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Iconic photo of the first Earth Day (photo from Smithsonian Magazine)

Iconic photo of the first Earth Day (photo from Smithsonian Magazine)

The above is the most iconic photo of the first Earth Day. Held on April 22, 1970 in New York City, the first Earth Day manifested the emerging environmental consciousness of the US, largely due to the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962. On April 22, 20 million people marched to demonstrate for a sustainable environment. Currently, Earth Day is celebrated in more than 190 countries.

A black-and-white photograph of a man wearing a vintage gas mask and stretching his neck to smell some flowers became iconic of this day. The photographer is unknown; the credit simply read “Associated Press”, and AP identifies the person as a freelancer. In August 2010, Smithsonian Magazine reported his name as Peter Hallerman, then a sophomore at Pace College. Hallerman recalled that he was one of the 30 Pace students who held a demonstration in a park near City Hall. Hallerman wore a gas mask that he once belonged to his mother, Edith, who worked with Red Cross during World War II. The AP photographer told Hallerman to smell the flowers of a magnolia tree with his mask on.

EarthDayRecreation

This historic photograph is still relevant as we reflect on Anthropogenic climate change, and I used it as inspiration. After recreating the original photograph, I expanded it to reflect my current location. Medellin, Colombia is a city of rich history and culture. Once a hotbed of violence, it has emerged over the years as a city of innovation and urban design—a city of “cool”. Among other things, Medellin is known for winning the 2016 Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize and 2013 City of the Year Award, as well as emblematic and permissive graffiti culture, though it hasn’t completely shaken off its violent past. The photographs were taken near the Museo Casa de la Memoria, a museum dedicated to victims of armed conflict in Medellin. The city also faces environmental challenges as it works to modernize itself and in the context of the Anthropocene. These photographs are meant to reflect the city’s character, culture, and contradictions as it projects its identity into the future.

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Title of Work: Earth Days

Deepest thanks to Platohedro and Casa Tres Patios, where I did a residency supported by Arts Collaboratory and the Ministry of Culture of Colombia.

While NASA isn’t taking artists-in-residence any longer, it definitely hasn’t stopped artists from making art about space. In ‘Space Program: Mars’ at the Park Avenue Armory, the artist Tom Sachs and his team imagines and examines the surface of Mars. There have been numerous reviews on it already, by individuals far more qualified than I, so instead I’ll write about my own experience with it.

First off, behold Mission Control.

Tom Sachs: ‘Space Program, Mars’ Mission Control

This one looks like a food truck, but it’s a Mobile Quarantine Facility.

NASA Food Truck? Nope, it’s a Mobile Quarantine Facility.

Here is the Biology Lab:

Biology Lab

When you glance down to check whether you can step on (or touch) something, there’s always a cheeky sign.

Yes, they mean it.

You can get indoctrinated. Seriously! There’s an indoctrination area that requires you to have watched five movies in the film room, and to take written and oral tests, as well as a short task.

Indoctrination

When you’re indoctrinated, you can get inside the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM).

The LEM

There are staff members who go about their business using skateboards and looking as though everything is normal. Quite fun. I’m glad I chose a day to be able to walk through the exhibition instead of watching a performance of it. Examining all the details was interesting, as was exiting the exhibition, which required you to “clean up” via the RISCAR, or the Robert Irwin Scrim Clean Air Room.

The Robert Irwin Scrim Air Room

Naturally, it had Robert Irwin’s portrait hung close by.

Robert Irwin’s portrait hangs near the exit.

The exhibition runs until June 17th.