Using art as a call to action and catalyst for change, the Art + Climate=Change 2017 festival informs, engages and inspires to act on one of the most critical and crucial issues confronting society globally today; climate change.
In this thought-provoking festival, where art forms a bridge between the head and the heart, the power of the arts is unleashed to highlight the impact of climate change and engage people in one of the world’s most important conversations.
Climarte’s Art + Climate= Change 2017 festival features 30 curated exhibitions in leading galleries and museums across Melbourne and regional Victoria. The festival also presents public forums, discussions and presentations by leading Australian and international artists, activists and scientists.
Moving away from all the facts and statistics, the festival inspires action on climate change through creative arts and artistic collaboration. CEO and Co-Founder of Art + Climate=Change, Guy Abrahams says the organization which was founded back in 2010, started with the idea that arts should also play a role in informing about climate change. “While there was an awful lot of information around climate change, a lot of scientific reports and economic studies and various things like that, there wasn’t much happening in the arts that people were really aware of”, says Mr Abrahams. “I’ve always been aware of the power that arts has to make people think and also the importance of places like galleries and museums, to let people come in and experience new ideas and have their old ideas challenged”, he says.
From paintings and sculpture to photography and film, all forms of arts have been provided as a lens to explore environmental issues such as rising sea levels, melting icecaps, increasing extreme weather events, diminishing rainforests and drought. Artists interpret in their work how our actions and choices affect the environment and planet.
“Art is just one part of the puzzle. We definitely need the scientific information that tells us what’s happening to our planet but people don’t always act when they’re given information. They need some emotional or personal reason to do things and I think one of the roles of art generally is to tell our stories”, says Mr Abrahams. “The arts have a way of making us imagine our own place in these different issues. One painting or one photograph can speak to someone, that can really engage them emotionally and personally with an issue and that even provides the basis for people actually going out and taking some concrete action”, he says.
Arts infused with advocacy leads to a powerful role in driving social, environmental and political change.
One of the festival’s exhibitions is Flow, featuring a series of artwork offering an understanding on how the environment’s flow has been interrupted. Flow is curated by landscape designer and artist Heather Hesterman and is on display at the Counihan Gallery in Brunswick.
Flow exhibition artworks:
Floodlines represents the changing extreme weather conditions. The artist describes the piece of work as:
“The printed and torn text in Floodlines references articles from local newspapers and conversations reflecting on the breaking of the drought in the Wimmera and the subsequent floods that occurred whilst I was camping in the region in January 2011. Rhythmic and repetitive sentences cascade down the wall and mimic the pattern of torrential rain, referencing conversations about changing weather conditions that relentlessly rain down on all of us.”
In 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 accidentally caught the image of the Earth rising above the surface of the Moon during one of their routine photography assignments. After then loading some colour film, astronaut William Anders produced a photograph that lead to a perspectival shift in humankind. Earthrise (as the image became known as) had the capacity to distance the viewer from the ground on which they stood, enabling a burgeoning understanding of Earth’s small place in an infinite universe.
In the late 15th century, three paintings were produced that are now known collectively as The Ideal City. What is held in general agreement is that the images- made in immaculate linear perspective- are a metaphor for good governance and the civilizing presence of architecture.
I of the World is a sculptural floor-piece that celebrates the seemingly disparate images of The Ideal City and Earthrise for their use of perspective in its pictorial and phenomenal forms. As the viewer stands upon an idealized form of the world they are invited to gaze into the central mirror and see themselves as a civilizing force of the world that is capable of humble perspective.
When All Else Fails is a drawing that explores the plight of human condition in a time of climate change. It shows human ‘achievements’ resting precariously on the backs of non-human species and explores mortality in the aftermath of societal collapse, with only remnants of our civilization remaining. It also explores the plight of a lone refugee facing an uncertain future in darkness. The fight is lost. Movement on water is the refugee’s only hope for survival as the weight of the past hangs precariously above.
Mount Kailash in Tibet’s Southwest. The estimated 46,000 glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau appear to be melting faster than those on other parts of the globe. The Plateau’s ice sheets represent a giant natural water tower in the hydrologic cycle of the region, and over 1.5 billion people live downstream.This work shows the north face of Kailash reddening in the sunrise, seen from the Dirapuk Monastery.
In RISING, the timber markers are a tangible and visual cue showing increases of mean sea levels if greenhouse gases continue to be released into the atmosphere unabated. The markers symbolize ocean acidification, warming, loss of species and habitat, offering a simple visual warning.
“Sometimes, we interrupt the flow of Nature and we are hurt. Without the trees, for instance, the wind can blow the soil away. The rain can move the soil away. When the soils vanish, people starve. When people starve, in their desperation and determination to survive, to conquer, they work even harder to extract what they can. We enter into an ever downward and accelerating spiral of mutual decline. Sometimes this is to a place of no return.”
– Cameron Robbins, Artist