Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Details



Research Background

In the context of a major museum exhibition themed around environmental concerns, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) commissioned Lucas Ihlein to produce a new project, entitled Environmental Audit (2010). The project involved a residency within the exhibition itself, the production of ten lithographic prints using the Big Fag Press independent publishing group, and a comprehensive blog documenting the evolving process. The artist engaged in dozens of meetings and consultations with museum staff, fellow artists, gallery visitors and environmental professionals to investigate the phenomenon of the “footprint” of contemporary art.

Research Contribution

The project drew attention to the means of production of the exhibition, “In the Balance: Art for a Changing World”. Rather than employing the standard production method of creating an object for display, Environmental Audit was an ongoing and performative process of investigation throughout the period leading up to, and during the exhibition itself. The project revealed that the conditions of creation and display of art present significant challenges to the institutional desire to reduce environmental impact. Art's inherent “wastefulness” was explored in depth in this context.

Research Significance

Commissioned by the MCA, the project received wide coverage in the media, via radio, television, printmedia and online blogs. Ihlein was invited to speak at staff workshops and cross-institutional seminars on his artistic research. The MCA acquired the lithographic print edition for its permanent collection.



From July to November 2010 Lucas Ihleln undertakes an informal 'environmental audit' on the exhibition In the Balance and, by extension, the MCA. The audit will be live, taking place in the virtual realm through a blog and in the real world through a series of posters created in collaboration with the Big Fag Press, Sydney.



audit.pdf (4954 kB)
Images from Environmental Audit