April 13, 2021 Taos, New Mexico

The Harwood Museum of Art

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Friday, December 13, 2019 - Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Long Environmentalism: Subhankar Banerjee

Gallery: Mandelman-Ribak Gallery
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The exhibition, Long Environmentalism, combines for the first time, two bodies of photographic works by artist, scholar and activist Subhankar Banerjee. One series, created in the early 2000s, depicts ecological nurseries and Indigenous relations with land and animals in Alaska’s Arctic. The second series, created more recently, portrays dying piñon in the New Mexico desert. Through his camera’s lens, Banerjee explores how the Arctic and New Mexico are interconnected. The exhibit takes place in the museum’s Mandelman-Ribak Gallery.

“While the two bodies of work look aesthetically different—together, the modest selection drawn from the two series—aims to highlight how Arctic Alaska and New Mexico are related in many significant ways—physical, biological, cultural, and economic,” says Banerjee.

Banerjee explains that both regions are considered “desert” because of low annual precipitation; both are warming at a higher pace than the global average pace due to climate change; both boast rich biological diversity and sustain the migrating snow geese who are born in the Arctic and winter in the Southwest; both are home to many Indigenous nations who have complex, long-lasting relationships to the wild animals and plants of their regions; and both places have been exploited by extractive economies causing environmental injustice against Indigenous and other marginalized communities.

The exhibition also highlights the “long environmentalism” of both regions. In Arctic Alaska, by drawing attention to the intergenerational, multiple decade, multispecies justice campaign to protect the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas development. In New Mexico, by laying the foundation for an intergenerational engagement to address the vast piñon die-off since the turn of this century. The old–growth piñon forest in New Mexico suffered a mass die-off—about 55 million trees, 90% of all mature piñon trees in northern New Mexico, died between 2001 and 2005.

Subhankar Banerjee is the Lannan Chair and Professor of Art and Ecology at the University of New Mexico. Born in India, Banerjee emigrated to New Mexico three decades ago to study physics and computer science. Subhankar Banerjee gave up his career in science and became a self-taught artist, writer and scholar, and an accidental activist. His interdisciplinary creative practice and research is situated at the intersection of art, ecology, and environmental humanities, and focuses on environmental justice and conservation of biological diversity. He has engaged with three geographies so far: Arctic North America and Siberia, desert of northern New Mexico, and the coastal temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest.

Banerjee’s work has received international attention and has been exhibited at the 18th Biennale of Sydney, Nottingham Contemporary, Palais des Beaux Arts, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Anchorage Museum, Princeton University Art Museum, Hood Museum of Art, among many others. Banerjee is editor of Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point, and currently coediting the anthology, Routledge Companion to Contemporary Art, Visual Culture and Climate Change. He is cocurator of Species in Peril Along the Rio Grande, an exhibition and bi-national regional collaboration.

You Tube - NMPBS ¡COLORES!: Photographer Subhankar Banerjee

Essay - Ought We Not to Establish ‘Access to Food’ As a Species Right? by Subhankar Banerjee

Article - Climate Change and Uncanny Landscape in the Photography of Subhankar Banerjee

Essay - Long Environmentalism After the Listening Session  by Subhankar Banerjee

Essay - Art As Long Environmentalism by Subhankar Banerjee and guest-edited by Dr. Karl Kusserow of the Princeton University Art Museum