Nature and art have always found ways to intersect, the former providing endless sources of inspiration for the latter. Over time, artists’ approach of the theme of nature has changed with the problems of their present time, shifting from a romantic vision to one that takes into account the awareness of the imminent danger that man and technological evolution pose on the environment. As a result, the gradual deterioration of nature triggered fundamental changes in the relationship between artist and nature, moving from artistic practices such as land art or environmental art, which refer to the environment or external conditions, to ecological art, an artistic genre and practice that seeks to preserve, remediate, and revitalize Earth’s life forms, resources, and ecology.

Ecological art focuses on an ecological working methodology with an emphasis on environmental issues, an approach that in recent years has become a topic of major interest for artists such as Rosa Whiteley and Agnieszka Polska. An architectural researcher and designer, Rosa Whiteley’s artistic approach places her work in the areas of ecology, architecture and geopolitics, analysing how the world is constructed through toxic flows and how they end up organising our life. Agnieszka Polska, on the other hand, is a visual artist and filmmaker who uses computer-generated media to reflect on individuals and their social responsibility in information-driven environments. Although different in approach, both artists choose to display – at the Chronic Desire exhibition – complex works of art that have as common reference points topical environmental issues and how we can restructure ourselves to improve our relationship with it.

Agnieszka Polska’s short film Eat Your Flowers!, shown at the Garrison Command, combines AI animation with post-production on 16mm film. It presents an alternative history to humanocentric ecology, where floral species and humans co-exist in perfect symbiosis, and is intended to be a meditation on how we could create an ecological balance based on the horrors of the past. Using elements of science fiction, the work reflects on the notion of the natural environment as an organic and social construct. Given its format, the short film can also be seen as a commentary on the processes of re-reading and re-projecting history.

In Tomorrow’s Cement Feeds on Us, exhibited at the “Corneliu Miklosi” Museum of Public Transport, Rosa Whitley explores the past and future of Europe’s waste legacy, concentrating specifically on the cement industry and the green cement production in Eastern Europe. The artist seeks to understand the new worlds we create when we burn waste for fuel, focusing on the ongoing collaboration between cement factories and waste industries. Combining a wide range of media such as film and organic or inorganic objects, the artist facilitates conversations about the negative impact of the cement industry on the environment and how we can cultivate resistance to toxic flows. The installation offers alternatives to the use of cement, alternatives that use plants and fibres grown in toxic places to remediate water and soil and store the toxicity in the built environment.

The two visions, although different in approach, convey a message that can be adapted to the current environmental issues. Looking back at the past and moving to the present in the context of the above-mentioned artworks, we can conjure up an optimistic vision of a new form of existence emerging in harmony with nature and re-establishing the connection with it. In the end, the message that we can all remember can be expressed as follows: if the artist manages to change a negative aspect into something positive through his art, society can also take steps to improve its relationship with the environment.