Art saves the climate - transdisciplinarity and awareness of the importance of the arts in the climate debate.
The role of the arts in understanding climate change is fundamental today. Whether the message is direct or indirect, the arts invite viewers to engage deeply with the human psyche through emotional and sensory experiences.
Consider interdisciplinary artist Olafur Eliasson, who melted blocks of Greenlandic ice in front of the Tate Gallery of Modern Art in London to raise awareness of global warming. Or design studio FormaFantasma, a design-duo fighting overconsumption of materials through multidisciplinary exhibitions that make clear that something so simple as passing down design classics from generation to generation can store carbon dioxide for many years. Also, see the interdisciplinary project Future Library by artist Katie Paterson, which aims to create a library of 100 manuscripts, to be printed in 2114 on paper made from 1000 trees planted in 2014 in a forest outside Oslo. What they all share is a visionary spirit and the wish to start a much-needed conversation about how art and design should, and can, shape a better, sustainable future.
By creating spaces for reflection where creativity, innovation, and emotional response grow together, art, design, music and performing arts can become an extraordinary instrument of social change. However, this is nothing new. If we go back into the past, there are many examples of creative minds that have already used the force of the arts to transform our relationship with Earth. Already at the beginning of the nineteenth century, dancer Isadora Duncan sought a dance vocabulary that would illuminate the human spirit and its connection with nature. On the other side of the Atlantic, land art artists began to use earth to create large artworks that motivated sensitivity towards nature in the late 60’s. Only a few years later, in the early 70’s, designer Victor Papanek challenged the established design world by advocating a more sustainable, inclusive approach to design. And here, in Switzerland, another designer, Hans Erni, created political posters such as save our water, save our woods or save our air to address the close interdependence of man and natural resources. The examples are endless and become a source of inspiration for young artists, designers, filmmakers, or performing artists willing to shape our relationship with the planet we depend on. Below you will find a collection of links with these and many other inspiring projects to motivate and inspire you to respond to the climate emergency. If you know any other examples that you would like to add, just get in contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to hear your thoughts on the environmental effort.
Morton, T. (2021). All Art is Ecological. Penguin Classics. Antonelli, P. and Rawsthorn, A. (2022). Building a Better Future, Phaidon.