Pine Beetles

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

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Sculpture upsets coal industry

Carbon Sink: What goes around, comes around, Chris Drury

Chris Drury, who will be speaking in Ayr in the Autumn, has successfully stirred up a storm in Wyoming, as reported in the Guardian.  He was commissioned by the University to create a work for the campus as part of its evolving public art exhibition organised by the University of Wyoming Art Museum.

The work entitled Carbon Sink: What Goes Around, Comes Around is made from lodgepole pine and coal, and brings with it the pine beetles.  They are all connected in a cycle that is becoming more vicious.

But what’s particularly interesting is that this work has drawn the anger of the coal mining companies and put the University in an awkward position.  Higher Education funding comes into sharp relief when the corporates and the politicians start saying how sad and shocked they are that the University would commission a work that questions the environmental credentials of the coal industry.

The classic line is from a politician, quoted in the Guardian,

“”While I would never tinker with the University of Wyoming budget – I’m a great supporter of the University of Wyoming – every now and then, you have to use these opportunities to educate some of the folks at the University of Wyoming about where their paychecks come from,” Tom Lubnau, one of the state legislators, told the Gillette News-Record.”

Earth First Newswire reports 21 arrested at a sit-in against coal mining

Beehive Collective’s work on the true cost of Coal

Chris Drury isn’t the only artist drawing attention to these issues, but he seems to have hit a nerve.

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