This project is conceived as a broad-based investigation into the environmental sustainability of the international art world that includes both consideration of the direct environmental impact of art works, conferences, biennials and art fairs, and discussion of the potential positive offsets associated with the social role of contemporary art in a globalised world.
The international gatherings of the art world are resource intensive, relying on an invisible hinterland that stretches across the globe. Events typically involve a large number of flights, bringing participants and audience large distances for short stays, while exhibitions require the transport of artworks by plane or road, or the production of new works using a wide variety of non-renewable materials. Exhibition spaces have to be lit, heated or cooled, and often substantially modified with temporary walls and other installation structures, the publicity for events typically involves the conspicuous use of glossy paper for disposable handouts, while openings often bring excessive consumption of luxury food and other perishables. This project then aims to calculate how much resources go into the production of, for example, a typical biennial of contemporary art, on the grounds that making the environmental impact of the art world more transparent could encourage the organisation of more sustainable international art events.
In order to understand the ecological impact of the international art world, we need to apply a model that in addition to the many environmental minuses, also takes into account the possible pluses offered by the activities of contemporary art in terms of a contribution to society. These might include the potential of art to open minds to alternatives to consumerism, the role of art in critiquing unjust and unsustainable economic and political systems, and the positive effect of art as an activity that can exist outside of the logic of dominant systems to offer non-consumerist dimensions of quality of life. Contemporary art may contribute to the emergence of an equitable global culture as an alternative to the hegemonic model of competitive economic globalisation, which could at least partially justify the ecological footprint of international art events.
Central European University Budapest
Modern Art Oxford
Arts Council England
10 December 2009
'Biennial Culture and Sustainability' Presentation at Cornerhouse Manchester concentrating on the phenomenon of international biennials of contemporary art and ask how the ecological impact of major international art gatherings might be measured...(more)
Dejan Krsic, Statistics of
the Istanbul Biennial, 2009
Translocal exhibition tour on the interconnectedness of environmental issues, the demand for sustainability and global politics for Radical Nature at Barbican Gallery
'Art and Sustainability' talk on ecological footprint for exhibition Transmission Interrupted at Modern Art Oxford
26 March 2009
'The Environmental Impact of Contemporary Art' at the Symposium on Sustainability and Contemporary Art: Hard Realities and the New Materiality at Central European University Budapest
Further lectures to be announced...