Amy Balkin 

Public Smog 

1 to 4 November  2006

A project by Amy Balkin, curated by students of the MA Curating Contemporary Art course at the Royal College of Art, in collaboration with PEER.

Public Smog is the first UK edition of an ongoing conceptual artwork by San Francisco-based artist Amy Balkin. The project consists of a gesture in which the artist buys and withholds carbon gas emission credits from international trading markets in order to create a temporary clean-air park. Aiming to highlight the complexities and contradictions of current environmental protocols, Balkin will attempt to submit an application to qualify the entire atmosphere as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Amy Balkin’s practice combines cross-disciplinary research and social critique to generate ambitious ways of conceiving the public domain outside current legal and discursive systems. The work centres on collaboration between the artist, communities and academics. Set up to create alternative social strategies or gestural interventions, Balkin’s projects test the notion of public right and site ownership. Her public works have taken the form of installations, audio tours, websites, writings and lectures.

The artist will begin the project with a research period in London. The results of this initiative will be launched as part of Public Smog, during a public event at Peer’s gallery space in Hoxton. A week-long installation at the gallery, including a slideshow projection by the artist, will be accompanied by a series of events related to the artist’s practice. Integral to the exhibition will be the presentation of the carbon trade acquisitions and the attempted UNESCO application – central to Balkin’s creation of a non-market based, self-organised, clean-air park, which fluctuates in size and location. A publication containing information and research gathered over the course of Balkin’s stay in London, including strategies on how to fight for and sustain public control of clean air, will be launched during the exhibition.

Wednesday 1 November, 6 to 9pm
Opening and artist’s talk

Friday 3 November, 6pm
Film Screening at Peer:
Nancy Holt, Pine Barrens, 1975, 30'
Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson, Mono Lake, 1968–2004, 19'

Saturday 4 November 2006 
10am: Breakfast at Peer and conversation with Dr. Alexandra Thompson and Amy Balkin, in advance of the march organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change (starting at the US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, 12 noon)
4:30pm: Post-march discussion at Peer

Other works by Amy Balkin include This Is The Public Domain, an ongoing project investigating the legal strategies necessary to transfer ownership of 2.5 acres of land purchased by the artist to the ‘global public’. She also collaborated on Invisible-5, a self-guided critical audio tour along California’s I-5 corridor which reflects the unheard stories of individuals and communities fighting for environmental justice along the Interstate-5.

The RCA would like to acknowledge the generous support of the Monique Beudert Fund.