Progress of Amy Balkin's ‘Today’s CO2 Spot Price’ (2009)

Installation of Amy Balkin's ‘Today’s CO2 Spot Price’ (2009) on the opening day, 29 June 2017. Photo: Latitudes/RK. 

Throughout the course of the ‘4.543 billion. The Matter of Matter’ exhibition at the CAPC musée in Bordeaux, the work by Amy Balkin (Baltimore, Maryland, 1967. Lives in San Francisco) ‘Today’s CO2 Spot Price’ (2009) charted the daily price of carbon dioxide emissions allowances in the world’s largest carbon market, the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. The numbering system was manually updated every morning to show the price in Euros of an entitlement to legally emit one metric tonne of CO2. Polluters—power plants or factories—receive or buy emissions allowances at auctions and trade them as needed to minimize costs.

A product of the increasing dominance of the finance sector and the expansion of financial derivatives that emerged in the 1970s, the carbon market ‘fix’ has abstracted the qualitative problem of climate change mitigation into a commodity market based on a molecule treated as the singular cause. There is a trend towards emissions that can be lucratively ‘avoided’, while there has been little effect on structural fossil fuel dependence. In this perspective, global warming is a market failure that can be corrected by governing the atmosphere via an economic instrument with no real material or historical reference.

Balkin's piece was presented alongside works by Pep Vidal, Lucas Ihlein, and Lara Almarcegui, all focusing on humans' calculations and quantification of nature and its progressive abstraction.


(Text from the exhibition guide)

4.543 billion. The matter of matter’ took place between the June 29, 2017 and January 7, 2018 at the CAPC musée d'art contemporain, Bordeaux, France.

General view of room 8. Photo: Latitudes/RK.

Work by Lara Almarcegui (wall) and Pep Vidal (floor). Photo: Latitudes/RK.

Prints by Lucas Ihlein (wall) and part of a tree by Pep Vidal (floor). Photo: Latitudes/RK.

Below a sequence of all the social media posts (mostly from Instagrammers, more on this and other works on this Wakelet feed) showing the ongoing flux of its price—which has ranged from 4,84 Eur per tonne of CO2 during the installation of the piece, to 4,93 Eur on the opening day (29 June 2017), to the last picture on record showing a whopping 7,76 Eur per tonne of CO2.

We would like to thank the KADIST in San Francisco for having given us the opportunity to, after years of corresponding over email, finally meet Amy during a residency in September 2015. Her "Incidents of Travel" day on several locations in and outside San Francisco (download the specially-commissioned itinerary here) was invaluable towards the conceptualization of this exhibition.

Installing ‘Today’s CO2 Spot Price’ (2009). Photo: Latitudes for @capc 

Taken on 2 July 2017. Photo: Latitudes. 

Image published in the Sudouest newspaper on 12 July 2017 showing 04,98 EUR/tC02.

Taken on 13 July 2017 by Hélène Lucien. 

Taken on 16 July 2017 by Adriano Pedrosa. 

Taken on 2 August 2017 by Lena Joreis. 

Taken on 19 August 2017 by Semi-Sans.

Taken on 22 August 2017 by Mads Freund Brunse.

Taken on 12 October 2017 by Tomas Mendizabal.

Taken on 17 October 2017 by @Margareth.

Taken on 20 November 2017 by @matlegall. 

Taken on 2 November 2017 by @Elénie. 

Taken on 30 November 2017 by @mllelahaye 

Taken on 1 December 2017 by @mommou.elle 

Taken on January 7, 2018, the last day of the exhibition, by exhibition coordinator Alice Cavender. 

  • 4.543 billion. The Matter of Matter” exhibition 
  • Archive of social networks posts related to "4.543 billion" 
  • Photo gallery of the exhibition 
  • CAPC website (French, English, Spanish) http://www.capc-bordeaux.fr/programme/4543-milliards
  • Cover Story—December 2017: "Tabet's Tapline trajectory" 4 December 2017
  • Alfred Roll's 1878 "The Old Quarryman" exchanged with Alfred Smith's "The Grave Docks" (1884) in the exhibition "4.543 billion" at the CAPC musée 3 November 2017
  • Cover Story—November 2017: "Mining negative monuments: Ângela Ferreira, Stone Free, and The Return of the Earth" 1 November 2017
  • 15 November 2017, 4:30–8pm: 'The Return of the Earth. Ecologising art history in the Anthropocene' study day at the CAPC musée, Bordeaux 24 October 201
  • Cover Story – July 2017: 4.543 billion 3 July 2017
  • Cover Story – May 2017: S is for Shale, or Stuart; W is for Waterfall, or Whipps 1 May 2017
  • SAVE THE DATE: 29 June, 19h. Private view of the exhibition "4.543 billion. The matter of matter" at the CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux 30 May 2017 
  • Cover Story – May 2016: Material histories – spilling the beans at the CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux 10 May 2016
  • Second research trip to Bordeaux 16 July 2016

    Latitudes contribution to Kadist Art Foundation's 'One Sentence Exhibition'

    To visit the exhibition,
    please check ose.kadist.org

    Recognizing that not everyone can visit Kadist Art Foundation venues in Paris or San Francisco, Kadist recently inaugurated a series of online projects with artists and curators around the world.

    First of these initiatives is the One Sentence Exhibition (OSE), for which the foundation invites curators to write or choose a single sentence, making each word in the sentence a hyperlink to an image, video, text or website. As a result, the One Sentence Exhibition becomes a compact architecture, accompanying the reader as they explore far-reaching corners of the internet. 

    Following on from the contributions by Rudolf Frieling (Media Arts Curator at SFMOMA) and Nato Thompson (Chief Curator at Creative Time) to OSE series, Latitudes has chosen the statement "A CLOTH OF COTTON WRAPPED AROUND A HORSESHOE OF IRON TOSSED UPON THE CREST OF A WAVE" by Lawrence Weiner in English, Spanish and Catalan, commissioned for his 2008 solo exhibition THE CREST OF A WAVE at the Fundació Suñol in Barcelona.

    Sugar packets where freely distributed during the duration of the exhibition around Barcelona. Photo: Pierre-Jean Moulis.

    Originally distributed as a free ephemeral sculpture on 300,000 sugar sachets and presented on the wall of the exhibition space, Weiner’s striking typographic rendition of the statement triggers a chronicle of mercantile, maritime and equestrian power, of trade and occupation, of spheres of influence and change, a memory of matter and of language.
    Lawrence Weiner tote bag. Available from http://www.lttds.org/totes/weiner/

    The statement is also silkscreened on the commemorative limited edition tote bag that celebrated Latitudes' 10th anniversary in Spring 2015.

    As elaborated by Latitudes in the exhibition guide, "A CLOTH OF COTTON WRAPPED AROUND A HORSESHOE OF IRON TOSSED UPON THE CREST OF A WAVE indicates an object record of early human technologies (woven textiles, reusable protection for the hooves of working animals) and a marine setting. Weiner’s phrase facilitates a richly ambiguous material and symbolic universe. Why is the horseshoe wrapped? What story, personal or historical, might account for the event that is described? The artist’s statement leaves such questions open for us to consider. It is known that muslin and calico was brought to Spain by the Arab traders in the 1st Century. After the Conquest of Hispania during the 7th Century, facilitated by the Muslim cavalry’s more agile horses, cotton was cultivated by the Moors in Spain. Barcelona’s industrialization in the late 1700s and early 1800s was driven by the printing of calico and later the spinning and weaving of cotton. [1]

    Poster of the exhibition at Fundació Suñol's Nivell Zero space, Barcelona.

    In the manner of a biography of substances, such as Mark Kurlansky’s books Cod and Salt, A CLOTH OF COTTON... thus triggers a chronicle of mercantile, maritime and equestrian power, of trade and occupation, of spheres of influence and change, a memory of matter and of language. [2]" (...) 

    (...) The statement is distributed on a sugar packet throughout a selection of Barcelona bars and cafés during the city's Mercè Festival and for the duration of the exhibition – a sweet gift to accompany one’s café con leche,
    cortado, carajillo, or conversation. Printed on hundreds of thousands of standard 7 gram white sugar sachets – sugar production technology too was spread into Spain by Moorish occupation – Weiner’s striking typographic rendition of the phrase in red and yellow (the colours of both the Catalan and the Spanish flag) is accompanied by an emblem which evokes the trajectory of a certain horseshoe over a wave in diagrammatic form.

    View of Lawrence Weiner's piece at the patio space of Fundació Suñol, Barcelona.

    (...) On the five metre-high wall of the exterior space [of  Fundació Suñol’s Nivell Zero] we read A CLOTH OF COTTON WRAPPED AROUND A HORSESHOE OF IRON TOSSED UPON THE CREST OF A WAVE painted in Catalan, Spanish and English. The use of the same stencil font as the sugar packet layout suggests a method of functional and clear application which reinforces the fact that Weiner is dealing with the language in terms of modification and use. [3] The word for a company which produces typefaces – a foundry – neatly preserves a link to a time when type was cast from metal, in much the same way as horseshoes are made from iron."

    Ceremony of the 2008 ACCA (Art Critics Association) awards which granted Fundació Suñol the best art programme of the year – a season that included two projects curated by Latitudes.

    [1] See J.K.J. Thomson, A Distinctive Industrialization: Cotton in Barcelona 1728-1832, Cambridge University
    Press, 2003.

    [2] Salt: A World History, Walker and Co., 2001; Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, Walker
    and Co., 1997.

    [3] The font is FF Offline Regular, designed by Roelof Mulder in 1988.

    This is the blog of the independent curatorial office Latitudes. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
    All photos:
    Latitudes | www.lttds.org (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption)
    Work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

    Instagram takeover of Kadist Art Foundation in San Francisco

    As part of Latitudes' residency at Kadist Art Foundation's instagram, we are taking over their instagram [@kadistfoundation] for the next 10 days. 

    You can follow the hashtags #‎artistnotatthestudiocuratornotattheoffice‬ ‪#‎LatitudesBarcelona‬ ‪#‎IncidentsOfTravel‬ 

    Today we've posted pictures of the first Incidents Of Travel artist-led day tour, a day spent with Megan and Rick Prelinger, founders of the Prelinger Library, "An appropriation-friendly collection of books, periodicals and print ephemera, open to the public in downtown San Francisco". The library "is a free-offering, an installation, a workshop, an extension of our living-room" and holds some 30,000 bound objects, 60,000 loose sheets and 10,000 zines following a unique home-made "geospatial arrangement scheme". Megan and Rick have described the project as never static and compared it to "a long-cooking pot of stew, [that] continuously takes in new ingredients while also reducing down, becoming richer and more concentrated with time".

    Posts will be progressively archived in this storify.

    Forthcoming events: 

    29 August: Closed-door seminar 'Near-Future Artworlds Curatorial Disruption Foresight Group' #NFACDFG;

    1 September: Launch of Latitudes' contribution to the One Sentence Exhibition online initiative;

    3 September: #‎IncidentsOfTravel‬ with Amy Balkin;

    4 September: #‎IncidentsOfTravel‬ with Will Brown.

    This is the blog of the independent curatorial office Latitudes. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
    All photos:
    Latitudes | www.lttds.org (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption)
    Work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

    Longitudes cuts across Latitudes’s projects and research with news, updates, and reportage.

    Latitudes | www.LTTDS.org (except when otherwise noted).

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    Founded in 2005 by Max Andrews and Mariana Cánepa Luna, Latitudes is a curatorial office based in Barcelona, Spain, that works internationally across contemporary art practices.

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