Ken Paranada

Curator of Art and Climate Change

John Kenneth Paranada is a Filipino born, UK-based Curator, Researcher and Writer. He is the first Curator of Art and Climate Change at the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia.

His interdisciplinary practice focuses on experimental futures, hybrid forms and practices, with a focus on climate change, sustainability, historical entanglements, the Anthropocene, social sculpture, new media technologies and platforming climate narratives.

In the first role of its kind for any UK museum institution, the curator will be expected to lead research and deliver a range of activities that promote sustainability and engage with the climate crisis. As lead curator, Paranada strives to form networks with some of the leading climate change researchers at the University of East Anglia and beyond, as part of a radical multi-disciplinary approach that will impact the cultural landscape for a global audience.

John Kenneth Paranada’s manifesto:

There are numerous ways to engage with the intersection of art and climate change. Many of the narratives around changing climates are incredibly bleak, with eco-anxiety on the rise. I want to take an alternative approach to the issue, one that prioritises hope and promotes the possibility of change, without reducing the very serious threats the climate crisis poses on humanity.

I intend to utilise the museum’s power to challenge and disrupt traditional disciplinary boundaries and established modes of thinking. The goal is to build our communities’ capacities, be it in Norwich, London and beyond, to respond and adapt to the deadliest threat to humanity this generation has faced. We must begin by imagining new interpretative registers that map the conceptual and experiential boundaries of living sustainably on a precarious and fragile planet.

I would highlight art and ideas that demonstrate a shared understanding that nature–understood as a living ecosystem–is something that humans play an active part within. I will showcase artworks that demonstrate the fact that there is no escape from our shared responsibility towards the Earth’s survival. They elucidate the impending consequences of our impact on the planet. The artists working towards a powerful explanation of the complexities of the climate crisis represent our contemporary canaries in the coal mine – warning us of the future and allowing us to imagine a more sustainable way of living.

I will “attack'” this role by articulating and activating the complexities of art’s role within the fight against the climate crisis by considering the complex interplay of aesthetics, geopolitics, economics, politics, colonisation and cultural factors in the development of artistic practices such as the emergence of multi-species ethnographies, social sculpture, land art, earth art, hybrid practices, deep ecologies and activism.

I aim to use exhibitions to platform artists who show us the microscopic effects of climate change from different vantage points that intersect at the juncture of archaeology, ethnography, anthropology, history, science and contemporary art.  Such art has the power to spark new ways of thinking. I hope that audiences who engage with the exhibition will consider exciting new ways of living and their place within a broader community who share a collective goal for a safer, more sustainable future.