Environmental responsibility and the artist.

Gormley_waste_man
This picture, of Antony Gormley’s “Waste Man” burning – filling the air with the noxious smoke of tons of discarded wood – set me thinking. Uh oh.

I understand that part of the point of this piece was to call attention to the massive amounts of waste we in the developed world produce, and to highlight the ephemeral essence of all the “stuff” we strive so hard to acquire. Gormley is one of my favorite sculptors – but this kind of condescending spectacle has definitely lowered his esteem in my eyes. Why exacerbate the very problems you are hoping to solve?

This brings up a point that bugs me no end regarding my own choice of method and material: how to reconcile the obvious environmental crisis-in-progress and my part in it with my (and our culture’s) need to create and express. Is Gormley’s monstrous cloud of smoke any worse in the end than the unseen multiple such clouds emanating from the iron mine, the steel mill, the tractor-trailer delivering the raw material for MY sculptures? Finding a point of equilibrium that allows one to be in the world without accelerating it’s destruction is probably the most profound and important question we all must ask ourselves as we venture into a new millennium.

What do you think?

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