Today, Frieze and Maison Ruinart are called Suzanne Husky as the selected artist for the third RUin.ART commission. Created in 2019 during the inaugural edition of Frieze Los Angeles, the initiative invites a West Coast artist each year to perform an immersive experience within the Ruinart Art Bar of the luxury champagne house at the fair. After a year-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Frieze Los Angeles returns February 17 – 20 in a new location, 9900 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.
This year, San Francisco artist and eco-activist Suzanne Husky will present a participatory installation titled Beaverly Hills Dam!, highlight the essential role that the North American beaver could, once again, play in maintaining the Californian landscape. The commission, as Husky describes it, “will draw attention to the generosity and world-building characteristics of beavers, and view the animal as a radical ally of regenerative agriculture and a spiritual teacher.”
Noting that the place name Beverly itself means “beaver glade,” Husky’s installation will center on themes of ecology and environmental crisis, echoing Maison Ruinart’s own efforts in the area of champagne to secure and develop biodiversity.
Frederic Dufour, President of Maison Ruinart, said: “Given Ruinart’s total commitment to sustainability and biodiversity in all aspects of our process, we opt for artists with a strong environmental message. We believe in the power of art to illuminate and transform our view of the connection between humans and wildlife. We wish to merge art in nature into a common consciousness for the planet.’
Describing how beaver-built dams play a vital role in mitigating the effects of ecological crisis, the artist Hoarse “By trapping water on land, beaver dams slow soil erosion, filter heavy metals, replenish water tables, provide shelter for insects and fish, and provide food for migrating and local birds. Beavers are slowing California wildfires by building dams that hydrate the soil in water-depleted areas, leaving the land more fire resistant. Despite the multitude of benefits that derive from the presence of the beaver, the species often remains forgotten in California, or considered a nuisance.
Through his commission, Husky seeks to publicize the beaver as “California’s forgotten radical wildlife ally.” The artist will present a set of artifacts that spark discussion about how we understand and misunderstand the beaver. The installation will be activated by live events in which Husky will draw attention to the history of the beaver in California and what the animal can teach us, as well as its position as a “keystone species of vault» – a species without which the ecosystem would be radically different or cease to exist altogether. During the live events, visitors to the show will be invited to take home a souvenir in the form of a beaver “chew”, the gnawed wooden sticks used to build dams, in exchange for a verbal commitment to adopt the ecologically sustainable methods of the beaver. In consultation with the artist, Ruinart has pledged to donate a contribution from the sale of each Ruinart champagne glass at the fair to the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center, based in Sonoma County.Bring back the beaver‘ countryside.