Last Wednesday, a truck dumped 32 tons of fresh carrots outside the Ben Pimlott building at Goldsmiths University, in London. Despite passing students debating that the veg was a joke stunt, the pile was confirmed as an art installation by Goldsmith’s student, Rafael Pérez Evans.
The piece is entitled ‘Grounding’, and is meant to be inspired by the idea of protest, where farmers dump produce in urban areas, outside government buildings or busy junctions, often forming barricades. On his website, Rafael Pérez Evans states he intended to create a discussion about the tensions between rural and city life.
The art was first unveiled on Twitter when George Greenwood, a journalist at The Times, tweeted an image of the mound of carrots. This initiated a debate over whether the installation was compelling or stupid.
Many labelled the exhibition as insensitive, criticising it for food wastage. Goldsmiths University is located in Lewisham, a particularly poor borough of London. The piece seems somewhat ignorant of the food shortage and homelessness issues in the surrounding area. Considering the current climate, when many are struggling with unemployment and tighter budgets, is the installation out of touch?
The artist stated on his website that the carrots used in Grounding had been deemed unsuitable for sale by UK food distributors. However, some students ignored this as they were pictured climbing the installations, taking the carrots away for themselves. In response to this, an instagram page ‘goldsmithscarrots’ was created by students. This was in protest of the installation and documented them ‘using carrots taken from this incredibly wasteful art piece’ to make carrot cake, donating the money raised to local food banks. Last Monday the page had totalled £1604.46 – all for various charities.
Goldsmiths University confirmed on twitter that the artist had arranged for the carrots to be removed, and donated to farm animals at the end of the exhibition. However, some have questioned the accuracy of this statement.
With the risks of Coronavirus, it seems public exhibitions are the safest way of showcasing art at present. With current job losses within the field of The Arts increasing, and galleries struggling to stay afloat, a different approach may be needed. As an art lover, I appreciate the ability of installation work to create controversial conversation and attract interest. I find Grounding an unusual, fun piece, but I do think it is rather problematic when considering its surroundings. It furthers the stereotype of ignorant, elitist art students.
However, you cannot deny the power of this installation. The controversial piece has had an effect upon its environment and those who engaged and responded to it, in creating conversations about food shortages and inspiring others to use the piece to raise money for charity. Art is influential, in more ways than one. Despite its ignorance,the response to Grounding has done more good than anyone initially thought.
Image Credit: The Independent