Sierra Nevada: An Adaptation

If you are in New York and haven’t already seen it, there’s still some days left to visit a currently running exhibition: Sierra Nevada: An Adaptation, by Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, at the Feldman Gallery in New York (NY, USA) until March 26.

Gallery hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10-6. Monday by appointment. Gallery Website: click here

Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, pioneers of ecologically-oriented art whose proposals have often influenced long-term public policy planning, will exhibit a multi-media installation that addresses the effects of global warming on one of the world’s great mountain chains covering 28,000 square miles.

The project, Sierra Nevada: An Adaptation, is commissioned by the Center for Art + Environment (CA+E) at the Nevada Museum of Art whose fifty-year commitment to the evolution of the work is unprecedented. This latest project is part of Force Majeure, a series that has evolved over the last five years in which the Harrisons propose ecological adaptation on a large-scale.

The exhibition features a forty-foot aerial image enhanced with drawing and text that rests on the floor, allowing the viewer to “walk” the mountain range. Wall panels of watershed maps and photographs express current and future ecosystems visually; text panels include narrative and Socratic questioning to encourage public discourse. Two animated projections contemplate contrasting futures over the next fifty years: a landscape that has been overgrazed and overcut with minimum intervention versus assisted migration of beneficial species with the object to regenerate top soil. The Harrisons place themselves on the side of the debate within the reclamation/restoration world that calls for human intervention, albeit not in all cases, rather than allowing nature to run its course.

The exhibition at the Feldman Gallery is the premiere showing of Sierra Nevada: An Adaptation, which will travel to the Nevada Museum of Art’s Art + Environment Conference in September 2011. New materials will be developed for a larger exhibition at the Museum in several years, and all project materials are being collected by the CA+E for its archives. The Nevada-based Desert Research Institute (DRI) has generated imagery for much of the mapwork.

By Sacha Kagan

Research Associate at the ISCO - Institute of Sociology and Cultural Organization (ISKO - Institut für Soziologie und Kulturorganisation), Leuphana University Lueneburg, Sacha Kagan founded the International level of Cultura21, Network for Cultures of Sustainability, as well as the International Summer School of Arts and Sciences for Sustainability in Social Transformation (ASSiST). The focus of his research and cultural work lies in the trans-disciplinary field of arts and (un-)sustainability. Doctor in Philosophy (Leuphana University Lueneburg) with a thesis on the subject of culture, the arts and sustainability under the perspective of complexity ; M.A. in Cultural Economics (Erasmus University Rotterdam) ; and Graduate of Sciences Po Bordeaux (political sciences). For Cultura21, Sacha is also coordinating the eBooks series, the regular updates on our multi-lingual website, the English section of our webmagazine and the work of our Lueneburg-based interns.