Art & Politics

Video : Bag Art, NYC Streets, Polar Bears and Global Warming (2008) by Joshua Allen Harris (U.S.A.)

Joshua Allen Harris is an ‘urban intervention’ artist in New York City and he says that one of his original ideas was to bring some nature back into the city.

Using only sticky tape and plastic bags, he creates inflatable animals fastened to a sidewalk grate. When a subway train passes through the tunnel below it pushes up air which inflates and animates this ‘bag sculpture’. This Polar Bear Mother and Cub almost seem to have come alive.

These two Polar Bears bring thoughts of global warming and climate change right onto the city streets in a very tangible and poetic way. As the train passes, the Mother and her Child slump and die - the life and beauty disappears. All that remains appears once again to be ‘rubbish’ or ‘garbage’. But what we are really left with is our thoughts about and around the Polar Bears, the bigger implications, troubling issues about our human impacts (e.g. the ‘waste’ and global warming that we humans are producing).

This captivating piece of art leaves us with thoughts and feelings about the fate of the Polar Bears. These have the power to move you and stay with you - to keep you thinking and feeling, to keep you connecting cause and effect, to keep us all thinking about our own responsibilities as human beings. That is one of the great things about some art.

The music is "A Meaningful Moment Through a Meaning (Less) Process" by Stars of the Lid.