From beneath the dust

Kingston artist Lisa Figge explores the responsibility of the individual towards the Earth through issues of ecological citizenship in her latest multimedia exhibit Dust to Dust at Union Gallery

Dust to Dust uses a millieu of media including video installations, plastic leaves, trees, wood, plaster casts and everday objects.
Dust to Dust uses a millieu of media including video installations, plastic leaves, trees, wood, plaster casts and everday objects.
Photo: 
Photo: 
Figge states her art attempts to bridge practical and theoretical understandings to incorporate her work as an ecological citizen into everyday life.
Figge states her art attempts to bridge practical and theoretical understandings to incorporate her work as an ecological citizen into everyday life.
Photo: 

Last summer, Lisa Figge drew a lot of attention from the Kingston community when she arranged 86 plaster casts of her own hands throwing stones on a Wolfe Island street - a statement about the 86 recently installed windmills.

This summer, the work “86 Hands on Wolfe Island” is on display, along with four other pieces by Figge, at the new show .

The uniting theme of is “ecological citizenship,” an idea that Figge grapples with as she completes her Masters of Environmental Studies at Queen’s. Ecological citizenship is a complex term that, very simply put, explores the responsibility of the individual towards the earth.

The first project seen upon entering the gallery is “dust in dust out." This piece uses containers and pictures of microscopic scans of dust, as well as audio and video recordings, to examine the relationship between art and science in terms of ecological citizenship. Figge states that her art “bridges practical and theoretical understandings” and incorporates the idea of the ecological citizen into everyday life.

The piece that is the most baffling is also perhaps the most entertaining. In “Madame E and her suit of environmentally conscious a(r)mour,” Figge dresses in a full suit of plastic leaves, carries a briefcase that contains many items including a Dr. Seuss book and a small coffin, and records her trip on public transit, as well as to a Tim Horton’s in the Cataraqui Mall. This video, along with the suit and the briefcase, are on display. The piece is meant to bring the idea of ecological citizenship to places not usually associated with it--I did not get that sense, however. It seemed more like a public spectacle of absurdity with no connection to ecological citizenship to me.

Along with, “86 Hands on Wolfe Island,” there is an unnamed piece in the middle of the room, which incorporates nature into manufactured products. Although there was no caption or explanation of the work, I interpreted it as a display of humans and nature as closely connected, instead of separate. One piece that I found quite captivating was a small plant growing in a wooden chair. It was a fascinating exploration of the relationship between humans and nature.

Overall, is an enjoyable experience that boggles the mind. Figge used many different forms of media to explore ecological citizenship and examine the relationship between science and art, public and private, and humans and nature in a unique way. It is an interesting show that is thoroughly engaging. My curiosity about ecological citizenship has been sparked, even if I don’t fully understand it yet. And for all caffeine addicts out there, her next work, “Ecological Citizen in Training” is a form of participatory art that looks at private routines in a public way. In this piece, Figge, along with three other participants, record and examine the daily ritual of coffee drinking using diaries and maps. There is also an audio recording of the four participants discussing their experience with the project at Coffee Eco on Johnson St. This work encourages the very personal exploration of ecological citizenship through public discourse.

Dust to Dust runs until Aug 6 in the main space of Union Gallery, located in Stauffer Library, opened Tuesday to Thursday 11– 5p.m. and Friday to Saturday 11-4:30p.m.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.