"UTTERANCE" 1999 , 60 x 56 x
50", Volcanic rock, winterstone, moss, rubber, water, fish, plants
I collaborate with ecologists, design professionals, local communities, policy makers and government agencies on water remediation/public art projects for wetlands, rivers, streams and stormwater runoff. My living sculptures, which I call Biosculptures™ integrate sculpture’s conceptual, metaphoric and aesthetic capacities with ecological revitalization and serve as focal points for building community awareness. Biosculptures™, such as “Utterance,” purify water and air while demonstrating how there is no waste in healthy natural systems. As the water flows over the sculptures, the mosses and carefully chosen plants and their associated bacteria transform waste and toxins into food. Pollutants become resources for metabolism. Aquatic organisms such as fish, snails, and plants enrich these sculpted wetland ecosystems.
Why are we treating stormwater as waste, when in fact, we could be using it to create lush environments? Instead of getting the water out of sight into drains as fast as possible, we could reveal the hydrology of a place to create expressive and multifunctional public spaces. To affect change of this sort, in addition to doing things differently on the practical level, I believe it is also necessary to examine the unconscious collective cultural assumptions and fears that underlie policy and choices that shape our values and constrain our actions. One of my roles as an artist is to help in this process--to expose and examine assumptions about value, about how we see ourselves as a species, about our responsibilities to each other and to the other species on the planet. To unearth fears that underlay our extremely ambivalent relationship to matter, our bodies, waste and ultimately death.
Ecological artist Jackie Brookner works collaboratively on water
remediation/public art projects for wetlands, rivers, and stormwater
runoff. Recent and current projects are near
Illustration: Prima Lingua (First Language/First Tongue), 1996-2002, 64” x 101” x 80,” Volcanic rock, concrete, mosses, ferns, wetland plants, water, fish, snails, steel, rubber…Prima Lingua is a monstrously large tongue that licks the polluted water in which it stands. The mosses, liverworts and other plants that live on the surface help clean air as well as filter the water. Mosses are extremely efficient biochemical filters that are capable of absorbing even heavy metals, while the porous concrete substructure physically removes particulates. The piece demonstrates decay as part of creation.