Zach Whitworth

The Use of Long-lasting Materials

How responsible is it to keep making more stuff?

Modern consumer objects are made to last, but problems arise when they are discarded. Similarly, art objects have traditionally been made to last, often with the hope that they may be maintained by collectors and museums. Not only does art preservation require space, but long-lasting artwork tends to rely on the use of unnatural and toxic materials.

Sustainability is discussed in art circles, but largely in regards to making objects that will remain intact for centuries. Conservation is also an important subject in art, but it normally addresses paintings, sculptures, etc. rather than the environment.

As human-created ecological collapse continues to progress, it is imperative for artists to recognize the environmental impact of their work. It may not be possible for an artist to entirely avoid waste, but they can still make efforts to reduce their footprint.

Artists must re-think their relationship with materials. How are they produced? What is scrapped during the process of making an artwork? What are the consequences of creating something that can’t return to the earth?

It may ultimately necessitate a shift toward more ephemeral, recyclable/degradable, and compact forms of art-making.

Using Format