Nature is spun extensively in contemporary politics and culture. Issues of Climate Change, land and water rights, natural disasters, drilling for oil, and deforestation are all both matters of real concern as well as artificial devices for debate and rhetoric. Central to these issues are about our relationship to each other, the world, and the future of humanity. Concepts of stewardship, apocalypse and manifest destiny are in the backdrop of these discussions. With so much speculation on what nature is really doing (with or without people), what is the truth of nature? How do we relate to it? Can our perception of nature determine our future as a species and individuals?

This art exhibition explores how a community defines nature. I will work with people of Northern Illinois University and DeKalb to investigate what nature is, was, and could be in this region and in the minds of those within it.

Using recycled, reclaimed, reconfigured, and reconstituted materials, this project aims to define a space and process that offsets the normal use of nature as resource. "Offset connotes carbon offset and offsetting our negative consumption of materials and energies with more positive activities such as driving less or recycling more. It also means "a short lateral shoot by which certain plants are propagated, an offshoot or branch of a family or race, and placed away from a center line; off-center." These definitions relate to the process of the collaborations as well as the tangential evolution of the actual show.

"Unpacked" refers to unpacking or revealing meanings of the word and idea of "nature". It relates to the physical unpacking of the crates and other vessels with which the artist plans to have collaborative artists work. Participants will bring their own memories, ideas and stories to the work/space.

I am asking of the participants and audience, ‘What is real about nature, what is artifice?’ Whatever the answer, the event is a rhetorical device to promote attention and a shift of perception as to what our relationship to “natures” is.

Gabriel Bizen Akagawa