Vulgar Earth is an artists’ collective who have come together because they share a common philosophy founded on the understanding that the modern way of life in the ‘developed’ world is "a state of life that calls for another way of living."
That concept - "a state of life that calls for another way of living" - entered my consciousness when reading about the 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi in the London listings magazine, City Limits. The film took its name from a Hopi word which approximately translates as "an unbalanced life” and consists of an extraordinary cinematic montage of time-lapse and slow-motion footage of American landscapes and cities set to a hypnotic soundtrack by Philip Glass. The film builds, a perfect marriage of images and music, and without any narration, the viewer cannot but help come to the conclusion that people have caused great damage to the Earth. It’s powerful stuff and the film immediately gained cult status and became a regular fixture in arthouse cinemas. As it happens, it was my honest intention to take Stas to see Koyaanisqatsi on our first date, but somehow, we never actually made it. When we finally did get to see it, it was thanks to our friend and neighbour, the artist-engineer-maker, Simon Meiklejohn, who is one of the founders of Vulgar Earth. Knowing what we know now about the state of the planet, Koyaanisqatsi almost comes across as a requiem.
The collective is currently working on a new project - Bleached - The Art of Coral Science – a collaboration with Professor Jörg Wiedenmanna and his team from the Coral Reef Lab at the University of Southampton. Guided by the scientists, the Vulgar Earth artists will explore the latest scientific findings on coral reefs and the immense stresses that humanity is putting on them through our activities. The aim is to produce a variety of works that will culminate in an exhibition in the Spring of 2020.
There are those people that compartmentalize their lives into silos - or at least try to because life is not to be contained – but I am not one of those. It is entirely natural then for me with my ‘day job’ (for over a quarter of a century) as an ocean campaigner to ooze into my cultural events life and to find myself involved with the Vulgar Earth crew and doing what I can to help Bleached – The Art of Coral Science reach as broad an audience as possible.
Richard MC of the WHC, August 2019. #OneOceanOnePlanet