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Few pieces of work get as much attention as Ligorano & Reece's Main Street Meltdown. It was all over last week's papers:

Few pieces of work get as much attention as Ligorano & Reece's Main Street Meltdown. It was all over last week's papers:

A huge ice five-metre-long culpture of the word "Economy", left to melt in Foley Square in the heart of the Wall Street district. The simplicity of the image meant it was perfect for the news media, hungry for stories of economic disaster, to latch on to. Obviously in the context of ecology, melting ice has another meaning too -whether intended or not - underlining the point that environmentalists have been making over the last few months; that the credit crunch and climate change are not unrelated issues. As George Monbiot put it a couple of weeks ago:

Ecology and economy are both derived from the Greek word oikos - a house or dwelling. Our survival depends upon the rational management of this home: the space in which life can be sustained. The rules are the same in both cases. If you extract resources at a rate beyond the level of replenishment, your stock will collapse.

The piece's obvious appeal to the catastrophe-lover in all of us was enhanced by the fact that it was installed on October 29th; the 79th anniversary of the stock market crash that led to the Great Depression.

The long-serving LA-based alternative artist/ blogger Mark Vallen points out that Main Street Meltdown is one of several artworks inspired by the financial crisis. He also cites Geoffrey Raymond's annotated portraits of Wall Street power brokers and Laura Gibert's $0 bills, an artwork created to comment on "the destructive role of many financial institutions.". Vallen sees this crisis as  crisis is something that artists can respond to. "Great art," Vallen writes, "comes from trying and chaotic times."

OK, that's perhaps an unfortunate way of putting it. Plague, pestillence, drought and depression. At least cool art comes out of it. But maybe it's not so naive to think that we're living in a time when art is becoming more engaged in  live or die issues.

Is it?

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