Meeting the Canadian’s Energy East would affect – Exhibit in Toronto

This blog post originally appeared on Environmental Defence’s website.

Meeting the Canadians that Energy East puts at risk

It was a typical northern Ontario day on the shores of Shoal Lake, when I really got it.

I was a month into a photography project to highlight the voices of people along the proposed Energy East pipeline route. I was interviewing Chief Fawn Wapioke of Shoal Lake 39. We had retreated from the mosquitos outside to a couch in the living room.

Bob Smoker

Fawn was talking about making decisions based on how they would affect future generations. I’d heard other individuals share similar sentiments before. But that day, Fawn’s toddler twins were playing at our feet. Listening to Fawn’s words and watching those kids play, it really sank in.

This was clearly about more than one pipeline. This was about building a different system – one where a clean environment and a sustainable economy provide a resilient system for future generations to thrive.

Last spring, I traced Energy East’s proposed 4,600 km route. All those kilometres provide a lot of stories, a lot of opinions and a lot of cups of coffee. This country we call Canada is a beautiful land full of beautiful people. Everywhere I went on my journey along the pipeline, people gave me hours and days of their time. They shared their life stories, homes, and food with a photographer determined to find out what Canadians and First Nations thought about plans for a massive new tar sands pipeline heading east.

Every individual had their own opinions informed by their own experiences. I talked to people that supported the pipeline, people still making up their mind and many that were doing everything they could to oppose it.

It’s clear that Canadians and First Nations are giving thought to the complex issues of energy, environment and economy. We are smart people. Many of us aren’t buying the line pushed by tar sands industry and the federal government that ‘we need this pipeline for jobs and the economy.’

Most also recognize the climate implications of the mega-pipeline. Every person I spoke with, whether they agreed with the pipeline proposal or not, talked about the need for Canada to move towards more renewable energy.

This is a complex issue. And, sometimes it takes a personal story, a face, or an experience to drive home what this is all about.

Beginning this Friday, some of the images from Along the Pipeline will be on display in Toronto for the exhibit Exposing Energy East. The exhibit is free and open to the public, October 31 to November 5.

I invite you to come and see the faces of Canadians who live along Energy East’s proposed route. Hear their concerns about this project. I promise it will make you consider not only the issue of the pipeline, but also ask that bigger question – what kind of Canada do we want to build?

From Beer Coasters to EU Parliament

20130604_rvw_amsterdam_014

Sometime in the fall of 2010 I sat down with my friend Kate Harriman at a bar in Amsterdam. Our drinking hole of choice was Pacific Parc in the Westerpark and I had invited Kate to help me develop a new idea into a real photography project.

I recognized that climate change imagery focusing on environmental impacts wasn’t encouraging action – instead, it seemed to be pushing many towards complacency. It was time to work on something positive. Something that shared stories about change, about renewable energy, and about how the world is today – not some distant future that we can’t grasp.

Over a glass of Texels Skuumkoppe we started to write down our ideas and thoughts on the only available stationary, the beer coasters. Inevitably we ran out of coasters but quickly solved the problem by ordering more beer.

Over the next months and years, Kate and I continued to spend countless hours on our project. It now had a name, Force, and we wrote proposals, called potential partners, honed our language, and called more partners.

I found the first story after a 30km bike ride to visit farmer Stephan de Clerck.20130604_rvw_amsterdam_013 He and his family have been harvesting the wind for over a decade. That bike ride quickly told me two things: first, a bike is not the easiest mode of transportation for a project on wind energy, and second, the locations weren’t going to be easily accesible.

My trips started to get further and further afield. A bit of money from a magazine allowed me to self-fund a trip to the the Czech Republic. I tacked a few days on a travel magazine gig to get stories from Ireland. A trip to Nepal for the Climate Oxide project allowed an exploration into the nascent wind energy scene in Kathmandu. A family visit to Australia allowed me to stop in Thailand to explore the construction of the largest wind park in South East Asia.

The stories were varied and by the end of 2011 included 5 countries.

I partnered with the Global Campaign for Climate Action who posted the stories in the lead up to RIO +20 and this got the attention of the European Wind Energy Association. The EWEA felt that my story-based communication was a breath of fresh air, and they adopted it as part of their 2013 communications plan. They funded the exploration of three more European countries – Romania, the UK and Poland. That three-week whirlwind trip resulted in 8 more stories and the EWEA has been steadily publishing these stories on their blog over the last few months.20130604_rvw_amsterdam_015

Yesterday I was at the European Parliament for the the opening reception of the photography exhibit Discover the Stories Behind Wind Energy. Images are below. Six different stories from six different EU countries line the Couloir Cheval – the corridor where the conservative MEPs pass through on the way to their office. Good placement!

It has been a long road, 3 years. It involved a lot of trust, commitment and personal investment, but Force has once again reaffirmed my belief that a good idea, combined with a lot of hard work, will result in exciting partnerships and successful projects.

The EWEA photo exhibition will continue to be shown by EWEA members across Europe in the coming year.

Quality visuals and well-told stories can make a difference. It is my hope that the Force project has helped us to take a small step towards the future that we want.

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Through the Lens, a Retrospective

15 Years ago the spark of photography was awakened in my eye by a small experimental program in Banff, Alberta. At the time, well-known photographer, Phil Borges, was presenting an exhibit at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies called Faces of Tibet. The Whyte Museum decided to run a small program with several High School students to compliment Borges’ exhibit and they called it Faces of the Bow Valley.

At the time I was already displaying an interest in photography and I was selected for this program. The 3 – 4 months of Black and White photography, darkroom work and ensuing exhibit stuck with me and I still credit that course with helping to get me on my way as a photographer today.

Image: Shizuka Shiono

The program was a great success. It continued the next year as Through the Lens and has been running with high school students from the Bow Valley and Morley for 15 years. This year, the Whyte Museum has put on a retrospective exhibit of the work and produced an amazing book.

I was invited along with 4 other photographers to present new work for the current exhibit. I selected images from my Force series on wind energy and they are on display at the Whyte now.

The opening in February in Banff, Alberta was packed and it seemed like the whole community showed up. There were over 600 people at the opening and I had to return a couple of days later just to see the exhibit.

Craig Richards and the team at the Whyte Museum have done a wonderful job. Not only have they helped build a photographic history of life in the Bow Valley, but more importantly, provided many young people with an opportunity to use photography as a creative outlet.

Congratulations and Thank-you!

Press Release – Climate Oxide

Title: Climate Oxide
Datum: 9 oktober 2012

Climate Oxide is a new visual art project, opening in Amsterdam on Friday, 19 October at the Kunstkerk, Prinseneiland, that uses photography, steel, and rust to interpret the corrosion of our environment.

A Nepali Buddhist temple powered by solar energy, the devastating impacts of tar sands mining in Canada, or the Delta works of Zeeland; the images and rust employed in Climate Oxide visually depict how a tarnished world could look like if we don’t change our ways. The exhibition is meant to raise awareness and to offer a cross-experience between art and activism.

Canadian born artist Robert van Waarden and Nepali born Shiva Rimal both share Dutch nationality. Drawing upon experiences from their individual backgrounds they provide a personalised perspective of global climate issues for their audience.

The technique of combining rust and photography can be seen in this ‘making of’ video.

Exhibit Opening: Friday 19 October, 20:00
Where: Kunstkerk, Prinseneiland 89, 1013 LM, Amsterdam
Exhibit Dates: Friday, 19 October to Sunday, 28 October
Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays, 10:00 to 18:00 (closed Mondays)

Special event: Sunday, 28 October from 14:00 to 17:00.
A panel of invited guests will share their thoughts on design, photography and the environment. Guests include; David Harry from Het Beste Idee van Nederland and the International Innovation Company, Mark Smit from the sustainability policy development team at the Hogeschool Rotterdam, and Iris Cheng, climate campaigner from Greenpeace International.

Robert and Shiva are available for interviews or comments:

For more information about the Artists:
www.vanwaardenphoto.com
www.shivarimal.com

Climate Oxide Video – The Making Of

I am very happy to share this video we have created on the making of the Climate Oxide project. Climate Oxide is a collaborative art project with artist Shiva Rimal. Together we use photography, rust and industrial design to create large pieces of visual art on the subject of climate change. The official opening of the exhibit is on October 19, 2012 at 20:00 at the Kunstkerk (PrinsenEiland 89) in Amsterdam, come by and join us.

Climate Oxide – Trailer from Robert van Waarden on Vimeo.

 

Two for One Coffee at Impacting Environments Exhibit

Hey Amsterdammers and/or people traveling through ludwigAmsterdam, my photography exhibit ‘Impacting Environments’ is entering its’ second month at Coffee Bar Ludwig. Thanks to Coffee Bar Ludwig, for a limited time, you can get ’2-4-1′ coffee voucher valid for the period of my exhibit. To do so, simply sign up to my e-news letter using the form below or head on over to my Facebook page and use the form there. Then print out the final ‘Welcome’ email and present it when ordering your coffee.

Ludwig is located at 547 Eerste van Swindenstraat, Amsterdam Oost. Exhibition ends Dec. 9th so hurry. Only one usage per customer.

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Photographs from Royal Gallery Opening

I have been pretty busy the last few weeks with family engagements and I haven’t had much time to post new things to the journal. But as things settle down, the time is found to move forward with things that I have been meaning to do for several weeks. This includes posting some of the images that a good friend of mine Leora Rosner captured at the opening of the Royal Gallery exhibit last month. Enjoy.

royal gallery exhibit in amsterdam

Credit: Leora Rosner

royal gallery exhibit in amsterdam

Credit: Leora Rosner

photos of Royal Gallery Amsterdam

Credit: Leora Rosner

royal gallery exhibit in amsterdam

Credit: Leora Rosner

royal gallery exhibit in amsterdam

Credit: Leora Rosner

royal gallery exhibit in amsterdam

Credit: Leora Rosner

royal gallery exhibit in amsterdam

Credit: Leora Rosner

Slideshow of Amsterdam Royal Gallery Show

Several people have contacted me and expressed their disappointment that they were not able to catch the Royal Gallery exhibit here in Amsterdam. I said that I would post a gallery of the images that were displayed at the gallery. Although this really doesn’t show off the images in their full splendor, it gives you an idea of what was displayed during the month of April 2011.

If you are in Amsterdam, the show will be displayed until April 30th, go to Royal Gallery to check it out.


Amsterdam Royal Gallery Show – Images by Robert vanWaarden