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The Art Institute of Chicago| The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago| The Art Institute of Chicago


This collection of photographs shows the complex interactions between humans, the environment, and each other. 

Luke Swank

The exhibition’s title derives its inspiration from the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm, Sweden. It was the first international summit dedicated to environmental issues. The tensions at the conference between promoting economic growth while protecting natural resource and addressing uneven effects of development on communities around world continue to shape the environmental movement.

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There are many ecological problems we face today, including environmental pollution, major loss in biodiversity, resource depletion as well as accelerating climate changes and the COVID-19 pandemic. These photographs ask us to look at the human environment in different time periods and across regions. Modern agricultural practices, large-scale infrastructure projects like airports, dams, mines, and other infrastructure projects have drastically altered vast swathes of the Earth. Meanwhile, wars and severe climate events has displaced millions of people and disrupted their lives. Scientists and activists are working to preserve our natural heritage and protect vulnerable ecosystems. This gives hope for the future.

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