'Holoscenes' — Art and climate change meet in unusual way

Posted Dec 8, 2015 by Karen Graham
For over 40 years, Art Basel has brought the world the best in modern and contemporary art in three shows around the world. Besides the usual paintings and other mediums seen in Miami this year, one performance installation, called "Holoscenes" was a hit.
Tuning a guitar.
Tuning a guitar.
WLRN Public Radio and Television
The piece, entitled "Holoscenes," is the work of a 37-year-old from Los Angeles, California, Lars Jan. The artist takes climate change seriously, particularly the devastating damage that floods can cause, and brings it closer to the viewer. Holoscenes punches the viewer in the gut, says Jan.
Jan's piece is a performance installation, inspired by his concerns over a warming world. Performers are placed inside a large aquarium where they must tackle everyday tasks and activities, such as mopping the floor, reading a newspaper or even sleeping.
The water inside the aquarium rises and drains at varying speeds for 45 minutes, sometimes going higher and lower several times as the performer attempts to cope with the water levels, just like the ebbs and flows of real-time global environmental data. Performers are often forced to swim to the top of the aquarium to take a breath of air.
Even reading the newspaper becomes a challenge as the water rises.
Even reading the newspaper becomes a challenge as the water rises.
Wifredo Fernandez/Twitter
Jan thinks Miami was the perfect choice for spotlighting how we will have to adapt to the sometimes precarious dance climate change, rising sea levels and everyday life. The artwork also dramatizes Miami Beach and Miami's vulnerability to rising sea levels.
Jan says, "roads will have to be raised, water pumps updated, homes built high off the ground, sewage plants safeguarded, and estuaries and the Everglades protected from encroaching saltwater," reports the Straits Times.
Pauline Winick/Instagram
The artist was particularly inspired by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, But an especially stunning and vivid photograph of a major flood in Pakistan caught his attention. "It was classically beautiful, but it depicted a horrific situation. It opened a door that I walked through and I kept walking," Jan said.
Lua Shayenne/Twitter
In this scene, a fruit seller is sitting in the empty aquarium, her basket of persimmons in her lap. As the water rises, the persimmons float away. As she tries to frantically gather them, they float out of her reach.
One Miami resident came to Art Basel, bringing along her three children. She says the scenes depicted gave her a sense of fear and of losing control. "They are struggling to do all the things they used to but, with all the changes, now they can't," she said.
"The water coming up and down, it's like the points in your life when you think, now I have it under control and you don't."
Upcoming shows include Hong Kong, March 24-26, 2016, and Basel, June 16-19, 2016. Art Basel ends 2016, coming to Miami Beach from December 1-4, 2016.