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Food-Water-Life/Lucy+Jorge Orta

Food-Water-Life/Lucy+Jorge Orta

Food-Water-Life/Lucy+Jorge Orta is presented at the Johnson Museum as part of the beyond earth art project. Organized by the Tufts University Art Gallery, it is the first comprehensive exhibition of work by Lucy + Jorge Orta in the United States.

The sculptures, drawings, installations, and video by French wife-husband duo Lucy + Jorge Orta explore major concerns that define the twenty-first century—biodiversity, environmental conditions, climate change, and exchange among peoples. As heirs to the practice of social sculpture, formulated by the German artist/activist Joseph Beuys in the 1960s, the Ortas’s works are relics of their own function—captivating assemblages that are the platform for the preparation of food and mechanisms that actually purify water. Other elements were created for a 2007 expedition to Antarctica that are part of an effort to amend the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The featured works are metaphors-in-action, constructions that perform the tasks of which they are emblematic.

These humorous, jerry-built contraptions are obviously not the most efficient means to purify, prepare, and transport food and water, or to launch a worldwide humanitarian effort, but in their ability to actually function, albeit awkwardly and haltingly, they gain power as works of art created to move us. The artists have created a unique visual language through which they tackle the major global issues affecting our lives and the precarious position of this planet.

Working in partnership since 2005, Lucy + Jorge Orta create, produce, and assemble their artworks and large installations together with a team of artists, designers, architects, and craftspeople. Their work has been the focus of important survey exhibitions in major museums. After a U.S. premier at the Tufts University Art Gallery, Food-Water-Life/Lucy+Jorge Orta has travelled to the Zilkha Gallery at Wesleyan University, and will be on view at the Richard E. Peeler Art Center at DePauw University in 2015. It was curated by Judith Hoos Fox and Ginger Gregg Duggan (c2 | curatorsquared). 

The presentation of this exhibition at the Johnson Museum was organized by Andrea Inselmann, curator of modern and contemporary art & photography. This inaugurates an annual exhibition endowed in memory of Elizabeth Miller Francis ’47.