“Environmental grief” describes mourning the loss of nature and its creatures. Coined as early as twenty years ago, the term describes the feeling of bereavement experienced by those who either witness or anticipate the loss of landscapes, plant or animal species, or entire ecosystems as a consequence of human-induced climate change and other intervention. The notion of environmental grief has circulated widely in recent years, steeped in evidence that the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event is already underway, that our global ecosystem is growing weaker and weaker and that the entire biosphere is being irreparably destroyed by human activity.
In a large solo exhibition entitled grief and hope, Museum Abteiberg presents the multi-media oeuvre of American artist Andrea Bowers, a crucial body of work that focuses on environmentalism, ecofeminism and climate justice. Bowers’ work is both a testament to looming ecological crisis, documenting her intimate involvement with activists between 2000–2020, and a unique, artistic snapshot of the social-activist Zeitgeist. The survey exhibition at Museum Abteiberg brings together a vast array of materials from this twenty-year period of artistic output, showing both early and more recent subjects of study. It reveals how art and activism are interwoven in Bowers’ work and poses existential questions about activities in art and society. Given Mönchengladbach’s geographical proximity to the Rhenish mining district’s Garzweiler coalfields and Hambach Forest, Bowers’ project at Museum Abteiberg has specific ties to the local area.