Opening July 6, “Irthebound” spotlights artist A.L. Steiner, while a companion show, “BREACH,” explores the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ influence on the natural landscape

A.L. Steiner's work, 'Equivalents (anthropogenic),' 2023 shows the sun shines through dramtic clouds.
A.L. Steiner's 'Equivalents (anthropogenic),' 2023

NYU Steinhardt’s art gallery, 80WSE, presents two thematically connected exhibitions this summer that address the global environmental crisis through the lenses of politics, activism, gender, sexuality, and government bureaucracy.

Irthebound features photography, videography, collages, and archival material from renowned artist A.L. Steiner.  On view July 6 through Sept. 23, the exhibition includes the debut of the film, To Change Everything, a follow-up to Steiner’s documentary, More Real Than Reality Itself, which premiered at the 2014 Whitney Biennial. The new work engages with French author and activist Francoise d’Eaubonne, who coined the term ecofeminism in a manifesto linking the liberating potential of environmentalism and feminism.

A second exhibit, BREACH, comes from researchers Ricky Ruihong Li and Isabelle A. Tan, co-founders of the Workshop for Environmental Technik (WET), a group focused on the experimental study of environmental politics. Using documents from government archives, BREACH explores government-sponsored interventions on the natural environment and connects climate change to global issues such as economic stability and national security. It runs July 6-Sept. 2.

The exhibitions are intended to expand the discussion of the environment beyond sustainability and recycling, says Howie Chen, curator of the shows.

“They look at the environment in more complex ways, through the lens of post-patriarchy and the lens of bureaucracy and governmental political interests,” Chen says.

“The centerpiece of Irthebound, the debut film, To Change Everything, looks at d’Eaubonne, an important historical figure whose theory was that the patriarchy and the destruction of the environment and the oppression of living beings are connected, are co-tangled,” he says.  

Similarly, BREACH approaches the environment from an unusual point of view, one that analyzes the intentions behind the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts to remediate the environment, and who benefits from their interventions.

Describing herself as “working through the sensibility of a skeptical queer ecofeminist androgyne,” Steiner has produced photography, video, and performance art and curatorial work over many decades, much of it concerned with political activism and issues of race, gender, and inequality. Based in New York, she is co-curator of Ridykeulous, co-founder of Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.) and a long-time faculty member and administrator at Yale University. Her art is included in the permanent collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Irthebound is a celebration of Steiner’s art and extensive work with artists and advocacy efforts, Chen says.  

“In addition to her individual practice, Steiner has been an important collaborator among many, many artists, involved in legendary feminist projects, and a founder of the advocacy group W.A.G.E. to get artists paid,” he says. “It’s time to take stock of what she has done.”

80WSE is at 80 Washington Square East. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. An opening reception is July 6 from 6 to 8 p.m.

About 80WSE
Founded in 1974, NYU Steinhardt’s 80 Washington Square East Gallery is a not-for-profit gallery presenting contemporary and historical exhibitions. Its calendar features student and professional exhibitions; recent shows include Introverse: Allegory Today and Ken Jacobs: Up the Illusion. The main gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. Its two other locations, Broadway Windows at E. 10th Street and Broadway, and Washington Square Windows, next to the gallery, are on view 24/7.  For more information, please visit https://80wse.org/

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