Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change (2018) Nathaniel Rich. The text is too detailed for me but very informative. It identifies climate change as a weapon and links the oil industries efforts of discrediting climate change research as the origin of post-truth era possibly even post-expert).
In “How to Wreck the Environment,” a 1968 essay published while he was a science adviser to Lyndon Johnson, [Gordon] MacDonald predicted a near future in which “nuclear weapons were effectively banned and the weapons of mass destruction were those of environmental catastrophe.” One of the most potentially devastating such weapons, he believed, was the gas that we exhaled with every breath: carbon dioxide. By vastly increasing carbon emissions, the world’s most advanced militaries could alter weather patterns and wreak famine, drought and economic collapse.
Interview: Agnes Denes (2015) Maika Pollack. A long and good spirited overview of Denes’ career. Pollack has a huge appreciation for her work.
“I hate to put tags on things, because tags change, and they change with the requirements made on them. And we’re changing modes and needs. Words are changing. I find that old expressions are outdated, so when I write something, I try to find a new expression that hasn’t been born yet. It’s difficult. We use up words as we use up images. We use up everything, and that’s good, because it makes us grow.” -Denes
AGNES DENES Living Pyramid (2015) Ann McCoy. A critical view to the Living Pyramid (2015) temporary artwork installed in Brooklyn.
Denes bends nature to her will—trees are chained and planted on grids determined by Denes. The problems of mono-agriculture, which she has been accused of because her Finnish forest was comprised of one type of tree, have long been known. The creatures inhabiting her forests aren’t allowed the kind of complex habitat that would be more to their liking. We now know that trees communicate through their root systems, educating their neighbors. Nature has no voice in Denes’s work.
Eco-art is evolving, with many artists trying to work within existing natural systems. […] We hope the trees will aid this reclamation, and prevent erosion when they become rooted. Denes had consulted a horticulturalist for the Living Pyramid, and had submitted a long list of grasses that turned out to be more suitable for prairies. Common grasses and annuals were substituted due to the growing season and length of the installation. As with Denes’s forests, the plants used for the Living Pyramid are more symbolic than ecologically sustainable.
Denes is heroic, having survived a sexist art world with sheer grit and intelligence. She has produced a remarkable body of work and thought. The Living Pyramid holds its own whatever its eco-imperfections, and exists as a flowering monument to Denes and her complex explorations.
A Forest for Australia: Challenging Loyalties (2015) Jock Gilbert & Sarah Hicks. Overview of the degeneration of the A Forrest for Australia (1996) artwork by Denes.
The forest displays a stubborn refusal to be conserved […] A Forest for Australia is a living register of the extreme fluctuation of weather conditions in south-east Australia, now exacerbated further by climate change.
Within this rather precarious existence of the project are also registered many of the ideals that informed Denes’s original concept – the registering of the “nervous tension” of cities, the questioning of the status quo and the challenge to initiate new thinking processes through provocative, meaningful communication. It is these ideals that we argue should continue to be cultivated through any contemporary engagement with the project.
The Dream (1990) Agnes Denes. Her own text, which calls for art to change. I particularly like the last quote here where she warns that art in public space claims it as it’s own. I share this understanding.
All my philosophical concepts seem to culminate and come to life in my environment/sculptural works. They are meant to begin their existence in the world when completed as works of art, and come to full realisation as they grow and evolve with the changing need and perspectives of mankind.
Making art today is synonymous with assuming responsibility for our fellow man.
I believe that the new role of the artist is to create an art that is more then decoration, commodity, or political tool. It is an art that question the status quo and the direction life has taken, the endless contradictions we accept and approve of.
[…] I see the importance of art emerging beyond a personal style, trend or region, pointing to new ways of seeing and knowing that enhance perception and awareness and forming new insights and new methods of reasoning.
Public art has become the newest game, a new phase in our overproduction and somewhat indiscriminate cluttering of our environments. In the light of our tendencies towards quick consumption, depletion, and reaching saturation points, especially when the results are not exactly satisfactory, public art may become extinct before we have had a chance to see its best examples.
Public art, like any other art, must have an immediate and a lasting effect. The difference is that public art invades areas where people live and work as opposed to museums or galleries where they go by choice. This alone ought to create a responsibility to the public whose common ground is thereby invaded. And this is where the dream comes in (or disappears). It is difficult to visualise a dream collectively, especially with strange bedfellows. And we know what happens when ideas are forced into mold. Public art is important for our communities and for artist expression, but it will fail if we cannot come to terms with its complexities and potentials. It is essential that art remain free to renew itself through the assessments of a world whose issues it reflects and analyses. Art in the public domain loses its preciousness, but it gains in strength by becoming a social phenomenon, sharing itself with others willingly and effectively.