific Standard, The Dallas Morning News, McSweeney’s, Literary Hub, and elsewhere. To learn more about Amy’s work, visit her website: AmyBradyWrites.com.
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Information contained in “Burning Worlds” is collected from many sources and is researched to the best of the editor's ability. Readers should verify information. 
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"Burning Worlds" logo designed by Cheryl Burke (www.TheoryOneDesign.com).

 
Copyright © 2018 Burning Worlds, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Amy Brady
223 Bedford Avenue #1003
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Amy Brady · 223 Bedford Avenue #1003 · Brooklyn, NY 11211 · USA

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