Last weekend I took my kids to Adam Stennett‘s art project “Artist Survival Shack” in Bridgehampton, NY. Adam is an artist from Brooklyn. After the market crash of 2008, he had to be away from his art a little concentrating on making ends meet. This project marks his first major project in 5 years.
The past a few years have been a time of contemplation for me as well. To me, artists explore possibilities of how we can be, how we see things and how our world can be. And we depend on our radars high up in the air beyond our social restrictions, authoritative controls, religious guidances, and so on to see our own visions. We reflect the wider reality that’s in synch with the time beyond our civilization, our domestic habitats, and the corporate cage of the mainstream culture. But I feel that I am in the minority among the artists today.
I am not saying that we should all be activists or start doing political art but I find it’s so disturbing, for example, that many of us willingly support politicians who colonize other nations, cut our vital social programs in favor of wars, jail whistleblowers to torture, deceive people to pass pro corporate laws, sell our health for profits, imprison people for cheap prison labor, support political assassinations, detain human rights activists… And there is not enough outrage among us the artists. The ones who are regarded as the finest, the most respected, think nothing of bowing down to the authority, receiving medals of honor from the very culprit of the tragic decisions.
So when Adam told me about his self-sustaining off-the-grid survival shack for making his art. I immediately understood his intention. To me it is an experiment in detaching the artist from the machine. He collects rain water to bath, to cook and to water his vegetable plants. He gets electricity from the solar panel. He composts everything including his waste to fertilize his plants and to experiment with the native plant growth.
When he showed me his spud gun and a bow and arrows in his shack, I knew that he was poking fun at our helplessness and desperation against the overwhelming capability of the machine to kill and destroy.
And when he showed me a piece made with golf balls with corporate logos–Dow chemical, Lockheed Martin, Monsanto, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, GE and etc.–and government agency insignias, I was struck with an image in my head of the players of the deep state discussing the future of the machine.
So in short, it was really nice encountering another soul struggling to make sense out of our time: Struggling to show us our potential as artists in the sea of the corporate world.
Also, having my kids around made me realize that his shack is his “fort”. It’s a little safe place with everything he needs. No one interferes. His world is there as he dreams. It’s so great to be an artist.
Adam will have a solo exhibit showcasing the results of his month long self-sustaining survival project at Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, East Hamton Gallery, opening on 9/7/13. There will be his actual shack with the solar electric equipment, composting kit, painting studio set up, and of course his paintings done during his stay in the shack.