Envisioning an Oceanic Worldview Through the Lens of Art & Science
A visual arts and science engagement project by India based artist and researcher Sonia Mehra Chawla with the North Sea and its coastal and marine ecosystems. This body of work is a contribution to our empathetic understanding of the oceans, their significance as an ecosystem, their vitality and ability to support and sustain all life, the role they play to enable the movement of humans and non-humans and their poetic reflections in contemporary culture.
This project is the result of a three-year period of research and collaboration facilitated by Edinburgh Printmakers and supported by Marine Scotland, Prof. Colin Moffat, Creative Scotland and ASCUS Art & Science, Edinburgh through intensive artist residencies at Marine Laboratory of the Scottish Government in Aberdeen, Edinburgh Printmakers and ASCUS Laboratory in Summerhall, Edinburgh in 2019.
In addition, the multi-media exhibition has been informed by the artists’ field visits to Aberdeen, Fraserburgh, Peterhead and Stonehaven on the north east coast of Scotland, National nature reserves, nature conservation sites and protected natural habitats in Aberdeenshire as well as the intertidal zones of the Firth of Forth, the estuary or firth of several Scottish rivers including the River Forth, which flows into the North Sea.
Working at the intersection of art, science and technology, exploring entanglements of ecology, industry, culture, politics and aesthetics, the body of work includes new commissions in print, along with videos, ‘living’ systems, archival scientific materials and historical objects.
The project is presented as part of Edinburgh International Science Festival 2021, and Edinburgh Art Festival 2021.
The physical exhibition ‘Entanglements of Time & Tide’ will be on view at Edinburgh Printmakers, Edinburgh/Scotland and will open to the public on 30th July, 2021, as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival.
This online exhibition of photomicrographs and digital prints explores and imagines an oceanic worldview of entangled histories and symbiotic relationships, making the invisible world of microorganisms visible, and revealing hidden worlds lying beyond the scope of the human eye.
‘In the Anthropocene, noticing and observing microbial worlds is more essential than ever.’ In her latest film, Sonia Mehra Chawla advocates for live-able collaborations, and rethinking bacteria as partners in health, endurance and survival of all living beings.
In her film, ‘Vital to Life ’, Sonia Mehra Chawla works with archival historical slides and samples from the North Sea. Filmed almost entirely through microscopes, these works make the invisible world of microorganisms visible, while imagining an oceanic worldview of entangled histories and symbiotic relationships.
Other resources and additional material:
Sonia Mehra Chawla’s official website: www.soniamehrachawla.in
Read ‘The Non Human Touch’, extracts from the film in Akademie Schloss Solitude’s online publication with the theme ‘Collective Care & Response-aibility’ here
Watch this short film on Sonia Mehra Chawla’s artistic practice :
Watch this inspiring short film that maps the long arc of Sonia’s artistic practice conducted at the intersection of art, science and ecology. In this film, Mehra Chawla reflects on her artistic journey and articulates her thoughts, inspirations, processes, methodologies and core concerns as a creative practitioner. She explores and investigates the potential of collaboration, cohabitation and contamination for sustaining all life in a more than human Anthropocene.
Sonia Mehra Chawla is a visual artist and researcher based in New Delhi, India. She received her BFA (2001) and MFA (2004) in Fine Arts from Delhi University’s College of Art in New Delhi/India. Mehra Chawla has an interdisciplinary practice as an artist, photographer and researcher. She works at the intersection of art, science and technology and her artistic practice explores notions of selfhood, nature, ecology, sustainability and conservation. Sonia’s practice is inextricably linked to an ethic, even a politics of multi-species co-existence and co-habitation. The artistic research could itself be seen as a political act, in which she has collaborated with several climate-change scientists, ecologists, oceanologists, microbiologists, as well as fishermen, farmers and indigenous people who speak from their deep reserves of their knowledge systems and traditional wisdom.
Sonia Mehra Chawla is a fellow and awardee of the Charles Wallace India Trust of the British Council. Furthermore, she is a fellow of the International Art+ Science program instituted by Khoj International Artists’ Association, supported by Wellcome Trust UK/DBT India Alliance. Sonia has been awarded a long term International fellowship and residency in the area of social sciences by Akademie Schloss Solitude, Germany in 2019, for the art, science and business program of the academy. Sonia’s forthcoming solo project in the UK, ‘Entanglements of Time & Tide’ (2021) has been supported by Edinburgh Printmakers, Marine Scotland, Creative Scotland and ASCUS Art & Science, Edinburgh. Her work will be presented at the Edinburgh International Science Festival 2021 with the theme ‘One World’ as well as the Edinburgh Art Festival 2021.
Chawla’s work has been exhibited at the Institut Fur Auslansbeziehungen, ifa Galerie, Stuttgart/Germany (2017); Yinchuan Biennale, MOCA Yinchuan/China (2016); Embassy of Switzerland, New Delhi/India (2019), Essl Museum of Contemporary Art, Vienna/Austria (2011); Khoj International Artists Association, Delhi/India (2018); 1X1 Art Gallery, Dubai/UAE (2020), Goethe Institut, Mumbai/India (2017); British Council, New Delhi/India (2015); Tate Modern, London/UK (2006-07); ET4U Contemporary Visual Art Projects, Denmark/Scandinavia (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art, Yinchuan/China (2016); CSMVS Museum, Mumbai/India (2010); Today Art Museum, Beijing/China (2008); Beck & Eggeling International, Dusseldorf/Germany (2015); Sydney Contemporary 13, Sydney/Australia (2013); 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong (2013), Art Basel/ Hong Kong (2013); Project Stage Asia Pacific/Art Stage Singapore (2011) and Shanghai Contemporary/China (2009).
Chawla’s forthcoming projects include ‘Earth Gardens’, a research based multi-media project at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Germany in collaboration with Botanischer Garten & Botanishes Museum, Berlin (2022). Sonia’s work has recently been collected by the Albertina Museum in Vienna/Austria.‘Entanglements of Time & Tide’, is a research based art-science engagement project by Sonia Mehra Chawla that explores the North Sea and its tidal zones in their ecological, cultural, political, economic, and poetic capacity. ‘Entanglements of Time & Tide’ is supported by Edinburgh printmakers, Marine Scotland, Marine Laboratory of the Scottish Government in Aberdeen, ASCUS Art & Science, Edinburgh and Creative Scotland.