Andy Goldsworthy’s installation seeks to signal anti-imperialism at a notoriously capitalist site.
In the documentary Leaning into the Wind, the celebrated sculptor and environmental artist muses on the impermanence of his art.
Celebrating what would be (if he was not in fact a mortal and evolved human) Charle’s Darwin’s 204th birthday, today’s Darwin Day is an international extravaganza with events around the world. If you’re not lucky enough to be near a party serving primordial soup (a recipe with open interpretation based on the mixing of molecules to form life on earth) or a heated reenactment of the were-people-ever-monkeys Scopes Trial, you can celebrate Darwin Day with us by looking at signs that the art world is evolving into a glorious techno-future or devolving into prehistoric simplicity.
The art in Swept Away: Dust, Ashes, and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) has some of the best material lists I’ve ever seen: city dust and pencil on silk; soot on organic cotton canvas; dryer lint and cotton; blown glass and ash from burned books. It’s label text that borders on poetry.
Inspired by the closing of Ai Weiwei’s “Sunflower Seeds” installation due to health hazards, I’ve been writing about how environmental impact is factored in to the evaluation of installation art. Does a work of art have to have a low carbon footprint to be great, or should we completely separate a piece from the cost of its production?
To start off the debate, I want to explore a few works of installation art that could be considered environmentally friendly and evaluate what impact they have, both environmental and artistic.
When we talk about art, we rarely talk about its environmental impact. What’s the carbon footprint of manufacturing a fiberglass Jeff Koons versus the making of an Andy Goldsworthy? As opposed to, say, water bottles, the cost of making a work of art rarely factors into how the work is analyzed and accepted. It is not for art critics to ask how many trucks were used to make Spiral Jetty. But why not? At what point do the environmental shifts and changes in the natural order that these pieces require outweigh their artistic value?