• The Harrisons Counter Extinction Work at Various Small Fires

    The Harrisons, Counter Extinction Work, 2019 (installation view).
    The Harrisons, On Making Earth, 1970-ongoing Manure, soil, worms, wood, and burlap sacks.
    The Harrisons, On Making Earth, 1970-ongoing (detail).
    The Harrisons, Making Earth (1970), 1970-ongoing (detail).
    The Harrisons, Counter Extinction Work, 2019 (installation view).
    Newton Harrison Apologia Mediterraneo, 2019 Vinyl and 1-channel video.
    Newton Harrison Peninsula Europe Part IV, 2010-ongoing Vinyl. 

    The Harrisons
    Counter Extinction Work
    June 7 – August 24, 2019

    PR: Various Small Fires is pleased to present its second solo exhibition by The Harrisons.

    Newton Harrison worked from 1969 to 2012 with his wife Helen Mayer Harrison (1927-2018), and has continued to work alone since her passing. After reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in the late 1960s, The Harrisons decided to only create artworks that benefit “the great web of life”, leading over many years of research and production to the genesis of the Ecological Art movement. Decades later, despite the prescience of The Harrisons and others, the planet finds itself on a short path to the sixth extinction.

    In 2007, The Harrisons began to design and realize interdisciplinary works, employing a range of mediums, including landscape-scale living installations, that would not only protect the life web, but actually counter human destruction by stimulating the life web to assist in its own amelioration. The artworks collected in this exhibition, dating from 1970 to the present, demonstrate this singular approach proposed by The Harrisons to mediate the extinction of our natural world, and provide a rough and ready blueprint for countering the extinction now upon us.

    Newton Harrison and his team at the Center for the Study of the Force Majeure at University of California, Santa Cruz, continue to develop and implement projects at large-scale across the globe, “aware of the short time remaining for humans to counter the devastating effect of their own greed”. Now 86 years old, Newton is profoundly encouraged by the rising movement of young environmental activists around the globe, led by Greta Thunberg, who he considers to be answering his (and Helen’s) words from their works The Lagoon Cycle (1979) and Serpentine Lattice (1993).

    Who will pay this eco debt
    and were will we find eco credits
    to put against it
    as ecosystems simplify
    and become minimally productive

    who will pay the cost of the loss of plants and herbs
    whose medicinal values
    are as yet unknown
    and the price
    when sequestering of carbon
    by succession of ecologies diminishes
    and who will pay the costs
    of apparently unsupervised
    aggressive clear cutting on private lands
    all this long term energy debt
    comes due in the next generation.

    from Serpentine Lattice, 1993
    And the tropics
    Will become uninhabitable
    And the far north
    Will become temperate

    And most life
    known and unknown
    named and unnamed
    will have to grow elsewhere than now

    and in this new beginning
    this continuously rebeginning
    you will feed me
    when my lands no longer produce
    and I will house you
    when your lands are covered with water
    and together we will withdraw
    as the waters rise.

    from The Lagoon Cycle, 1979

    The Harrisons Studio consists of Newton Harrison (b. 1932) and Helen Mayer Harrison (1927—2018). Often simply referred to as “The Harrisons”, the husband and wife team are leading pioneers of the Ecological Art movement. During their prolific career, the Harrisons have been the subject of over 100 solo exhibitions, and have been included in over 250 group exhibitions. For nearly fifty years, the Harrisons have produced work across a vast range of disciplines, working in collaboration with biologists, ecologists, historians, activists, architects, urban planners and fellow artists to initiate dialogues and create works exploring biodiversity and community development. They have shown work at the 2019, 1980, and 1976 Venice Biennales; Taipei Biennial (2018); documenta 8 (1987); the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; The Tate, London, UK; Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, CA; The Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; MoMA PS1, New York, NY; Berkeley Art Museum, CA; Boston Museum of Fine Arts, MA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Kunstmuseum Bonn, DE; and Kunstverein Hamburg, DE. Works by the Harrisons are included in many major permanent collections including the Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL. Newton Harrison is a Professor Emeriti at University of California, Santa Cruz, and University of California, San Diego.

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    Press release and photographs courtesy of the gallery and the artists. If you would like to submit your photo story or article, please email INFO@ARTEFUSE.COM.

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