Contemporary art almost invariably presents ideas and aesthetics on a symbolic, referential level, particularly when it concerns itself with ecological issues. What this means is that it tells a story that does not include its material realities in that story. The effect this has is that the artwork hides its own material use, social impact, energy use, and other conditions necessary for its production and reception. We need to understand what is at stake when an artwork’s primary form and mode of communication replicates the very problems of a society it reflects on.

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