The Ethics of Earth Art

Ethics of Earth ArtSince its inception in the 1960s, the earth art movement has sought to make visible the elusive presence of nature. Though most often associated with monumental land-based sculptures, earth art encompasses a wide range of media, from sculpture, body art performances, and installations to photographic interventions, public protest art, and community projects.

The Ethics of Earth Art analyzes the development of the earth art movement, arguing that it mediates the sensations of nature while allowing nature itself to remain irreducible to human signification. I contend that in basing their works’ relationship to the natural world  on receptivity rather than representation, earth artists take an ethical stance that counters both the instrumental view that seeks to master nature and the romantic view that posits a return to a mythical state of unencumbered continuity with nature.