California Is Spending $2.4 Million to Build the World’s Largest Permanent Installation of Climate Change-Themed Art

Works by Tomás Saraceno, Allora & Calzadilla, and others will appear in 2021.

Tomás Saraceno, Biosphere 3 (2015). The artist will create a similarly climate change-themed work for the new CARB campus. Courtesy of Tomás Saraceno.
Tomás Saraceno, Biosphere 3 (2015). The artist will create a similarly climate change-themed work for the new California Air Resources Board campus. Courtesy of Tomás Saraceno.

California’s clean-air agency has commissioned the world’s largest permanent public installation of climate changed-themed art. Large-scale works by Allora & Calzadilla, Refik Anadol, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Noé Montes, Andrea Polli, and Tomás Saraceno will appear in the common areas of the California Air Resources Board’s new headquarters in Riverside, California, opening in late 2021.

The agency went through 600 applications before it made its selection of “world-class art by artists whose work embraces environmental and equity themes,” said board chair Mary Nichol in a statement. The works themselves will be announced in 2020.

“The conversation about climate change should always include the subject of climate justice,” artist Noe Montes said in an email. The photographer was inspired to apply for the project after witnessing the health problems experienced by residents in the Jordan Downs housing project in South Los Angeles due to air pollution from the logistics industry.

“Climate change affects marginalized, low income communities first and disproportionately,” he added. “My work will help to illustrate this fact through the stories of residents who are the most impacted.”

Noe Montes, <em>Salton Sea Recession</em>. The artist will create a similarly climate change-themed work for the new CARB campus. Courtesy of Noe Montes.

Noe Montes, Salton Sea Recession. The artist will create a similarly climate change-themed work for the new California Air and Resources Board campus. Courtesy of Noe Montes.

Refik Anadol, who works with computerized data, was inspired to apply because the project “was truly aligned with my vision of our near future, and my belief in the conservation of our natural resources,” he told Artnet News in an email. “This 21st century’s new egocentric usage of technology is clearly creating a negative impact for our Mother Earth. The data we produce at any given time is unquestionably at the highest rate in humanity’s entire existence. Every like, share, and comment is producing some sort of energy.”

The project boasts a $2.4 million budget and is being led by public-art consulting firm Dyson & Womack. Works will range from Monte’s social documentary photography to Rasheed’s research-based works, the results of which she has presented in text banners and Xerox collages, among other forms. From Saraceno, expect to see his floating sculptures, which seek to remind viewers of the importance of clean air to our collective future.

Dedicated to combating the effects of air pollution and creating programs that fight climate change, the California Air Resources Board sets the state’s air quality standards and promotes efforts to reduce emissions. The new headquarters, being constructed through the $368 million Southern California Consolidation project, will feature a vehicle emissions testing and research facility on a 19-acre campus. It aims to be the largest true zero net energy facility of its type, and will give off zero emissions.


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