SaveArtSpace Is "Going Green" With Its Latest Public Art Initiative
Perhaps no city is more familiar with the tension between urbanism and environmentalism than New York. SaveArtSpace works to reclaim advertising space in cities with public art installations, and now, they’re turning their focus to the environmental crisis at hand, with a selected group of artists (curated by Paper Magazine’s Carlo McCormick) joining forces specifically around themes of environmentalism and sustainability. In partnership with Environmental Future and High NY, SaveArtSpace’s “Going Green” group show is launching in two parts: first, with public art installations around the city featuring each artists’ work, and then, with the opening reception of the entire group show at Contra Galleries on April 20.
Milk sat down with McCormick ahead of the opening to dive deep on climate change, social justice advocacy, and creating space for a free exchange of ideas with SaveArtSpace. Tell us about the public arts initiative “Going Green”. What excites you most about working with SaveArtSpace on this project?
I was interested in this project both for its content (message) as well as its strategy. We have seen public space co-opted by public advertising, and we allow this pervasive and pernicious assault by the forces of capital coercion at our own risk, so SaveArtSpace attracts me as a way of rescuing these spaces for the free exchange of ideas and sensibilities without commercial interests or interference.
Can you talk about how this exhibit addresses the topic of humankind’s relationship with nature?
The subject of “going green” is sadly more timely than ever, perhaps even more problematic than when we first started talking about ecological issues because green itself has become a charade behind which our most irresponsible conspicuous consumptions now hide. I see this exhibition as part of a larger conversation that is occurring in our culture. Artists may not have the answers, but historically we can acknowledge they have been great at asking the questions, at provoking and prodding consensus reality so that we engage in the problems that perplex us. I think of them as the last alchemists we have, capable in their way of turning shit into gold, and as for this rawest of materials, we are up to our necks in it.
How does each of the artists you selected contribute to the discussion of climate change and social justice advocacy?
Humanity is part of nature, and nature itself is an aesthetic, philosophical and political construct of how humankind perceives its environment. It is neither fixed nor objective. when we talk about how we are killing the planet we are just manifesting the same narcissism and selfishness that seemingly gives us so much permission to wreck the ecosystem. Earth and nature will survive, and likely do better without us in the end, so the issues we are urgently facing now are rather about our survival as a species. These of course are my opinions that guide me in my life as much as how I looked at all the great work which was submitted for this show. What I like about art and visual culture as a whole is that it does not need to be of one thought or singular orthodoxy, so I selected the art I did as much for how it could extend this subject in unexpected directions as for how it resonated with my own personal beliefs.
How do you hope to inspire younger creatives in the push for more ecologically responsible lifestyle choices?
Of the younger people I deal with in creative industries I do not feel they need much inspiration or push from me—most are painfully aware of the environmental crisis facing us. Since creatives often work at the interface of art and commerce they should be vigilant in their work as well as their life, choosing projects with an ethical integrity rather than a convenient excuse, but really we should all be thinking this way—understanding that as much as changing the world we need to change ourselves and accept personal responsibility for every way in which we conduct our lives so as to break the bad habits of wastefulness that our land of plenty has taught us, to keep in mind the fundamental difference between need and greed, to lead by example instead of rhetoric and to do what only young people can do, make the idea of going green fun and sexy so that everyone wants to join in.
Images courtesy of SaveArtSpace
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