Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Art Attack

The age old debate of what constitutes art has yet another nexus to explore, art for art's sake vs. activist art, where the latter is a kind of intervention that carries with it ethics not normally associated with fine art. While this is only one definition of sustainable art, we at The Groovy Mind see sustainability as a tool that is multi-faceted. Art that is activist, art that transforms excess into functionality, art that consists of recycled materials normally discarded in the creative process...
Take artist/interventionist Michael Rakowitz whose work can now be found at After studying Bedouin culture in Jordan, he returned to Boston to develop paraSITES, structures that “exploit the energy of its host.” Using elastic attachments he created inflatable ‘housing’ for the homeless that captures waste heat from outdoor vents in small, collapsible shelters. At first he relied on black garbage bags, an off the shelf solution that offered privacy but he eventually discovered that opacity didn’t matter because for all intents and purposes the homeless are invisible to the world around them.
SMART MUSEUM Curator of Contemporary Art Stephanie Smith forged this relatively new frontier several years ago with a travelling show called “Beyond Green: Toward Sustainable Art.” The art in this exhibition was a call to action in a profession all too often isolationist and elitist, housed within the confines of the hermetically sealed museum. As one participant Wochen Klausur explained, “In activist art, sociopolitical relationships take the place of material substances.” Again the privileged and the underprivileged form a network to upcycle materials discarded from exhibitions and transformed into functional works.
In another vein, artist/photographer Nicke Gorney never digitally manipulates her still narratives or black prints, which leads to excess experimental prints which she transforms through a creative process evident in her large abstract paintings. Using mixed media, brushstrokes, color and texture, she creates luminous, layered works called Photo Rehabs by painting over discarded photographic prints. Figurative and non-representational elements are both revealed and concealed, some infused with political and cultural innuendos while others are pure abstractions.
Just a few intriguing examples of the ever evolving movement of sustainable art. We leave off with the question of how to sustain the artist in a world that marginalizes creativity for the more profitable approach of turning a common denominator into a celebrity?
--Melanie Mitzner

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dying to Be Green

Mere mortals we are. Let's face it. We're all going to die sometime. But being embalmed with formaldehyde, a carcinogen that seeps into the groundwater, is not a comforting thought. Nor are impermeable caskets that don't biodegrade and cemeteries of land cleared of vegetation, wrecking the ecosystem. Even cremation, a Buddhist tradition, releases carbon emissions and produces mercury (from all those amalgam fillings in our teeth).

So what's a dead body to do? Have no fear, the Green Burial Council is here.

One such burial ground can be found through the Wisconsin-based Trust for Natural Legacies. Instead of manicured lawns and tombstones, flora and fauna abound. GPS coordinates help friends and families navigate the terrain so they can locate loved ones amid the beauty and splendor of a pristine environment.

Much like the "spirit forests" of tribal Borneo, where the dead are left on hallowed ground, a Ramsey Creek burial lays to rest the deceased in a 32 acre nature preserve.

Leading the movement worldwide with more than 200 green burial grounds, the U.K. has designs on land preservation where funds for green burials (which are half the cost of conventional ones) are funneled back into conservation. Go for the green hereafter. Be all that you can be. Be a tree!

Not dead yet? Take the deconstructive approach. An unused but unusable coffin couch. Recycle yo'self.