Because we live in a time of environmental shift, and of social and ecological acceleration, imagining the future is challenging. In considering what will be, we experience solastalgia: a premonition of change, an anticipation of loss, a sense of powerlessness in the face of unforeseeable circumstances. Solastalgia is the state of duress that a person experiences when they acknowledge that the world as they know it is changing, a premonitory longing for the present from the perspective of an anticipated future. Solastalgia does not necessarily have climate change implications, but the anxiety we all feel about our world changing is a form of solastalgia. Science, through data collection and ongoing observation, helps provide documents of what is changing, reliquaries of what we are losing, and also visions of possible futures. Art functions as a lasting document of cultural concerns and reflections.
Nina Elder creates Solastalgia Salons in order to poetically and practically interpret the ways that art and science help us understand loss, change, and the future. The Salons function as a temporary framework for observation, conversation, and collaborative process. Utilizing historic and contemporary texts, physical exploration, and collective response to the built and natural landscape, Solastalgia Salons help participants understand place, nature, and the human experience. Nina Elder has developed Salons with the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the Harvard Forest, Grinnell College, the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, and the Alliance of Artist Communities. Her current projects involve fire adaptation in the Western Sierras and Lake Tahoe area.