Marina Abramović

Based on: Marina Abramović's The Artist is Present, 2010

To cover the cost of the electricity used to power the lamps illuminating the artist.

Offset price: $41.60 / -4.16 tons CO2

Vanessa Beecroft

Based on: Vanessa Beecroft’s VB 64

To offset the cost of Kanye West’s transatlantic flight.

Offset price: $221.60 / -22.16 tons CO2

Cai Guo-Qiang

Based on Cai Guo-Qiang’s Project to Extend the Great Wall of China by 10,000 Meters

To offset the carbon from exploding gunpowder.

Offset price: $2.90 / -0.29 tons CO2

Olafur Eliasson

Based on: Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project

To offset the emissions from the powering of 240 yellow sodium lamps.

Offset price: $153.00 / -15.3 tons CO2

Anish Kapoor

Based on: Anish Kapoor’s Taratantara

To offset the manufacture of 5.5 tons of PVC- coated polyester fabric.

Offset price: $489.50 / -48.95 tons CO2

Takashi Murakami

Based on Takashi Murakami’s Chaos

To offset the extraction of 5.5 cubic meters of helium.

Offset price: $23.00 / -2.3 tons CO2

Richard Prince

Based on Richard Prince’s Untitled

To offset the emissions of a car engine’s 50,000 mile waranteed lifespan.

Offset price: $172.00 / -17.2 tons CO2

Richard Serra

Based on Richard Serra’s Torqued Ellipse IV

To offset the emissions in the production of 65 tons of Cor-ten steel.

Offset price: $1,094.00 / -109.4 tons CO2

Richard Serra

Based on Rudolf Stingel’s Untitled

To offset the manufacture of a foil-lined insulation board used to cover the walls and ceiling of a fourth floor gallery.

Offset price: $61.60 / -6.16 tons CO2

2012-01-06

Co.Exist

Beautiful Sculptures Offset The Impact Of The Contemporary Art That Inspired Them

Michael Wang’s Carbon Copies are beautiful cubes that are sized (and priced) to offset the carbon footprint of the art that inspired them. You’ve never seen a Richard Serra the same way.

How do you determine the price of a work of contemporary art? One way, of course, is to see how much it will fetch at Christie’s or Sotheby’s. Another might be to assess its carbon footprint.

For his Carbon Copies project, the artist Michael Wang tries the latter tack. He picked works by 20 well-known contemporary artists--Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Marina Abramović, and the like--and recast them as cubes. The size and price of each of these “carbon copies” corresponds to the volume of CO2 released in the production of the original work, at a scale of 1:5,000,000 tons. When each work sells, the money will be used to purchase a carbon offset from the French company Vecteur Carbone, so that each purchase cancels out the atmospheric impact of the original.

“They are like negative doubles of the works,” Wang says, and through the sale of the copies, the project “erases the carbon footprints of these works even while making them visible for the first time.”

Wang researched how each piece was created to calculate its carbon footprint. Because Richard Serra’s massive sculpture Torqued Ellipse IV used about 65 tons of COR-TEN steel, releasing 109.4 tons of CO2, Wang’s version is a proportionately sized cube with a price of $1,094. Other works, Wang says, “used energy and materials in much less visible ways: The flying back and forth of studio assistants or even the floodlights employed by Abramović for her MOMA performance.” (Wang’s copy of the Abramović performance goes for $41.60.) The show, at Foxy Productions in New York, runs until January 14.

For Wang, the project is about exploring an alternative economy for art. “I am trying to strip away the usual rhetoric that attends ‘green’ projects and focus instead in a very objective way on tonnage, volumes, numbers,” he says. “This isn’t a show that claims to moralize against carbon. Living itself releases CO2. It’s more about generating new ways of seeing both art and the environment.”

Michael Wang

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3 Comments

  • Andrew Price

    I asked Wang about this. No, he didn't offset the impact of his own work.

    But that said, all of his sculptures are just shells. Most are graphite on paper. The Serra is made of steel but it's .01 inch thick. Basically foil. So the carbon footprint of Wang's work is tiny compared to the original works.

  • grande

    "carbon offsets". What a stupid concept. 

    Pay someone overseas to salve your liberal/elite guilt.PT Barnum would be proud! And these folks are probably of the same "occupy" mindset that want to tax and over-regulate the "rich" who actually create jobs and wealth.

  • Dan Ellender

    Is the carbon footprint of Wang's research and creation of his works included in the carbon offset price?