Activism is prevalent among eco artists who are impatient to establish behaviors and policies among humans that promote environmental responsibility. Besides activating individuals, some eco artists also attempt to activate institutions.
Activism is prevalent among eco artists who are impatient to establish behaviors and policies among humans that promote environmental responsibility. Besides activating individuals, some eco artists also attempt to activate institutions. Reyes, for example, enlisted the Mexican military to collect guns, a television station to run gun-exchanging ads, and a corporation to manufacture shovels from the metals of melted guns. In all three cases, these major cultural institutions expanded their missions beyond profit and market share; they also contributed to urgent social and ecological reforms.
In the following instances, the institution that was activated was the museum. Each of the following artists expanded its role beyond providing the exhibition space. It also agreed to participate in the artist’s protest or reform:
– Alan Sonfist’s Noah’s Ark entailed collecting relics of ancient trees and donating their genetic code, plus their seeds, to major museums around the world. His project focused on trees that were endangered and likely to become extinct in his lifetime. His strategy assigned museums the responsibility for forest preservation. Sonfist explains, “The forest is certainly as valuable as a Rembrandt painting. If museums are responsible for aesthetic value of our world, they should also be responsible for endangered species.”46
– Tue Greenfort convinced a museum to actually become an artwork when it reduced its dependence on air conditioning in order to heighten visitors’ awareness of energy consumption.
– Hans Haacke persuaded a museum to become his ally in exposing the wanton pollutions caused by a municipal funder.
The shift from making aesthetic objects, to enlisting institutional cooperation, necessitated an equally significant shift in these artists’ studio skills and temperament. In essence, their art practices eliminated emotional personal expression and added diplomacy and persuasion. Discuss the specific manifestation of these new skills by Reyes and either Sonfist, Greenfort, or Haacke to accomplish the artworks mentioned above.