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Brandon Ballengée: visiting researching artist

American eco-artist, biologist, and environmental activist Brandon Ballengée invited to the Academy as visiting researching artist from March 25-29, 2024

25.03.2024: Public lecture
On Monday 25 March, Brandon Ballengée will share his artistic practice in a public lecture.
At 19:00, Wintertuin, Academy

26 and 28.03.2024: Studio visits
On Tuesday and Thursday, Ballengée will visit the studios of the Academy's master students.

27 and 29.03.2024: Field trips
On Wednesday and Friday, Ballengée will take selected students on field trips, collaborating with prof.dr. Ronny Blust of the University of Antwerp. They will create an art-science-ecosystem monitoring program where the students may participate through the collection of flora samples. On Friday, Ballengée and Blust will host different groups of bachelor students in the harbour and visit the reed banks near Stormkop.

Brandon Ballengée's visit was initiated by the Art & Ecology research group, which wishes to encourage pioneering eco-art inside and outside the walls of the academy, as part of a pilot project on art and science. During his visit, Ballengée will work closely with prof.dr. Ronny Blust, Vice-rector Research and Full Professor at the Department of Biology at the University of Antwerp.

About Brandon Ballengée

Brandon Ballengée (Sandusky, Ohio, US, 1974) is a visual artist, biologist and environmental educator based in Louisiana. He holds a Ph.D. in Transdisciplinary Art and Biology from Plymouth University (UK) in association with the Hochschule für Gestaltung Zürich (Switzerland). He creates transdisciplinary artworks inspired from his ecological field and laboratory research. Central in his artistic and scientific research is the global decline of animal populations, the extinction of species and how animals adapt and evolve in particular ecological systems in order to survive. A recent example is his study of the impact on fish species from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Ballengée is internationally acclaimed for his continuing research project Malamp (Malformed Amphibian Project): a scientific and artistic study of anatomical deformities in frogs and other amphibians. This project has taken him all over the world since 1996. Amphibians are important indicators (“sentinel species”) of water and air quality. Although there have been reports of such deformities in amphibians as far back as 250 years ago, the massive increase in reports from 1995 onward has alarmed the scientific community. Up to 40% of the approximately seven thousand known species of amphibians are currently endangered or already extinct. 

Over the years, Ballengée has developed multiple, more collaborative and (inter)active ways to engage audiences and to create a more thorough commitment to ecological and environmental issues. His artistic practice also includes doing fieldwork and other forms of scientific research, involving children and community groups. In 2016, Ballengée and his family began the Atelier de la Nature, a South Louisiana area eco-educational campus and nature reserve.

Brandon Ballengée states:
"As an artist, biologist and environmental activist, my concerns are for communities both human and non-human affected by climate change and other ecological impacts of the Anthropocene. Today’s environmental problems are global in scale and complex. To face this milieu of issues, we need the creativity of artists, scientists and those focused on other disciplines combined to creatively address such challenges we and other species currently face.
For my projects I collaborate with diverse communities of varied age groups, specialists (in art and science) and locals to create transdisciplinary works through participatory science programs resulting in actions and installations. Such works are collectively researched by interdisciplinary groups and often physically built from local collected biological and other materials.
The underlying goal is increased understanding of localized environmental problems with an overall awareness that each of us as individuals has an impact and can make a difference in our global environment."

(image: Brandon Ballengée, 'Collapse'. Installed at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, NY, 2012. Mixed-media installation including 26,162 preserved specimens representing 370 species. Glass, Preffer and Carosafe preservative solutions. 12 x 15 x 15 feet. In collaboration with Todd Gardner, Jack Rudloe, Brian Schiering and Peter Warny. Photo by Varvara Mikushkina, detail)