Emily Parsons-Lord: Cool Hunter Predictions

For Emily Parsons-Lord, the air that we breathe is both a physical and conceptual space. Or, as the artist puts it: “there’s a whole ecosystem in the air.”

Words: Naomi Riddle

Photography: Jacquie Manning

A 2017 finalist in the prestigious NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship and resident at Parramatta Artists Studios, Parsons-Lord’s eclectic practice moves effortlessly between performance, installation, video, and sculpture. She works with the most unusual of materials: a plant distress pheromone, the minerals in fireworks, or gallium (a metal that has a melting point of 29.76 degrees). But it’s her preoccupation with air, and its relationship to climate change, that unites her practice – be it in the Co2-filled exhale of a politician’s breath in Our Fetid Rank (2015), or a small button that releases “future air” in The Confounding Leaving (2016).

2018 has been a mammoth year for Parsons-Lord: a pyrotechnic performance in response to Lee Kun-Yong’s Equal Area at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, a group show at Penrith Regional Gallery and a solo show at Sydney multidisciplinary space Cement Fondu. She was a finalist in the John Frieze Award and performed another explosive feat to a wide-eyed crowd at Sydney Contemporary art fair.

Parsons-Lord finished off the year in Adelaide, exhibiting as part of Vitalstatistix’s Climate Century – a three-week festival of climate change art for the 21st century. Then Let Us Run (The Sky is Falling) considers the process of stratospheric aerosol injection: a scientific proposal for combatting climate change where substances are released into the upper atmosphere in order to lower temperatures. One side effect of this is the permanent removal of blue from the sky. In creating an immersive environment that mimics this altered sky-space, Parsons-Lord presents a visceral installation that brings together climate science, speculative fiction, tragi-humour and the atmosphere itself.

2019 sees Parsons-Lord undertake a three- month development as artist-in-residence at the LungA School in Seyðisfjörður, Iceland, obtain her pyrotechnic licence, and exhibit at the Cementa19 festival in Kandos. Given that climate change is rapidly becoming the greatest challenge of our time, it seems certain that Parsons-Lord’s planetary empathy will continue to be an essential salve when reckon- ing with our impending environmental crisis.

This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 87, JAN-MAR 2019.


Ildiko Kovacs: New Directions

2018 brought a new process and media for abstractionist Ildiko Kovacs.
Clara Adolphs

Clara Adolphs: Collectors Love

Clara Adolphs often bases her paintings on old photographs and images from the newspaper but recently, it was holiday snaps.

Katie West: Debutantes

Katie West’s work unfolds across a time and space much larger than a single work or exhibition.

Hayley Millar-Baker: Cool Hunter Predictions

Hayley Millar-Baker’s visually arresting mise en scenes are quick to draw us in.

Justine Youssef: Cool Hunter Predictions

Through performance, video and installation, Justine Youssef uncovers links between family ritual, ecology, Indigenous culture and colonial history.

Ryan Presley: Cool Hunter Predictions

Ryan Presley is a rising star, and 2018 has been a particularly stellar year as he extends his interests in media and subjects ranging from Christianity to Operation Sovereign Borders.