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Meridel Rubenstein: Eden
March 10, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
The unparalleled Santa Fe-based artist Meridel Rubenstein will show her works at CONTAINER next month and give an artist talk just for you. Meridel has been a star on the American art scene since the 1970s for her innovative approach to photography, creating visionary works which combine installation and sculpture. Her work can be beautiful, haunting, and head-turning and is often tied to larger socio-political issues. Meridel has several works in the preeminent collection of MoMA, New York, including a Palladium print titled Fat Man and Edith, which weds the destructive force of the atomic bomb with the feminine warmth of Edith. The Edith featured in this photograph offered her home as a domestic respite to the men working on the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, New Mexico.
The selection you will see at CONTAINER takes on another pressing contemporary issue: water. As our climate continues to change, centuries-old water distribution patterns have been disrupted, causing some places to shrivel while others flood. She has been working on her Eden in Iraq Wastewater Garden Project since 2011, and it is an ingenious marriage of art and humanitarian effort. In collaboration with environmental engineers Dr. Mark Nelson and Dr. Davide Tocchetto, and engineer Jassim Al-Asadi who is Managing Director of the NGO Nature Iraq, the goal is to utilize recycling technology to purify contaminated water in the Southern Iraq marshes (otherwise known as the Ahwar) and create a lush, green space. Since the 2003 fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, over 300,000 once-expelled indigenous Marsh Arabs have returned to the Ahwar and begun to restore the lands of one of humanity’s oldest cultures. This garden will embody the rich cultural heritage of the Marsh Arab community while engaging local craftspeople and using native materials and building traditions.
Meridel’s photographs in this project document the urgent need to provide clean water for southern Iraqis and envision a greener, brighter future for generations to come. This project, sponsored by Nature Iraq in Iraq and the Institute of Ecotechnics in both the UK and USA, is a response to decades of conflict in this region and continued tension due to climate change, external water rights violations, and social upheaval. Recently, the Eden in Iraq Wastewater Garden Project was lauded as one of 100 grassroots projects for UNESCO’s Green Citizens Initiative.
“My focus has been on intersections of nature and culture in places where my country has been at war: Los Alamos, Vietnam, Iraq. For the past ten years, I’ve added an environmental remediation project in Southern Iraq, hoping to leave something constructive behind rather than just take away photographs from which to make these artworks. I want my artwork to challenge my anthropocentric behavior and then possibly all of ours.” – Meridel Rubenstein
Meridel is a celebrated artist/activist speaker, and we cannot wait to share her intrepid spirit with you at CONTAINER.
Works on view from March 10 through March 30, 2023, with her not to be missed artist talk on March 10th at 5 pm at CONTAINER.