Yearly Archives: 2009

Why is so much public art about the past, not the future?

Via Citypollen, a video of Mircea Cantor’s Monument for the end of the world, which the blogger came across as part of Modern Art Oxford’s Transmission Interrupted (which continues until June 21.) And for her it raises an interesting questions. Why are public spaces dominated by thoughts of the past, …
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Should we still be travelling for art’s sake part II

The Ashden Directory have just put out this series of videos, What can be asked? What can be shown? British theatre and performance in the age of climate instability.

The Ashden Directory, who like us are interested in the role the arts are playing in changing attitudes to climate change, …
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‘Connecting the Frontal Cortext to the Solar Plexus’: The Ashden Directory’s Contribution to EMOS

The folks over at The Ashden Directory participated in this year’s Earth Matters on Stage at the University of Oregon from afar — an act borne of the desire to contribute to the conference/symposium without flying across the globe to do so.

Here is a DVD they produced in order to introduce their session. It’s a stand-alone piece of work, with fantastic insight. I think my favorite moment is when Mojisola Adebayo says that many theater artists believe that theater is “inherently good for you, therefore theater makers inherently do good.” She goes on: “I don’t think any of us think our work could be harmful in anyway.” When will we, as theater artists, admit that our work can be, and often is, harmful?

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Down to Earth at the Schuylkill Center

My current curatorial project Down to Earth: Artists Create Edible Landscapes is underway at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education (SCEE) in Philadelphia, a show with 6 artists or artist teams, each creating a work about sustainable agriculture. The show takes place at a section of SCEE’s 3oo-plus acre site called Brolo Farm, complete with an abandoned farm house, barn, and farm fields that have not been actively used for decades. The overall site of the Schuylkill Center is the largest privately-owned open space area within the city limits of Philadelphia – featuring a variety of habitats including woodlands, meadows, five teaching ponds and wetlands. In addition, there are four miles of hiking trails and 7 sculpture/shelters from a current exhibition titled Gimme Shelter, commissioned by SCEE’s environmental art program.

The artists in Down to Earth are Joan Bankemper (NYC) who is creating a new version of her Medicinal Herb Garden, a large-scale garden planted in the form of an archaic feminine figure; Knox Cummin (Phila., PA) is building a rain water collection sculpture which contains a “room” garden by Ann Rosenthal and Steffi Domike (Pittsburgh, PA) titled An American Roots Garden, planted with herbs and vegetable indigenous to Native Americans such as squash, corn and beans; Simon Draper and the Habitat For Artists Collective including Todd Sargood and E Odin Cathcart (Hudson Valley, NY) have begun work on Drawn from the Garden, an art studio, potting shed, and 7 raised bed gardens, 2 of which local artists and school groups have been invited to adopt. Stacy Levy (Spring Mills, PA) will create a work titled Kept Out, a deer exclosure built partially in woodlands and partially in fields as an experiment of sorts to see what will grow when the deer are absent. Last but not least is Susan Steinman’s (S.F., CA) Urban Defense, a permaculture apple orchard housed within a built structure based on the pentagon form that the seeds make when you look inside a sliced apple.

I spent 5 days at the site last week, helping the artists get started, it was warm and sunny but low humidity, unusual for Philly but great working conditions. I’m pleased to see these projects start to take shape after several months of research on the part of the artists and discussion and planning with myself and the SCEE staff. The maintenance requirements of these living artworks after the planting (watering, weeding and eventual harvesting) are not to be underestimated. Ann and Steffi’s American Roots, will benefit from the rainwater being collected above and a hose system running through the beds, but the watering for the other gardens has not been completely resolved other than running a long hose from the farm house to the fields.

Creating “gardens as art” requires lots of advance planning, time in the field with the appropriate tools, ammending the existing soil, tons of compost – and plain old hard labor. Isn’t that always the case working outdoors? Real farmers deserve our utmost respect and this show aims to draw connections between art (culture) and working the land (cultivation). In conjunction with this exhibition The Schuylkill Center will soon be selling fresh produce from it’s own “Market Garden”. They have partnered with Urban Girls Produce (UGP) to begin growing a variety of organic fruits and vegetables, dedicating 1 ½ acres of their site for food production. UGB will plant, tend, and harvest all season to bring fresh produce to the Philadelphia market as well as having a weekly produce stand at Brolo Farm near the artists’ sites.

The rewards of presenting Down to Earth will be great as the artist’s gardens start growing (opening September 12th) and especially when we enjoy a harvest meal with the public on October 25th.

Go to EcoArtSpace

#dusa, #tcgcon, #emos and other modern conference paradigms

I think the most stand out thing at the arts service conferences is the buzz around twitter. I allowed for an hour of twitter twitter in my class back in March and I find it all pretty funny. As the target of most contemporary advertising and inventive marketing, and typically an early adopter, I find the fervor more entertaining than anything else. It’s like when I tried to explain the answering machine to my grandmother. 

The feeling I’ve been getting is that the twittachment is somewhat caused by a messianic appeal of a way to reach youth. Somewhere though, the phrase “content is king” got left out. It’s all about the medium and nothing about the message, so that when the medium is the message all you’re saying by using twitter is that you know about twitter. Whether you say something in 140 characters sent out into the ether for all of your casual followers, or you send them a postcard, it doesn’t mean anything unless it means something. 

That is to say, I’m missing the discussion about modeling and alternative revenue streams. It all just sounds like new ways to market the same old thing… like gillette adding a blade to its vibrating razor. The revolutionary thought would be, and I think even going backwards to my idea of “ancient technology” is revolutionary at times, would be to sell an old school straight razor. Between the retro and hardcore cachés and durability in light of disposable disdain, it would be meaningful if not successful. And, when it seems the arts are about losing money for culture, at least as long as we’re attached to our 501(c)3 stati, that might be successful. 

So Theater, Dance, non-profit arts presenters, I ask you: what is your message? Is it that you know how to use a computer and have internet access that you can stick interns on to try and build youthful cache? Or, is it something worth twittering about?

APInews: Vertical Gardens Extended at Exit Art

 Exit Art in New York City has extended the run of an interesting show: “Vertical Gardens,” a project of Papo Colo’s SEA (Social-Environmental Aesthetics). Extended through June 6, 2009, “Vertical Gardens” is an exhibition of architectural models, renderings, drawings, photographs and ephemera that depict or imagine a vertical farm, urban garden or green roof. It features over 20 projects, both imaginary and real, by artists and architects that envision solutions for building greener urban environments. Special events have included talks by public-health scientist Dickson D. Despommier, founding director of the Vertical Farm Project; and SITE Founder James Wines on ways to meet the demands of economic crisis, energy efficiency and sustainable design without a loss of aesthetic quality; plus poetry readings and composting workshops. SEA is an endeavor that presents a diverse multimedia exhibition program and permanent archive of artworks that address social and environmental concerns. [LINK]

via APInews: Vertical Gardens Extended at Exit Art .

The day RSA Arts & Ecology met US Energy Secretary Steven Chu

It’s not every day you get to meet the person who’s in the single most important job for tackling global climate change. Last week, environment journalist Paul Quinn was attending the Nobel Laureate Summit on climate change’s gala dinner on behalf of the RSA Arts & Ecology Centre. Walking up …
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FALLEN FRUIT

Are You Happy to See Me?
UNITED FRUIT at LACE
June 16 – Sept 27, 2009 

FALLEN FRUIT who will be in residence at the Hedlands in the Bay Area for the month of July opens a new show this month in Los Angeles that explores the most popular fruit in the world, the banana. United Fruit, drawn from Fallen Fruit’s recent trip to Colombia, examines the social, political and pop history of the banana.

OPENING RECEPTION: Tuesday 16 June 2009, 8pm – 10pm, featuring Are You Happy to See Me?, a participatory performance involving hundreds of bananas available for eating. Attendees will be encouraged to photograph themselves playing with this often comical or suggestive fruit. 

LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions)
6522 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90028
Gallery Hours: Weds-Sun 12-6, Fri 12-9
www.welcometolace.org

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ECO ART: Plastic Bottle Installation in NYC

ECO ART: Plastic Bottle Installation in NYC

by Olivia Chen

Sometimes it is hard to truly grasp how much waste we create as a society. That’s why NYC-based graphic design agency, MSLK is creating an installation that is an in-your-face visual of the amount of water bottles consumed in the United States. The installation uses 1,500 water bottles, the number of bottles consumed every 1 second — that’s 90,000 bottles per minute Entitled “Watershed,” the piece is meant to inspire its viewers to consider the collective environmental repercussions of drinking bottled water over tap. The installation is showing at the Figment Art Festival, open from June 12-14 on Governor’s Island in New York City. Click through to see a video of the installation’s assembly

Watershed Assembly at MSLK 5/24/09 from MSLK on Vimeo.

Environmental conscious-ness has certainly strengthened in the past few years, but plastic, whether in the form of a bottle, bag or other types of packaging, are still everyday objects in most people’s lives. Furthermore, most people aren’t disposing of plastic responsibly: according to MSLK, 80% of water bottles still end up in the landfill. Not to mention the toxins that exist in plastic. Bad for the earth and bad for your body, there is no excuse Especially in New York City, where the quality of tap water is superior, DRINK TAP

via Inhabitat » ECO ART: Plastic Bottle Installation in NYC.