PUBLIC SMOG, 2004-ongoing

© Benoit Mangin, 2009

PUBLIC SMOG, 2004-ongoing

Amy Balkin

 The accelerating crisis in climate change and the realization that humans are the primary cause of this change has raised questions about ownership and responsibility. Who “owns” the climate change crisis and who is responsible for mitigating and reversing it if possible? One overwhelming response by governments on an international level has been to propose a market solution, in essence, to sell the atmosphere.
Andrea Polli, lecture, 2011


Public Smog is a clean-air park in the atmosphere that fluctuates in location and scale. The park is constructed through financial, legal, or political activities that open it for public use. Activities to open Public Smog have included the purchase and retiring of emissions offsets (NOX and CO2) in regulated emissions schemes in the US and European Union, making them inaccessible to polluting industries. These activities opened temporary parks above Southern California (June 2004), the European Union (2006-7) and the United States (2010). Other activities to further Public Smog include a series of thirty billboards presented across Douala, Cameroon in 2009, prefiguring the benefits, complications, and implications of enacting Public Smog over Africa.

Taking centre stage in the installation at Artefact is the attempt to inscribe Earth's Atmosphere on the UNESCO World Heritage List, begun in 2006, and developed more fully since 2010 in the context of Documenta 13. The undertaking involved first inviting Germany, then all UNESCO States Parties, to lead a coalition in initiating an extraordinary nomination process for inscription.  

More info about the project

Amy Balkin (US)
(°1967, Baltimore)

Amy Balkin is a San Francisco-based artist who mixes conceptual art, performative interventions, online media, historical research, and political activism. Her projects propose a reconstituted commons, considering legal borders and systems, environmental justice, and the sharing of common-pool resources in the context of climate change. Balkin studied painting, video, and sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a graduate from Stanford University.

CONTRIBUTORS (2004-2015)


Dr. Alexandra Thompson, David Oppenheimer, Mark Van Soestbergen, Josh On, Kate Rich, Dr. Gerd Mörsch, David Hardingham, Hari Kunzru, Dr. Birgitta Ringbeck, Greg Taylor, Prof. Dr. Harmut Vogtmann, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Prof. Dr. Gerd Weiss, Clemens Alban, Simon Großpietsch, Dr. Vincent Alessi, and Dr. Diana Liverman. Additional input and assistance from Fabienne Delpy-Adler, Dr. David Pepper and Dr. Thomas Cahill (CO2 Metrics), Kevin Smith of Carbon Trade Watch, the students on the MA Curating Contemporary Art, Royal College of Art, London class of 2007, Ingrid Swensen of Peer Trust, unnamed khat traders and chewers from Stepney Green, and the Monique Beudert Fund. Special thanks to Public Co. Trading partner Fiona Parry. Further special thanks to the unnamed trader who helped purchase NOx in 2004, to the New York based trader who attempted to assist with a trade in 2006, but was unable to, due to regulatory issues, and to the traders in Hungary who donated their time and waived their brokerage fees to execute EUA trades in 2006. Additional thanks to all who helped answer questions about the World Heritage List process, to friendly and unfriendly emissions trading brokers, agencies, and administrative representatives involved with, or consulted during the research and trading process. Last, thank you to Rob Halpern, Joseph Del Pesco and the Collective Foundation, the Seed Fund, and Ben Furstenberg.

9 - 21 Feb 2016



Opening 9 Feb 19:30 – 23:00

10 -21 Feb

We - Sa 14:00 – 22:00

Su - Tu 14:00 – 19:00 

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