by Sukanya DebAug 31, 2022
In the middle of one of the biggest and busiest cities in the world, is an island of escapism right off Broadway. Arcadia Earth in New York City is an incredible immersive experience, curated to inspire action. This multi-storied, multi-sensory art exhibit spans 15,000 square feet, creating a visual experience of a lifetime.
Every corner of Arcadia Earth invites you to lose yourself in a spectacular landscape of texture and colour, inspired by both the beauty and the decay of our planet as we know it. The installations approach the turmoil of climate change and its effects with an inspired eye and fresh perspective. The exhibition leans heavily towards an educational angle, offering not only information about the crisis but actionable changes one can make to their own habits. Arcadia Earth is a journey, which takes you to 15 different rooms, thematically addressing issues of plastic pollution.
A phenomenon by itself, Arcadia Earth is the brainchild of artist Valentino Vettori. This pop-up project has partnered with a number of charities such as Oceanic Global, WWF, EarthX and more. Vettori plays the role of an artist, curator and a visionary here, bringing together 12 artists including Samuelle Green, Tamara Kostianovsky, Etty Yaniv and Basia Goszczynska in a collaborative mission to conceptualise and create site-specific, environmentally ‘woke’ art installations.
While it offers elements of augmented reality, virtual reality and other interactive elements, Arcadia Earth also uses a range of material to create panoramic visuals for viewers to walk through. Notably, every installation is made using upcycled materials and reusable elements like discarded fishnets, waste fabric and plastic trash. As the threats of global warming loom closer into view, the governments all over the world are taking notice and making gradual steps toward conscious consumption. The United States is known to be one of the largest producers of waste in the world, making New York’s recent ban on single-use plastic bags not only a responsible but also a welcome change.
In light of this landmark decision, Vettori partners with Brooklyn-based artist Basia Goszczynska to create Rainbow Cave. The installation repurposes used plastic bags to bring awareness to the massive scale of wastage it causes. The cave uses lights to embellish the walls which are made of 44,000 plastic bags - the average number used per minute in New York City according to the statistics. The installation uses its visual resemblance to dying, colour-faded coral reefs to reference to mass extinction happening on our ocean floor beds due to changing temperatures.
Arcadia Earth may be an island of escape in a big city like New York, but it’s an experience which also firmly grounds you into the reality of our plight on this planet today. Itcreates an environment to activate five senses, titled ‘See’, ‘Hear’, ‘Interact’, ‘Love’ and ‘Share’, each selected carefully to engage the viewer. The most interesting one here is ‘Love’ – ‘Show your love for Mother Earth by vowing to make small changes in your daily life’. Here, Vettori calls on the power of a larger cause, combining it with an interactive element, the ‘vow’, to influence behaviour without targeting people through negativity or guilt. Arcadia Earth leaves you with an offering - to improve practices through actionable information and be part of a community driven revolution towards a healthier planet. The installation is on view until April 2020.