Cultivating Hinterland: What Lies Behind Agnes Denes’ Wheatfield?

Voelcker, Becca. 2023. Cultivating Hinterland: What Lies Behind Agnes Denes’ Wheatfield? In: Pamila Gupta; Sarah Nuttall; Esther Peeren and Hanneke Stuit, eds. Planetary Hinterlands: Extraction, Abandonment and Care. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 51-63. ISBN 9783031242427 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

In 1982, the artist Agnes Denes and several volunteers grew two acres of wheat near Manhattan’s financial district, titling the project, Wheatfield: A Confrontation. Denes had undeniably eco-ethical intentions, and her work was celebrated as environmentalist. But did Wheatfield’s pastoral aesthetic confront the capitalist power structures Denes hoped to critique, or offer urban elites a picturesque spectacle? The notion of hinterland—literally, land behind a city that provides natural resources and labour power—guides this chapter’s inquiry into ideas and ideologies that lay behind Wheatfield. As the climate emergency exacerbates polarisations between urban and rural contexts, studying Wheatfield yields important clues for how contemporary ecopolitical art might disrupt ecologically and socially unjust systems, cultivate alternatives, and avoid compromise, complicity, or appropriation.

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Book Section

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Art > Centre for Art and Ecology


10 August 2021Accepted
10 November 2023Published

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Date Deposited:

13 Nov 2023 11:39

Last Modified:

20 Jun 2024 14:53


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