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"6 Billion Perps Held Hostage: Artists Address Global Warming"
2007-03-11 until 2007-06-17
Andy Warhol Museum
Pittsburgh, PA, USA

The exhibition, 6 BILLION PERPS HELD HOSTAGE! Artists Address Global Warming, showcases a diverse collection of art works, including textiles, videos, paintings, drawings, inflatables, photography and music, all directing attention to the topic of global warming. These works serve to raise awareness of our current state of affairs, including U.S. policy, natural disasters, the destructive power of corporations, and the harmful effects of carbon production in the food industry as well as initiate public dialog about the issue. The exhibition is a collection of works by Andy Warhol and contemporary artists, including The Yes Men, Preemptive Media, Jay Critchley, The Institute For Figuring, Hugo Kobayashi, Trevor Paglen, Marjetica Potrc, Cai Guo-Qiang, Greg Kwiatek, Bobby Pickett and Horseback Salad, Steffi Domike-Suzy Meyer-Ann Rosenthal, and Bob Bingham. 6 Billion Perps Held Hostage! will be on view from March 11 – June 17, 2007.

Known for impersonating some of the world’s most powerful corporate executives at conferences, on the web and on TV, The Yes Men, “standard issue revolutionaries,” expose the nastiness of evildoers such as Halliburton and Dow Chemical, targeting large corporations and leaders who put profits ahead of everything else. The Yes Men present SurvivaBalls, inflatable orbs whose communication systems, nutrient gathering capacities and defense mechanisms ensure the safety of corporate managers from Mother Nature.

Artist and activist Jay Critchley’s visual, conceptual, and performance work have traversed the globe, and have included theater, film, and music. Critchley invites us to Martucket Eyeland Resort and Theme Park, his most recent project that surfaced because of Cape Cod’s unrestrained development, traffic congestion, water degradation and air pollution. This vacationer’s paradise features wind and solar energy technology, a new and advanced power plant, an oil drilling installation, the exclusive Traffic Jam Carbon Club, Chapel of Our Lady of Nuclear Options, the Vanishing Oyster Bar & Grill, and the Climate Change Casino & Sweat Lounge. The piece received an award from the Boston Society of Architects and is accompanied by its own theme song, written and performed by the artist.

Also contributing to the exhibition are a local team of artists, Ann Rosenthal, Suzy Meyer, and Steffi Domike, who have created Food, Carbon & the Commons. By emphasizing the detrimental effects of carbon production induced by the transportation of foods, these artists urge viewers to think globally and consume locally grown food. Slovenian artist and architect, Marjetica Potrc, presents Pittsburgh in a Time of Global Warming, a project inspired by her two-month residency in Brazil that draws on her experience with Ashaninka Indians of the Amazon, and which urges Pittsburgh to connect its past and present to a possible future by melding communications technology with sustainable living practices. Potrc was the recipient of the 2000 Hugo Boss Prize. The Institute For Figuring, an educational organization dedicated to enhancing the public understanding of figuring techniques, smash together the worlds of crochet, non-Euclidean geometry, and tropical wonders with its Crochet Hyperbolic Coral Reef. Australian co-directors and twin sisters Margaret and Christine Wertheim are crocheting a coral reef to mirror the Great Barrier Reef with which they grew up. Margaret will host a lecture and presentation of their work, as well as a public crochet demonstration. The I.F.F. is among many contemporary discoverers of traditional craft helping to re-establish its hipness, and transforming the relationship between artist and amateur, art and craft.

Complementing the diverse nature of the exhibition is Preemptive Media, a group of artists, activists and technologists who create their own style of beta tests, trial runs and impact assessments based on independent research. Artist, writer, and experimental geographer, Trevor Paglen, blurs the lines between social science, contemporary art, and geography to construct unfamiliar, yet meticulously researched perspectives on the world. Pittsburgh native Greg Kwiatek’s large complex paintings of monstrous faces are derived from his photos of seaweed and other low-tide debris, and Hugo Kobayashi, a former comic strip writer for LA View, invites us to read six of his skinny paintings like unreeling film strips. By merging the graphic techniques of cartoon illustration and commercial design with a painterly brushstroke, Kobayashi crafts paintings that possess both personal and global relevance.

Bob Bingham, Associate Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University, creates art that incorporates systems of growth, live plants and natural materials with mechanical and electronic devices. Imagining a future where technology and nature exist in a symbiotic relationship, Bingham proposes architectural layouts that provide a solution to global warming. Known for his literally explosive work, Cai Guo-Qiang draws on a variety of symbols, contemporary narratives, traditions and materials such as feng shui, fireworks, Chinese medicine, dragons, roller coasters, and gunpowder. Having recently held a solo exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cai Guo-Qiang presents two monumental gunpowder drawings, Clear Sky Black Cloud and Black Fireworks: Project for IVAM, as well as three videos of his ephemeral explosion performances. Cai received the Golden Lion Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1999. Bobby Pickett and Horseback Salad introduce The Climate Mash, a revised version of Pickett’s 1962 hit “Monster Mash” that reveals the "zombies" and "vampires" of global climate change. Featuring well-known Halloween characters based on photographs of President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, members of Congress and oil industry executives, The Climate Mash highlights the threat of global warming and the lack of response by the White House.

Several of Andy Warhol’s works, such as his Death and Disaster paintings and Endangered Species prints will be displayed along with those of the contemporary artists. Warhol’s Death and Disaster paintings reflect the prominence of images of disaster in the media, and reveal the numbing effect of the mass reproduction of such images. Warhol’s series of ten color screen prints of endangered animals from around the world create a dynamic tension between art and reality, and his paintings of flowers yield respect to that which is alive. Warhol’s Seismograph, created in response to a major earthquake in Italy, will be on view for the very first time, and complements 6 Billion Perps in its recognition of a natural disaster.

“The artists in this exhibition have radically different approaches to global warming, some works are politically charged, and others are purely aesthetic. 6 Billion Perps merges satirical comedy, traditional and non-traditional techniques to create a powerful and dynamic perspective on this very urgent issue. The works will be seen at an important time, as the topic of global warming is now so prominent, as it should be, given that the United States is by far the largest contributor of greenhouse gases in the world, and Pennsylvania ranks 3rd among the 50 states in these emissions…” says Matt Wrbican, Archivist at The Andy Warhol Museum.

Although extremely diverse in nature, all of the works in the show address global warming, the man-made disaster that is changing our planet, and threatening life as climates are transformed.

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