Chinese artist Ai Weiwei poses in front of his cast iron work titled ‘Martin 2019’ at an art gallery in London, October 1, 2019. This exhibition features a series of monumental iron sculptures, made from the roots of a giant tree sourced from Brazil.
Alastair Grant / AP
Why Global Citizens Should Care
For decades, artists have used their talents to direct attention to today’s social and political issues. The 1970s South African artists created confrontational murals and posters protest against apartheid, and a decade later Keith Haring used his bold cartoon art to raise awareness for the AIDS crisis.
Today, creative thinkers around the world are gathering around the issue of climate change, producing work that reminds people of the dire environmental consequences of not taking action now.
Here are six recent climate “artivisms” that will cause you to pause, stare, think, and hope to act.
1. Melting Panthers
American artist Bob Partington created a wax figure of a Florida panther and cubs to be displayed at the nonprofit zoo in Tampa, Florida this September.
When it debuted, the statue didn’t look that special. But when the wax starts to melt in the hot sun, the bodies of the endangered species begin to crumble. Within days, the mother leopard’s melted body revealed a simple message: “More heat, less wildlife.”
Along with the message, the sight of a melting panther was jarring. Partington’s work, created in partnership with a climate education nonprofit CLEO Institute, aims to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change on Florida wildlife. One area most vulnerable Against the climate crisis, Florida has suffered from record season hurricanes, coastal flooding, rising temperatures, and loss of biodiversity in recent years.
2. Line (57 ° 59’N, 7 ° 16’W)
Located off the west coast of Scotland is the Outer Hebrides, an island chain where Finnish artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho decided to post their work, Line. The installation consists of streaks of light wrapped around buildings or hovering over grass fields. At high tide, the lights turn on, illuminating the serene landscape, and marking the height of future sea level rise in the archipelago’s lowlands.
This simple yet striking installation reminds viewers of the catastrophic effects of sea level rise, an issue that is particularly relevant to Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Center, where the installation is located. Due to the predicted sea level storm surges, the center can no longer develop on the existing site.
3. Bird Observation
Created by environmental activist and artist Jenny Kendler, Bird Observation is a 40 foot long statue that features the eyes of 100 species of birds threatened or endangered by climate change. The bird view asks us to consider our responsibility for the devastating impacts of climate change on other organisms and their habitats.
Kendler’s work was inspired by a 2014 National Audubon Society report that was updated last year to reveal it 389 species of North American birds vulnerable to extinction due to climate change. Impacts such as rising sea levels, increasing forest fires, and debilitating heat waves all reduce suitable habitat for this bird species. The good news is, if we take action now, three-quarters of the species that are vulnerable will have a better chance of survival.
4. Deep Seads
Hawaiian artist Sean Yoro is famous for his sharp and concise mural paintings painted on the surface of nature. He has created masterpieces melting icebergs in the arctic circle, trees damaged by fire in remote forests, and more recently in underwater locations around Hawaii.
Deep Seads is a series of three of Yoro’s underwater frescoes painted on concrete and metal structures, which serve as artificial reefs to initiate sea growth. Yoro is diving freely to the bottom of the sea to make these pieces, and only uses materials that are environmentally friendly and safe for the marine ecosystem. Through this project, he hopes to raise awareness around the world’s coral reefs host 25% of all marine life, but it is dying from coral bleaching events caused by ocean heat waves.
As warmer and drier climates To amplify the impact of wildfires around the world, Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei used his creative intelligence to send a message to the world. Installation, Root, is a series of iron sculptures created from the giant roots of the endangered Brazilian Pequi Vinagreiro tree.
In August 2019, the show opened in Rio de Janeiro, just like a fire in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest reach their annual peak.
Shown against the backdrop of devastating forest fires, this installation carries the theme of “falling”, not only in the case of trees thinning due to fires and deforestation, but also in the context of indigenous populations who rely on forests for habitat and survival. . Speaking to Art Newspaper in December, Ai the word, “The roots are the final proof of what we have: sad praise for human stupidity.”
6. Reduce Speed Now!
In celebration of Earth Day 2019, American artist Justin Brice Guariglia was placed nine large solar powered LED signs, usually seen on highways, in the courtyard of Somerset House London.
The signs denote the words of climate change writers, thinkers and activists, including Indigenous elders from Botswana, Brazil, and Siberia to name a few, as well as Swedish youth activist Greta Thunberg, Marshall Islands poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, and many more.
Rather than using the words of political leaders, Guariglia chose to present real authority figures in this regard: people who have devoted their lives to thinking and acting on these issues, and those who have been at the forefront of the climate crisis. .
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