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Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, On Making Earth, 1970–, manure, soil, worms, wood, burlap sacks, dimensions variable.

Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, On Making Earth, 1970–, manure, soil, worms, wood, burlap sacks, dimensions variable.

The Harrisons

Various Small Fires

A United Nations report on global biodiversity and ecosystems confirmed this past May what many in the science community had long claimed: Not only is the earth’s biosphere deteriorating at a rate unpre-cedented in human history, but humans are the main drivers of this rapid decline. Approximately one million animal and plant species are expected to face extinction over the next several decades, at a speed tens to hundreds of times faster than that of the past ten million years. The Harrisons, as the artist duo Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison are called, addressed this existential crisis head-on in “Counter Extinction Work,” their recent survey exhibition at Various Small Fires. Progenitors of the ecological art movement, the Harrisons began making work that “benefited the ecosystem” around 1970. (The couple worked collaboratively from 1969 to 2012; Newton has continued to work

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