By flood or fire, the land will take what it is owed
Public sculpture & one-day installation public event
By artists in ARTS 490: Art As Social Action
Hanes Art Center Sculpture Garden
May 5, 2-6pm
By flood or fire, the land will take what it is owed is a public sculpture as well as a one-day installation and public event centered around calling attention to and supporting the Stop Cop City movement, as well as broader themes of policing, abolition, and protecting the environment. The sculpture consists of a garden housed within a cop-car structure created using locally scavenged car parts, recycled materials, and thrifted items, constructed to look like a demolished police car. The garden is planted with native plants to North Carolina which will thrive year round. The one-day event includes a “Living Room” installation, a space and title that refers to the living space created and tended by activists who defended and occupied Weelaunee Forest. The program will include workshops, a letter-writing campaign, live music, and banner-making.
This project was conceptually inspired by the Stop Cop City Movement in the Weelaunee People’s Forest, envisioning a future in which Cop City does not exist, or has been reclaimed by nature. Native plants growing in the cop car symbolize nature’s resilience in the face of destruction. The work’s use of a police car not only suggests a destabilization of human dominance over the natural environment but asserts a critique of entrenched institutions of power through which the natural environment is subjugated for oppressive ends. The project’s status as a work of life, rather than just a work of art, through its entanglement with living plants, posits the existence of a reality where life is protected and enabled to thrive, rather than targeted and perpetually dismantled.
When we speak of abolition we refer to the dismantling of the carceral system in the U.S. and the construction of new systems, practices, and values that resist our present carceral logic. With abolition, we want to build a new world where we can rely on our community to protect and care for us. As abolitionists Ruth Wilson Gilmore and Naomi Murakawa once said, “abolition is about abolishing the conditions under which prison became the solution to problems, rather than abolishing the buildings we call prisons.”
With By flood or fire, the land will take what it is owed, we hope to create solidarity with the forest defenders of the Stop Cop City Movement in Atlanta, showing that the impact of Cop City will be felt beyond Atlanta. We want to remind everyone that the resistance to and destruction of our existing systems is necessary to our growth, much like how the plants are able to grow out of our destroyed police car.
By flood or fire, the land will take what it is owed is a class project created by students in ARTS 490 (Art as Social Action), an upper-level undergraduate studio art course focused on socially-engaged practices. Experientially in this class, students collaboratively discussed and created work that blurred the boundary between life and art, revealing an inherent political connection. Projects ranged from performance to sculpture.
Timothy Anderson, Deja Boone, Alexis Breitenfeld, Marin Carr-Quimet, A Cook, Jacqueline Doyle, Delilah Eby, Molly English, Lauren Guillemette, Sergia Jimenez, Samuel Martin, Jennifer Nguy, Abby Pallant, Maya Rampel, Nina Scott-Farquharson, Audrey Keelin, Hồng-Ân Trương (faculty)
Background on “Cop City” in the Weelaunee Forest in Atlanta
The Atlanta Police Foundation has plans to build a police militarization facility, known as “Cop City” by protestors and activists, for urban warfare training for police. Cop City is planned to include a mock city for police to practice urban warfare tactics, military-grade training grounds, explosive testing areas, shooting ranges, and a Black Hawk helicopter landing pad, all of which will be built in the Weelaunee Forest. Called the “lungs of Atlanta” by city officials, the Weelaunee Forest is home to wetlands that prevent flooding and filter rainwater, and is also a breeding ground for regional amphibians and a migration site for wading birds. Over 380 acres of the Forest are set to be destroyed to build Cop City, which will deeply impact the health and biodiversity of the surrounding community. The facility is a $90+ million project, $60+ million of which is funded by over 40 corporations, including Coca-Cola and Home Depot, and $30+ million of which is funded using tax-payer dollars.
For further information and resources, please visit the following:
Durham Beyond Policing: https://durhambeyondpolicing.org/
Southerners on New Ground Bail Out Black Mamas: https://southernersonnewground.org
Prison Books Collective: https://prisonbooks.info/