Project Stockholm, June (Phase 1), 1972/2007

Gustav Metzger
Project Stockholm, June (Phase 1), 1972/2007
Scaffolding, polyetene sheets, 100 cars
Installation view


First we had Nature.
And then came the Environment.

Environment is the smoke humanity has laid on Nature: the people who used Latin had no word for Environment – they only knew natura. There is an urgent need to redefine notions of Nature and Environment. The term Environment has been hijacked by the forces that are manipulating the world. When Mr. Bill Clinton stated that he would be the first "Environmental President" – what did this mean? Anything and nothing. The term Environment lends itself perfectly to telling lies and giving illusions. The people who run production and distribution, the controllers of media and Government, local and national, are systematically using the term Environment to hide realities, confuse the public, and distort their perceptions of reality. This has been done for the basest of motives: to maintain profits and power. The term Nature is dropped, and replaced by Environment. One way forward would be to drop the term Environment, and speak of Nature and damaged Nature. This could be an interim stage, while the air is cleared, and the discussion brought onto a higher and more realistic plane. The voidance of Nature and its substitution by Environment represent a grave threat to culture. The loose use of concepts, and their misuse, are first steps in the decline of culture. This is happening worldwide at present. We are faced by a gigantic task: the deconstruction, de-definition, demystification and redefinition of that term which sums up one of the big issues of our time – Environment.

Environmental destruction was part of an ongoing approach to maintain the viability of the system. The explanation as to why it has worked reasonably, when compared to the policies of the Communist Bloc, is in the preparedness and ability to incorporate the clean-up process as part of the long-term strategy. The Bloc countries have fallen flat on their faces because they never incorporated the clean-up as part of the profitability equation. Did they profit from the destructive process? There was one major miscalculation in the programme: the Green house Effect and the Ozone Layer. No one, thirty years ago, was in a position to predict the extent of this development. It was the genie in the bottle. Just as no one would have predicted the worldwide AIDS scourge. Damage the Environment: OK. And then repair it: clean it up, change your technology. A viable path into the future. Like radiation from a nuclear reactor at the point of no return, the Ozone Layer and the Greenhouse Layer entered the equation and stand, like Chernobyl, before the world, as a warning and worse, as an uncontrollable event that can bring all down.

Gustav Metzger, excerpts from "Nature Demised Resurrects As Environment", 1992, in Gustav Metzger, Damaged Nature, Auto-destructive Art, Coracle Press, London, 1996

This project was part of Sharjah Biennial 8.