Lover Earth: Art and Ecosexuality

Tang Museum, Saratoga Springs, NY

Steven Arnold, Atong Atem, Dorothy Dehner, Naomi Fisher, Flor Garduño, Corita Kent, Ana Mendieta, Frank Moore, John O’Reilly, Olivia Parker, Clare Richardson, Jim Self, Dasha Shishkin, Franklin Williams, Paula Wilson

“WE ARE THE ECOSEXUALS. The Earth is our lover,” reads the first line of artists Beth Stephens & Annie Sprinkle’s 2016 Ecosex Manifesto. Stephens & Sprinkle use the term “ecosexuality” to describe an erotic connection to nature and wrote the manifesto to outline who they are and what they believe in. This exhibition’s title refers to their goal to shift the paradigm of “earth as mother” to “earth as lover.” The phrase “Lover Earth,” denotes a reciprocal relationship between humans and Earth rather than a relationship in which humans depend on the earth’s resources without nourishing the land in return. The closing line of the manifesto states the Ecosex Pledge: “I promise to love, honor, and cherish you Earth, until death brings us closer together forever.”

Stephens & Sprinkle perform what they refer to as ecosex rituals that involve making love to and marrying the earth. They created a document entitled 25 Ways to Make Love to the Earth, offering examples of how to perform these rituals: “Admire her views often … Hug and stroke his trees … Swim naked in their waters … Lay on top of her, or let her get on top of you.” Such performances promote environmental education and activism as well as sex positivity.

Lover Earth draws on this concept of ecosexuality, bringing together a selection of paintings, prints, photographs, and moving images from the Tang collection to explore the connection between human bodies and the earth and to encourage us to think critically about our relationship to the planet. This exhibition recontextualizes and provides a new lens through which to view these works. Together, the art presented creates a diverse ecology that celebrates nature, sexuality, and the ways in which these ideas intersect.

Lover Earth: Art and Ecosexuality is curated by Caroline Coxe