“I grew up as a classic atom bomb baby,” says 36-year-old artist Gregory Green, the son of a military air traffic controller. “When I was a little kid in France we did “Duck and Cover’ underneath the school desks. Living in Europe, I was literally living in the battlefield of the cold war.”
Bombs continue to occupy Green’s thoughts today. He prints T-shirts with diagrams of how to make Molotov cocktails, designs billboards with instructions for building book bombs, and reprints an army recipe for “fire fudge,” a sugar and potassium chlorate mixture that ignites explosives.
In the front window of the gallery Feigen Incorporated, Green has hung a jumbo-sized recipe for organic LSD. Inside sits his sculpture 10,000 Doses–made up of 12 bottles of the stuff, but it contains a vomiting agent and a neutralizing solvent that make it ineffective. Other Green works include Suitcase Bomb, Suspicious Looking Package, and Paraffin Sawdust Incendiary.
At Art Expo last May Green set up an 11-foot-tall surface-to-air missile, minus the propellant and explosives. In September he plans to exhibit a homemade atomic bomb, minus the uranium. Before the show opens he will manufacture pipe bombs and other terrorist devices in the gallery’s basement, then leave behind paraphernalia and debris as an installation piece.
Though Green propagates do-it-yourself terrorist tactics, he hardly advocates terrorism. “The only thing it’s done well is create a forum for an individual to speak from or identify a previously unidentified group,” he says. “But at the same time it creates enemies.” Striking civilians, he says, has been “a two-edged sword” for terrorists. “An obvious and easy choice for a terrorist group to make is to redirect their activities away from the population and towards the infrastructure. If rather than killing my brother you made me not have electricity for two days I would hate you a lot less.
“I’m interested in discussing the issues,” Green explains. “I’m not interested in being arrested. A few artists have approached me wanting to know more about the techniques with the wrong sort of glint in their eyes. I’d say to myself, “No, I don’t want to tell this person that much.”‘
Green explores the culture of fear, terror, and power through his sculptures and envisions a renaissance of alternative, nonviolent paths to empowerment, which is the subject of a lengthy essay he’s busy writing.
“I’ve been researching 250 years of revolution and change in the world, and what I’ve found is a very, very, very fast-growing trend of nonviolence, primarily in the 20th century. A real sort of easy illustration of that is to compare the 1917 revolution in Russia with the breakup of the Soviet Union in the 80s.”
Green believes that with Oklahoma City and the Unabomber America is just moving into its “terrorist phase,” and worries about a replay of Italy’s 70s scenario with bombers from both the left and the right.
A sampling of Green’s art is now on view through August 11 in a group show at Feigen Incorporated, 742 N. Wells. Call 787-0500 for more.