JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Precarity of Shishkin’s Bear Cubs” – NYU Jordan Center/ Mary Orsak

Siberian River, Forest, Mountain

“…. Ivan Shishkin’s Morning in a Pine Forest (1889) … depicts an intimate scene … bear cubs frolicking among the pine trees as the morning mist pours in …. [a] romanticized … quintessentially Russian landscape image … [now] adorning commonplace items …. a compelling and specifically ‘Russian’ aesthetic. … Far from naively portraying an untroubled nature, Morning critiques … industrialization …. [T]he human impact on the scene … evident in … the uprooted tree …. this idyllic scene, like the bear cubs … occup[ying] a precarious position. …
These same … forests and … bears … face even greater threats today … [E]xploitation of natural resources accelerates to meet growing consumer demand. … Russian forests … comprise twenty-five percent of the world’s total forested area …. nearly fifty percent of the Northern Hemisphere’s terrestrial carbon …. [R]avaging 16.3 million acres a year — nearly double … [what is] destroyed annually in the Amazon — Russia leads the world in deforestation[,] [o]ver time … [potentially causing] warmer temperatures … threaten[ing] the ecosystems of Russia’s boreal forests—including Shishkin’s bears. …”

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