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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.

  • <p>Based on: Marina Abramović's <a href="http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/965" target="_blank">The Artist is Present</a>, 2010</p>

<p>To cover the cost of the electricity used to power the lamps illuminating the artist.<br />
 <br />
Offset price: $41.60 / -4.16 tons CO2</p>
  • <p>Based on: <a href="http://www.deitch.com/projects/sub.php?projId=266" target="_blank">Vanessa Beecroft’s VB 64</a></p>

<p>To offset the cost of Kanye West’s transatlantic flight.</p>

<p>Offset price: $221.60  / -22.16 tons CO2</p>
  • <p>Based on Cai Guo-Qiang’s <a href="http://www.caiguoqiang.com/project_detail.php?id=7&iid=0" target="_blank">Project to Extend the Great Wall of China by 10,000 Meters</a></p>

<p>To offset the carbon from exploding gunpowder.</p>

<p>Offset price: $2.90 / -0.29 tons CO2</p>
  • <p>Based on: Olafur Eliasson’s <a href="http://www.olafureliasson.net/works/the_weather_project_5.html" target="_blank">The Weather Project</a></p>

<p>To offset the emissions from the powering of 240 yellow sodium lamps.</p>

<p>Offset price: $153.00  / -15.3 tons CO2</p>
  • <p>Based on: Anish Kapoor’s <a href="http://www.museomadre.it/opere.cfm?id=389" target="_blank">Taratantara</a></p>

<p>To offset the manufacture of 5.5 tons of PVC- coated polyester fabric.</p>

<p>Offset price: $489.50 / -48.95 tons CO2</p>
  • <p>Based on Takashi Murakami’s <a href="http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=4287165" target="_blank">Chaos</a></p>

<p>To offset the extraction of 5.5 cubic meters of helium.</p>

<p>Offset price: $23.00  / -2.3 tons CO2</p>
  • <p>Based on Richard Prince’s <a href="http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/2000.272" target="_blank">Untitled</a></p>

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

<p>Offset price: $172.00  / -17.2 tons CO2</p>
  • <p>Based on Richard Serra’s Torqued Ellipse IV</p>

<p>To offset the emissions in the production of 65 tons of Cor-ten steel.</p>

<p>Offset price: $1,094.00  / -109.4 tons CO2</p>
  • <p>Based on Rudolf Stingel’s <a href="http://www.sothebys.com/en/catalogues/ecatalogue.html/2011/contemporary-art-evening-auction-l11022#/r=/en/ecat.fhtml.L11022.html+r.m=/en/ecat.lot.L11022.html/35/" target="_blank">Untitled</a></p>

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

<p>Offset price: $61.60  / -6.16 tons CO2</p>
  • 01 /09
    | 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

  • 02 /09
    | 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

  • 03 /09
    | 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

  • 04 /09
    | 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

  • 05 /09
    | 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

  • 06 /09
    | 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

  • 07 /09
    | 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

  • 08 /09
    | 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

  • 09 /09

    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

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."

Slideshow Credits: 01 / Michael Wang; 02 / Michael Wang; 03 / Michael Wang; 04 / Michael Wang; 05 / Michael Wang; 06 / Michael Wang; 07 / Michael Wang; 08 / Michael Wang; 09 / Michael Wang;