'Fritz Haeg: Attack on the Front Lawn': Activism disguised as art

Submitted by Charles Frost on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 21:40.

Edible Estates

'Fritz Haeg: Attack on the Front Lawn': Activism disguised as art

Unless you're a moron, morally blind, or possibly a Republican, it's easy to see, in both the microcosm and the macrocosm, that as a nation and a people we are becoming more and more isolated from one another and from the world. While the party line focuses on diversity and acceptance, anyone who has ever hung around the halls of a high school can tell you that those who differ from the norm are ridiculed and shut out. We don't know our neighbors, and if we do, we probably don't like them. And despite the sniggling innuendos of conservative editorialists, anyone with half a brain and the ability to sense changes in the weather knew the world was getting a lot hotter 10 and even 15 years ago. We're in denial, folks. We have been for a long time, and no landscape is more barren than the landscape of denial.
Thank the powers that be, then, for individuals like Fritz Haeg. An architect/artist/teacher, Haeg began his attack on denial July 4, 2005, by launching his Edible Estates project, replacing a residential front lawn in Salina, Kan., the geographical center of the U.S., with a vegetable garden. Since then, Haeg has done the same in Los Angeles, New Jersey, and London, and this coming March, in conjunction with an exhibition at Arthouse opening this week, Haeg will plant his fifth such garden in front of a residence in the Austin area.
"Why are we attacking lawns?" asks Arthouse curator Elizabeth Dunbar. "Why not? They suck up lots of water, and there's chemical runoff. And there are a host of other issues associated with having a front lawn. For the most part, the lawn is nothing more than a decorative space with no real function other than just sitting there and sometimes being pretty. A lot of times it isn't even that.
"Edible gardens weren't really considered something to hide until fairly recently. Fritz is reversing that trend by putting them in the front yard, making them functional, making them aesthetic, and also making them sites of conversation and social interaction. At the same time, he's asking us to think about where our food comes from. Most of our produce is shipped something like 1,500 miles before it gets to us in stores. Fritz wants to inspire people to become more involved in thinking about where their food comes from and considering what kind of environmental and sociological impacts food production has on our world today.
"In a way, Fritz's project is social activism wrapped in the guise of art. I think he really expands the definition of what art can be. Fritz also fits in with many other artists who are working today in what is called relational aesthetics, whose artworks consist of working within communities and involving themselves in facilitating social interactions."

In addition to the Arthouse exhibition, which will feature photographic and video documentation from the Edible Estates project, a series of workshops titled How to Eat Austin will be held every Saturday, 3-5pm, in a large geodesic tent inside Arthouse's main gallery space. The workshops will focus on subjects such as composting, planting, and caring for a garden; cooking the food you grow; and possibilities for selling what you grow. Haeg will attend the workshop on Jan. 26, as well as return to Austin for another of the workshops and, of course, the planting of the garden itself.


From: http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid%3A584295



"What Is Wrong with an Edible Estate?"

In 2005, Los Angeles architect and artist Fritz Haeg planted the first “edible estate” garden in Salina, Kansas—the geographic center of the United States. One front lawn at a time, the Edible Estate project is replacing the domestic front lawn with a highly productive, edible, organic garden landscape. Three more prototype gardens have since been created in California, New Jersey, and England, with two more Edible Estates forthcoming in Texas and Maryland.

The publication of Haeg’s new book, Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn, marks the beginning of a concerted national campaign to dramatically overthrow an American institution, the front lawn. Gardens of food will be promoted to fill these toxic spaces that currently divide our neighborhoods, devour precious resources, and pollute our air and water.

The Edible Estates project is at the nexus of many disciplines and current topics of interest: global/local food production, art as social action, radical gardening, urban agriculture, gardening as a public spectacle, food security, water and energy use, peak oil and the uncertain future of suburbia, the blurring of public and private in the front yard, community and neighbor relations, the phenomenon of the American front lawn, etc. However, this alternative project brings with it a new set of questions.

A public debate with project creator Fritz Haeg; theater director, Peter Sellars; author and Yale professor of architecture, Dolores Hayden; author of A Short History of the American Stomach, Frederick Kaufman; 2008 Whitney Biennial curator, Shamim Momin; and director of LIVE from the NYPL, Paul Holdengräber will engage the audience in an open discussion with the question, “What is wrong with an Edible Estate?”

A projection screen will alternately display the Edible Estates videos and time-lapse images depicting the removal of the front lawn and the planting and growth of the four Edible Estates gardens in Kansas, California, New Jersey, and London.

EDIBLE ESTATES: Attack on the Front Lawn
Fritz Haeg, Peter Sellars, Dolores Hayden, Frederick Kaufman, Shamim Momin & Paul Holdengräber

Friday, March 7, 2008 at 7:00 PM
Celeste Bartos Forum
Humanities and Social Sciences Library
5th Avenue and 42nd Street (directions)All LIVE from the NYPL events are general admission. Arrive early for best seat selection. Box office opens 2 hours before the event and doors open 45 minutes before the event. Management reserves the right to refuse admission to latecomers.

From: http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/pep/pepdesc.cfm?id=3996


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