Art Institutions

Art installation (removal) leads to controversy at Wyoming University

This post comes to you from Cultura21

British environmental artist Chris Drury´s art installation Carbon Sink: What Goes Around Comes Around created back in July 2011 on the Wyoming university campus, was originally intended to inspire a conversation about a prevalent environmental problem in the region. Global warming has, so scientists say, led to less pine beetles dying off by below zero temperature and thus more forest infested by the tree-killing beetles.

The sculpture features a 36-foot-wide circle of logs from beetle-killed trees, arranged in a circular pattern around a pile of coal and thus it points at the link between human induced climate change and dead forests. A big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions however is the burning of coal.

Plausible topic for an art installation, but in a state where the fossil fuel industry is a major economic driver as well as a known financial supporter of the University of Wyoming, some toes were bound to be stepped on.

Still, surprisingly the quiet removal of the installation after less than a year by university presidentTom Buchanan (it was supposed to stay till it decomposed) was confirmed to be the result of pressure by energy officials and their political allies. This stark display of interference by corporate sponsorship in the curatorial decision-making is just a more public and recent one of many and gives a gloomy outlook on the future of censorship in art institutions.

For more information:

http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2012/11/energy-donor-artistic-freedom-censorship/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-anne-hitt/university-of-wyoming-artwork_b_2018743.html

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

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Atmospheres of Protest

This post comes to you from Cultura21

Symposium on Sustainability and Contemporary Art

Central European University Budapest (Hungary) – 11 May 2012

The upsurge of new popular movements from Egypt to Greece and Bucharest to New York has engendered an atmosphere of defiance and social creativity that has captured the global imagination. Beyond the ebb and flow of individual protest movements, this symposium asks whether global solidarity has really taken hold this time and considers the variety of ways in which contemporary art is embroiled through practices of dialogue and collaboration in the emergence of a common horizon and the imagining of a sustainable future. Providing a trans-disciplinary forum for discussion of the vital issues bridging the fields of art and environmental thought, the symposium sheds light on our understanding of the multifarious notion of sustainability, which appears by turns as a radical concept in global ecological thinking, can be recruited as a corporate strategy for green capitalism, and may act as a spur to new forms of social activism.

Speakers include artist-activists Noah Fischer and Maria Byck, who are members of the Occupy Museums Collective that protests against the domination of the interests of the 1% in the running of New York art institutions, as well as Berlin and Amsterdam-based urbanibalists Matteo Pasquinelli and Wietske Maas, who will present a radical gastro-manifesto that seeks to recover the spontaneous living matter of the city. Activist and writer on affective labour Emma Dowling will reflect on the sustainability of the protest movement in the light of the spread of locally-organised occupations of public and private space, while Tomas Rafa’s video archive of marches and counter-demonstrations illuminates the spectrum of contemporary protest.

The symposium is organised by curators Maja and Reuben Fowkes (Translocal.org) in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Science and Policy and the Centre for Arts and Culture at Central European University (CEU).

Attendance is free, advance reservation is recommended. For more information see the symposium website: www.translocal.org

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

IMAGINE – Towards an eco-aesthetic, 2011

OPEN CALL FOR PROPOSALS

IMAGINE – Towards an eco-aesthetic, 2011
The Aarhus Art Building,
Centre for Contemporary Art, Denmark

Artists and curators are hereby invited to submit proposals for 2011.

Deadline March 15

http://www.aarhuskunstbygning.dk

Only when people are in a position to use their own creative potentials, which can be enhanced by an artistic imagination, will a change occur [….] Art can and should strive for an alternative that is not only aesthetically affirmative and productive but is also beneficial to all forms of life on our planet.

Rasheed Araeen: Ecoaesthetics. A Manifesto for the Twenty-First Century

In the autumn of 2009, Rasheed Araeen, editor of the respected periodical on art and culture Third Text, launched a frontal attack on the modern ego and the recuperation of the avant-garde. Instead of the continued rigid production of objects and a stubborn anchoring in art institutions, Araeen pleads for a collective artistic imagination as
the only road towards “[…] rivers and lakes of clean water, collective farms and the planting of trees all over the world.”

From what is perhaps a slightly one-track masculine perspective, Araeen’s manifesto examines earlier failed attempts to step down from the pedestal of the bourgeoisie in favour of a collective commitment to our surroundings and the environment. Nevertheless, the notion of art as a positive, giving alternative unhampered by the restraints of
either representation or negation is relevant in a new decade in a new millennium.

In trying to conceive of such an alternative it seems a reasonable first step to take a closer look at alliances between art and sustainable development For at the roots of the idea of sustainability lie an ethical imperative and a persistent struggle against inequality – parameters that seem indispensable today if we actually want to imagine change and alternatives.

The notion of sustainability first aroused political attention in the 1970s, although it can also be traced back to the 1960s in the shape of various grass-roots movements. In 1972 the UN Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm – this was the first of its kind, and at the same time the first transnational forum that even considered the environment and society as a single, interconnected issue.

The conference was strongly influenced by the book Limits to Growth published by the global think tank Club of Rome the same year, in which the problems of exponential growth vis-à-vis the limited resources of the Earth were outlined. The book inspired thoughts about the limits of growth in terms not only of the human population but also of economic factors. This realization that the Earth was not an inexhaustible storehouse of resources contributed to the development of a notion of sustainability that takes the future generations of the Earth into account.

The correlation between ecological and social issues is a fundamental aspect of thinking about sustainability, and consequently also involves concepts like responsibility and ethics. Similarly, in various movements that have consistently had sustainability as a central point of reference since the 1970s, for instance Social Ecology and Ecofeminism, sustainability is inextricably bound up with an astute critique of the dominant hierarchical structures.

The notion of sustainability thus includes the consideration of social structures, subjection and domination, ethics and economics on an equal footing with consideration of the environment and the ecology. If art today is to have the above-mentioned positive starting point, it needs to think about this complex apparatus as a whole and imagine
an alternative. Only thus can we move towards an art that is healing and affirmative – and thus towards an eco-aesthetic in the new millennium.

With this background the Aarhus Art Building is hereby issuing an Open Call for Proposals for 2011. We welcome suggestions for group exhibitions, solo exhibitions and workshops as well as suggestions for projects in public space. Guidelines can be found at www.aarhuskunstbygning.dk.

The guidelines must be followed in the application to make it eligible for consideration.

Jeff Koons and art as big bling

With reference to the post below on the value of art, The Art Newspaper reports that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is about to commission Jeff Koons to create a sculpture of a life size replica of a train that will dangle from a crane – commemorating the railroad’s part in 19th century America’s westward migration. “We’re talking about a $25m work,” says Koons.

Twenty-five million makes it the most expensive artwork ever commissioned by a museum – even more expensive than Richard Serra’s $20m commission for the Guggenheim, Bilbao. Talks between LACMA and Koons began two years go, in those long-gone days when it looked like the boom was going on for ever. In times like these, it seems absurd for an art institution to be shelling out this much for a single artwork. And you don’t even have to be of the Patti Smith opinion, that Koons’ work is “just litter upon the earth”, to think this kind of commission is a very bad idea right now.

I was in Los Angeles a couple of months ago. The nature of the city means that the larger art institutions like LACMA and the struggling MOCA seem to have so little connnection to the real life of the city.

The artist Fritz Haeg, who I interviewed for a piece in The Observer that’s coming up on April 18 talked about this. “The way LA operates is not in the way of a European urban system of a top-down institution. It’s much more networked. This is an artists’ town, and there are a lot of small artist-run spaces that people feel more connected to personally than they do the museums.”

In this climate, in that city, the Koons commission way looks too much like art as big shiny bling.

Photo of Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog (Yellow) 1994-2000 taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, by Ken Applebaum

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology