Next World Emissaries marks a shift into new sculptural territory that builds on previous work that explored eco-anxiety in fantastic and dystopic tableaux. While these past dioramas processed environmental collapse in miniature environments, these new works are both true to scale and oversized – awarding humanity’s current “pests” a monumental scale. These sculptures explore the concept of “new beginnings”, influenced by speculative fiction in historical and contemporary writing, visual art and popular culture.
As a foundation for this work, historically imagined utopias (from the absurd revelry and hybrid forms of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights to antique sailing maps of imagined territories) have been considered alongside constructed virtual reality worlds in pop-cultural narratives, and Ecotopian fiction. Both tender and darkly humorous, the resulting installation draws from eclectic sources—from the despondent insects in Roald Dahl’s 1961 novel James and the Giant Peach to the optimism of archival images from 1970’s Earth Day parades.
Next World Emissaries features triumphant hybrid forms based on pervasive species such as weeds and insects. These various “nuisance species” are based on those common to many North American cities, including barnyard grass, scarlet pimpernel, dandelion, cockroach and spongy moth.
Upon a 68′ long stage in the full installation, each figure stands on an individual base that appears composed of the industrial detritus of a collapsed city. Walking in formation over the rubble, the figures’ celebratory march symbolizes both the resilience of the natural world and the readiness for a new ecology to take shape. As emissaries for a new world, their hands clutch symbolic offerings: a bouquet of daisies, a white flag of negotiation and an oak leaf reflecting endurance.
I create sculptures that explore human impact on the world by fusing animate and inanimate forms into singular identities. The careful crafting of these works and their miniature details counter the central themes of hyperactive production, and on demand delivery. Laboriously carved from wood and painted, they represent hours of reflection on the meaning of being an active consumer in this world and struggling to imagine models beyond it.
Using invention, humor and speculation my work envisions new ways to visualize our behaviors and resulting global predicament. The mechanics of consumerism is a driving theme behind these works, with a specific focus on the factory food system and its implications for land depletion and climate shift. These patterns are played out on the surfaces of sculptures that express the physical and psychological fallout.
Merging human forms with those of animals, insects, architecture and the natural environment, my sculptures become intricate cosmologies of real and imagined spaces. These complex hybrid forms construct idiosyncratic narratives that explore new and fantastic understandings of eco-anxiety and speculate on possibilities beyond planetary collapse. Using an elastic sense of anatomy and scale, I visualize rampant cycles of human consumption and the resulting detriment to both the human self and surrounding world.
Jude Griebel creates intensively detailed figurative sculptures and drawings that visualize our entanglement with the surrounding world. In his works, landscapes, the species we affect, and the waste we create, coalesce in vivid forms that illustrate the reach of our impact and consumption habits. Both harbingers of ruin and agents of transformation, his works build on art historical traditions of the anthropomorphic body to reflect a planet in a state of crisis.
Griebel’s work has recently been supported by residencies at institutions including Pioneer Works, New York; International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York and Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY. His work has been funded by major grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation. Griebel’s work is included in collections international including Arsenal Contemporary Art, Montreal; the Frans Masereel Centrum, Kasterlee and the Volpert Foundation, New York.
The artist would like to thank the following organizations for the support of Next World Emissaries: Pioneer Works and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (New York), the Canada Council for the Arts and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.