THE BUZZ: The Beautiful Struggle

By on September 1, 2015

A Swiss artist addresses climate change with arresting images in her new show.

Iuna Tinta (above), debuts her first solo show in the U.S. at Asymbol Thursday. ‘Emergency Exhibit’ delves into climate change’s impacts on some of the world’s most revered places. (Photo: Asymbol.co)

Iuna Tinta (above), debuts her first solo show in the U.S. at Asymbol Thursday. ‘Emergency Exhibit’ delves into climate change’s impacts on some of the world’s most revered places. (Photo: Asymbol.co)

As wildfires rage in the West and glaciers vanish across the world, the effects of climate change are aggrandizing on a global stage. The LA Times reported Sunday that in the Alaskan town of Kivalina—83 miles above the Arctic Circle—people are literally fighting to stay afloat as the sea swallows the island they call home. Rising temperatures and the dangerous impacts that avalanche from them, the newspaper reports, have robbed the island of its major source of protection: ice. Meanwhile President Barack Obama is in the Arctic this week to examine the impacts of climate change on one of the most dynamic and imperiled ecosystems in the world.

But unlike the Alaskan villagers of Kivalina, many people who are not yet confronted with the immediate threats of losing their homes or livelihoods seem fatigued by cautionary climate tales. The scope of the problem is too vast, too confounding, some lament. Where pragmatic science-based messages about climate change fail at shifting behavior, however, art has the ability to step in and stir a visceral response.

Swiss artist Corinne Weidmann grew up in a small village in the Alps, where life has always hinged on the gifts the mountains bestow. “When I was young, if you asked a Swiss, ‘What do you do for fun?’ they would never say skiing or snowboarding because that was always understood,” said the 33-year-old artist.

Wiedmann has watched with alarm as her beloved Alps—which are exhibiting more pronounced effects of climate change than mountain ranges in other parts of the world—grapple with melting glaciers and shrinking winters.

“Climate change is affecting the Alps from the composition of the permafrost that holds the rocks together, to the volume and quality of snow,” warns the European Environment Agency. “Glaciers are retreating and ice and snow bridges are disappearing. The art of guiding in the mountains is changing as traditional routes become unsafe. Some glaciers, that could be traversed five years ago, have changed. The ice is gone and the rock underneath is exposed.”

A deep appreciation for humanity’s inextricable link to nature compelled Weidmann to create “Emergency Exhibit,” a collection of wistful, chromatic images premiering at Asymbol Gallery on Thursday at the hands of her alter ego, Iuna Tinta.

“I think the work that she created— the beautiful but alarming portraits of what is changing—it’s not moralizing or preachy or in the realm of banging you over the head,” explained Alex Hillinger, Asymbol’s managing director. “It is trying to connect with people on an emotional level … the work itself is supposed to do the heavy lifting.”

An avid snowboarder, surfer and skater whose designs have colored Roxy and Unity snowboards to name a few, Weidmann draws inspiration from moments in nature riding snow and waves, and from her travels abroad.

“She has an international perspective on the world,” Hillinger said. “She is not just a Swiss artist or even a European artist; some of her art is influenced by Native American and South American folklore and culture, for example, and I see a lot of Georgia O’Keeffe influence in her work.”

Weidmann’s richly hued, hopeful images contrast the apocalyptic warnings that increasingly inundate national and global media. A thawing glacier in Antarctica, a bronzed Grand Teton and the softening Gorner Glacier in Switzerland—where, Weidmann says, people have begun covering glaciers with fleece blankets in summer months in an attempt to reduce melt—spark dialogue about the responsibility humans must assume in order to protect these special places. “I think it is important that the message is not only about destruction,” Weidmann said from her London studio. “If you watch the news, you become depressed and that discourages people. It makes them think that it is too late.”

After learning about Asymbol’s ethos, rooted in adventure and outdoor exploration, Weidmann contacted the Jackson gallery founded by pro-snowboarder Travis Rice and artist Mike Parillo in the hopes to become a part of its roster. Hillinger said it is potentially cumbersome to work with artists when they are based in far-flung places but that Weidmann is an exception. “When she first contacted us, we said we were interested but we didn’t know where this could go,” Hillinger said of the young artist who debuted on the Asymbol roster last spring in the “Wandering Eyes” show in Portland, Ore. “The experience of working with her has been awesome, she has such a strong work ethic coupled with true artistic ability.”

Hillinger hopes that bringing Weidmann’s work to Jackson Hole, where the vitality of the human populace is deeply connected to the natural environment, will incite necessary discussion. “When art is done well it can raise issues and create dialogue around important topics better than anything else can,” he said. “Look at Ai Weiwei … he is so effective because instead of standing on a soapbox and railing against the Chinese government [his art] causes an emotional response that is far more powerful.” PJH

“Emergency Exhibit by Iuna Tinta,” opening reception 6 p.m. Thursday at Asymbol Art + Essentials, 50 West Broadway. A portion of the show’s proceeds will go to Protect Our Winters, a nonprofit founded by pro-snowboarder Jeremy Jones that raises awareness about climate change, engaging outdoor lovers and sending pro athletes to flex their muscles in Washington, D.C.


About Robyn Vincent

Robyn is the editor of Planet Jackson Hole and Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine. When she's not sweating deadlines, she likes to travel the world with her notebook and camera in hand. Follow her on Twitter @TheNomadicHeart

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