This week, LTTS showcases the work of Aleksandra Staniorowska-Buła, a painter and climate activist from Poland. Aleksandra’s extraordinary paintings depict not only the power of the natural world, but its simultaneous vulnerability, its movement, and its beauty.
“Art should sensitize you to the challenges posed by the present”
I believe that climate change and the accompanying ecological crisis - also known as the sixth great extinction - is the biggest problem of our times. Art should sensitize you to the challenges posed by the present and help you find a new language that fits the human condition in times of climate crisis. It should be a language that transcends both naive utopian thinking and the paralyzing fear of extinction.
Cruelty of the sun
The sun, despite being a necessary condition for the existence of life on our planet, can be terrifying. In the era of desertification of large areas of the planet and the recording of successive record high temperatures, we realize how fragile the balance of life is, and that there are powerful forces that cannot be negotiated. From the beginning of human history, the sun was respected as the embodiment of the superhuman and paradoxical: it could simultaneously give and take life. Science, with the accompanying driving force of technology, put an end to our former humility towards the forces of nature.
It is thanks to this new god - technology - that new branches of knowledge such as geoengineering were born. Geoengineering is responsible for finding solutions to reduce the effects of global warming on the environment - for example, reducing solar radiation could be achieved by spraying sulfur compounds into the atmosphere. Such solutions would be costly (possibly unsustainable for the world economy) and would have effects that we cannot predict. Technology is not the solution to environmental problems; The solution is humility.
“Technology is not the solution to environmental problems; The solution is humility.”
The End of the Arctic
The Arctic is dying. And with it dies a bustling ecosystem, because - in spite of appearances - the Arctic is not a wasteland. We are also losing the factor that stabilizes the climate here: in the northern hemisphere. Warm winters, large temperature fluctuations and the disappearance of the Gulf Stream will intensify over time and expose Europe to ever greater weather extremes. The disappearing ice also uncovers tracts of easily extractable deposits of oil and other resources. Carbon dioxide emissions from these soon-to-be available minerals would mean the destruction not only of the Arctic, but the entire planet.
Pilgrim (in memory of Peter Matthiessen)
I painted this painting to commemorate Peter Matthiessen, a wildlife lover and one of the precursors of deep ecology. In the 1970s, at the instigation of his friend George Shaller, he took part in a scientific expedition to the Himalayas in search of the legendary blue sheep, the nahur. For Matthiessen, this journey became above all a symbolic search for meaning after his wife's death.
The account of the expedition was titled "The Snow Leopard" and the title itself carries many meanings. It was almost a miracle to see this cat hunting blue sheep half a century ago, especially for an accidental newcomer. For the author, at the beginning, the sight of a snow leopard was the long-awaited (and planned) completion of the sense of the journey. As he moved forward, struggling with his own body and with the dangerous trail, amid attempts to catch his breath and verbalize the meaning of existence, cut off from the clatter of the radio - a symbol of "civilization"- his egoistic expectations paled and the silence began to dominate. In the end, Peter Matthiessen did not manage to see the snow leopard, but it was not in vain. He saw the mountains with humility.
The secret of the mountain is that the mountains simply exist, as I do myself: the mountains exist simply, which I do not. The mountains have no "meaning", they are meaning; the mountains are. (The Snow Leopard)
Dreamtime is a fundamental thread in Aboriginal mythology. It refers to Time before the time when all beings did not yet have a specific form. In it, a transformation took place into the known: the Earth took its shape, the animals separated from each other, man and his law arose. It was not, however, the creation from nothingness as we know it from Christian doctrine. Beings were suspended in an inexpressible "abyss", abstract and vague, resembling a zygote or an unstable substance. This reality was dynamic, but paradoxical: it was a dynamic invariability closer to the play of light reflections in the quartz crystal or on the water surface. The dreamtime thus contrasts with the static image of created nature.
I'm a painter and climate activist born in 1990 in Wrocław, Poland. I studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław (PL), receiving my master’s degree in 2017. Finalist in such competitions as the “Jesienne Konfrontacje” 5th Triennale of Contemporary Polish Painting (2019), Promotions 28th All-Poland Review of Young Painters (2018), Nowy Obraz. Nowe Spojrzenie (2017), Osten Biennial of Drawing (2016), and others. From the first climate camp in Poland (2018) I got involved with the climate movement and caught the bug of deep ecology philosophy. I participated in various activist events related to climate change: COP24 in Katowice (2018), March for Climate, as well as the blockade of the brown coal mine (2019).
You can follow Aleksandra on Instagram @stanbul.art
Aleksandra was interviewed by Events and Outreach Lead, Mattie O'Callaghan.