PRESS RELEASE, Kassel
On Thursday, 16 August, the dOCUMENTA (13)-artist Amy Balkin has sent a petition on adding Earth’s atmosphere to the UNESCO World Heritage List to the German Minister for the Environment Altmaier. She enclosed 50.000 postcards for the petition signed by visitors of dOCUMENTA (13).
Amy Balkin’s installation Public Smog (2004 – ongoing) is on view at Fridericianum. The aim of the work is to create a clean-air park in the atmosphere through a range of conceptual, social, economic, and political activities and gestures, one of which is to add Earth’s atmosphere to the UNESCO World Heritage List. In order to follow the official application procedure, Balkin drafted a list stating all the criteria that identify the atmosphere as a unique property and therefore appropriate for consideration to be protected and preserved as a natural World Heritage.
The installation consists of the letters that Amy Balkin sent to UNESCO countries, and their replies. The artist invites the countries to act as leading State Parties – individually or in a coalition committee – to facilitate an extraordinary procedure. The documents collected in the course of this process have revealed political barriers to address climate change both within multilateral processes and owing to the interests of individual states.
The postcards are placed in the same room as the installation, it’s possible to hand them in after having signed them. The petition is directed towards the German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and is pointing to the dangers that greenhouse-gases mean to the atmosphere and the concerns for the cultural and natural heritage that are already listed as UNESCO World Heritage. One of the project’s major challenges is that while the atmosphere is a borderless realm, only State Parties can nominate sites within their own borders or offshore sites they claim politically or co-nominate.
Amy Balkin and dOCUMENTA (13) will conduct a second mailing of petitions postcards to the German Environment Ministry after September 16, the last day of the exhibition.
dOCUMENTA (13) is not responsible for the views or factual claims expressed by the artists and artworks it presents.