Eileen Wold, Square Meter (2021), recycled aluminum post
Who Owns the Earth?
This group show proposes fresh paradigms of land ownership and art making in contrast to the rugged individualism of much early Land Art.
Review by Louis Bury for Hyperallergic 9/8/21
Includes works by ecoartspace member Eileen Wold, Eliza Evans.
There’s a curious paradox in the title of Unison Arts’s Owning Earth, a seemingly straightforward group exhibition about our species’ complex attitudes toward land. Curator Tal Beery and assistant curator Erin Lee Antonak clearly intend the exhibition to question anthropocentric ideologies of mastery and domination over the earth. Yet the title speaks of the earth as being owned. This paradox, it turns out, is not a misnomer. Instead, many of the exhibition’s 18 artworks, by 24 artists, incorporate the visual language of property relations as a way to propose alternatives to the norms of ownership.
This dynamic manifests most pointedly in Eliza Evans’s ingenious piece of artistic activism, “All the Way To Hell” (2020–ongoing). The artist has divided a three-acre Oklahoma property she owns into a thousand 6-by-18-foot parcels. Each parcel’s mineral rights — which extend, under United States property law, to the center of the earth — are being sold or given away to a thousand individuals, creating a bureaucratic morass for the fossil fuel companies interested in acquiring the land for fracking. When Evans has displayed the work in a gallery setting, the visual focus has been on core samples and property deeds; installed along Unison’s wooded trails, the focus shifts to a plot of land demarcated in the manner of a grave site, equivalent in size to one Oklahoman parcel.
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