ARTIST NATALIA KAPCHUK
Parliamentary Society Magazine caught up with London based artist Natalia Kapchuk to discuss the successful debut of her first solo exhibition, The Lost Planet. An artist specialising in the technique of mixed media assemblage, Natalia Kapchuk is an ambassador here at The Parliamentary Society of Arts, Fashion and Sports (UK), as well as an ambassador for the Better World Fund (BWF) and a philanthropist, supporting charities and organisations dedicated to protecting nature and the oceans of the world. Creating environmentally centered artworks, Kapchuk highlights many ecological problems facing the world we see today.
1) Natalia, a pleasure to be with you again. Last we spoke, you were gearing up for the debut of your solo exhibition, The Lost Planet in London, focusing on the crucial subject matter of environmental protection and conservation—can you give us some insight on how the installation went?
Thank you for having me. The installation was truly magical, and I couldn’t have asked for a better turnout for my first solo exhibition. In creating The Lost Planet series, I had two essential goals that I wanted to accomplish: one, to garner and maximise awareness of the state of our home here on Earth, and two, to instill a sense of urgency and hope in all those who bear wit- ness. Free and open to the public, I contrasted beautiful scenes with harsh realities. I wanted the viewers to understand that with much-needed changes, both personal and legislative, we as humans can change the trajectory of our declining planet, preserving the innate beauty of the world for generations to come.
To thoroughly convey and express the messages behind my art project, my exceptional team and I planned many activities within the two-week exhibition. They included an opening night for influencers, collectors, famed art critics, and special guests. As well, a press breakfast and an ad- joining panel discussion for reporters, journalists, and media, featuring keynote speakers for an open dialogue focused on the current state of our planet, the problems that fuel its destruction, and the solutions we as people can implement to bring about change.
2) In an age of exclusivity, you made it a point to have your exhibition be free and open to the public, why was that?
Yes. To your point, exclusivity, especially in the arts, I find, has a negative impact on society. Art has a long history relating to its lack of acceptability, predominantly catering to those with a certain level of privilege, leaving those less than fortunate to observe from afar— this is detrimental, especially when subjects like mine are the main points of focus. Understanding this, I wanted to make sure that any and every person, regardless of financial status, could attend my exhibition.
With many restrictive factors at play, like the continued presence of Covid-19 and worldwide travel restrictions, I needed to become innovative with ways the audience could experience The Lost Planet exhibition, immersing themselves in the mission behind its creation. That is why I implemented the expert panel discussion and The Lost Planet animated video artwork.
3) Strikingly titled: “Is This Planet Earth’s Dying Century?” what was your reasoning for the incorporation of the panel discussion you hosted as a part of your exhibition?
My reason was simple, I believe group discussions are a fantastic way of bringing together different perspectives on a wide range of matters. It is in the mixture of viewpoints that shape a dialogue and expands understanding in ways that wouldn't be possible with just one speaker's input. I constructed the panel discussion to further speak to the pressing issues plaguing the Earth as a result of destructive human activity and behaviour.
The invited guest speakers and experts were former Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Politician Barry Gardiner MP, Director of The Royal Geographical Society Professor Joe Smith, Director of Philanthropy at Earthwatch Europe Dr. Neil Bailey, and Assistant Director of Plastic Oceans Europe Juan Castaño Vilas. The moderator for the panel was TV Presenter and BBC Journalist, Samantha Simmonds.
The panellist expounded on a range of topics that include pollution, global warming, waste disposal, de- forestation, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, the role of China, ozone layer depletion, loss of biodiversity, and much more.
4) The aforementioned animated video artwork you created— can you speak more to its contents and what prompted its addition to The Lost Planet series.
Absolutely. The world is always in a state of evolution, and too, so is art and modes of expression. In keeping with the times, I decided to join the growing surge of digital art and develop a compelling animated video installation complementing the physical pieces I constructed.
As presented, I address society as the voice of The Universe, closely monitoring the state of the planet—The plot of the video illustrates a portrayal of the world, reflective of chapters, exploring the mysterious abyss of the Milky Way and our Galaxy— a symbol of the cyclical movement for all life of the Universe. Also, the pristine ecosystems of planet Earth, its flora and fauna, and the primal energy of the natural elements.
I express the theory of dualism manifesting itself in the origins of spiritual and physical matter, life on Earth, and the religious-philosophical dogma of an immaterial entity. Concurrently, after a fleshly death, the viewer is revealed many truths. The video chronicles the life of planet Earth as science, technology, and consumerism develop, steadily following the increase of needs and habits in a post-industrial society, displaying the negative after-effects in the absence of change. I end with words of encouragement and glimmers of hope that this dramatisation is avoidable with rigorous and collective actions.
5) What can the addition of this digital artwork do that your physical works cannot?
Echoing back to our conversation about accessibility, unlike my physical pieces, my digital works can be in more than one place at a time, in a matter of mere minutes even. For example, my animated video installation will showcase in Dubai, South Korea, at Château de Crémat and the Trophy of Augustus in France while also being featured by W1 Curates, at the heart of Lon- don’s iconic Oxford Street.
So, versatility in access and representation is essential in my mission of spreading much-needed environmental awareness— where my physical pieces require much more planning, digital art- forms have more flexibility.
6) Since the completion of The Lost Planet exhibition in London, many of your pieces have found new homes in museums and private collections. Is it sad to say goodbye to your works of art?
Oh, of course. When you spend so much time gathering inspiration, mentally and physically constructing pieces (for this series, a whopping 31), it is hard to so goodbye. I’m not ashamed to admit that a tear or two...or hundreds rather, may have been shed in the process of these works finding new homes. But as the sadness dissipates, I always find that I’m engulfed with an overwhelming sense of joy knowing that my creations will live on. I created these pieces with the goal of spreading awareness, joy, and hope to all those who have the pleasure of experiencing them—I believe I achieved this. And besides, with my pieces finding new homes, this provides me opportunity and space to focus on my next collection of masterpieces.
7) What is next for The Lost Planet series of works?
Currently, I’m in the UAE for Expo 2020, which will be in the emirate city of Dubai until Mar 31, 2022. I have the honour to be featuring a few of my artworks for the Antigua and Barbuda Pavilion this year.
The Caribbean nation took notice of my activism and hard stance in the fight against plastic pollution and sustainability, which they echo having implemented strict laws, restrictions, and bans of the use and importation of various plastic and styrofoam items. These non-biodegradable items have a detrimental effect on the nation’s lands and sea.
My artworks GPGP. Fragment No98203, 2020, Ocean’s DNA, 2019, Coral Maze, 2020, Plastic Network, 2019, Self-isolation, 2020, etc, reflect this sentiment.
The expo takes place until March. After the event closes, select pieces from The Lost Planet series will travel to South Korea to the Czong Institute for Contemporary Art - CICA Museum in Gyeonggi-do.
8) Are you working on any new pieces?
Aside from special requests and recreations of past works, I am always experimenting in the studio, trying out fresh mediums and concepts for my new art pieces. Even when I’m away from my studio, I find myself in moments when I have time, jotting down ideas and sketching potential creations that my mind dreams up. So, the short answer is yes, I have some things in the works, so definitely stay tuned.
9) As always Natalia, can you provide any sustainable tips and practices for our readers that can be incorporated into their everyday lives?
My favourite part. One, keep in mind the classic saying: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Simple yet amazingly effective in the fight against plastic population and waste. To this point, be mindful and avoid using plastic items like single-use utensils and grocery bags at all times when possible.
Two, try and move to a more plant-based diet, even if it is just once or twice per week. Meat production is very destructive on the planet, as it requires vast amounts of water while producing pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and habitat devastation. And finally, simple changes in the home can make a drastic impact on the environment. Switch to LED lightbulbs for more efficient lighting. Investing in energy-saving innovations like window installations and utilising programmable thermostats for more efficient heating and cooling can be of major benefit to our foot- prints and preserving our home here on Earth for generations to come.
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