January 2022

Toast

Story by Stephen F. Eisenman
Artwork by Sue Coe

This special issue of the Anthropocene Alliance Newsletter is dedicated to a single artwork by Sue Coe. Sue has been a good friend of Anthropocene Alliance from the beginning, offering advice and moral support when we first launched, and providing artworks to illustrate some of our blogs and stories. Her art is found in the permanent collections of many of the most famous museums in the world. She had a retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 2018 and her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Nation, and dozens of other newspapers and magazines.

“We sometimes describe A2 as an artwork-in-progress.”

Newcomers to A2 may not be aware of our commitment to art, artists, and expressive culture, as well as to environmental justice. We believe the challenges we are facing—that our community members face—require the contributions of creative and imaginative people from all walks of life. That’s the reason we sometimes describe A2 as an “artwork-in-progress.” 

Please take a look at Sue Coe’s Toast and follow our brief discussion below

Toast by Sue Coe
Sue Coe, Toast, linocut, 2022. Collection: The artist.

Explaining Sue’s art can be like explaining a joke—if you do it successfully, you ruin it. So, we won’t say much about Toast except that it draws upon art and images that were common about 100 years ago, just after World War I, when national leaders met at Versailles to sign a treaty dividing-up the world and assigning blame for the war. But this time, it isn’t the status of nation-states that’s on the agenda. It’s the planet itself, its people and resources. 

“What can we do to end this awful dinner party?”

Look at the table, the diners, and the decimated landscape outside. Then consider the riches on view: the champagne being served, the baked ham on a platter, the marvelous crystal chandelier, the fine clothing of the men and women, and the valuable framed painting on the wall in back—it’s based upon a print by the great, German expressionist, E.L. Kirschner, Nude Girl in the Bath (1909). Is this our world now? Or a future world? And what can we do to end this awful dinner party? Smash the doors of the mansion? Expel the diners? Take possession of the planet and cool it down? Can environmental leaders, grassroots organizations and everyday people join forces to change attitudes, policies, and politics? Or are we all just…toast?

How would you end the party? Comment here

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Readers’ responses:

“While I have a number of draconian ideas, this will ultimately end in chaos. When the global financial elites seated at the table realize that their wealth creation machine is at risk because of ecological and climate collapse, they will try to pivot to decarbonization. But as we all know it will be too late (perhaps it already is?) as we have no understanding of how quickly and how drastically the climate will collapse. The chaos will be widespread including starvation, resource wars, mass migration and homelessness and rapid global population collapse to name a few. That’s a very dark view coming from an optimist who has been working diligently over the last 23 years on renewable energy development and deployment. But I don’t see any change coming at that table as they control their government proxies and their militaries, central banks, the Wall Streets, and corporations.”

– Dave B.

“As with any party all items of debris, misuse, fraud, neglect need to be cleaned up. All areas of where the party took place should be regenerized, replenished, rehabilitated and restored.”

– Jackie J.

“Maybe we’ll be bands of floating pirates with different degrees of ships. Boats and plastic flotsam floats. Everyone in some kind of gang with 17th century tools for fighting over the last food, potable water and fuel.”

– Beth B.

“The party is over. The earth will recover and will again prove she never needed any of us.”

– Rebecca J.

“Create an international grassroots movement, joining all climate organizations under one roof.”

– Savannah S.

“According to Population Reference Bureau 1875 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. Suite 520 Washington, D.C. 20009, 3 Billion live within 200 kilometers or a little over 120 miles from the coastline. Psy.org reports, “The massive Thwaites glacier in West Antarctica contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by 65cm if it were to completely collapse. …it could trigger a regional chain reaction and drag other nearby glaciers in with it, which would mean several meters of sea-level rise. That’s because the glaciers in West Antarctica are thought to be vulnerable to a mechanism called Marine Ice Cliff Instability or MICI, where retreating ice exposes increasingly tall, unstable ice cliffs that collapse into the ocean.” LiveScience just reported “Time is melting away for one of Antarctica’s biggest glaciers, and its rapid deterioration could end with the ice shelf’s complete collapse in just a few years, researchers warned at a virtual press briefing on Monday (Dec. 13) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).” It is inevitable, the Oceans of the World will rise up onto the inhabited Land whether Civilizations are prepared or not! All Civilizations have to begin immediately Resettling their Populations to “HIGHER GROUND” as is the Isle de Jean Charles Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw (IDJC) Tribe of Louisiana” who are losing their ancestral lands to the Ocean. Learn and teach Resilience, adapt or perish! Throughout human history people have sometimes had to suddenly move to new “Resettlements”. “Move to Higher Ground Now”!”

– Bob J.

I would cut and paste them and their hedonistic fantasy into the Titanic and send them off to the Twaites Glacial ice shelf. Then promptly dissolve every fossil fuel, chemical, pharmaceutical and industrial agriculture corporation on the planet and distribute the proceeds to every community on the planet starting with the most vulnerable/least contributing country according to their needs. All policies and programs would be geared towards moving society out of the Anthropocene and into the Symbiocene as fast as humanly possible.”

https://www.humansandnature.org/exiting-the-anthropocene-and-entering-the-symbiocene-2021

– Ceal S.

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