S.O.S. (Sustainable. Organic. Stewardship.) is a multi year project that Tattfoo Tan began in 2009 to address how we can live more sustainably. By acknowledging the shortage of food on a global scale, his S.O.S. projects such as S.O.S. Pledge, S.O.S. Free Seeds Library, and S.O.S. Urban Farmer ask that we consider more closely what we are eating and where our food is coming from. Tan truly believes that in order for us to live more sustainably that we will need to grow at least some if not most of our own food. This way we can ensure through hands on gardening that what we are eating is good for our health and well-being, while also reducing environmental impacts of industrial agriculture including the use of pesticides, C02 emissions from transporting goods, air pollution and soil depletion. S.O.S. began as a local grassroots project and was closely linked to the neighborhoods of St. George, Stapleton and Clifton/Park Hill in Staten Island. Staten Island is New York’s often forgotten borough when it comes to progressive food programs aimed to cut across class and neighborhood lines. Borough representatives and residents are rarely integrated in city-wide conferences, events, and policy development. This exclusion is due in part to Staten Island’s unique geography, low overall population density, limited public transit system,
and unfamiliar neighborhood characteristics. Thus programming and initiatives that might apply to other New York City neighborhoods are rarely extended to the borough. S.O.S. is the logo or brand that the artist wears as a merit badge on his coveralls while performing eco-actions such as activating his S.O.S. Mobile Classroom while working with school age children. It is his motto and is part of his “do-gooder” identity or invented boy scout persona which he incorporated into his art practice after taking certificate courses in composting, pruning, permaculture and neighborhood leadership in New York City. Tan’s eco-actions have been primarily local, however, his goal is to do good for the entire planet. And, since Tan is only one person, he is now inviting anyone around the world to recreate or replicate his vision for a sustainable future in their own backyard and communities.
www.tattfoo.com Tattfoo Tan is an ecological artist who lives on Staten Island in New York. For over a decade he has created numerous public art projects, both temporary and permanent. His artworks are community-based and inspire participants to consider what actions they can take in their daily lives to create positive environmental changes in the world, such as composting, seed saving, and growing your own food to name a few. His art practice is immediate, direct, and explores effective ways of relating to the individual in society, collapsing the categories of both ‘art’ and ‘life’ into one. Within his hybrid art practice both minds and bodies are engaged in actions that transform the making of art into a ritualized and shared experience. Tattfoo’s work has been shown in various venues and institutions including: Queens Museum of Art, The City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for the Arts, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The Center for Book Arts, Bronx River Art Center, Project Row Houses and The Laundromat Project. He was recognized for his artistic contributions to the community as a recipient of a Proclamation from The City of New York, and was also given the Twenty-Eight Annual Award for Excellence in Design by the Public Design Commission of The City of New York for his super graphic on Bronx River Art Center.
ABOUT THE ARTIST: TATTFOO TAN
THE STORY OF THE S.O.S. PROJECT