Monday, September 12, 2005

Artist of the Week 09/12/05

Peter Fend is the quintessential political artist. As soon as I say that, however, he would probably disagree. More often than not, his work is discussed as being about the intersection of art and science, not politics, per se. But for me, his approach is in and of itself a political gesture.

In 1980, Peter founded the Ocean Earth Construction and Development Corporation, which includes artists, architects, and scientists and which, according to
one source, "uses satellite imaging to monitor and analyze global ecological and geopolitical hot-spots, largely for media clients." Every time I run into Peter, he'll have some new development within the OECDC's range of projects that he's anxious to talk about. If he has documents or images with him, he'll spread them out and spin a tale of intrigue and optimism that becomes overwhelming, but thrilling all the same.

Peter Fend, Installation view of "Parallelprojekte. Vorschläge für Condoleezza Rice" at Galerie Christian Nagel, 2005

Peter was also the quintessential American Fine Arts artist, representing better than anyone the passion and commitment of that now gone gallery and its iconic founder, the late great Colin De Land, to what critic Charlie Finch dubbed "a communal spirit left over from the hippie 1960s with a cutting-edge 21st-century attitude toward materials and an existential love of everyday life." The last exhibition of Peter's I caught at AMA (when they were still on Wooster Street [sorry I know you had an exhibition after the move to Chelsea, Peter...but I didn't catch that one]) demonstrated the ambivalence to commercial concerns but passion for ideas about how to live better and more honestly that AMA was known for.

Peter is currently represented by Georg Kargl Fine Arts in Vienna, Gallery Marta Cervera in Madrid and Galerie Christian Nagel of Cologne/Berlin.

His rapid delivery and overwhelming enthusiasm has always led me to suspect that Peter's a bit of a dreamer (some might even say unrealistic), but he's so sincere about his projects, not to mention convincing, that he was recently awarded a Science and Art Research Fellowship at the University of Plymouth's Plymouth Marine Sciences Partnership to organize the Ocean Earth Construction and Development Corporation's efforts to show how renewable energy sources (like algae) can reverse global warming. You can read more about this ambitious project on the website Global Feed.


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