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Curator's Note:

Tumultuous, expansive, inspirational - the past 10 years have had their ups and downs. How have contemporary artists reacted to the news of the day?

 

Art's relationship to its time is inherently complex. No matter what the particular subject at hand - be it social upheaval, the environment, mass media, or identity - today's art is layered with influences, sources and ideas. Loathe to be pinned down, contemporary artists serve no master, religion or propaganda, as they most often did in past centuries. Positioning themselves on the very edge of expression, the artists presented here pose questions and create new forms that open up ways of thinking and viewing the world.

--Wesley Miller, Associate Curator, Art21

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Exhibition Playlist

Climate

Exhibition playlist 2 of 9 ‹ previous | next ›

"We're standing at the precipice of hell. If everybody else was to live like an American, then the planet is doomed.” —Sunita Narain, Center for Science and Environment, New Delhi, FRONTLINE: Heat (2008)

Artists this past decade have taken a long view on the state of the environment, linking the current debate surrounding climate change to broader political, ethical, and spiritual concerns. Employing art as a means to address human ecology—how mankind relates to the environment—artists have tackled subjects as varied as deforestation, soil toxicity, sustainability, and the discipline of science itself.

Artists featured in this slideshow:

Robert Adams (Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 4, Episode: Ecology)

Robert Adams’s pictures of deforestation near his home in the Pacific Northwest—at the location where Lewis and Clark’s westward journey reached its end—is a melancholic portrait of American promise transformed by short-sighted greed.

Mel Chin (Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 1, Episode: Consumption)

Begun in the '90s, Mel Chin’s Revival Field project (entering its third decade and now with several sites) employs art to prove a scientific theory: that plants can be used to harvest dangerous heavy metals from toxic earth. A conceptual earthwork with the potential to transform the planet, Chin uses his art to instill new ideas and generate debate.

Mark Dion (Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 4, Episode: Ecology)

Mark Dion’s works put science and nature on display, underscoring the unnaturalness of institutionalized and industrialized ways of thinking about the environment.

Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle (Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 4, Episode: Ecology)

Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle’s multimedia works approach climate as a metaphor for exploring political topics such as immigration, terrorism, and gun violence.

Images (in order of appearance): Robert Adams; Burning Oil Sludge, Boulder County, Colorado, 1974; Gelatin silver print, 11 x 14 inches; © Robert Adams; Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York. Robert Adams; Kerstin, next to an old-growth stump, Coos County, Oregon, 1999-2003; From the series "Turning Back" Gelatin silver print, 14 x 11 inches; © Robert Adams. Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York. Robert Adams; Clearcut, Humbug Mountain, Clatsop County, Oregon, 1999-2003; From the series Turning Back; Gelatin silver print, 14 x 11 inches. © Robert Adams; Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York. Robert Adams; Kerstin, old growth stump from early cutting, surrounded by the remains of recently cut small trees, on Humbug Mountain, Clatsop County, Oregon, 1999-2003; From the series Turning Back; Gelatin silver print, 11 x 14 inches. © Robert Adams. Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York. Mel Chin; Revival Field,1991; Pig’s Eye Landfill, St. Paul, Minnesota; Plants, and industrial fencing on a hazardous waste landfill, approximately 60 x 60 x 9 feet; Courtesy the Artist. Mel Chin; Revival Field, 1991; Pig’s Eye Landfill, St. Paul, Minnesota; Plants, and industrial fencing on a hazardous waste landfill, approximately 60 x 60 x 9 feet; Courtesy the Artist. Mel Chin; Revival Field, 1991; Pig’s Eye Landfill, St. Paul, Minnesota; Plants, and industrial fencing on a hazardous waste landfill, approximately 60 x 60 x 9 feet; Courtesy the Artist. Mark Dion; Neukom Vivarium, 2006; Mixed-media installation, greenhouse structure: 80 feet long; Installation view: Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle; Gift of Sally and William Neukom, American Express Company, Seattle Garden Club, Mark Torrance Foundation, and Committee of 33, T2004.101; Courtesy the Seattle Art Museum. Mark Dion; Neukom Vivarium, 2006; Mixed-media installation, greenhouse structure: 80 feet long; Installation view: Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle; Gift of Sally and William Neukom, American Express Company, Seattle Garden Club, Mark Torrance Foundation, and Committee of 33, T2004.101; Courtesy the Seattle Art Museum. Mark Dion; Landfill, 1999-2000; Mixed media, 71 1/2 x 147 1/2 x 64 inches; Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Courtesy Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York. Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle; Climate, video stills, 2000; Suspended aluminum framework, multi-channel video projections with sound, dimensions variable; Courtesy the artist and Max Protetch, New York. Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle; Always After (The Glass House), 2006; Super 16mm film transferred to high-definition digital video, 9 minute 41 second continuous loop; Courtesy the artist and Max Protetch, New York. Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle; Untitled (Sounding No. 2), 2005; Color photograph laminated to Plexiglas, 40 x 49 7/8 inches; Courtesy the artist and Max Protetch, New York.

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