Despite security concerns, 3 weeks after 9/11 our group of artists and curators bravely boarded nearly empty planes and headed to Moscow.
We were determined to open evo1, an exhibition about society and the increasing influence of technology at the beginning of the 21st century.
Agnes Denes’s prophetic Wheatfield—a Confrontation (1982) had exhibition visitors in tears.
Agnes Denes's Wheatfield — A Confrontation - 2 Acres of wheat planted and harvested at the Battery Park landfill in downtown Manhattan during the summer of 1982, in view of the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty across the Hudson. Images courtesy of Agnes Denes for evo1.
Our flights from NYC and London to Moscow on Sept 19, 2001 to present evo1, an exhibition and programs I had produced, were cancelled. The World Trade Center tragedy on September 11 had changed the world. Determined to bring timely and meaningful art to Russia, artists Agnes Denes, Marty St. James and John Klima, and co-curator Christiane Paul, bravely boarded nearly empty planes, arriving in Moscow to open evo1 on October 4.
Visitors to the exhibition at Gallery L had tearful reactions to Agnes Denes’s Wheatfield—a Confrontation (1982). The collection of photographs of this conceptual land artwork depicts a 2-acre wheat field she planted and harvested in the undeveloped Battery Park City property, with the World Trade Center buildings in sight - a work that addresses human values and misplaced priorities.
evo1 at Gallery L, Moscow - a program of “visual and sound artworks by established and emerging pioneer artists that resonates with the social, commercial and artistic energy of our time, and addresses issues of humanity in the age of technology.”
Included were works from the historic exhibitions BitStreams, Whitney Museum of American Art (March 22–June 10, 2001) and 010101 Art in Technological Times, San Francisco MoMA (March 3–July 8, 2001)
Students at The Russian State University of the Humanities attended talks by Christiane Paul, new media curator at the Whitney Museum and experienced her curated internet art collection exhibited in BitStreams. We presented a conference at the House of Journalists, Agnes Denes speaks at 30:00 in the video below.
Agnes Denes's Wheatfield — A Confrontation, 1982
After months of preparations, in May 1982, a 2-acre wheat field was planted on a landfill in lower Manhattan, two blocks from Wall Street and the World Trade Center, facing the Statue of Liberty. Two hundred truckloads of dirt were brought in and 285 furrows were dug by hand cleared of rocks and garbage. The seeds were down by hand and the furrows covered with soil. The field was maintained for four months, cleared of wheat smut, weeded, fertilized and sprayed against mildew fungus, and an irrigation system set up. The crop was harvested on August 16 and yielded over 1000 pounds of healthy, golden wheat.
Planting and harvesting a field of wheat on land worth $4.5 billion created a powerful paradox. Wheatfield was a symbol, a universal concept, it represented food, energy, commerce, world trade, economics. It referred to mismanagement, waste, world hunger and ecological concerns. It called attention to our misplaced priorities. The harvested grain traveled to twenty-eight cities around the world in an exhibition called “The International Art Show for the End of World Hunger”, organized by the Minnesota Museum of Art (1987-90). The seeds were eventually carried away by people who planted them in many parts of the globe.