Engaging Lisbon-born photographer Miguel Jeronimo presents his striking exhibition, Jungle on my Mind, captivating audiences and sparking conversations about sustainability. Jeronimo’s work is featured in the thought-provoking Points of Return exhibition, which focuses on environmentally conscious artworks.
Curated by A La Luz and hosted by the Umbrella Arts Centre, this extensive showcase features twenty-seven artists and runs from 1st May to 25th June 2023 in Concord, Massachusetts, USA.
One of the highlights of the show, Jeronimo’s Jungle on my Mind offers a unique perspective on humanity’s relationship with nature.
“The exhibition might provoke dialogues on how community solutions, in partnership with NGOs, can help combat climate change and biodiversity loss. It is also a tribute to the forest rangers from Koh Kong now being spotlighted halfway across the globe in the United States,” Jeronimo explained.
Artists David Cass and Gonzaga Gómez-Cortázar designed and curated the exhibition. Originally a virtual exhibition during the pandemic, Points of Return now premieres as a physical display at The Umbrella Arts Centre. The exhibition includes installations, sculptures, sound, photography, and video art, reflecting on the climate crisis and our connection to the environment.
Points of Return presents conceptual portraits of former poachers from Chi Phat village, Koh Kong province, who have become dedicated forest rangers. These individuals once relied on illegal hunting for their livelihoods, but have now made a significant shift towards conservation and sustainability.
One ranger said: “I enjoy being a ranger and protecting animals and nature for future generations. Sometimes there are issues with villagers when we make an arrest. The family gets upset. I then explain to them that I’m enforcing the law. This is Cambodian law.”
The same ranger once hunted animals such as civets, pangolins, bears, deer, and wild boars in the forest with his dog. Now, the transition to ecotourism has afforded him and other former poachers employment opportunities in the forest.
In the photographs, rangers hold broken mirrors reflecting their vibrant forest surroundings. This symbolic imagery represents their commitment to nature and the breaking of old habits in favour of ecologically sound practices.
“Showing the work of people who have changed from poacher to ranger is important to me. This highlights the efforts of the non-profit Wildlife Alliance, who collaborates with local communities for long-term, alternative income solutions, often preventing nature-damaging jobs,” said Jeronimo.
“The exhibition hopefully shines a light on these hard-working individuals who patrol the forest, removing animal traps. Koh Kong’s endemic species face threats from illegal logging. Through awareness campaigns and training, Wildlife Alliance has transformed the situation, leading to a shift towards ecotourism and the rise of forest rangers,” Jeronimo added.
His photographic project uses broken mirrors to underline the concept of self-reflection. This applies not only to the lives of those photographed but also to shared duty as custodians of the environment. Jeronimo also stressed the importance of recognising Cambodia’s role in combating climate change through on-the-ground actions, not just high-level UN discussions.
Jungle on my Mind is among the final selections, including works by Tanja Geis and Fiona Carruthers, which urge us to pay more attention to natural resources. Erin Woodbrey and Bethany Johnson, like others, advocate sustainability by using recycled and repurposed materials, thus drawing attention to the issues of overconsumption.
“The humans in Jungle on my Mind, playing with reflections, merge with their environment and lose their individuality. This work subtly reminds us that we are all part of nature. It makes a powerful statement: to restore environmental balance, we must change our behaviour,” Gómez-Cortázar said about Jeronimo’s work.
The exhibition runs until June 25, featuring various special events, including a double screening event by artist-filmmakers Elizabeth Ogilvie and Robert Page on June 10. This event highlight underwater habitats and underscore the importance of educational access in environmental artwork.
The exhibition can be viewed online at www.pointsofreturn.org.