The scientific evidence tells us that the global climate system is changing at an unprecedented rate and in increasingly destructive, self-accelerating ways. But this alarming information alone can be bewildering without narratives and expressions that connect it to our lives and our communities, to our fears and our aspirations. Creating those connections is the work of culture.
A cultural response to the problem of climate change harnesses the powers of creative insight, human emotions, and understanding to effect change. Collaborating with scientists and confronting the facts around global climate change, the artists participating in Carbon 14: Climate is Culture are all responding to different aspects of this climate challenge in poignant, nuanced, subversive, often humorous, and always passionately human ways.
“We need to embrace change and unleash the power of our creativity, ingenuity, innovation, and ability to cooperate — in short, to demonstrate our humanity.”
The exhibition features 13 art installations, including seven new commissions. Subjects include explorations of a changing Arctic; the health of the oceans; biodiversity and extinction; sustainability and new, clean technologies. Central are questions of politics, economics, and ethics.
Climate change is a difficult subject, open to misrepresentation, denial and confusion, yet it cannot be ignored. Nor can we talk about it in isolation as a purely scientific matter. While climate change presents as an environmental problem, it is — as this exhibition insists — fundamentally a cultural one.
Meaningful change must happen first at the level of culture — how we choose to live, and what we choose to do. The questions raised by the climate crisis are about innovation, economics, politics, and essentially, ethics—our responsibility to future generations and the common good—and these are all questions of culture.
A Cultural Shift
What we do now matters on a scale that previous generations could never imagine and will affect future generations in ways we are only beginning to understand. Mitigating climate change will require both the development and delivery of clean and renewable energy sources, and changes in our behaviours and patterns of consumption to reduce our dependence upon fossil fuels.
We need to embrace change and unleash the power of our creativity, ingenuity, innovation, and ability to cooperate — in short, to demonstrate our humanity. We have a unique opportunity to make all the difference. The time is now and together we can.
The above text was republished from capefarewellfoundation.com with permission from the author.
More information about ‘Carbon 14: Climate is Culture’
‘Carbon 14: Climate is Culture’ was produced by Cape Farewell Foundation in partnership with ROM: Contemporary Culture. It is the inaugural programming coming out of the North American office of Cape Farewell – the Cape Farewell Foundation – which is based in Toronto.
Carbon 14 is a two-year project that began with an intensive workshop on the shores of Lake Ontario in the fall of 2011 and continues with a wide range of programming activities, culminating in this exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum’s (ROM) Centre for Contemporary Culture, a performing arts festival with The Theatre Centre (Toronto), and a rich series of public programs and events.
» ‘Carbon 14: Climate is Culture’ media coverage:
Culture|Futures article – October 2013:
Canada: ‘Carbon 14: Climate is Culture’ exhibition
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