By Ian Coldwell
The multiple effects of a changing climate are on many people’s minds these days, including artists. On December 17th, at 7.30 for 8 p.m. in the art gallery, the Friends of SAM and Slap Tomorrow Inc. will present an evening of conversation between Penny Byrne and Kate Auty. Penny is the ceramic artist dubbed by the Art Collector ‘the porcelain vandal’ who made “The Four Horsemen of the Twenty First Century Apocalypse” back in 2009. Kate is a Vice Chancellors Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne and the former Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Victoria.
SAM acquired Penny Byrne’s beautiful four piece porcelain artwork for the permanent collection in 2010. The horsemen represent a contemporary interpretation of the biblical revelation story of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. In Penny’s story, four of the great cultural challenges to human kind and the many other species of nature on earth are represented through the names of the horses; water shortages, peak oil, food scarcity and over population.
Each of these challenges have been described by philosophers as ‘unintended’ consequences of the phenomenal successes of the industrial revolution, an epoch which is said to be moving beyond its own logic into a phase of self dissolution; a transitional Apocalypse navigated through the ‘risk society’[i] and it’s promising technologies, to somewhere that is not yet, a time, that we hope will bring a more harmonious and flourishing environment to the world.
Who better to have in conversation about an artwork that encompasses these serious questions than the artist herself, Penny Byrne, and a person who keeps such a watchful eye over environmental sustainability, Kate Auty?
The committees of the Friends of SAM and Slap Tomorrow Inc. are excited to present this opportunity for the public to participate in an important discussion over a drink and a nibble. The Four Horsemen of the Twenty First Century Apocalypse will be mounted on their steeds and their plinths in the gallery that night. Do come along.
[i] Ulrich Beck, 1992, The Risk Society Thesis.