Climate change has been at the forefront of the public mind since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report in October stating that there were 12 years to slow down the rates of global warming before the planet would be irreversibly damaged. This is not the first time that we have been exposed to the harsh truth of global warming yet for a long time, the topic of climate change has been curiously absent in the world of art.

More recently, art has been emerging, attempting to tackle the problem of climate change. Last year, Mel Chin’s Unmoored in Times Square used new augmented reality technology to explore a future where New York is flooded, placing the observers underneath the water. UK graffiti artist, Banksy, commented on the issue himself in 2009, with his “I DON’T BELIEVE IN GLOBAL WARMING” piece, which appeared as though it had become submerged by rising water. These examples are striking and present a bleak warning of the direction that we could be leading the planet in by not just displaying the potential future, but by placing the individual inside it.

Banksy wrote… “I DON’T BELIEVE IN GLOBAL WARMING’

more traditional forms of art are also being created to comment on the issue. Zaria Forman creates large scale pastel drawings depicting regions affected by climate change, notably in her piece entitled “Arctic Ocean” which illustrates an aerial view of ice on the coast of Canada. Forman has discussed that her aim with her artwork is to “illuminate [climate change] data through a medium that can move us in a way that statistics cannot” and this is exactly the role that art has to play in this global issue. Emotive and stunning works of art can permeate culture far more than research and numbers are able to.

Art plays a crucial role in a cultural awakening to climate change

Artists could be criticised for creating this art merely to demonstrate their own artistic ability and the work may be seen as inconsequential though that would be to ignore the responsibility of art in shaping the world that we live in throughout history. Art plays a crucial role in a cultural awakening to climate change. Throughout history, social and political movements have often found support in art and culture and it is time for climate change to receive the same treatment. Relegated to the realm of dystopia and science fiction in art, literature and film for too long, climate change is now moving in to the public consciousness in a more serious and moving way. Innovative and striking explorations of climate change in art and culture are joining the fight against climate change now and helping to inspire action and create a culture that cares about climate change.

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