ART GETS A HEARING AT COP15
The United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen 2009, Dec. 7-18, 2009, may not produce much in the way of agreements -- at present, the U.S. and China are at loggerheads, and hundreds of protesters have been arrested. But if nothing else, COP15 has proven to be a big coming out party for "climate change art," with the Danish city basically turned into a de facto biennale focusing on this hot new art category. Herewith, a listing of some of the major efforts:
* "ReThink: Contemporary Art and Climate Change," is a massive project featuring works by 20 artists at four of the city’s art venues, including the National Gallery of Denmark, Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center and the Alexandra Institute. Among the participants are Tomas Saraceno, Olafur Eliasson, Bright Ugochukwu Eke, Allora & Calzadilla, Henrik Hakansson, Icelandic Love Corporation, Tea Mäkipää, Kerstin Ergenzinger, Bill Burns, Janine Randerson and Jette Gejl Kristensen. The exhibition’s website is www.rethinkclimate.org
The show approaches climate change from many points of view. Saraceno’s much-photographed Biospheres resembles an environmentally themed version of his contribution to the 2009 Venice Biennale, a plastic bubble suspended in a network of cables, inspired by spider webs, with some of the globes containing "plant-based ecosystems." Meanwhile, internet-crawlers can even participate in "ReThink" via Parfyme’s The New Tribe, an online project which allows the public to vote on the values that an ideal community should consider.
* Ice Bear by Mark Coreth, presented by World Wildlife Fund, took the form of an ice sculpture of a polar bear that slowly melted to reveal a bronze skeleton underneath, a deceptively simple gesture that packs a punch. Another version of the project went on view in London’s Trafalgar Square on Dec. 11, 2009. According to the "Ice Bear" website, Coreth -- a British animal sculptor -- was inspired by witnessing the effects of climate change in Baffin Island in November 2007, and went on another trip to the Arctic in May of this year to gain more inspiration: http://icebearproject.org/clips.html
* "100 Places to Remember," on view in Copenhagen’s Kongens Square, is a selection of photographs from the legendary Magnum photo agency, depicting 100 landscapes that are threatened by the effects of global warming. The website for the exhibition (and accompanying book) features a testimonial from English soul singer Joss Stone, urging the public to pay attention to the issues. More importantly, it offers an interactive map that allows websurfers to view each of Magnum’s "100 places" and see images of the threatened locales, from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, to Battery Park City in Manhattan.
* "CO2 CUBES: Visualize a Tonne of Change," presented by an organization called Millennium Arts at the Tycho Brahe Planetarium, is designed to give physical weight to the abstract ideas of climate change via a cube that represents one ton of carbon emissions -- about the size of a three-story building. The cube’s sides also serve as screens to project images of films submitted about the effects of climate change from around the world. The videos can be seen at www.youtube.com/cop15 (the contest winner was uploaded by 29-year-old Brazilian photographer Breno Coelho.)
* "Ghost Forest" by British artist Angela Palmer (who is represented by Waterhouse & Dodd in London) is sited near Parliament Square and the National Museum in Copenhagen. The project displays some enormous tree stumps, objects of considerable gravity, shipped in from the Suhuma forest reserve in Western Ghana. "Ghost Forest" thereby confronts visitors with the image of the consequences of environmental despoilment -- according to the artist, the region the stumps are from has lost 90 percent of its rainforest over the past 50 years. Info and images of the work are available at Palmer’s website: www.angelaspalmer.com
* Wooloo Productions, the artist community known for good intentions and fitfully successful political art experiments [see "Inane Asylum," May 6, 2006] took advantage of COP15 to launch "New Life Copenhagen." The ambitious relational esthetics gesture is described as an "art festival and social experiment," with the group’s website noting that it "does not involve any actual exhibitions or physical works of art," fitting, perhaps, for an era of sustainability. Instead, it essentially entailed an attempt to get Danish families to host foreigners for the summit.
Guests who availed themselves of New Life’s hospitality included British champion rower Roz Savage, who went on a symbolic march from Big Ben in London to Brussels, and then on to Denmark; Brazilian climate researcher Gisele Ferreira de Araúju; and environmental activists on hunger strike, living with a Danish family along with their doctor. See www.wooloo.org/festival/
* Finally, even models are getting in on the act. Danish supermodel Helena Christianson was on hand to present her suite of photos depicting the plight of the people of the Andes Mountains (Peru is deemed to be one of the countries especially vulnerable to the ravages of climate change). Christianson’s works were recently on view at London’s Proud Gallery, in a show sponsored by Oxfam, Nov. 19-29, 2009. If Christianson can’t move the delegates, we don’t know what will.
PURVIS YOUNG SETS STAGE FOR JEANS
The new Grown & Sewn collection, which specializes in "Kax," a lightweight three-ply cotton twill that is designed as a cross between khakis and jeans, has taken a novel approach to its new store at 184 Duane Street in Tribeca. Grown & Sewn is presenting its clothing along with an exhibition of works by Purvis Young, Nov. 19, 2009-Jan. 15, 2010. Young’s paintings and works on paper, which are provided by Skot Foreman Fine Art, include Figures (2000), a haunting image of men in a boat painted on a 24 x 15 in. cabinet door ($2,000), and Crazy House (1992), a 48 x 53 in. Overall, the Young works range in price from $125 to $40,000.
As for the clothing, the line includes t-shirts (with classic American designs, like the colonial eagle), belts and a rugged urban tote. Everything is made in the U.S. Prices for the pants, which come in khaki, black and several other manly hues, are $175-$185. The fashions, which are billed as a "dry good collection from home-grown crops, spun thread and though hands," are the brainchild of Rob Magness, a fashion veteran who worked for Ralph Lauren for ten years.
ABORIGINAL PAINTINGS AT THE MET
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has opened its first-ever exhibition of paintings by contemporary Aboriginal Australian artists. "Contemporary Aboriginal Painting from Australia," Dec. 15, 2009-June 13, 2010, features works by Anatjari Tjakamarra (ca. 1930-1992), Mitjili Napurrula (b. ca. 1945) and Paddy Bedford (ca. 1922-2007) in a show organized by Eric Kjellgren, the Met’s associate curator for Oceanic art. The paintings are on display in the Rockefeller Wing corridor, opposite the Met’s modern art galleries. All the works are on loan from a private collection, which remains unnamed, perhaps in recognition of the controversy that descended upon the New Museum when it announced that it would display selections from the holdings of Greek supercollector Dakis Joannou.
"PANORAMA: LOS ANGELES" AT ARCO 2010
The 2010 installment of ARCO in Madrid, Feb. 17-21, 2010, features a special exhibition devoted to Los Angeles, the first time the fair has focused on a guest city rather than a guest country. "Panorama: Los Angeles" presents works by 59 L.A. artists in a show organized by L.A. curators Kris Kuramitsu and Christopher Miles and underwritten by the L.A. Department of Cultural Affairs.
Seventeen L.A. galleries are participating in ARCO 2010: 1301PE, ACME, Cherry and Martin, China Art Objects, Christopher Grimes, Happy Lion, Kathryn Brennan, LA Louver, Margo Leavin, Peres Projects, Redling Fine Art, Regen Projects, Rosamund Felsen, Shoshana Wayne, Steve Turner Contemporary, Thomas Solomon and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.
OPEN CALL FROM PUBLIC ART FUND
The Public Art Fund has issued an open call for proposals for "In the Public Realm," its program of commissions for public art projects by New York-based emerging artists. Available are ten $1,000 grants for artists to develop a proposal for a public artwork, and as many as three $15,000 commissions (plus a $2,500 artist fee) to realize public works in New York City. Artists who have previously participated in the program include David Altmejd, Peter Coffin, Keith Edmier, Mark Handforth, Nina Katchadourian, Josiah McElheny, Allison Smith and Sarah Sze. Initial submissions are due on Feb. 16, 2010; for details, click here.
JOBURG ART FAIR SET FOR 2010
The third annual Joburg Art Fair, Marl 26-28, 2010, is set to present 21 galleries and 13 special projects in the 5,000-square-meter Sandton Convention Center. The fair boasts that it is "the only art fair on the African continent and the only art fair to focus on work from Africa" -- quite a recommendation in today’s global art marketplace. Participating galleries include Afronova, Bailey Seippel Gallery, Brodie/Stevenson, CCA Lagos, David Krut Projects, Everard Read Gallery, Galerie Peter Herrmann, Goodman Gallery, Joao Ferreira Gallery, Michael Stevenson, October Gallery and Watatu Gallery. For more info, see www.joburgartfair.co.za
HELP RAISE A NEW KITCHEN ROOF
"We can no longer continue to plug up leaky holes while waiting for new ones to spring," proclaims a recent email from Debra Singer, executive director of the Kitchen performance art space over on West 19th Street in Chelsea. "The rustic decorative charm of colorful, rain-catching pails scatter around our offices has long since faded." The Kitchen seeks to raise $80,000 to install a new energy-efficient "cool roof" in 2010, designed not only to protect against the elements but also to lower energy costs. The New York State Council on the Arts has already kicked in with a grant; to make fully tax-deductible donations, see www.thekitchen.org/membership
BLIND HANDSHAKE FROM DAVID HUMPHREY
Blind Handshake, a book of collected art criticism by artist David Humphrey, who is a senior critic at Yale and shows his painting and sculpture at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. in New York, is now available from Periscope press (224 pp., $39.95). Billed as a book that "foregrounds the social life surrounding contemporary art," Blind Handshake has several thematic divisions: Coupling Dramas, Unknowable Others, Collective Solitudes, Prosthetic Selves, and Good Liars. Among the artists covered by the book are Mamma Anderson, John Currin, Lucien Freud, Chris Ofili and Richard Prince. A book signing and release party is scheduled for Sikkema Jenkins on Wednesday, Dec. 16, at 6-8 pm.