In one of his installation pieces, artist Mark McGowan outraged gallery visitors by featuring a running car inside a gallery, its exhaust pipe extended to spew fumes out the gallery's window onto a public square. His point: why is idling your car inside a gallery less heinous than doing it [as a woman across the street from me right now is] outside?
McGowan's work is cited in a Green Futures story that ponders what happens to creativity when art is about social change. It's an interesting read, going from McGowan to Banksy to Turner Prize-winner Simon Starling (who exhibited the fuel-cell bike he rode across the desert) to Richard Box (above, who placed fluorescent lightbulbs under high-tension wires to illuminate the fact that possibly dangerous electromagnetic radiation seethes around us). While more of a rundown of ways artists can engage in social change--presenting alternatives, protesting, proposing remedies--I link to the piece simply because it contributes to the discussion on the many roles art can play outside galleries and museums and the unique power this form has. As Charles Landry, author of Creative Cities, put it, art “can communicate iconically.” “You can provide people with charts and statistics until the cows come home,” adds curator Clive Adams. “But if they don’t actually feel moved by something, they won’t do anything about it.”