Article: “The Principles of Sustainability in Contemporary Art”

In this article, Maja and Reuben Fowkes, elucidate the differences between environmental and sutainable art, discuss the origins of and departure from 1970s Land Art movement, and present artwork examples of grass-roots democracy coincidng with social responsiblity.

A summation of their main point:

“Sustainable art is arguably a wider concept than environmental art, which is primarily focussed on remedying ecological problems, recycling, and the healing of nature. While in contemporary living we have a greater understanding of sustainability in our everyday choices (or the lack of them), contemporary artists increasingly take on the role of alternative knowledge producer, involved in ‘producing, mediating, and exchanging alternative models and dealing with issues that are marginalised in mainstream culture and politics.’ [10] The artistic engagement with sustainability entails an understanding of ecological equality, a shift from the anthropocentric model to include the non-human world in our moral universe, a renewed sense of social responsibility, as well as a concern for grassroots democracy, and draws on radical critiques of art and society and the dematerialised practices of conceptual art to offer sustainable alternatives in art and life.

Fowkes, Maja and Reuben. “The Principles of Sustainability in Contemporary Art.” First published in Praesens: Contemporary Central European Art Review 2006/1


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