unsettled at ADDS DONNA / Chicago

Kayla Anderson, Justin Berry, The Institute of Queer Ecology (IQECO), Sayward Schoonmaker and Tanya Fleisher, John Steck Jr., Katie Waugh

Curated by Holly Murkeson

April 26 - May 25, 2019

3252 W. North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647

Photos by Holly Murkeson

The lake edge erodes, the photograph fades.

 As an introspective kid, I would sit at the shore’s edge and gaze out across the ocean to the horizon, a contemplative and restorative act. Historically, we’ve turned to nature to escape busy and stressful lives, to place our bodies in environments where all our senses are consciously activated. Now, though, a walk along the shore offers little solace. I notice how it has changed, how devastating that last storm was. This thought begets anxiety for the marginalized populations displaced by flooding and fire, or the low-income communities whose health suffers living in proximity petrochemical pollution, or those whose livelihoods have been dramatically altered due to agricultural runoff, declining fish populations, drought-stricken crops... To walk along the shore is to be overwhelmed with grief. 

Here comes the rain again.

It is perhaps crucial to mourn the landscape - to recognize that “landscape” is a construct that has aided the colonist project by drawing a line of differentiation between human and nature, thus justifying the exploitation of land and people in the name of use and extraction (1). If, as Judith Butler posits, that “perhaps mourning has to do with agreeing to undergo a transformation” (2), then grieving for this mode of landscape enables us to recognize these destructive systems of power. Additionally, mourning implies attachment - to what is lost of course, but the process also highlights the significance of our relationships and communities, and it is within these communities where we may find shared purpose toward climate justice.

Collectively, the works in this show crescendo as critical voices against mainstream capitalist and patriarchal views on the Anthropocene. The dialogue around this work seeks to acknowledge the real emotional toll of the effects of climate change, and to foster the fight for optimism, to actualize a more equitable future by rooting change within an intersectional approach to ecologic and social justice.


(1) See T.J. Demos. “Art in the Anthropocene: T.J. Demos in Conversation with Charlotte Cotton.” Aperture 234 (2019) 46.
(2) Butler, Judith. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. Verso, 2006, 21