As part of the exhibition Gustav Metzger: Earth Minus Environment (25 June – 4 September 2022), Kestle Barton re- presents Gustav Metzger’s Mobbile (1970/2022)—a sculptural work that makes visible the destructive impacts of human activity on the natural world. Mobbile consists of a modified second-hand car that collects and stores its own carbon emissions. The car’s tailpipe extends into a transparent cube fixed onto its roof. Inside this box, a living plant becomes gradually asphyxiated by the car’s fumes.
Ahead of the exhibition’s opening weekend, Mobbile will travel to various sites across Cornwall. As the artwork journeys through these ancient landscapes, amassing toxic fumes, it reminds us of the unsustainable trade-offs between ecological health and human infrastructure. Trade-offs we are told must be remedied within this decade to avert catastrophic climate change, yet these warnings are yet to materialise into significant action.
Gustav Metzger—an artist and activist in equal measure—used art as a tool for protest, but also as a source for radical inspiration and positive change. Perhaps Metzger’s most enduring message was his call to establish a widespread environmental consciousness. He also believed that the arts must mobilise to be ‘at the forefront of the struggle’, so they can operate in a way that would serve ‘primarily for the good of our world’.
The exhibition, Gustav Metzger: Earth Minus Environment (25 June – 4 September 2022), at Kestle Barton, takes its title from an unrealised sculptural installation Metzger proposed for the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 1992. Metzger hoped the work would provide clear thinking and communication on environmental matters by creating ‘a dramatic visual symbol’, because ‘these issues cannot live by words alone’. Mobbile stands as an iteration of this ambitious sculptural proposition, making explicit the sometimes invisible destructive capacities of the human environment. Detrimental impacts Metzger believed must be addressed as one of the most urgent yet clouded issues of our time.
Gustav Metzger: Earth Minus Environment (25 June – 4 September 2022) aims to highlight and explore Metzger’s environmental thinking.
Penzance: Saturday 18 June 2022 – The Promenade (near Jubilee Pool), Penzance in collaboration with the Penzance Art Festival
St Ives: Sunday 19 June 2022 – The harbour, St Ives. Wednesday
Falmouth: 22 June 2022 – The Moor, Falmouth.
For the exhibition opening weekend (Saturday 25th June – Sunday 26th June), we invite the public to join us for a series of workshops, talks, and presentations that will offer opportunity to engage in critical environmental discussion and reflection. Please join us in engaging with Metzger’s work and environmental thinking, which feels evermore important in our increasingly damaged world.
Image: Gustav Metzger, Mobbile (1970/2022)