Ballengée, Skate, Hudson River Valley project Kellhammer, Crowngraft, Guerilla Grafting
“Ecological Interventions” features two internationally renowned environmental artists who care deeply about out ecology and our future, Brandon Ballengée (US) and Oliver Kellhammer (Canada). Their projects explore how we as citizens of the world can change our environmental impact.
Curated by Kathy High. With support from NYSCA REDC, NEA “BioArt in an Industrial Wasteland,” NY State Museum Ichthyology Lab and the Arts Department, School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Rensselaer.
Kellhammer and Ballengée have a mission to help us all learn how to interact with our environments, and look for signs of damage to aid in the repair that is necessary. Both artists are determined to teach citizens to become scientific investigators able to change their local eco-system. This exhibition shows photographic evidence of their experiments and explorations.
Ballangée, Mudpuppy, Necturus maculosus, 2001/03, Hudson River Valley project
Ballangée has been working with aquatic systems, rivers, streams, swamps, to look at the biodiversity of our waterways and how to repair and deal with pollutants. One block from the Hudson River, photographs hang on the upstairs wall of the Underground Gallery, from his project “Breathing Space for the Hudson: Charting the Biodiversity and Pollutants of the Hudson River.”
Ballengée, Striped Kilifish, Fundulus Majalis, Hudson River Valley project
On June 7-8, Ballengée comes to Troy to conduct participatory workshops and speak about his aquatic ecological art project “BreathingSpace for the Hudson: Charting the Biodiversity and Pollutants of the Hudson River” and more. Ballengee will return to conduct a participatory workshop summer 2014 to
collect aquatic specimens of North Troy Hudson area and to analyze them.
Cleared and Stained Atlantic Sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrhynchus, 2001/03
Oliver Kellhammer is a land artist, social sculptor and permaculturist who has worked over years to plant the earth with remediating vegetation.
Healing the Cut – Bridging the Gap is a response to several new bridges across the Cut, a man-made ravine originally excavated in 1910 to accommodate a railway. The bridge construction was controversial because it destroyed lush, deciduous forest which provided important habitat for urban wildlife as well as a visual reprieve from the heavily urbanized landscape. The project re-imagines the bridge as a community viewing platform to observe the processes of ecological restoration. We restored the ravine’s forest using hundreds of willow and cottonwood cuttings, which root and stabilize the soil until the original alder and big-leaf maple forest re-establish itself. The advantage of these living, ‘bioengineered’ structures is that they are ‘intelligent’ and adjust themselves to changing conditions. We installed nest boxes to bring back displaced birds: their droppings ensure continuous ‘seed-rain’ of native plant species and furnish important plant nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous.
Guerilla Grafting I have been performing various ‘botanical re-mixing’ experiments, investigating the capacity of native and naturalized plants to serve as ‘scaffolding’ for related species that offer higher food yields, “hyperorganisms” which are assemblages of two or more species that form a living system with characteristics of all the component parts. For example, I have grafted Bartlett Pear to wild hawthorn, which creates a hyperorganism with its own, built-in barbed wire fence which protects the delicious fruit from roving deer.
Neo Eocene If global warming threatens to bring back the Eocene’s temperatures (from some 55 million years ago), why not reintroduce the Eocene’s trees? That’s where we come in. Over the past dozen or so years, I have been introducing into my yard some tree species that once made up the Eocene forests of British Columbia and have been tracking their progress.
More about the artists:
Brandon Ballengée is a visual artist, biologist and environmental activist based in New York. He creates interdisciplinary artworks inspired from his ecological field and laboratory research. Since 1996, a central investigation focus has been looking at developmental deformities and population declines among amphibians.
Since 1996, his transdisciplinary practice has bridged primary scientific studies with ecological art and engaged environmental stewardship. Inherent to this working method
is an impetus for “ecosystem activism” implemented through participatory biology field investigations and laboratory programs that stress public involvement – his attempt at
social sculpting. His artworks come from direct experiences with amphibians, birds, fish and insect species found in today’s preternatural ecosystems and those observed in post-natural laboratory settings. The art itself is made from diverse mediums including biological materials (chemically cleared and stained deformed specimens displayed as glowing gems, preserved specimens to represent collapsing global food webs, living plants and animals displaced in temporary mesocosums, paintings from his own blood mixed with industrial pollutants found in my own body and the living bodies of all organisms), large-scale scanner photographs representing the individuality of non-human individuals, outdoor light sculptures to encourage insect fornication and participatory trans-species happenings- all of these try to re-examine the context of the art object from a static form (implying rationality and control) into a more organic structure reflecting the inherent chaos found within evolutionary processes, biological systems and nature herself.
Oliver Kellhammer is a land artist and botanist, permaculture teacher, activist and writer. Through his botanical interventions and public art projects, he seeks to demonstrate nature’s
surprising ability to recover from damage. His work facilitates the processes of environmental regeneration by engaging the botanical and socio-political underpinnings of the landscape. It continues to evolve and has taken various forms such as small-scale urban eco-forestry, inner city community agriculture and the restoration of eroded railway ravines.
Soon it would be too hot. Looking out from the hotel balcony shortly after eight o’clock, Kerans watched the sun rise behind the dense groves of giant gymnosperms crowding through the roofs of the abandoned department stores four hundred yards away on the east side of the lagoon. Even through the massive olive-green fronds the relentless power of the sun was plainly tangible. —J.G Ballard, The Drowned World (1962)