Review of The Ringling Museum’s presentation of “Holoscenes” by conceptual artist Lars Jan; A public art and performance project that will be on The Ringling’s Bolger Campiello on Sarasota Bay

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By:  Carol Erickson

As I was strolling up to Ringling Museum to view the new “Holoscenes” exhibit, and having very little knowledge of the concept or of climate change,  I  admittedly  had no idea what to expect.  However,   I will always embrace any opportunity to be at the Ringling Bayfront Gardens with all its splendor and glory.

As I was passing the beautiful flowers and Banyan trees, my eyes were immediately drawn to the huge aquarium-like tank filled with a tremendous amount of water.  The performer in the tank was able to keep herself immersed in the waters for very long periods of time.  (I found out later she was an experienced, professional diver and actor.)  I was even more intrigued and fascinated as I was introduced to the mastermind of the exhibit, Lars Jan.   Jan had the vision and talent to bring awareness of the consequences of climate change with its connection to water, rising seas, melting glaciers, floods and droughts.  It was interesting to find out that this project, which took 4 years in the making, involved an expansive team of artists, costume designers, scientists and hydraulic engineers.  The aquarium is made of Plexiglas and is powered by a custom hydraulic system that pumps up to 15 tons of water in and out in less than a minute.  There are 4 talented rotating performers that act out daily behaviors in the water to show the correlation of these everyday tasks to the consequences of severe weather.

In recent years, climate change has been the subject of a great deal of political controversy.  As scientific knowledge has grown, and with exhibits such as “Holoscenes”, the debate is finally moving away from human causes and leaning more toward how to best respond.  The exhibit is certainly up to individual interpretation, but it does make you stop and think of what lies ahead.



“Art can make people feel climate change in their gut, rather than just understand it,” Lars Jan, Creator of Holoscenes

Explore global warming and rising waters through “Holoscenes” – the public art and performance project that will be presented on The Ringling’s Bolger Campiello on Sarasota Bay on March 25-28.

Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, conceptual artist Lars Jan has been “riveted by media images of comparatively frail human figures at the mercy of surging waters, their bodies and movements transformed by this life-giving element momentarily turned against them.”

In 2012, when the rising waters of Hurricane Sandy reached his Brooklyn apartment, Jan began the research that would lead to the creation of “Holoscenes.” The challenge for Jan was to determine how the complex, topic of climate change could be communicated in an impactful and lasting way. He met that challenge with a mesmerizing work of movement/installation art that elicits an immediate response.

“Inside a massive aquarium, a single performer simulates an everyday behavior that collaborators around the world have submitted by video — such as making ramen in Japan or fixing a fishing net in Rwanda,” Jan said, about his project. “Driven by streams of environmental data, water surges in and out at varying speeds, deluging the performers while they adapt their behaviors to this cycle of endless mini-floods — a collision of the patterns both making up our lives and transforming our biosphere.”

The Ringling’s affiliation with Lars Jan began in 2012 with a conversation about predictions of climate change and rising waters that place the first floor of the magnificent Ca’d’Zan below sea level before the end of this century. Given the potency of presenting this powerful work in that context, The Ringling stepped forward to co-commission Holoscenes for a site-specific installation/performance on Sarasota’s rising bayfront.


For a video of the project click here.


A full schedule is below:



  • Tuesday, March 24 – tech rehearsals – open to public


  • Wednesday, March 25 – Saturday, March 28 – performance (non-ticketed, open to public)

o Wed: noon-5 p.m.

o Thur: noon-sunset (8 p.m.)

o Fri and Sat: noon-5 p.m.


  • Saturday, March 28 – final performance / Pre-strike and tank draining


  • Sunday, March 29 – Strike/load out / 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.


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