FUTURE ECOLOGIES is part of WE ARE HERE: Artists’ Moving Image from the British Council Collection and LUX.
The programme was developed by the British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, and LUX, a London-based international arts agency that supports and promotes artists’ moving image practices. The WE ARE HERE programme comprises five artist film programmes that explore themes such as storytelling, heritage, social inclusion, gender identity, urbanisation and national identity through biography, documentary, poetry and fiction.
The world around us is rapidly changing as a result of human activity. This has never been more apparent than today, as we face the biggest global crisis of our time, and issues arising from our impact on the environment increasingly move to the forefront. Hazardous pollution, urban development, privatisation and exploitation of public spaces are all troubling realities in the Western Balkans, and the intention of this moving image programme is to propel to the forefront crucial conversations on those topics. Having worked with national art institutions in previous years, we are excited to now turn to alternative exhibition spaces and locations, in order to contextualize these themes and spur a different type of dialogue.
Intense changes in nature as a result of human influence have brought us to the point where our help in stopping global changes is necessary. We find a worrying picture of environmental destruction all over the world, including the Western Balkans, where urbanization and mass exploitation of public spaces have done great damage.
As a response to this global challenge, FUTURE ECOLOGIES was organised in all six countries in the Western Balkans. We brought together curators and artists who had the opportunity to exchange ideas and views with colleagues from the UK by participating in intensive online programmes and exhibitions. The next step is to work towards greater communications of the problem to a wider audience to tackle some of the issues discussed.
Curators from the six Western Balkans countries have so far participated in a week-long online curatorial intensive programme organised by LUX in December, during which they connected and exchanged ideas with their UK counterparts through expert consultations and artist talks. Participating curators were invited to examine topics presented in FUTURE ECOLOGIES and to contextualise them to their immediate environment.
The Isle of Thorns is an exhibition that imagines an alternative reality for the Island of Sazan − once a forbidden island and today a partly forgotten destination with an uncharted future, and explores themes as seen in artworks by five UK artists and artworks by five artists from Albania and Kosovo. The artworks explore overdue and yet ever-pressing topics such as the environment, ecologies and cosmologies, climate change, the Anthropocene, colonisation and extractive industries, gentrification, urban futures and sustainability. Find out more about the exhibition and the programme of events here.
To kick off the programme and announce their exhibitions, curators devised special launch events for each individual country, all of which were held online in the first two weeks of March. As part of FUTURE ECOLOGIES, we have organized several workshops that were held in January and February 2021. Our speakers covered a range of topics from the relationship between humans and different ecosystems to creating art projects and interdisciplinary events that develop ethical and imaginative connections across the boundaries of species.
We are proud that around 15,000 people visited the exhibitions and participated in online events, panel discussions, artists’ talks and workshops. Besides that, through media we reached more than 2.7 million people throughout Western Balkans. Results of the programmes’ impact throughout 2021 are divided per countries and those are:
Albania – about 1,500 people visited ‘The Isle of Thorns’ exhibition in Vlore and participated in our public programme, which consisted of several online workshops that took place in July and August 2021
Bosnia and Herzegovina – more than 300 people enjoyed performances, screenings, reading and public walks in June 2021, at various locations in Mostar
Kosovo – almost 2,000 people visited ‘The Great Smog of 2021’ exhibition in the National Gallery of Kosovo in Prishtina throughout November and December 2021
Montenegro – more than 6,500 art lovers took the time to explore artworks and to participate in various online discussions and workshops in Podgorica in May 2021
North Macedonia – more than 400 people attended grand opening of ‘The Touch’ exhibition in Skopje in October 2021, while the exhibition was opened until mid-November 2021
Serbia – around 3,000 people visited ‘Conflicts’ exhibition that took part at two locations in Belgrade in April and May 2021
If you want to see how the exhibitions and events in each of the countries looked like, hop over to our Flickr account and see all the images.
FUTURE ECOLOGIES is the continuation of the British Council’s efforts to shed light on current social issues and inspire debate.