Ecomedia - Ecological Strategies in Today's Art, currently running at the Edith Russ Haus in Oldenburg, presents projects founded on progressive ecological models and conceive utopian horizons in the process. (Part One is here.)
Tue Greenfort's contribution to the show is a simple plastic bottle. Just a bottle... until you have a look at the title of the sculpture: “Producing 1 Kilogram of PET Plastic Requires 17.5 Kilograms of Water and results in air emissions of 40 grams of hydrocarbons, 25 grams of sulfur oxides, 18 grams of carbon monoxide, 20 grams of nitrogen oxides, and 2.3 kilograms of carbon dioxide. In terms of water use alone, much more is consumed in making the bottles than will ever go into them” (2004). I can't dream of anything more self-explanatory. The object is a 1.5-liters mineral-water bottle which, under the influence of heat, has melted down to the size of a half-litre bottle, and was then filled with tap water. The artist demonstrates that the production of a non-returnable bottle requires more water than it can actually contain.
Talking of which, there was a raft made of plastic bottles on the grass outside of the Edith Russ Haus building. It's Natalie Jeremijenko's office. At the exhibition opening, she invited people to jump on it and share with her their environmental anxieties. Best is to have a look at the video presentation that GOOD magazine made of the Environmental Health Clinic project.
GenTerra is a fictional biotech company dealing with "transgenics" and driven by profit, but also by a sense of social responsibility. Products created through this process—-for example, transgenically modified foods—-have often caused controversy. GenTerra claims to produce organisms that help solve ecological or social problems
GenTerra is essentially a participatory "theater" comprising a lab, computer stations displaying the company’s informational CD-Rom, and a bacteria release machine. Scientists and artists are talking the public through the process and implications (whether they are purely profit-driven or feature some utopian qualities) of transgenics. Materials are then provided to allow people to get a hands-on experience by creating their own transgenic organism, using human DNA derived from blood samples. After that they become actively involved in risk assessment by deciding whether or not to release bacteria from one of petri dishes of the release machine. 11 of the dishes have non-transgenic bacteria samples taken locally, and one contains the transgenic bacteria. Should the dish with the transgenic bacteria be selected, a robotic arm will open the lid of the dish, and then replace the lid on the dish after about 5 seconds. The transgenic bacteria is in fact a benign, crippled lab strain that is released in laboratories on a routine basis.
This form of participatory experience attempts to make the whole issue less abstract and distant and by doing so, it provides the public with the critical tools to reflect on how significant the transgenic issue is and how it is going to reflect their everyday life.
The Critical Art Ensemble defense fund page informs us that the FBI is still refusing to return most of the tens of thousands of dollars worth of impounded materials. The reason for that is that the art collective was using the harmless bacteria and materials in several of their projects, one of them is GenTerra.
Andrea Polli had two projects in the exhibition, the beautiful The Queensbridge Wind Power Project is a video (which you can watch online) for transforming the Queensborough bridge into a site for gathering clean, renewable energy.
The second project she was showing is a collaboration with Joe Gilmore. N. is an artistic visualization and sonification of near real-time Arctic data.
Franz John's Turing Tables takes live seismological data and turns it into pictures, sound and movement.
Seismological institutes measure the vibrations of the Earth and exchange the data collected among themselves via automated internet-transfers. Turing Tables feeds into this human-machine-communication data stream and translates it into an installation which bathes visitors in audio renderings and projections of live measurements made by seismographs all over the world.
The project is not about the catastrophes that cause these movements in inhabited areas, but instead about the archaic feeling and consciousness that the earth is an organism, that it moves and that it can be understood as an organism in constant flux.
I liked 01.org's Reenactment of Joseph Beuys' 7000 Oaks, 2007. My first reaction when i saw the project was "oh! No, not flugly Second Life agaaain!" but this "synthetic performance" has the merit of bringing the spotlight on a very inspiring work. In March 1982, Beuys was at Documenta 7 in Kassel with a mission: planting of 7000 trees, each paired with a columnar basalt stone approximately four feet high above ground, throughout the greater city of Kassel. The last tree was planted posthumously in 1987 by is son. Beuys intended the Kassel project to be the first stage in an ongoing scheme of tree planting to be extended throughout the world as part of a global mission to effect environmental and social change; locally, the action was a gesture towards urban renewal. 25 years exactly after the planting of the first tree, Eva and Franco Mattes of 01.org (or rather their avatars) started stacking virtual basalt stones on Mattes' island in SL. SL inhabitants are invited to participate to the performance by placing stones and trees on their land.
Infossil had a huge banner hanging above the reception desk of the art space. The white on black text reflects about the dependence of electronic communication, that is of the "infossil", on the energy resources available, the fossil: coal.
Also on show: Sabrina Raaf's Translator II: Grower was painting grass on the wall; EcoScope, a communication tool developed by Transnational Temps, provides a context for discussing environmental affairs; 10 Commandments for the 21st Century, by Tea Mäkipää; Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle's You don’t need a weatherman; Christoph Keller's The Whole Earth, a projection on a weather balloon. White clouds over a blue sky form the perfect picture of the peaceful blue planet we live on, there's even piano music for perfect bliss. Every two minutes, a roaring aircraft brings us back to reality. Its passage takes one or two seconds but that's enough to spoil the idyllic vision (image); Yonic, a NGO working in Brazil to diminish pollution in the rain forest and find new solutions to old problems, showed the fanzine they publish on a yearly basis using handmade recycled paper.
Now that was a fantastic and energizing exhibition. If only we can get more people to see it, not just the already converted.
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Target No. 1 Luis Posada Carriles: Wanted for Terrorism
What is CODEPINK’s Most Wanted Campaign about?
We discovered that in 2008, the FBI is launching a new 20-city billboard ad campaign targeting the Most Wanted Criminals and Terrorists. The FBI will place billboards in strategic locations where they can be seen by millions driving by each day, asking the public to call the FBI with any tips or leads. We have looked at the FBI’s Most Wanted List, and it fails to include many people we think should be on that list. So we’ve started our own Most Wanted Campaign.
Who is Luis Posada Carriles and why is he on your Most Wanted List?
In the FBI’s campaign, Miami was chosen as one of the 20 cities. Yet when we looked on their list of Most Wanted, we discovered that an important name was missing—that of Luis Posada Carriles.
Luis Posada Carriles is known worldwide as a ruthless terrorist. He masterminded the destruction of Cubana Airline Flight 455 on October 6, 1976. The plane blew up just after taking off from Barbados, killing all 73 men, women and children aboard, including the entire teenage Cuban Olympic fencing team. Within 24 hours, according to a declassified FBI cable dated the next day, an intelligence source "all but admitted that Posada had engineered the bombing of the airplane." He was arrested and jailed for nine years in Venezuela until 1985, when he bribed his way out of prison.
In 1997, Mr. Posada orchestrated a series of hotel bombings in Havana intended to deter the growing tourism trade in Cuba. In one bombing incident, an Italian tourist was killed and 11 people wounded. In a taped interview with New York Times reporter Ann Louise Bardach, Mr. Posada proudly assumed responsibility and suggested such acts of terror would continue. "It is sad that someone is dead," he said, "but we can't stop."
Then in November 2000, Mr. Posada was arrested in Panama, charged and convicted as the ringleader of a conspiracy to assassinate Fidel Castro during a state visit - a plot that involved detonating a carload of plastic C-4 explosives that could have killed dozens of innocent bystanders.
But instead of spending the rest of his life behind bars, Posada Carriles lives freely in Miami! The Bush administration’s failure to detain or extradite this dangerous man makes a mockery of the U.S. war on terror.
What are the campaign goals?
Our goal is the inclusion of Luis Posada Carriles on the FBI Most Wanted List, and his prosecution in the U.S. or extradition to Venezuela, where he is wanted on 73 counts of first-degree murder. We also aim to highlight the need to stop the U.S.’s selective enforcement of terrorism, and to expose the duplicity of elected officials, particularly Congressmember Ros-Lehtineen and Congressmembers Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balarts—congresspeople who have advocated on behalf of Posada Carriles.
What activities will CODEPINK engage in?
We will launch the Campaign in Miami on January 12-14. We will produce 5,000 Posada WANTED postcards addressed to the FBI, and will spend several days doing outreach on the streets of Miami (including Little Havana) asking people to sign the cards. On Sunday, January 13, we will do a 24-hour vigil at a symbolic location. On Monday, we will go to the FBI at 9am to turn in the cards and demand the arrest of Posada Carriles. We will also protest the FBI destruction of five boxes of evidence related to the case. At noon we will go to the office of Cong. Ros-Lehtinen to demand that she stop supporting terrorism.
The next phase will be our billboard campaign, based on the FBI campaign. Our billboard, with a profile of Posada Carriles and text Wanted for Terrorism, will encourage people, if they see him, to call the Miami FBI. We will attempt to put several billboards up in downtown Miami, starting in February.
In Washington DC, we will pressure members of the Congressional Judiciary Committee and Homeland Security Committees to call for Posada’s arrest. We will do vigils out side the Justice Department, calling on Attorney General Michael Mukasey to enforce U.S. anti-terrorism laws. We will follow the Federal Grand Jury proceedings in New Jersey on this case to see if it produces results.
We will also organize a mock trial in Miami that will include legal and academic experts, as well as victims’ families.
Why target Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen? How is she involved?
After the July 2005 terrorist attack in London, the Congresswoman said, "The targeting of innocent lives is insidious and shows the utter disrespect that perpetrators of terror have for humanity. Those who committed this callous act must know that our determination to neutralize terrorism is unshaken and that we will not yield in the face of such perfidy."
Yet in the case of Luis Posada Carriles, in 2003 Ros-Lehtinen, along with Congressmen Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balarts, pressured then Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso to release Posada, Pedro Remón, Guillermo Novo and Gaspar Jiménez. All four were convicted in Panama of plotting to blow up a university center where Fidel Castro was scheduled to visit. In one of her last acts before leaving office, Moscoso pardoned the four men.
In May 2007 the same Congresspeople denounced the Justice Department’s cooperation with the government of Cuba on collecting evidence on Posada Carriles and the 1997 hotel bombing that killed an Italian tourist, a case that is still under a New Jersey grand jury probe. The representatives “condemned the Bush Administration Justice Department's so-called ‘search for evidence on terrorism’ from the Cuban terrorist regime.”
As Jim DeFede of the Miami Herald wrote in an article about Ros-Lehtinen, “The nobility of your cause cannot be a justification for terror, because every terrorist believes that what he is doing is right. Which is why the only way to fight terrorism is to condemn it in all its forms and not just when it is politically convenient.”
Isn’t it dangerous to do this in Miami, where there is a militant right-wing Cuban community?
Yes, those who live in Miami know that there are elements of the Cuban community who are very violent. They have bombed and beaten people who dared to criticize their positions. But if the US. is going to have moral standing in the world, we must be consistent in opposing all violence against civilians and holding all terrorists accountable. It’s up to us to force our government to stop holding a double standard of condemning some acts of terrorism and support