It was always the intention of SUPERFLEX to maximize the distribution of their artworks, rather than conform to the old fine art adage that values is a product of ‘uniqueness’ and ‘rarity’. Their project “SUPERGAS” seems to be heading in precisely this direction. Malmo Sweden recently announced that its organic waste will now be turned into biogas. It anticipates that 66% of the fuel for the city bus system (and lots of fertilizer) will be produced in this manner. The goal is to achieve 100% which became possible when separating waste became mandatory this year. Signage on buses announce that personal waste = civic fuel. Malmo is also converting waste to energy for the district heating that serves most of the city.
Meanwhile, if you can be in Brooklyn on the weekend of April 26th-27th,you could take a biogas workshop with David House, the author of The Complete Biogas Handbook
While bio-techno-wizardry supplies the reason Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr typically receive acclaim in the contemporary art arena, they might also be celebrated for assuaging humanity’s psychological dilemmas. Sources of guilt and insecurity are the ostensible reasons for culturing leather and meat. They also explain a 2006 work entitled “DIY DVK”: “Do It Yourself De-victimizer Kit.” In each of these instances the artists seek to provide their fellow humans with an easy escape from feelings of shame.
DIY DVK m1 was undertaken to allay the guilt many people feel when they consume parts of dead animals, either by eating them, or using them for clothing, or applying them to some functional purpose. This guilt may also arise when someone causes the accidental death of an animal. This may be the result of a car accident or a lawnmower running over an animal.
Tissue Culture & Art’s kit reduces the resulting guilt by maintaining the life of parts of the deceased animals’ bodies. These body parts can remain ‘alive’ until the grieving period is complete and the guilt recedes.
Anyone can participate. Tissue Culture & Art’s DIY DVK utilizes off-the-shelf items to construct a basic tissue culture facility. The only other component that is needed is nutrients to keep the cells alive. The artists admit that the inclusion of other animal-derived materials in the nutrients is difficult to avoid, which may, ironically, exacerbate the guilt for sacrificing the life of an animal for human benefit.
Reverend Billy concludes each performance and correspondence with the same exclamation: Earthalujah! The word rouses visions of glory and gratitude and celebration. This spring, he and the Stop Shopping Choir will bring their joyful version of environmental and political activism to Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater in New York. They can be seen there on the outside and inside stages on Sunday afternoons through May and June. That is when we call all shout with glee “Earthalujah!”
Joy may be exchanged for indignation in the second event the Reverend is planning. This “HoneyBeeLujah campaign” will conduct “bee-swarmings” with the “Bee-stinger-singers” in and around the property of Monsanto, Bayer, Cargill, and Archer Daniels Midland. They will infiltrate big big box stores where bee-killing chemicals are sold to domestic gardeners. THey also plan to follow the “executives of the abominable monoculture” into whatever public spaces they travel – lobbies, parking lots, restaurants, etc. Billy is clear about his subversive intentions to save the honeybee populations from global collapse, “The workers in these hedge funds and chemical companies must be gently exposed to the truth about their pesticide poisons.
Bonnie Sherk‘s A Living Library has become an international movement. Recently she visited India to establish unique, place-based, Branch Living Library & Think Parks in Rajisthan and Udaipur. These projects are being organized in conjunction with the Big Medicine Charitable Trust, and with the Center of Environment Education (CEE) based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. These interpretation centers would link students throughout India with her existing school programs in San Francisco and New York City. In each location A Living Library cultivates human and ecological gardens.
“Legislative Theater” is a style of performance pioneered in Latin America in the 1960s to influence social change. Pedro Reyes is reviving this tradition to demonstrate how legislation on one side of a national border can have dire consequences for those living on the other side. The example that has inspired several of Reyes’ major projects involves the relationship between drug-related violence in his native Mexico, and lenient gun laws in the U.S.
“The Amendment to the Amendment,” for example, is a sculptural/performance artwork that refers to the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guarantees the right to bear arms. The numerous murder victims in the border cities of Mexico provide grim evidence that this U.S. Amendment also impacts Mexican citizens. Reyes’appeal to his fellow-Mexicans to relinquish their guns and save lives comes in the form of an enticement, not a threat. He is dismantling a huge stash of guns (6,700!) that a government agency in Mexico confiscated from criminal gangs. Then he is reassembling them into guitars, violins, flutes, and percussion instruments that are played in concerts. This labor-intensive process carries an uplifting social message. Each instrument testifies to the possibility of transforming weapons of conflict into instruments for creating social harmony.
Long duration can mean ‘endurance’ = the ability to bear pain and hardships despite fatigue or other adverse conditions
The motive is defiance.
The methodology = accomplishing a feat.
The goal is personal achievement.
(e.g. Marina Abramovic)
Long duration can mean ‘patience’ = quiet attentiveness and steady perseverance
The motive is accord
The methodology = acquiesence
The goal is harmonious relatedness
(e.g. Alan Kaprow, Helen and Newton Harrison, Herbert Bayer, Red Earth, and the many other eco artists who engage with naturally-occurring biological, geological, and meteorological events)
Promises and fears are associated with food technologies producing fake meat. One method associated with biotech industries is termed, by the Australian-based artists Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, “victimless meat”; another is cloned cattle and goats that enter the food chain as a product of medical technology.
In the essay, “Tissue-cultured Meat, Genetically Modified Farm Animals, and Fictions,” Susan McHugh comments, “While outbreaks of viruses like swine and avian flu make headlines, more insidious threats like drug-resistant strains of bacteria quietly grow endemic within meat industries. With little hope of solving these problems through business as usual, proponents of the increasingly centralized and globalized meat-making industries focus
instead on mitigating a still more pervasive sense of discomfort with cross-species intimacies at the site of slaughter. Facing enormous pressures to meet rising consumer demands, producers pin their hopes on technologically reconfiguring meat itself through
tissue culturing, producing “real artificial meat” in vitro, in a Petri dish, rather than in whole-animal form.”
Is tissue-cultured meat (meat produced in vitro, in a cell culture, rather than from an animal) the solution?
Will fake meat reverse the eco-catastrophes wrought by modern meat industries?
Is laboratory meat-making more humane than conventional meat production?
Alan Sonfist‘s efforts to ensure botanical propagation in his renowned artwork entitled “Time Enclosures” are being reinforced in a facility outside of London where scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, are preparing seeds for long-term storage. They have partnered with researchers at 48 institutions in 16 countries to collect seeds and send them to Kew, where the specimens are cleaned, dried, and stored in an underground vault, kept at a chilly -20 degrees Celsius, for perpetuity.
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An enlightened principle runs through the past forty years of Helen and Newton Harrison’s work like a brilliant current. It can be simply stated: humans must establish new carbon sinks to replace melting glaciers.
The recent retrospective exhibition at the Ronald Feldman Gallery in NY showed how the Harrisons applied this principle to Tibet, Laos, India, China, Kashmir, Pakistan, Vietnam, Burma, Tel Aviv, Nevada, Portugal, Holland, Germany, and the Sacramento Valley in California.
This tidy thesis has sprawling implications.
Foremost -it reverses the fatalistic belief that the planet’s systems have been so drastically disrupted that it is no longer possible to restore balance. The artists provide a way of accommodating the changes. If only enough of us would attend to the achievable strategies the Harrisons have not devised. Their proposals are not merely artistic imaginings. The artists are conducting controlled tests to demonstrate the validity of the principles they advocate.
How are these terms applied to art?
To artists, the adjective “environmental” is often associated with a particular manner of displaying sculpture (outdoors), a scale (large), and a time period (1960s-1970s). It does not infer a theme (concern for the well-being of eco systems).
To artists, the prefix “eco” infers a theme (concern for the well-being of eco system conditions, functions, and their inhabitants), and an intention (to remediate, preserve, and vitalize these systems). It does not indicate a particular manner of display, or scale, or time period.
Brandon Ballengee is an example of ecology.
The Beehive Collective is an example of environmentalism.