Great Art

Slouching Towards Yucca Mountain

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

So you want to make radical work about radiation waste, for example, and whilst you write grant applications, you also want to build interest around the work, and avoid reliance on ‘committees’ effectively giving you permission to make the work by waiting for a grant to be approved.  You are an artist first and fund-raising is a task, not an occupation.

Yucca Mountain Glow, Eve Andrée Laramée, Digital Print Archival Ink/Paper

Slouching Towards Yucca Mountain, a video installation by Eve Andrée Laramée – United States Artists – Great art forms here.

This is the second really interesting project which a US-based artist has brought to my attention through the crowd-source fund-raising mechanism of UnitedStatesArtists (the other one was Suzanne Lacy’s The Performing Archive).  These are projects where the support is in the form of publicity, and sometimes match-funding.  (UnitedStatesArtists also offer Fellowships to selected artists.)  I suspect that to benefit from this site you still have to apply and in this case the money comes from your own list of contacts.

The UnitedStatesArtists web site says a few of interesting things,

All donations simultaneously support artists’ projects and the nonprofit mission of USA. The site is built on a joint fundraising model: 81% of every dollar pledged goes directly to the artist’s project, and 19% supports USA’s programs for artists and the site’s administration.

But it also says,

United States Artists has created a structure to identify America’s finest artists and to grant money to them in an efficient manner. Thanks to the generosity of its founders, USA’s operating expenses are fully funded for the next five years. This means 100% of donor contributions are directed to the artists we support.

It also says,

Our horizon line is not three, five, or 25 years, but rather 100 years and beyond. We are building a program that is privately funded, prestigious, and permanently endowed.

And it says,

Historically, public support for the arts and artists is unstable and unreliable; therefore USA will accept only private contributions.

And it doesn’t say,

by ‘private’ they mean individuals and corporations (so it is clear that Ford is a major contributor, but the other corporations are not clear.  Corporations should be explicit and some ethical limitations should be set).

Eve’s project is excellent and you really ought to support it: even $25 makes a difference.

No fund-raising is without hard work.  This is another approach to the problem.  It does make it more personal rather than remote and bureaucratic.  I do want this project to happen, and I did want Suzanne Lacy’s to happen, so I did contribute.  Art may belong to a ‘gift’ culture, but where does the gift come from?

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

red, black and GREEN: a blues by Marc Bamuthi Joseph

red, black and GREEN: a blues (rbGb), is a full-length, multimedia theater work that lands at the intersection of green economics and black psychology, written by USA Rockefeller Fellow Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Through a collaboration with installation artist Theaster Gates (Whitney Biennial 2010), Joseph uses music, movement, poetry, and gallery performance to jumpstart a conversation about collective responsibility in a climactic era of climate change.

They are currently seeking resources to support a rehearsal residency at Theater Artaud in San Francisco that will produce the first 20 minutes of the piece. The full debut of rbGb is tentatively scheduled for June 2011 at REDCAT in Los Angeles with additional performances confirmed in Houston, San Francisco, Massachusetts, Chapel Hill, and New York through 2012.

red, black and GREEN: a blues uses performance to document the process of creating single day, eco-themed hip hop festivals in Black neighborhoods across the country. The festivals, called LIFE IS LIVING, are co-organized by Joseph’s Living Word Project and local partners with the specific intention of re-framing environmentalism in underused parks in underserved communities.

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Support the project here:

red, black and GREEN: a blues by Marc Bamuthi Joseph – Project Site – Where Great Art Starts – from United States Artists.

Icebergs vs. art: the photographs of Frank Hurley

Caleb Klaces writes:

Frank Hurley, official photographer of Shackleton’s 1914-16 Antarctic expedition, went to great lengths to get the photographs he wanted. After the rescue and return home of the expedition members, Hurley went back to try and follow the route Shackleton and two other men had taken on foot across South Georgia to get help for those stranded on Elephant Island, as the first time around Hurley had been one of those left behind.

A selection of Hurley’s black-and-white photographs were on show last month at the Royal Geographical Society in London. They included humbling shots of the frozen-solid Endurance vessel looking tiny and brittle, a black stick insect sticking out of the shades of white which fill the frame. One desperate image was of the men harnessed to a boat, dragging it across pure white ground, taken from a precarious vantage point; the companionship in a portrait of a man-sized dog leaping up to hug one of the crew also captures a sense of loneliness.

But to me there’s something curiously incomplete, and unaffecting, in the portrait of the landscape itself. This could be because in my imagination the Antarctic exists on a scale too large ever to capture – dooming the photographs in my mind to fail; it could be that these older photographs suffer because images of polar regions are so familiar to us now, and often trite.

I now wonder if capturing the landscape is the wrong way to think about it. In a video post while on a recent Cape Farewelltrip to the Arctic, the singer Jarvis Cocker said that “People have made a lot of great art over the centuries…but an iceberg basically pisses on it”. For Cocker, the landscape is a kind of artwork already, to which we can only respond, not capture. This might be truer to Frank Hurley’s experience, too, who never did make it across South Georgia to get those photographs.

Caleb Klaces is a poet,and founder and Editor-in-chief of www.likestarlings.com, a website which pairs up established and new poets to create new poetic conversations.

Read Caleb Klace’s interview with Leo Murray on RSA Arts & Ecology.

Read Tony White’s essay Antarctic Scenarios on RSA Arts & Ecology.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology