Another world is possible

Image by David Buckland, Cape Farewell

Image by David Buckland, Cape Farewell

In the run-up to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) taking place from 30 November to 11 December 2015, in Paris, many are the cultural events that challenge our perspective on climate change, proposing alternative solutions for a sustainable global culture.

Nature has been always present in the artistic investigations since the inception of art, but it is in the last decades that the relationship has shifted, calling art and culture to stand up for the safeguard of nature and the preservation of our environment. In parallel to the formation of an ecological consciousness from the ‘60s and ‘70s, we saw an increasing engagement and commitment from the arts to the global fight against climate change.

The idea of ‘Social Sculpture’ (Soziale Plastik) introduced by the pioneer artist Joseph Beuys, founder of the German Green Party in 1979, well illustrates this new approach. An expanded concept of art which calls artists to shape and transform for the better our contemporary society and the environment as if the society and the environment were the sculptor’s malleable material. It is drawing on this social sculptural process, and in the belief that climate is culture, that the UK organisation Cape Farewell and its French sister COAL (Coalition for art and sustainable development) launched ArtCOP21, a global art festival to coincide with the UN Conference in Paris.

It connects hundreds of thousands of people to the climate challenge through an extensive global programme of over 290 major events; art installations, plays, exhibitions, concerts, performances, talks, conferences, workshops, family events and screenings alongside people power gatherings and demonstrations, taking place across Paris and worldwide.

Under the ArtCop21 umbrella, Artists Lucy + Jorge Orta, internationally renowned for their socially engaged practice, bring their Antarctica World Passport distribution office right to the heart of Paris’s consultation, in the Solutions21 exhibition at the Grand Palais (4th-11th December). Conceived as a participatory art project, the Antarctica World Passport aims at unite people across the world, irrespective of borders, to speak out for social and environmental justice. In Paris an estimated 50,000 visitors will be issued with an Antarctica World Passport and invited to sign a commitment charter for the protection of the environment and the future of our planet, joining an existing community of more than 50,000 citizens across the world.

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The University of the Arts London is organising a series of events promoting art and design as a creative response for a clean and sustainable future society, to coincide with COP21 UN climate change conference. The programme include: Art & Design in the Face of Climate Change; UAL: Go Fossil Free!; Red Lines Are Not For Crossing; Shock City: Resilience And The Anthropocene; Gustav Metzger: Remember Nature Project; People on the move: Migration, social innovation and design; Larsen’s Lost Water; Art Action Build; Dress for Our Time; Voice for Change; I Stood Up.