You had to know an art exhibit inspired by the fracking debate would pop up. For every exhibit we hear about, my guess is dozens more exist.
I and my family have friends and colleagues in the oil and gas industries. They’re great people and are very earth aware, work hard, and are damn smart. They are scientists, geologists, capitalists and entrepreneurs, and they provide me with a sense of what is going on from their expert-in-the-field perspectives. I can only relate what I learn, from both sides of the issue. So, to those good friends: Thank you.
The situation pictured above looks bad, doesn’t it? The image, by the way, is courtesy of Exit Art; that organization posted it courtesy of photographer Jacques del Conte.
FRACKING: Art and Activism Against the Drill, opens at New York’s Exit Art on December 7. An opening reception takes place 7-9 pm that day, and the show runs through Februrary 5, 2011. Its goal is to explore the myriad controversies surrounding “fracking”, the process of extracting gas from “new shale.” Natural gas weaned from shale deposits is hailed by many as being America’s way out of foreign oil dependency; it’s also considered by the industry and supporting business and governmental entities as an economic saviour for those living in shale-rich regions. The economic benefits of a booming gas drilling industry would build coffers in any state engaged in significant drilling activity. Regions with dense drilling activity tend to be remote, lacking diverse industries capable of providing adequate jobs. Drilling derived income can turn lives around; it can also lower private property values when individuals lease acreage out to drilling.
Take Wyoming, for example.
By the way, a revealing—but still very well balanced—portrayal of the pressures, tensions and dealings connected to drilling in Louisiana and Pennsylvania appeared just a few weeks ago in the Times. In New York State, notes Exit Art, a drilling moratorium is in effect until the D.E.C. issues fracking regulation, which could happen as soon as 2011.
Proponents of natural gas drilling say it is safe. Critics say that chemicals used in fracking are dangerous because they contaminate water supplies. In some drilling locales, water is being piped in from other communities–a process draining water from its source. “Fueling” the conflict is the fact that so far, gas industries are not legally bound to reveal the names of the chemicals used in fracking. This new exhibition, a project of SEA, looks to create dialogue and educate the public via “documentary videos, photographs, commissioned works, public responses and literature…” Exit Art issued a call to artists and the public to submit original artwork on postcards, with written statements “verso,” on the topic of fracking. The responses are on view in this show. Submissions are accepted for the show through its duration.
(Hear that, Ricki Arno? Get the Adorables in on the project! Love you!)
That invitation is extended to Wyoming artists, of course.
If you are in NYC on January 12, 2011, 7-9 pm, you can attend a panel discussion on fracking and its effects, led by Actor/Activist Mark Ruffalo. In addition to Ruffalo, participants are:
Moderator: Tracy Carluccio, Activist.
Panelists: Joe Levine, Lobbyist / Activist; Michael Lebron, Grassroots Organization; Al Appleton, Policy; Michel Boufadel, Civil Engineer; Christy Rupp, Artist; and a representative from the documentary film, Gasland.
Support for this exhibition was provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; Bloomberg LP; Jerome Foundation; Lambent Foundation; Pollock-Krasner Foundation; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn; and public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.
Check out www.exitart.org; phone 212-966-7745 for information.