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The artists fighting climate change


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Have we become desensitised to statistics? Our newsfeeds are bombarded with facts and figures every day, but often they are detached from reality, leaving audiences unaware of the true consequences of climate change. Some artists seek to aestheticize these numbers, creating an engaging and thought-triggering demonstration of the dangers of global warming.

Image courtesy of Dear Climate

Image courtesy of Dear Climate

An initiative that wants to harness the power of the public is Dear Climate. This programme encourages the public to print off poster designs found on their website, and download their meditations in order to spread the word of climate change. Relying on the motivation of the masses to educate and inspire others, the initiative engages with climate change in a humorous yet slightly morbid fashion.

Through the utilisation of the internet, this campaign has a global influence. Their website claims that the work “hacks the aesthetics of instructional signage… to lead viewers and listeners towards a better informed, more realistic, and more affectionate relationship to the more-than-human world.” Through the forging of a loving and more personal connection between people and the environment, the often-abstract idea of climate change is given cultural relevance. Dear Climate succeeds in socially engaging the masses, encouraging interaction with their own environments; the fear of global warming is removed, and a passion for change is incited.

Image courtesy of Dear Climate

This December, Scandinavian artist Olafur Eliasson’s installation Ice Watch saw two dozen large blocks of ice placed in front of the Tate Modern as a jarring reminder of the melting of the ice caps. The blocks of ice were sought from Greenland after detaching from a large ice sheet, and made their way to the front of the renowned gallery, creating a maze of frozen chunks. The exhibition occurred alongside the COP24 climate change conference, which saw the meeting of the UN to discuss action against global warming, and further negotiations over the Paris Agreement.

Visitors were encouraged to interact with the large blocks, listening to the crackling sounds the ice makes as it melts, and stepping in the puddles of water surrounding the dwindling structures. The ice seemed alive as if speaking to the public of the danger they are in. Amongst these blocks, the threat of climate change could not be avoided, connecting to the audience in a way that statistics on a social media site could never achieve. Through people witnessing the melting first hand, Eliasson succeeded in inspiring action.

The artist standing next to one of the blocks in Ice Watch // Image courtesy of Olafur Eliasson

Another organisation providing climate change with a platform is Invisible Dust, an art and environment charity founded by Alice Sharp. Since 2009, they have raised over £1 million that is used in the funding of art commissions. These projects encourage awareness of and meaningful responses to environmental issues, creating a dialogue between artists and scientists. A sense of humanity is injected into the topic of global warming; these works of activism emphasise the need for sustainable living.

The influence of artists is not to be overlooked either, with individual interpretations of the issue creating an inspiring amalgamation of views. The relationship between art, nature and audience inspires us to consider our own individual actions, and take responsibility. There is an overwhelming message throughout all of this: time is running out, and action is needed now.

Ice Watch outside of Tate Modern // Image by Alex Lentati

More information about Dear Climate and their posters can be found here, and Eliasson's website on the installation Ice Watch here. If you want to find out more about the Invisible Dust program, click here.

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