Amy Balkin

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Amy Balkin
Born San Francisco
Nationality American
Education Stanford University
Known for Conceptual Art
Movement Public Art Conceptual Art
Awards Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award

Amy Balkin is an American artist who studied at Stanford University and is now located in San Francisco. Her work "combines cross-disciplinary research and social critique to generate ambitious, bold, and innovative ways of conceiving the public domain outside current legal and discursive systems.". She focuses on how humans create, interact with, and impact the social and material landscapes they inhabit.[1] Ultimately, one of her long-term goals is to create a physical shared space with society.

Invisible-5 is an audio commentary on land use along the highway corridor between San Francisco and Los Angeles.[2]

The project investigates the stories of people and communities fighting for environmental justice along the I-5, through oral histories, field recordings, found sound, recorded music, and archival audio documents. The project also traces natural, social, and economic histories along the route. This project was developed in collaboration with artists Kim Stringfellow and Tim Halbur, and the organizations Pond: Art, Activism, and Ideas, and Greenaction for Health & Environmental Justice. The project is available to listen online or download from

She has also proposed a project that challenges the scope and intent of current US or international laws relating to property ownership and pollution, and which are intended to expose the limitations and ideological biases of these laws. One such project Public Smog[3] involves the creation of clean air parks created by retiring emission offsets, paired with an attempt to add the Earth’s atmosphere to UNESCO’s World Heritage list. However, these ideas have art-based roots.


Public Smog is a public park in the atmosphere that fluctuates in location and scale. Built through financial, legal, or political activities, Public Smog is subject to prevailing winds and the long-range transport of aerosols and gases. When built through the economic mechanism of emissions trading, the park opens above the region where offsets are purchased and withheld from use. Public Smog first opened briefly to the public during 2004 above California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District, and is now open over the European Union through 2008.[4]

Balkin's project This is the Public Domain is an ongoing attempt to create a permanent international commons from a parcel of land purchased by the artist in Southern California. Thus far, the group has purchased 2.5 acres (10,000 m2) of land in Tehachapi, California. Sharing of this land will be initiated when a juridical solution for public handover is found.[5]

Her recent works include a public reading, "Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report Summary for Policymakers" (2008), and a series of large-format rubbings of architectural signage of San Francisco-area entities implicated in war-related activities and illegal domestic surveillance, "Sell Us Your Liberty, Or We’ll Subcontract Your Death" (2008).[6]

She has collaborated with her husband Josh On[7] on the Greenpeace project [8] and was the recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award in 2007.

Amy Balkin joined Cape Farewell on the 2007 Art/Science expedition. Taking almost three weeks, the expedition crossed the north Atlantic to the extreme frontline of climate change, then sailed south to explore East Greenland's Blosseville Coast.[9]


  1. ^ [1], Amy Balkin Biography description, May 5, 2010.
  2. ^ Sue Hubbard, "The new Romantics", New Statesman, December 4, 2006.
  3. ^ Joseph del Pesco An interview with Amy Balkin, Dotes And Quotes, 2007.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Balkin, Amy
  6. ^ Rising Tide Conference, Stanford University, April 18th, 2009.
  7. ^ Interview with Josh On - September 24, 2004
  8. ^ Web watch, The Guardian, June 24, 2004.
  9. ^ Cape Farewell

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