We had a chat with artist Lea Kannar-Lichtenberger to talk about her most recent exhibition 'Antarctica: All to Lose', inspiration and her expedition to Antarctica.
How would I describe my artistry in one sentence
I am an environmentally engaged artist trying to shine a light on the natural world and how humans engage with its fragile ecosystems and environments.
What is your chosen medium(s), and why?
My work uses various mediums to create the narrative I seek. Having begun my career as a traditional painter, I can count drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, photography, video, sound and installations in my bag of skills now. This multifaceted approach to my materials gives a more extensive scope to explore multiple narratives behind the work I want to represent, enabling me to develop metaphors to inspire people to think differently.
What/who inspires you?
This is a difficult question; many things and people inspire me.
I am inspired by those standing against the big end of town, pushing for change in how humans treat the planet one victory at a time, like Greta Thunberg and Bob Brown and writers such as Carl Safina and Jonathan Franzen.
I find the issues surrounding the Anthropocene (this age of Man) quite distressing, both in our collective political apathy and our relationship with 'Non-Human Animals' and nature. I am also very interested in how evolution is affected by the current consumer approach and climate situation.
I am inspired by many things relating to science; the magazine I read most is New Scientist (a weekly science magazine); it creates a window on science in a language that's easier to understand the many complex scientific discoveries.
Tell us the back story of my Antarctica: All to Lose Exhibition
In 2017 I had an opportunity to travel to Antarctica with a Not-For-Profit company, the Ninth Wave. I had a particular project in mind. It was to take images of our contemporary world and combine them with this 'pristine' place. In my 2016 travels abroad, I videoed street scenes and then when on Deception Island, I projected these onto melting ice. The results are my ‘Deception’ series of video works.
This video disruption, combined with my examinations as an artist traveller explorer, observer opened my eyes further to our human impact. What I found hidden at the back of Deception Island, Telefon Bay completed my despair; ocean debris had made it this far, and it broke my heart knowing what was to come.
I was more determined to let people know these hidden truths when I returned. So I have been exhibiting my Antarctica based artworks across Australia to initiate conversations with people, showing them that even the smallest item has a significant impact.
What do you want people to take away from your exhibition?
I hope people who see this work will see beyond the beauty and understand the problems that places like Antarctica face. In an ideal world, we should stop travelling to places like this; however, the way our travel culture is geared, this will not happen. I hope they will make more conscious choices about how they travel, the environmental impact of the company they travel with and consider travelling on smaller ships. Ok, maybe not the 16m sailing boat I went in, but perhaps not one of the ships carrying 500 plus guests.
Who are your favourite artists?
So many artists inspire me varying with processes and outcomes; this variation is essential to my art practice. This list is not exclusive; however, it includes artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci with his 'a cloud burst of material possessions' a drawing that appears so contemporary to our times, to people like Olafur Eliasson, Brandon Ballengée, Ken and Julia Yonetani, Hans Haacke, G.W. Bot, Robert Smithson and Joe Davis, just to name a few.
What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
Wow, what a loaded question; I hope that things will change in the way humans travel and interact with our planet. But sadly, I am not holding my breath. I will continue creating artworks and installations that promote change and provoke thought. This challenge to change just one person's mind and hope it becomes a tsunami for change is my vocation; my battle is not over yet.