press release

Peter Fend knüpft mit seiner Arbeit bewusst an die Tradition der sich in den 60er Jahren des 20. Jahrhunderts entwickelnden Bewegungen der Land Art, Earth Art, der Konzeptkunst und des Happening an. Dabei werden traditionelle Formen der Kunstproduktion radikal aufgebrochen und das individuelle Kunstschaffen durch komplexere, kollektive Arbeitsprozesse erweitert bzw. ersetzt. In seiner Einzelausstellung beschäftigt sich Fend mit Themen wie der internationalen Ölpolitik und den Folgen der Ausbeutung von Rohstoffquellen zur Energiegewinnung, der Erwärmung der Erdatmosphäre, der Versteppung von immer mehr vormals fruchtbaren Gebieten und den daraus entstehenden sozialen Ungleichheiten.

For almost a century, US foreign policy has been based on petroleum. When Rockefeller was forced to break up his Standard Oil monopoly, called S-O, or Esso, he bargained for a key voice in foreign policy. This led to the special relationship with Britain, enacted in World Wars, and today´s deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the world knows that producing energy with minerals cannot last. Petroleum causes what many say is a No. 1 threat: Global Warming. And struggles for control of petroleum cause what others say is a threat: Global Terror. If there were no dependence on oil and gas, whether from the US/UK majors or a Russia-Iran bloc, there would be no Global Warming or Global Terror.

Other sources of energy have also become difficult. High-dam hydroelectric blocks silt and fish flow, starving both rivers and oceans of nutrients and breaking water cycles, spawning Deserts. And nuclear, advocated now as a source of hydrogen, has huge capital costs, with time lag, and danger from waste. So, move ahead with Renewables.

About a fourth of demand can be met with Wind, Wave, Solar, Tidal, Geothermal. But the bulk will come from more viable, ongoing technologies for securing hydrocarbons and hydroelectric. These are water-based technologies. They include biomass growth and extraction, in streams, lakes, canals, and offshore, and the replacement of dams with slides, for undershot through-flow. The technologies are known. They have been ruled out in the past because they are less “efficient” than fossil fuels or high dams. Yet they cause no depletion. They work long-term. They reflect what Beuys prefigured with Fat Corner and Marsch Aktionen and what earth artists have built or designed.

A policy based on water has legal precedent. Since the 1990s, the US State Department has conducted a program of scientific and technical exchange between watersheds—with policy results. A program of exchange between the Mississippi Basin and Yangtze Basin led to proposals for alternatives to mega-dams, from both the US and World Bank. Programs of exchange have also been conducted between the Rio Grande Basin and Yellow River Basin of China. In the early 1980s, a US-China effort was launched in NY to develop technologies for marine-biomass as a source of renewable, zero-emissions hydrocarbons, inducing neither Warming nor Terror, but that was too early. The artist tried to re-ignite that effort with a studio in NY’s World Trade Center…. Try again.

A second legal foundation comes from the United Nations Environment Program, which since the 1970s has set up management programs worldwide for respective regional seas. Relying on what art-historians said recently was the most important artwork of the past century—the Fountain (Urinal) of Marcel Duchamp—we can expand the river-basin practice to account for everything sloping and flowing into saltwater bodies. Thus, there could be scientific and technical exchange between not just river basins but regional-sea basins. The exchange can proceed beyond advice and interdiction to on-site projects. Designs can come from recent Earth Art monitoring and communication use methods from Video and Digital Art. If Smithson’s Spiral Jetty were a paradigm for land use, then saltwater-hydrologic cycles, effected through biological species, would be a global aim.

The logic here has not to do with politics. It has to do with materials. It has to do with soil and water subject to gravity. It has to do with the raw stuff of much art. We elaborate these practices through the discipline of Architecture, meeting three of the four requirements in that discipline asserted by Alberti: (1) clean air, (2) living waters, and (3) territorial defense..

Such a “global architecture,” as Jonathan Crary called it, does not require attempts at global hegemony. It requires instead a recognition of how the globe works: it spins. In the spinning, there has been what the founder of modern geology, Alfred Wegener, identified—or what the painter of modern landscape, Casper David Friedrich, imaged with “Polar Sea”, the drift of pieces of Earth´s crust into collided, upheaved agglomerations called continents. The spinning has led to two major agglomerations spreading outward from the land-mass center of Antarctica: the Eurasian/Africa mass, historically called the Old World; the Americas mass, historically called the New World. The Old World and New World have evolved in parallel. A US State Department of scientific and technical exchange to reverse Global Warming and very much reduce Global Terror, moving beyond depletable fuel systems, can be based in the New World with, basin by basin, a parallel regional-sea basin in the Old World. What has been voiced two centuries ago as the Monroe Doctrine, treating the New World as a defendable zone, now has geological meaning.

The artists presents comparable basins, suitable for parallel projects.

To meet the second obligation of architecture, for clean water, the artist has researched art forays of recent decades to propose the conversion of urban wastes through a Fat Corner phase, i.e., into nutrients for uptake along migratory bird flyways.

In all cases, the organisms involved, and the technologies for soil/water management required, can occur within Germany´s own saltwater basins. Parallel projects can be conducted for the Weser/Elbe flowing into the Deutsche Bucht of the North Sea, and for the Oder flowing into the relatively-salty part of the Baltic, from Flensburg to Gdansk. These two regions can be comparably-developed in correspondence with a similar semi-enclosed region, the Sea of Japan. If the US were to modernize its foreign policy thus, would not countries like Germany do the same—more efficiently? Peter Fend


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Peter Fend - PARALLELPROJEKTE "Vorschläge für Condoleezza Rice"