One Planet One Future, with Anne DeCarbuccia
Episode 88: One Planet One Future, with Anne DeCarbuccia
From the time Environmental Artist Anne DeCarbuccia was young, she’s been passionate about nature. Growing up on the island of Corsica, she always been surrounded by and interested in the beauty around her. Her love of nature coupled with her passion for art has led her to an illustrious career bringing awareness to the effects that we have on our planet. In this episode, Anne discusses her evolution as an artist, the power we have as consumers, and her exhibition One Planet One Future. You can see Anne’s work at her permanent gallery exhibitions in New York and Milan.
00:00: Welcome to the Ellevate Podcast: Conversations with Women Changing the Face of Business, and now, your hosts, Kristy Wallace and Maricella Herrera.
00:13 Kristy Wallace: Hello and welcome to the Ellevate podcast, this is your host, Kristy Wallace, with my co-host Maricella Herrera. Hello, Maricella, how's it going today?
00:22 Maricella Herrera: Hey, Kristy, going great.
00:24 KW: My conversation with today's guest, Anne de Carbuccia, it's inspiring, and I know you were totally fangirling.
00:33 MH: I was. [chuckle]
00:33 KW: Many of us were in the office. I'm trying to say that, actually, I don't even like that term, fangirling but...
00:39 MH: I hate it. We need to come up with something new.
00:43 KW: Yeah, we're gonna start creating some more gender positive terms.
00:51 MH: Yes.
00:51 KW: That we're gonna get into the Webster dictionary, that's what we're gonna do, this is our 2018 goal, we're gonna do this.
00:56 MH: Got it.
00:57 KW: If Googling could get in there.
01:00 MH: Ellevating with two L's can get there.
01:00 KW: Sure, we're ellevating, oh, yes, my gosh. [chuckle] Anne was just... She's just inspiring and she's great. And I think, for me, what I'm always inspired by, which I've used that word a few times already, in this conversation, is women who are passionate and who take action and who uplift others along the way, and I think that's the big... She has a beautiful eye and creative talent that she's showcasing through her art, but she's really using that as a way to create change, and to help others, and she talks a lot about the places she's visited, about some of the cultures and people that she's met along the way, and she could tell just by the conversation how much she cares about that. And it was a great conversation.
01:57 MH: I can't wait, I can't wait to hear it.
01:58 KW: Absolutely. Well, let's get to my conversation with Anne. And if you're in New York City, Anne does have an exhibit up in New York City, through her foundation One Planet, One Future. So I would recommend checking it out. And if you have another word for fangirling let us know, we wanna hear from you, be a part of this conversation by tweeting at us @EllevateNtwk, or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
02:37 KW: Anne, I am so excited to have you here today, leading up to the podcast. Some people in my team were doing some prep work and all over our Slack channel was just how amazing you are and how... Everyone was just fangirling and very excited to have you here. I would love to just start off... It's a big question, but it's an important question, which is just a little bit about your journey and how you got to where you are today.
03:03 Anne De Carbuccia: My journey started quite young on the island of Corsica where I was partly brought up. And I spent my childhood there, and it was an incredible place where nature was just so extraordinary, and I think those roots are very important to the person I became later, and I think those roots became very important to the person I became later. Later on I had children quite young, I married very young and had children after my studies at Columbia University, and spent a lot of time bringing up three kids, and I was working on video art, I was always interested in the arts, I was a collector of photography at the time, which was great, because photography was very reasonably priced and not really considered an art and I was able to really explore that domain a lot and it was very interesting. I then later on started doing video portraits, I had collected photography for so long that I wasn't really interested in photography as a new medium, I felt it was something that people had already done quite a bit, whereas film and video was very new, especially because it grew so fast and HD and 4K came along.
04:20 AC: And so I did video portraits, which was very easy for me to do with my kids. Because it's something that I could do when they were at school, and it wasn't like a full-time job and I didn't have to be as dedicated to it, than I had to. And then, when both my girls went to boarding school, that's when finally I started working on my new project, which has basically been kind of my life project.
04:48 KW: I'd love to have you share some more about your new project because... And this is the Time Shrines?
04:57 AC: Yes, this is the One Planet, One Future and the Time Shrines, yeah.
05:01 KW: We've had the great pleasure of taking a look through some of that project and it's incredibly impactful and I would just love to learn more how that started and kind of what it's evolved into today.
05:16 AC: Well, I think it started because of my own anxieties. That's what artists do, they try and channelize their own emotions and very often anxieties into their arts. And certainly as a woman and as a mother watching the planet evolve the way it was evolving made me really think about how I could portray that through art. So certainly that part of it is linked to my own personal experience of how I was seeing the planet evolve.
05:53 KW: And what was that process like? You're pursuing your art and the kids were in school and then you come about with this One Planet, One Future project. Was it just this aha moment, where you're like "Yes, this is my muse, or this is what is inspiring me," or was that an evolution?
06:15 AC: It was definitely an evolution. I think that this project is the result of the last 20 years of my life, of what I've done, everything I've done before was... Kind of cumulated into this one project, One Planet, One Future and the creation of the Time Shrines. Certainly it's about everything, everything in there is about what I've learned, experienced, thought about... It's very much linked to my vision of the world, my fascination for the planet, for us as a species and also my message, my message for the future. It's completely based and it's completely focused on the future and on tomorrow.
06:57 KW: I was really affected by some of the symbolism that you have around the hourglass and time. And then also you talked a lot about origin and roots and vanity, what does that mean to you?
07:13 AC: Well, I go around the world with these two symbols, which is the hourglass, which is our most ancient way of calculating time, and the vanity. So the vanity is the representation of the human skull, but it's not a symbol of death, it's a symbol of choice, it's a very, very ancient symbol that's been used since the night of time by so many artists, both in Eastern and Western art. And it's here to remind us that we all are mortal and that, therefore, we have a choice in life, we can choose to lead a life that's constructive and positive or we can choose to have a superficial and vain life, thus the name vanity. So that symbol really fascinated me and it's been kind of forgotten and I kind of re-acquired it in a way, and re-introduced it in my art.
08:03 AC: And I think it's actually a really modern message. We are facing a big evolution right now, a lot of changes and with changes come choices of what we want for the next world coming our way, and that's what the project is about. I think it's important when speaking of the future to really understand and know where we're coming from, our origins, what's been done and what's not been done, who we are and that is the really important way to help us deal with what we're gonna have to face. And so knowledge, knowledge of our origins, knowledge of where we come from, knowledge of where we belong and cultural references, our civilization, what our civilization represents, how it's evolved is fundamental, I think, for our choices for the future.
08:51 KW: You've got this great video on your site and you really highlight just the trash and the pollution and the impact we're having on our world and how mighty that can be for such a small sliver of time. Does that really get you down or do you feel inspired to change that?
09:15 AC: Well, there's really harsh moments. I mean, what you just described and what my project is about is a new geological era, the Anthropocene. A lot of scientists consider today that we've changed geological era and we are in the Anthropocene, which is basically a new era where human kind is affecting the planet in such an impactful way that has geological consequences, and that's a subject and a theme that's key in my project. So yeah, of course there's moments which are really hard, when you see trash burning at 17,000 feet on Mount Everest, that's scary. When you go to the Maldives, which is considered one of nature's most beautiful sanctuaries and you see plastic bottles arriving on your beach, that is sad.
10:05 AC: But I'm lucky because I think most people are aware of this evolution of the planet. Most people know it consciously or unconsciously, they know there's something really wrong going on, but they're not sure what to do about it. And I am doing something about it and the fact that I'm acting upon it in my own way, which is as an artist, I'm doing an art project, I think really is helpful. It's the fact that I'm acting, I'm doing something, a small thing perhaps, it's at my own little level, but I'm facing it and I'm doing something about it.
10:40 KW: What were some of the places you've visited that have had the greatest impact on you?
10:46 AC: Well, they all have in a way, because they're all my babies. Every single place is a place that was special to my heart where I created an installation, I spent time there, I connected to the location or to the animal, and then I spent the time to create everything, and then photograph it. So every place was impactful and part of my journey and part of what the project becomes, because every single step is basically empowering to the project. Certainly, of course, there are places that are very intense and sometimes dangerous. So, yeah, the day I climbed on an iceberg in Antarctica, which is perfectly illegal. Of course, that was a moment of just pure concentration and challenge and adrenaline, there's a lot of a adrenaline in my work. Sadness also, again, seeing the trash, documenting the trash, seeing how we're dealing with it was really strong, but also just collaborating with the animals.
12:00 AC: The elephants I worked with, wild elephants in Africa for three days and three nights. The foundation I was collaborating with, Big Life Foundation, let me sit there next to a water hole and work with them. That was incredible, that they let me have that opportunity. It was also very challenging. And being next to these creatures, they're so powerful and so special. That's something that is unique and it made me really want to protect them. And my question in my work with elephants is, do we want a world without elephants? Is that what we want for the future? And I can tell you, having been close to them for so long is, yes I do, I want my kids to have a world with elephants, I want my grandkids to have a world with elephants and I'm gonna stand up about it and do something about it.
12:52 KW: It's amazing to me how effectively you've been able to use your voice and I think the art you've created is incredibly powerful and telling. Hearing that story about working with that organization and the elephants and kind of really immersing yourself in that to kind of know how to then tell their story. It just must be this awe-inspiring process. I know you've been invited to participate in a few different initiatives or awareness-building impacts such as Standing Rock. You were invited to document that, correct?
13:36 AC: Yes, that's correct, because one of the most important part of my project is showing that all these themes that I address, whether it's water, endangered species, forests, they're all linked, it's all connected, and it's all the message. The awareness behind my art is about how we all are affecting the planet and the consequences of our action, the ripple. So Standing Rock was... It's part of that. It's part of documenting our era and it's in my water theme. Standing Rock is about protecting nature, it's water protectors. I was very honored to be invited by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. I would have never gone there if I had not been invited by the tribe and it was a collaboration. My installation, my time shrine was made in full collaboration with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. They were part of it, it was a story.
14:31 AC: So the time shrine was giving a voice to Standing Rock and what it stood for, but it was also giving a voice to the tribes up there, and that was very important. What's interesting for me in documenting Standing Rock is that I really think that whatever happens with Standing Rock, it's the beginning of something, it's the beginning of a bigger movement. It's about people coming and reuniting from all over the world and living in really harsh conditions. Because trust me, that place up there was really, really harsh and very difficult. Being submitted to violence, I saw real violence, most of the manifestations that were taking place there were non-violent, the people against them had dogs and plastic bullets and were acting violently, and witnessing that and seeing how people really wanted to stand, to be water protectors, to protect water, to protect the planet and being together and united for me was very important. It was fascinating. And it's definitely part of a bigger story that we'll see happen more and more around the planet.
15:39 KW: That's so... I mean, I hope so, and I think so too. What can we as individuals, as listeners of the podcast, what can I do to have a greater impact on our environment to kind of reverse this negative impact that has happened and be more allies and champions for the world in which we live?
16:08 AC: Well, first of all, realizing our power. We've become, and we are extremely powerful, and therefore as individuals, because obviously my work and my message is about each and every one of us as individuals, what we wanna stand for. Who we are, and just in a simple way our power as consumers just to start out with, we can choose to consume in the way we want. So daily life, it doesn't have to be big steps, there's so many simple things you can do in your daily life that can make a difference; plastic water bottles. That's so easy to get rid of plastic bottles in your daily life. Get your own water bottle, filter your water, that's something that almost anybody can do. Just that, plastic bags is another thing that's so easy to get rid of.
17:00 AC: Meat consumption is key, so reducing. I'm not saying... For the ones who want and can become vegan, that's fantastic, but just reducing it. If you eat meat every day, go do meatless Monday, if you eat meat once in a while, reduce your meat consumption by 50% and that will be so important and so impactful on the planet. And then of course there's the civic world, what you can do in your communities, how you can do special things in your community. Re-wilding, planting trees, we are destroying our strongest ally which is the tree today and that's something that we really need to realize. So it's not really about how big and how important your act is, it's about being able and realizing that we can all fix something, even if it's very small, and make it beautiful again.
17:54 KW: You have a fantastic educational project that you're doing in New York City. Can you share a little bit more about that?
18:03 AC: Well, it was very organic. What happened is that we started doing these exhibitions around the planet and they're free because as an artist with a message, I also needed to give the example. And so we created a public foundation, a 501 [c] , and so we sell the art. This is fine art photography that I do. And the integrity of the sales goes directly to the foundation. That permits us to do free exhibitions around the world. And it's one of our ways of raising awareness, is you can communicate a lot better today with beauty and art than with harsh words and violent images. And then, of course, we always have a caption, that's a message for the planet.
18:48 AC: And by doing these exhibitions organically, all these schools and universities started contacting us and asking if they could bring the kids into classes to see the exhibition. And so that's when I started realizing that we had a voice and that we could give a voice to nature and to the planet and that we could raise awareness, really, in an impactful way, through education. And so, we created... We just opened two permanent exhibitions, one in New York City and one in Milano, in Europe and we have... We organized for children and students, university students to come and see the exhibition, experience the art, learn about the symbology, learn about the story, learn perhaps a little bit about their own past, and then learn about the evolution of the planet and the impacts that we have.
19:45 KW: That's a... I'm signing my son up and his whole school. [chuckle] I mean... I love this future generation and the access to information they have about the world, but then the power they have to do something about it. And I think that this is that first step for many of the kids, a day of learning, and seeing through your imagery and through your eyes and your voice, kind of what is happening with the greater world and having that conversation about how they can influence it. So thank you so much for that. It's just incredibly awe-inspiring what you're doing.
20:26 AC: Well, they empower me. These kids are amazing, all of them, from the five-year-olds to the university students. They're really... They know, they're aware, as we were saying. They're very conscious and they're so smart and so bright, and the key, and this project is really dedicated to them.
20:46 KW: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for joining us today.
20:50 AC: Thank you so much for having me.
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