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19

Critical Art Ensemble

founded 1987, Tallahassee, USA

Environmental Triage: An Experiment in Democracy and Necropolitics, 2018/2019
Print, aquariums, water from various sources, dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artists

Continuing their recent interest in the organization and administration of death, the group Critical Art Ensemble uses the concept of triage to analyze necropolitics further. Triage is a medical term which means prioritizing a patient’s treatment according to the extent of their injuries and in accordance with available resources. Where in normal circumstances a patient with a higher risk of death is treated first, in a situation of war or crisis the opposite priority is assigned. The artists transpose this concept from the field of medicine to ecology and the environment, exploring whether the same logic could be applied when choosing which local water resources to save in the face of an ecological catastrophe.

In collaboration with a Russian water expert, samples were taken from water sources in Moscow and surrounding areas. Triage will be implemented based on a public vote, which will take place during the exhibition. The voting process is a nod to what the artists consider one the “greatest necropolitical art works,” MOMA Poll (1970) by Hans Haacke, which was presented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. By the end of the exhibition, sufficient votes will have been gathered in order to understand how triage could be organized in the Russian context.