- UC Santa Cruz
- The Arts
… ‘Greenhouse Britain’ [by the Harrisons] recapitulates the convergence of the aesthetic and the ethical, best described by Heidegger when he writes, ‘The first step to vigilance is the step back from the thinking that merely represents…to the thinking that responds and recalls.’
- Amanda Boetzkes, The Ethics of Earth Art, 2010
Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, pioneers of ecologically-oriented art whose proposals have often influenced long-term public policy planning, will exhibit a multi-media installation that addresses the effects of global warming on one of the world’s great mountain chains covering 28,000 square miles. The project, Sierra Nevada: An Adaptation, is commissioned by the Center for Art + Environment (CA+E) at the Nevada Museum of Art whose fifty-year commitment to the evolution of the work is unprecedented. This latest project is part of Force Majeure, a series that has evolved over the last five years in which the Harrisons propose ecological adaptation on a large-scale.
The exhibition features a forty-foot aerial image enhanced with drawing and text that rests on the floor, allowing the viewer to “walk” the mountain range. Wall panels of watershed maps and photographs express current and future ecosystems visually; text panels include narrative and Socratic questioning to encourage public discourse. Two animated projections contemplate contrasting futures over the next fifty years: a landscape that has been overgrazed and overcut with minimum intervention versus assisted migration of beneficial species with the object to regenerate top soil. The Harrisons place themselves on the side of the debate within the reclamation/restoration world that calls for human intervention, albeit not in all cases, rather than allowing nature to run its course.
The exhibition at the Feldman Gallery is the premiere showing of Sierra Nevada: An Adaptation, which will travel to the Nevada Museum of Art’s Art + Environment Conference in September 2011. New materials will be developed for a larger exhibition at the Museum in several years, and all project materials are being collected by the CA+E for its archives. The Nevada-based Desert Research Institute (DRI) has generated imagery for much of the mapwork.