Bloodstream

The High Water Line: The New Yorker

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Eve completes the Manhattan portion of the line near the West Side Highway & West 14th Street. Photo: Hose Cedeno (Permission Eve Mosher)

In 2007 the artist Eve Mosher, interested in climate change, followed the 10ft elevation above sea level around Brooklyn and then Manhattan.  She called the work High Water Line.  She used one of those push along carts that are used to mark football, baseball, rugby and other pitches with chalk (in the US called a heavy hitter, believe it or not).  The New Yorker magazine carried the story post-Sandy.

Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom started from the question, “The waters are rising.  How can we retreat gracefully?” and the first works that the artists produced were the re-drawing of the UK coastline at the 5m, 10m and 15m marks.

Artist Chris Bodle did a similar exercise in Bristol – you can see documentation here.

Bill McKibben recently said that where artists cluster around issues you know something important is happening.

He’s been quoted as describing artists as ‘the antibodies of the cultural bloodstream”.

“Artists”, he says “sense trouble early, and rally to isolate and expose and defeat it, to bring to bear the human power for love and beauty and meaning against the worst results of carelessness and greed and stupidity. So when art both of great worth, and in great quantities, begins to cluster around an issue, it means that civilization has identified it finally as a threat.” (thanks to Roanne Dods/Clare Cooper for this quote)

Please comment with other examples of artists marking high water lines.

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It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
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Why Eco Products

Rather than just removing non eco products in the theatre, I thought it would be useful to provide a bit of info about why this is important.

“Many products we use in everyday life, from shower gel to T-shirts and even children’s toys, contain harmful artificial chemicals, which contaminate our air, food and drinking water before finding their way into our bodies. Most of the time we use them without even realising, or stopping to think about the long-lasting effects they are having on our health, and the health of the natural world. If you were to analyse the fat in your own body, you would be likely to find harmful chemicals such as brominated flame retardants, DDT, dioxins and many other persistent organic pollutants (POPs). POPs are chemicals that your body cannot get rid of, so they gradually build up over our lifetimes. Worryingly, POPs are even found in babies still in the womb.”
www.greenpeace.org.uk/toxics/problems

and

“Here at the health-report site we cannot condone the use of potentially toxic synthetic chemicals on the skin. It may be safer to eat the toxic chemicals rather than apply them to the skin. At least through the digestive system the body can produce specific enzymes to break down the toxic chemicals in the gut and excrete them. No such mechanism exists when chemicals are absorbed through the skin into the body. It is a well proven fact that chemicals applied to the skin are readily absorbed into the bloodstream where they can lodge in any part of the body or organ.”
www.health-report.co.uk/Dr_Samuel_Epstein.html

Rachel.

Go to Arcola Energy

Bill McKibben on the “torrent of art” about climate change

Bill McKibben wrote recently on Grist.org about how, over the last few years, art has been shouting increasingly stridently about climate:

That torrent of art has been, often, deeply disturbing—it should be deeply disturbing, given what we’re doing to the earth. (And none of it has quite matched the performance work that nature itself is providing. Check out, for instance, James Balog’s time-lapse photography of glaciers crashing into the sea—if we could somehow crowd that thrashing sheet of ice into the Guggenheim for a week, people would truly get it.) But for me, it’s been more comforting than disturbing, because it means that the immune system of the planet is finally kicking in.

Artists, in a sense, are the antibodies of the cultural bloodstream. They sense trouble early, and rally to isolate and expose and defeat it, to bring to bear the human power for love and beauty and meaning against the worst results of carelessness and greed and stupidity. So when art both of great worth, and in great quantities, begins to cluster around an issue, it means that civilization has identified it finally as a threat. Artists and scientists perform this function most reliably; politicians are a lagging indicator.

I wonder, how true is this? Is identifying artists as the “antibodies of the cultural bloodstream” a hopelessly romantic idea, part of McKibben’s relentless optimism, an optimism that has sustained him for twenty years and more as a campaigner? Or will the next few years prove him right in his faith that, not only are artists making work of “great worth, and in great quantities” about the issue , but that art still has a privileged role in how society concieves of itself.

It’s certainly a role that many established artists would feel extremely uncomfortable with; but maybe this isn’t the time for such niceities.

Read Bill McKibben’s article in Grist.org

Bill McKibben’s 350.org campaign

Bill McKibben talks to RSA Arts & Ecology about his call for artists to lead on 350.org

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology