(b. 1931 in Budapest, Hungary; lives in New York, U.S.A.)
Agnes Denes’s work—which includes performance, land art, sculpture, social practice, and scientific and theoretical writing—is a critique of human shortsightedness and environmental practices. In 1982, Denes with volunteers planted and harvested two acres of wheat in Manhattan Island’s Battery Park landfill. Harvesting a crop worth $158 on land valued at $4.8 billion in the shadow of the World Trade Center towers was an affront to capitalist interests. To plant, all visible trash was manually removed from the site, 225 truckloads of topsoil were spread, 285 furrows dug by hand, and an irrigation system installed. The 1000 pounds of grain and straw were fed to NYPD horses and harvested seeds distributed to twenty-eight cities between 1987 and 1990. Participants then planted the seeds, spreading the germ of an idea around the globe.