Show #22:

Eric Heist

Biosphere 2

Curated by Jacob Rhodes

September 11 - October 25th 



Field Projects is pleased to present Biosphere2, an exhibition of recent works by Eric Heist.  This installation continues Heist’s interest in the economic and psychological dynamics of communal idealism in the face of individual interests. As in previous exhibitions by the artist, an array of media are directed toward a thematically-organized, research-based approach to an historic event. 

In the early nineties, a multi-million dollar facility was constructed in the desert outside of Tucson in Oracle, Arizona. A team of 8 scientists/creative individuals were assembled, half were male, half were female, to live together for a two-year period in a 3.5 acre “closed system” in which no materials were removed or added to the environment. Oxygen, food, and waste would all have to be cultivated or disposed of within the Biosphere. There were a number of “biomes” constructed- Desert, Savannah, Ocean, Rain Forest, Agriculture- that were to be maintained by the “Biospherans” and would, in turn, maintain the biosphere, providing water, food, oxygen, and efficient waste recycling.  

Biosphere 2 was an Earth-based model for a Mars space station/colony. It was conceived by visionary/poet/actor John Allen and influenced by artists that included Brion Gysin, William S. Burroughs and Buckminster Fuller.  

The Biospherans were expected to sustain themselves by growing and raising their own food and to maintain complex life support systems within this giant geodesic terrarium.  Within six months a variety of factors converged to undermine the utopic nature of the project:  negative publicity, interior malfunctions, lack of food, lack of oxygen and a power struggle between the visionary of the project, John Allen, and the funder, Ed Bass.  This power struggle outside of the dome affected the individuals within, creating a deep and personal division. Within six months the Biospherans had separated into two groups of 2 men and 2 women that refused to speak or eat together.

This exhibition stands as a microcosm of the inherent conflicts within a creatively-conceived collaborative effort.  

Included art objects will be a bulletin board that charts quotations and images of the Biospherans and visionaries of the project, a number of small gouaches from photographs taken by the artist of areas surrounding the Biosphere that have fallen derelict, a video tour of Biosphere2, portraits of the male visionaries(John Allen, Ed Bass, and Buckminster Fuller) of Biosphere2, and a multi-panel stenciled  quote from Buckminster Fuller that encapsulates the contradictions inherent in a project that is the product of a single mind imposing its will upon a group:


I thought

about steering

the course of the

"Spaceship Earth" and

all of humanity, I saw most

people trying to turn the ship

by pushing the bow around. Society

thinks it's going right by you, that it's

left you altogether. But if you're

doing dynamic things mentally,

the fact is that you can just

put your foot out like

that and the whole

big ship of state

is going

to go.

Also included will be a library enclosed within a phallic glass sculpture containing books by Allen, Fuller, and some of the Biospherans.

Eric Heist is an artist who works in multiple media exploring the effects of power upon individuals and the contradictions that exist between group and individual interests. Past installations have addressed military, religious, corporate, and economic systems through video, sculptural objects, and works on paper. Installations are thematically organized and individual works represent different perspectives on a singular topic that acquire meaning through a cumulative effect. Recent exhibitions include Foundations, a solo exhibition at Schroeder Romero/Shredder, NY, UStrust , a solo exhibition at Schroeder Romero, Candy Factory, a collaborative project with Genesis P-Orridge, at Team gallery, New York and Centre of Attention, London. His works has been included in exhibitions at Participant, Inc., Max Protetch, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, White Columns, Roebling Hall, NY, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, among others. He is a founder and current director of Momenta Art, a not for profit gallery in Brooklyn, NY. He has taught at New York University, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, and The Cooper Union, New York. His work has been reviewed by Holland Cotter of the New York Times, William Powhida in The Brooklyn Rail, and Christian Viveros-Fauné in Art in America, among others.