New Artist Ideas for Essay

  1. Agnes Denes
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Agnes Denes’ ‘Wheatfields – A Confrontation’ 1982.

Agnes Denes brought wheat fields to an abandoned plot near Wall Street, Manhattan. The plot had previously been a landfill site. The work for me is about questioning what nature is – she seems to have brought nature into this built landscape of manhattan and yet this landscape is completely cultivated by her own hand – expressing the conquest of nature???

Taken from her website – “Planting and harvesting a field of wheat on land worth $4.5 billion created a powerful paradox. Wheatfield was a symbol, a universal concept; it represented food, energy, commerce, world trade, and economics. It referred to mismanagement, waste, world hunger and ecological concerns. It called attention to our misplaced priorities. The harvested grain traveled to twenty-eight cities around the world in an exhibition called “The International Art Show for the End of World Hunger”, organized by the Minnesota Museum of Art (1987-90). The seeds were carried away by people who planted them in many parts of the globe.”

The work is also about the distribution of food and the way America wastes food while the world is hungry.


2. Rachel Sussman

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Rachel Sussman’s work is about the longevity of these organisms in comparison to the period humans have been around for – the anthropocene is an extremely short period compared to the rest of the planet. A reminder of how temporary we are? How the planet has always found a way to survive. Sussman describes the work as “underscored by an existential incursion into Deep Time.”.


3. Olafur Eliasson

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Eliasson, Olafur. Your waste of time. Neugerriemschneider, Berlin. Installation. 2006

“For me, the idea of time becomes especially abstract when we consider the history of our universe, the vast time of deep cosmology, the geological time in the history of the planet, the history of the atmosphere, the history of mountains. Vatnajökull, the glacier from which the blocks of ice in Your waste of time come, formed some 2,500 years ago; the oldest ice that still exists in it is from around AD 1200. This span of time lies at the limits of comprehension.
But it is possible to stretch our frame of reference. When we touch these blocks of ice with our hands, we are not just struck by the chill; we are struck by the world itself. We take time from the glacier by touching it. In a sense, Your waste of time is a ‘waste of time’ because I shipped the ice across the world for it to be on view for a short period of time, after which it melts away – a nanosecond in the life of the glacier.” – Olafur Eliasson, from his website.


4. David Maisel

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Maisel, David. The Mining Project (Inspiration, Arizona 4), 1989. 

“Metals extracted from the Earth by open pit mining are used to manufacture products that we global citizens employ on a daily basis. The mines and their surrounding expanse of tailings ponds and cyanide leaching fields are byproducts of the developed nations’ culture of consumption.” – David Maisel, from his website.

The series The Mining Project is about the effects the mining industry and the conquest of nature have on the environment.

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