In the Gallery: xClinic Outpost – Artwork by Natalie Jeremijenko
Written by: Nichole Rustin-Paschal
Natalie Jeremijenko, techno-artist, academic, scientist, brings an extraordinarily imaginative vision to environmental activism. Her experimental design work on the interrelationship between humans, nonhumans, and the environment has led to her being named one of the 100 Young Innovators by the MIT Technology Review and one of the most 40 most influential designers by I.D. Magazine, as well as a 1999 Rockefeller Fellow. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, two Whitney Biennials, the Guggenheim, and internationally.
Based at New York University, where she directs the Environmental Health Clinic, Jeremijenko designs projects to inspire an eco-mindshift. The Environmental Health Clinic is outward looking, providing people with prescriptions for action to meet ecological challenges. Some of the remedies include walking tadpoles, texting “fish,” and planting fire-hydrant green spaces.
Ted X Talk video:
Throughout her work, Jeremijenko asks us to consider how urban social conditions impact the environment and, correspondingly, how the environment under stress impacts our health and our behaviors. “Human and environmental health is the most effective measure of the common good.” Through real-life experiments involving people interacting with the environment, Jeremijenko explores ways to aggregate individual actions, to show us how collective agency makes for significant and lasting change.
“Experimenting with your own life is the most fundamental medium we have.” Like a riff on the idea that we are all in this together, Jeremijenko describes her work as “rescripting” what is possible through systems design. Humans are inextricably linked to nonhumans and the environment. Through public art works like those Jeremijenko creates, involving innovative solutions average people can undertake, we can envision their actions in ways that have positive impact on seemingly insurmountable problems. For Jeremijenko, public art is a form of accountability—both a stimulus to cure environmental ills and a practice for embracing a holistic understanding of human experience.