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Tim DeChristopher, oil, protest and art

Published March 19, 2012 8:40 am

Protest art • Utah monkey wrencher subject of video installation at University of Utah.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Andrea Bowers' video installation at the Utah Museum of Fine Art contains something you don't often see in a mainstream Utah gallery—political statement on a locally controversial issue.

"Tim DeChristopher (I am the Carbon Tax)," just off the lobby of the UMFA, offers a graphite on paper sketch of the federally imprisoned monkey wrencher, who protested oil and gas drilling on public lands in 2008 by bidding (and winning) on $1.4 million in government leases. His ploy gave the incoming Obama administration time to cancel the auction, but earned DeChristopher two years in federal prison for making false statements.

On a video screen next to the portrait, "The United States v. Tim DeChristopher" shows Bowers visiting all 14 parcels that DeChristopher won. At the end of each sequence she writes the number of the parcel on a placard and holds it up.

Beyond statements about wilderness, development and environmental protest, Bowers, a Los Angeles-based artist who is the Warnock Endowed Visiting Artist in Residence in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Utah, explores the impossibility of separating her identity as an artist from that of an activist.