Sunday, March 3, 2024

Art Basel Brings ‘Boomers’ Ed Ruscha, Pipilotti Rist, Jenny Holzer Together for Parley for the Oceans Exhibit

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This year’s Art Basel in Miami Beach will see the worlds of art and environmental advocacy team up with the launch of “Art for the Oceans” — a collaboration with environmental organization, Parley for the Oceans.

Art Basel and Parley for the Oceans have partnered on a global fundraising initiative aimed at protecting the world’s oceans from the threats of plastic pollution, climate change, and biodiversity loss.

The initiative will showcase artist-designed surfboards and limited-edition ocean bags, featuring works by renowned artists including several “Baby Boomers” — the generation often blamed for the climate crisis. The roster includes Ed Ruscha, age 85; Jenny Holzer, 73; Katharina Grosse, 62; and Pipilotti Rist, 61.

The exclusive items as part of the collection are crafted from Parley Ocean Plastic — a unique material derived from upcycled plastic waste collected by Parley’s Global Cleanup Network. The bags, for example, represent a tangible contribution to the fight against plastic pollution; each bag uses approximately five plastic bottles intercepted from oceans.

Julian Schnabel, Oceans, Climate, Life (2015/2023). Overworked banners. (By the artist for Parley for the Oceans)
Julian Schnabel, Oceans, Climate, Life (2015/2023). Overworked banners. (By the artist for Parley for the Oceans)

“We started Parley over a decade ago and have built a global organization to protect our oceans, the climate’s regulating lifeforce. Now we are returning to where it all started — to Art Basel, to the art community,” Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans, said in a statement. “And it is here, where we are asking for support to rapidly grow our global impact and scale our programs. This might be the last moment where we can still turn things around, where we can still prevent the collapse of this magical blue planet we all call home.”

The event will feature a triptych by renowned artist, filmmaker, and longtime Parley collaborator, Julian Schnabel. Titled “Oceans, Climate, Life”, this large-scale artwork, originally created for Parley’s mission at the United Nations Headquarters, will be displayed in Collins Park.

Photography by Jens Ziehe © Katharina Grosse and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2019
Photography by Jens Ziehe © Katharina Grosse and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2019

“We are now showing all three works during Art Basel Miami Beach in front of the Bass Museum in support of Parley’s work to change the destiny of our planet,” Schnabel said. “Protecting the oceans goes far beyond protecting marine wildlife. Protecting the oceans means protecting humanity.”

Firewire’s Timbertec eco surfboards serve as the backdrop for limited-edition works from a number of artists including Grosse, Ruscha, and Holzer, as well as Keiichi Tanaami, Kenny Scharf, and Rosemarie Trockel.

Surfing, activism, and art are all “fundamental parts of Parley’s DNA,” reads the Parley website. “Both artists and surfers are drawn to the waves, and by collaborating we can draw inspiration from both worlds — and help protect coastal ecosystems for future generations,” the group says, calling art the “universal language”, which puts the artist “at the core” of the Parley movement. Equally vital, Parley says, is a group that “knows the oceans like no others,” — surfers.

Installation view, Underwater Pavilions. Image courtesy of the artist Doug Aitken.
Installation view, Underwater Pavilions. Image courtesy of the artist Doug Aitken.

The Art Basel Miami Beach exhibits made from Parley plastic will be accompanied by guided tours, focusing on sustainability-themed artworks. These tours aim to showcase how art transcends language and cultural barriers, making it an ideal medium for advocating change.

“Art for the Oceans” goes beyond mere advocacy; Parley and Art Basel say it is a call to action. For every dollar donated through the program, Parley’s Global Cleanup Network will remove one pound of plastic from the ocean. This initiative also supports educational and ocean programs that align with Parley’s mission to transform harmful materials and systems into agents of positive change, fostering a future where clean and healthy oceans connect humanity.

Earlier this year, Parley for the Oceans and the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation partnered on a project for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The nonprofit is turning Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s final artwork, L’Arc de Triomphe Wrapped, into tents and sunshades for the forthcoming Summer Olympics. The ropes, the fabric of the artwork are testament of the true superpower we humans possess: imagination,” said Gutsch.

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