Eco Bling

owen and fern poster
[Poster by Owen Griffiths and Fern Thomas, Imagination as a Source of Renewable Energy, O&F Poster Series, no.1, 2008]

Here’s a provocative essay by British artist and curator Lucy Gibson, entitled “Eco-bling: why the arts sector needs to lead on climate action”.

Gibson uses the term “eco bling” to describe “gestural actions that are only skin deep”. One obstacle in the quest to reduce the environmental footprint of art is its insatiable desire for attention and visibility, which demands a great amount of travel and freight in order to distribute artworks which might, paradoxically, have as their message “Down With Climate Change” or “Act Local”.

She writes:

One of the biggest changes in the visual arts world, and the rest of the arts sector, would be to cut back on travel. With the emphasis on being ‘seen’, having an international reputation, living and working in more than one country, and for ‘international’ often being used as a by word for quality, we have a long way to go in the visual arts to counter the accusation of eco-bling.

And here’s another provocative article, by artist Paul Matosic, called “Is Art Green”. Matosic discusses the concept of “art miles”, (adapting the term from the more widely discussed “food miles“).

Thanks to Melanie, the MCA’s Conservator, for sending through the links which led to these links… keep ’em coming!

3 thoughts on “Eco Bling

  1. Hi Lucas,
    I am pleased to know that my article is being found and read.
    The environmental audit sounds interesting, it is something I have considered doing when next making an installation, examining every aspect of the development and implementation. even down to the carbon footprint of an e mail. (0.03 gms apparently)
    I have even considered just showing the audited breakdown of an installation and a photograph (of a previous one using the same stuff)
    Thing is I am not the sort of person who can spend hours trawling through scientific stuff to find this sort of info, much rather get my hands dirty with actual materials.
    The other thing is that as in the figure given above I know that this came from research conducted by a company who sell anti spam software.
    I will be interested in looking at your results when they are ready.
    And if you happen to be curating any exhibitions about the subject I can offer you a number of potential installations developed without the need for all that bothersome travel.
    Mind you any opportunity to get out of Britain is always welcome.

  2. hi paul

    thanks for your reply, it’s food for thought, and i’ve been grappling with that business of needing to be a mathy/sciencey person

    tell us about your strategy of installations which don’t require your physical presence?


  3. Hi Lucas,

    installations without me being there!

    It all started when I was invited to take part in an exhibition about climate change in the USA. It seemed a bit hypocritical to leave a trail of carbon footprints across the Atlantic in order to take part in this project so I suggested that i make the installation here in not so sunny Nottingham and live stream the process to them. naturally the total lack of funding at this end, and a lack of interest meant that we had to resort to a still image being sent , projected onto the floor of the gallery and students extending the work into the real world by using more of the same type of material.
    using redundant technology explores the global disposition of this stuff.
    last year i offered the project to a biennial in Brazil and this time I was able to make a series of films showing the work developing.
    ( despite all my protests about carbon footprints etc. they insisted that i go there to make the physical installation, thus undermining the whole project. ( as I was not getting paid for my work the free flight and five star hotel plus expenses was all that i was likely to see, call it a holiday) anyway since then the project has been shown in Slovenia and USA without me travelling.
    You can get a feel for the actual projected image on

    Paul Matosic

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