ORANI.- The Museo Nivola
is presenting the exhibition AFRICA-ARCTIC FLYWAY, the first major museum project in Italy by US artist Peter Fend (*1950). The proposal and installation exclusively developed for Sardinia builds on 40-years of collaborative activities extending into the real world that started with Jenny Holzer, Richard Prince, Coleen Fitzgibbon, Peter Nadin, Robin Winters and the company Ocean Earth Development Corporation.
The collaborative practice was driven by a desire to work with clients outside the art world, while benefiting from new art thinking. Projects served the UN Environment Program, major TV news companies worldwide, and several state agencies and were shown at art world venues such as Documenta, biennials in Venice, Beijing, Sharjah and Osaka.
Ocean Earth was legally mandated to produce media services such as site analyses with satellite data, and architectural components" for cities, such as offshore rigs for energy and wild fish, conversion of wastes into biolithics, and lightweight urban megastructures. This work is explained to respond to what Renaissance architect Leon Battista Alberti considered as the four responsibilities of architecture: to deploy the technologies that give, for a city, clean air, living waters, and ease of movement and defense.
AFRICA-ARCTIC FLYWAY, prompted by 1960s-70s works of earth artists, addresses the need for species, especially birds, to be able to migrate from the Equator to the Poles in this part of the world the path from tropical Africa to the European Arctic. On the passage across the Mediterranean Sardinia is a central site. However, it is endangered by the combustion of fossil fuels, causing excess heat and drought, and by the blockage of river flows, interrupting weather cycles and destroying habitat.
Fend proposes steps to take in ending these dangers. The technologies and terrain mapping he presents, are all derived from Land and Conceptual Art of the past century. They aim at allowing the people of Sardinia to be self-reliant for energy and food with their own resources independent from extra-territorial and extractionist companies.
For this he proposes two main actions that are in line with scientific findings and environmentalist groups: firstly not accept fossil-sourced methane being delivered in a 50-year contract, as there would be no reduction in the release of heat-trapping gases, with desertification and drought worsened secondly to deconstruct the high number of dams, which blocks nutrient and salt flows to the sea, creates stagnant, oxygen-poor lakes, and harms the rain cycles, and to replace them with ultra-lightweight waterwheels. All the solutions proposed have been developed over decades, building on paradigms from Marcel Duchamp, Robert Smithson, Dennis Oppenheim, Joseph Beuys and Carolee Schneemann among others.
Inside the museums exhibition space, a former washhouse, Fend displays a three-dimensional reality saltwater catchments set within the twice-yearly pathways of migrating birds and insects. A red line connects two facing walls in the space that are covered by cut-out maps of destinations to the North and the South of Sardinia.
On the floor, four terrain models carved from Ytong, a building material, demonstrate what can be done in local dam sites: Omodeo, Cedrino, Gúsana, Torrei. All become locations for the restoration of wild, white-water rivers.
On suspended panels, other cut-out maps show plans for saltwater and nutrient management under a system of government, and taxation, conceived by the first economists, known as Physiocrats. The premise is that long-term prosperity depends on the health of animals and plants in the land and seas.
On the windows, these ideas are synthesized into four word-stacks. Words are removed from sentences and displayed in vinyl lettering, all conveying the exhibitions main messages: no dams, no fossils fuels, eco-tax instead of income tax, restore bird-insect habitat.
Peter Fend (*1950)is an American who, in 1980, due to the advice of a lawyer, founded the Ocean Earth Construction and Development Corporation ("OCEAN EARTH"), as a legally incorpo- rated successor to an artist venture, started in 1979, meant to deliver art ideas and practices to realworld clients. That venture included Jenny Holzer, Coleen Fitzgibbon, Fend, Richard Prince, Peter Nadin, Robin Winters. The first three bought stakes in the successor. It builds upon on struc- tural and data-display concepts rights-negotiated with Dennis Oppenheim, Paul Sharits, Gordon MattaClark, and Carolee Schneemann, plus requests for real-world initiatives by Joseph Beuys (1980) and the United Nations Environment Program (1982, 1989, 2008). The firm has worked with scientists at Caltech, oceanographers in Plymouth, two oceanographic centers in then-St. Peter- sburg, and naval architect Marc Lombard. In 1981, shareholders Sharits, Fend and Fitzgibbon de- cided to start building knowledge about sites through sight-mimic processing of multispectral satel- lite data. This led quickly to authoritative monitoring for world news-media of the Falklands, Beirut, Libya, the Iran-Iraq war, Nicaragua, the Amazon Basin, and Chernobyl--with historical consequen- ces. After six years, Western governments shut down this work. Since then, using knowledge built up by the firm, Fend presented multi-disciplinary projects at Documenta, biennials in Beijing, Yin- chuan, Osaka, Venice, Liverpool and Sharjah, all towards practical solutions to economic and eco- logical crises. Direct response to government officials is underway in Algeria, Ukraine, Norway, Ita- ly, NZ. Since 1988, commercial galleries have displayed Fend-led work, notably American Fine Arts, Esther Schipper, Essex Street, Christian Nagel, Barbara Weiss, Georg Kargl, Pinksummer, Le Case d'Arte. Talks have been at major architecture schools, art schools, military think tanks, the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment (with commissioned report), the UN Correspon- dents Association (twice; sponsored by the US, Russian and Turkish press), architecture festivals, even international scientific conferences. The list of works confiscated or doctored is probably lon- ger than of those extant; many authorities find that art in the real world, on real-world terms, might threaten their professions, or--some say--the State. The firm launched its worldwide business with a 1982 show at The Kitchen, NY called "Art of the State.