in Collaborations | 28 JAN 22

Suzanne Husky to Debut Commission at Frieze Los Angeles 2022

in Collaborations | 28 JAN 22

Today, Frieze and Maison Ruinart named Suzanne Husky as the artist selected for the third commission. Established in 2019 at the inaugural edition of Frieze Los Angeles, the initiative, each year, invites a West Coast artist to realize an immersive experience within the luxury champagne house's Ruinart Art Bar at the fair. Following a year’s hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Frieze Los Angeles returns February 17 - 20 at a new location, 9900 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

This year, San Francisco-based artist and eco-activist Suzanne Husky will present a participatory installation titled Dam Beaverly Hills!, spotlighting the integral role of the North American beaver could, once again, play in maintaining Californian’s landscape. The commission, as Husky describes, ‘will draw attention to the generosity and world building characteristics of beavers, and will look to the animal as a radical ally of regenerative agriculture and as a spiritual teacher.’

Noting that the place name Beverly itself means ‘beaver clearing’, Husky’s installation will center on themes of ecology and the environmental crisis, echoing Maison Ruinart’s own efforts within the champagne region to secure and develop biodiversity.

Frédéric Dufour, President of Maison Ruinart, said: ‘Given Ruinart’s full commitment to sustainability and biodiversity in every aspect of our process, we opt for artists with a strong environmental message. We believe in the power of art to enlighten and transform our vision of the link between humans and wildlife. We wish to merge art in nature in one common consciousness for the planet.’

Describing how the dams built by beavers play a vital role in mitigating the effects of the ecological crisis, artist Husky observed: ‘By trapping water on the land, beaver dams slow soil erosion, filter heavy metals, replenish water tables, offer shelter for insects and fish, and provide food for migratory and local birds. Beavers slow California’s wildfires by building dams that hydrate soil in water-depleted areas, leaving land more fire resistant. Despite the multitude of benefits that arise from the presence of the beaver, the species remains often forgotten in California, or seen as a nuisance.’ 

Through her commission, Husky seeks to raise awareness of the beaver as ‘California’s forgotten radical wild ally.’ The artist will display an ensemble of artifacts that prompt discussion about how we both understand and misunderstand the beaver. The installation will be activated through live events in which Husky will draw attention to the beaver’s history in California and what the animal can teach us, as well its position as a ‘keystone species’ – one without which the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether. During the live events, visitors to the lounge will be invited to take away a keepsake in the form of a beaver ’chew’, the gnawed wooden sticks used to construct dams, in exchange for a verbal commitment to embrace the ecologically sustainable ways of the beaver. In consultation with the artist, Ruinart has pledged a contribution from the sale of every glass of Ruinart champagne at the fair to be donated to the Sonoma County-based Occidental Arts & Ecology Center’s ‘Bring Back the Beaver’ campaign.