Smokey artwork by Judy Chicago in Desert Zoo is canceled

Two years ago, the art organization Desert X in Palm Springs, California, canceled a Jenny Holzer light projection shown on a local mountaineering during its biennial exhibition, fearing the threat of buffalo sheep roaming there.

Now, Judy’s Chicago plan To create an almanac, atmospheric artwork on 1,200 acres Living Desert Zoo & Garden After an environmental activist launched a letter-writing campaign against the project, questions have been scattered over the Palm Desert for an upcoming version of Biennial, raising questions about its impact on sheep and other animals in the area.

Jenny Gill Schmitz, Executive Director Desert X, Said he first decided on Wednesday about the Living Desert’s decision to opt out of their partnership in an email from his chief executive, Alan Monroe.

“The reason they cited is that they did not want to be part of a dispute regarding their environmental protection,” she said. “Living Desert experts assured us that the project would not harm the desert or any native or captive wildlife, so their support is incredibly disappointing and shocking.”

Attempts to reach Mr. Monroe and Public Relations Manager in the Living Desert were unsuccessful on Friday and Saturday.

The artwork, which was scheduled for April 9, was called “Living Smoke: A Tribute to the Living Desert”.

Ms Chicago, who said she was “very surprised and upset” by the decision, raised environmental awareness as the point of her project. He began working with smoke in California in the late 1960s as an alternative to the male-dominated land art movement that included bulldozers or digging the ground.

“The idea of ​​smoke sculptures is that I mix colors in the air, and as the color rotates and moves and is clear, it gives people a chance to see the beauty and fragility of the landscape,” she said. “It gives them an opportunity to think about how we are harming the environment and how they can help change it.”

Ms. Chicago said she had already gone through a three-month planning process with Living Desert, a nonprofit organization, to ensure that no animals were harmed.

She planned the work “a mile away from the zoo and developed area”, she said, and decided to have electronic ignition instead of the usual lighting of smoke by hand with a so-called black match, which “makes” a much louder sound. “

“That very clearly scares any living beings, so there was no way we were going to do that,” she said. He also planned for epidemic-related reasons to limit the number of guests in the audience and Livestream it instead.

Funding for the artwork was present for several meetings with art collector Jordan Schneizer and Living Desert officials, who confirmed that account.

“We talked about and addressed all the concerns,” he said. “The last thing we wanted to do was a spectacular art event, which hurt flora or fauna.”

He said that he and Zapenga received the letter only a few days after the Living Desert’s decision to leave the project. A longtime Palm Springs resident who writes about art and the environment.

“Even though the smoke is nontoxic, huge clouds of colored smoke will certainly initiate wildlife on the Eisenhower Mountains and also captivate wildlife in the Living Desert,” he said to Mr. Schneiser on February 21 as wind and unpredictable behavior. ” Written citing “. Of smoke and living beings “

He wrote, “Eleven spoiled lambs have been born in the mountains.” “Who knows where they will be on April 9?”

He sent a similar letter three days later to the Palm Desert City Council.

“On April 9, 2021, Smoke-filled Instagram pictures of Bingorn Habitat will be flashed around the world, with ‘Palm Desert’ in the hashtag.” “Is this good publicity?”

Ms. Chicago said she believed in the safety of her project, as did the scientists at Living Desert.

“We sent them all the statistics on the smoke and what it was made of, and they determined it would be safe,” she said. “Ultimately, it’s their job, protecting the environment.”

He previously created a “smoke sculpture” in Miami in 2018, with one survey done at his museum and one for his 80th birthday in 2019 in his hometown of Belen, NM. The next one is planned for the gardens of the Day Young Museum in San Francisco when it was postponed due to a retrospective, epidemic.

Ms Gill Schmitz at Desert X said it was “actively looking” for other sites to host the artwork. Will Ms. Chicago consider a new site?

He got suspicious

“Living Desert was interpreted because it is dedicated to the ecological and environmental values ​​that I hold dear,” she said. “I’m not sure we can find a comparable site.”

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