Beyond ecocide toward deep sustainability: stories from a small Irish forest
A long term transdisciplinary eco art project
‘Learning how to live responsibly with forest communities,
is transferable to all other areas of human interaction with nature.❜
Wild Foresting, Drengson and Taylor, 2006
Cathy Fitzgerald is a visual artist filmmaker engaged with ecological concerns. Her practice-thesis transdisciplinary eco art project involves and traverses; new to Ireland, non clearfell continuous cover forest methods, experimental film-making, writing, eco-philosophy, national forest policy development (she succeeded in getting continuous cover forestry as the key point in the new Irish Green Party Forest policy (2012) and the adoption that The Green Party of Ireland and Northern Ireland recognise that a crime of ecocide (the long term destruction of ecosystems by man) be supported in international law (2013) . Cathy’s work is centered and informed by the small conifer plantation community in which she lives, in County Carlow, Ireland.
In her work, Cathy argues that emergent insights from transdisciplinary eco art practices produce new understandings of a ‘deep sustainability’ relevant to a specific bioregion. Such understandings will be critical in adapting to exponentially accelerating ecological changes. Emergent understandings are argued to be urgently needed, in going beyond the illusory practices and false promises of ‘sustainable development’ policies.
Shared online, audio-visual works, writing and theory under the title ‘The Hollywood Diaries’ contribute a synergy of reflexive praxis. Observations and lessons gathered from tending to a forest’s emergent self-sustaining dynamics, ultimately argue for ecological, deeply sustainable relational processes, that are transferable to other situations.
- history of the Hollywood Diaries forest project, started in 2008
- news: talks, exhibitions, publications
- ‘Attending to places: sustainable transformations’ by Dr. Karen Till ‘Field Findings’ essay, The Red Stables Art & Ecology summer school (2012) Dublin City Council Arts Office, p.25-26.Environmental artists also collaborate with places as communities of human and non-human natures. Cathy Fitzgerald’s ongoing forty-year, two-and-a-half acre forest project in the making is a good example. Drawing inspiration from the Irish Tree NGO Crann, Cathy has create a forest in transformation, now classified by an Irish Forest Continuous Cover database as a ‘low impact silviculture system’ (close-to-nature continuous cover woodlands). Her experimental films depict this forst as an inhabited place thorugh different temporal rhythms and spatial scales. In Transformation 2011, we hear ‘a bird describe its forest… the bird lives in a small conifer plantation that is being transformed to a mixed species, permanent forest’.
Cathy understands her work as a form of ‘deep sustainability;: in includes ecological functions, aesthetic innovations, and most importantly, community-based environmental consciousness through forest policy development, which entails an alteration in how individuals relate to their communities. She first learned about community forestry practices in 1995 through a South Leitrim Crann project; eleven years later, she revisited the place through a documentary lens and exhibition space, with support from Crann and The Dock in County Leitrim. In these artistic works, Cathy brought together the voices and images of local people who volunteered to plant broadlead woodlands almost twenty years ago. This new sustianable wood culture in what was a monoculture conifer region now offers an ecological and economic model for other regions in Ireland.
Cathy argues for careful tendin gof landbases that we must return to if all species are ‘to survive and thrive’. Her attention to place also asks us to slow down and pay attention to the richness of forest lives. There is a practical value in slowness: it’s healthy for us to pay attention to the texutres of places. It allows us to create unexpected networks with lives that we wouldn’t have otherwise come into contact with.
- “Dear Cathy, From our perspective, very good work.” Helen and Newton Harrison 24 Jan 2011(pioneers of eco art work from the late 1960s)
- ‘Thank you so much for your fantastic videos. They are deeply moving in their simplicity. The videos are very moving, – a very clear way of communicating this huge catastrophe on an intimate scale ‘ Kevin Buckland, Art Ambassador, www.350.org Oct 2010. Global grassroots climate and culture change organisation headed by leading US environmental writer/activist Bill