For Earth Day, 4 Artworks That Laid Waste to the Environment

20130419_landart_1Christo and Jeanne-Claude, “Over the River”
“This work — which would involve draping fabric panels across the Arkansas River — hasn’t even been completed yet, and indeed may never be. In planning for years, the project has attracted fierce resistance from a group of protestors that dubs itself Rags Over the Arkansas River(ROAR). Among the many objections is the possible environmental damage of the spectacular work of environmental art — specifically, that it might destroy habitat for bighorn sheep and keep eagles from fishing and hunting. Strange to say, though, the very possibility that “Over the River” might not happen is a testament to how Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s art has served to raise the awareness of art’s impact on nature. In the late ’60s, they wrapped a 1.5-mile stretch of the Australian coast in over 1 million square feet of synthetic fabric for “Wrapped Coast,” yet there is no record of the project’s impact on the environment. Since it required 35 miles of polypropylene rope to hold the fabric in place for the 10-week duration of the project, it doesn’t take an expert to imagine the destruction it might cause to the delicate coastal ecology and resident wildlife. A decade later, their 1976 piece “Running Fence” went down in art history as the first work requiring an Environmental Impact Report, and they’ve had to prove that they weren’t destabilizing the natural structures they were celebrating ever since.”- Sara Roffino for

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