COP ART – How artists beat the clock for Inspire or Expire

11 November, 2021

Much talk at COP26 picked up the theme that time is running out to save the planet from the horrors of climate change. But there was also evidence of human ingenuity in the form of a gloriously innovative video that demonstrated what can be achieved by artists when the clock is running down. 

You might think that if the contributors who worked under time pressure to take on the challenge laid down by environmentalist and artist Pablo Suarez can come up with such clever responses, there can yet be hope that the political and industrial world will find ways to fast track the COP ambitions.

The video, a selection from works of art and culture was completed at speed for presentation at the COP. The works were a response to an invitation to be part of INSPIRE OR EXPIRE: 18 Art+Climate Co-Creations for COP26. The result is a showcase that emerged from ideas submitted to Resilience Hub participants during an opening session on November 1 and completed in time for presentation eight days later.

Climate change was at the centre of the exercise and the resulting works – art, music, puppetry, poetry – are part of the hub’s Art, Culture and Heritage theme. They were created by invited artists from around the world (Argentina to Vanuatu and UK to Togo), working on a range of artforms from batik to Bach and from ephemeral beach art to videogames. Some of these creations have already been shared with live audiences, including at the Tate Modern Festival in London and at the second International Festival of Puppets and Animated Objects. All of them are a comment on the climate.

‘I pay tribute to the remarkably talented and generous artists that worked under conditions of absurd time scarcity to turn ideas into results,’ said Pablo Suarez, project leader. ‘I’ve been truly transformed by this experience of helping to harness and share such diverse creative forces.’

See the video here

Main image (detail): ‘You’re just seeing this now?‘ by Pat Byrnes, an American cartoonist best known for his work for The New Yorker. 

Pablo Suarez is associate director for Research and innovation at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, as well as visiting fellow at Boston University, honorary senior lecturer at University College London, and faculty member at University of Lugano (Switzerland). He is also artist in residence at the National University of Singapore.

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