Home Climate justice seven artists on reducing their carbon footprint

seven artists on reducing their carbon footprint

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As the art world grapples with the climate crisis with organizations like the Gallery Climate Coalition helping to monitor and reduce its carbon emissions, the artists who are doing the work on which the entire sector depends have come together. shown at the forefront of this growing environmental awareness. . Here, a few big names reveal how they’re taking direct, practical and sometimes creative action in response to the climate and ecological emergency that awaits us all.

Antoine Gormley

“For me and the team in my studio, saving resources, in terms of energy, water and all the materials needed to complete the work, is a major concern. Together, we continue to question all our old ways of doing things to discover new ways to reduce our carbon footprint. We use recycled car brake discs as a raw material for smelting work and renewable energy to melt them, the roofs of our studios have solar panels, we plant trees and reduce our air travel, we ship the work by boat and assess the potentially harmful impact of each of the projects that we are called upon to consider. I support all means that hold governments and industries accountable, especially the oil industry, like ClientEarth and the Environmental Justice Foundation. There is still a lot to do.

“What should be the role of an artist in times of climate emergency? There are days when it’s hard to know. But it is important that all artists vigorously continue to do work that opens up new ways of thinking and feeling. . Massive change is needed. By making unimaginable objects and sharing them, the artists demonstrate each other’s capacity for change and the reactive sensitivity we need to build a collective and sustainable future.

Gary Hume

“Two years ago I took a nice speedboat trip down the Thames for a birthday present, and when a plane passed through leaving its vapor trail, I was extremely happy with our abilities. and the history of London. Then, as we tried to cross Waterloo Bridge, protesters from Extinction Rebellion blocked it. Once again, I felt incredible joy at what we can do as a species, while at the same time realizing that the very things I had just marveled at were causing problems in our path as well. I thought I had to participate and do my little bit to try and stop the global warming catastrophe.

“I had just been a BP Portrait Award judge so I wrote a letter to the National Portrait Gallery and asked other artists to join me in asking for their sponsorship to be stopped. I looked at my own practice and realized the main carbon -Producing part of my business is in shipping. I had never paid attention to it, I just handed it over to the galleries. moving company Cadogan Tate if they could take a look at my carbon output on air transport vs. ocean freight work. I don’t fly airplanes anymore. The only practical change is if I a show in May, I used to finish the job in April and now I have to finish the job in February. All I have to do is mentally change my end date – there is no creative cost. And you save so much carbon and so much money. “

In collaboration with Greenpeace, Fiona Banner delivered her granite sculpture, Point Klang (2020), in the offices of Defra. Photo: © Chris J. Ratcliffe / Greenpeace

Fiona’s Banner

“I wanted to deploy my sculptures as agents of change because the rhetoric coming from our government was duplicity. Use a dot to call it, put it in front of Defra [the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs], which is in the same building as the Home Office, felt appropriate. To some extent, there has been a change in my environmental practice. But I always thought about our strange and violent relationship with nature. It is right now that the science is before all of us. But while we’ve all been incredibly bad at responding to science, what we can respond to are pictures, things in front of us. Recently I used my work to create these powerful images.

“We have to change our relationship with the environment and we have to take more responsibility. This is why I continue to work where I think about our complicated relationship with nature – something that we revere and celebrate and, at the same time, abuse, manipulate and use as a resource in the most brutal way. It’s right in front of us: the headlights are on and we’re either blinded by it or we’re trying to respond to it. “

Tino Sehgal

“Obviously, traveling overland is the best way to do things – or not to travel at all and make a Zoom call. But I think the most important thing is to be aware. There is so much you can do without the spectacular of taking the Trans-Siberian Railway. It is a very simple matter to organize your year well.

“It really helps to do just one flight instead of five, and say, okay, I have to fly to LA, but I’m going to be doing all of my west coast stuff during that time. The way. what I see is that we are in a relationship with the planet And if you are in a relationship it means that you don’t just take, take, take, and you don’t just give, give, give : you take and you give.

“The climate crisis does not fit easily into artistic discourse because it mainly concerns simple and practical actions. And the reason we have a climate crisis these days is that basically every action we take emits carbon dioxide. fascinating problem.

Tino Seghal was speaking on June 8, 2021 at a Gallery Climate Coalition event

Waste is a recurring theme in the work of Gavin Turk, who was arrested in 2018 during a protest against Extinction Rebellion. Photo: © David Levene / Guardian / eyevine

Gavin Turk

“There is this feeling of growing importance around the environmental issue and it is now inevitable. While I know that high-level government systemic change is needed, it’s also hard to tell if you don’t do it yourself. So I try as much as possible to see all the things I do in the context of the environment.

“Around 2015-16, I had managed to bring my artistic practice to where I could do several exhibitions a year – I was traveling almost every week and flying around the world. participating in the environmental movement so I couldn’t justify flying so the last flight I took was in 2018.

“I was vegetarian for a long time, then my daughter and I tried to be vegan, almost like a kind of test. And now it’s been about six years. In the art that I do, I also push even more. about the idea of ​​waste and recycling and not really throwing things away. Everyone says I’m a hoarder, but I just think everything around me is really important. “

John akomfrah

“Climate justice, social interests, possible utopias: all of these merge and overlap, because all the ways we look at problems or solutions are also linked to our sense of what could be better. The transformation must be generalized – we must change our perception of what a good life is. We cannot change for less emissions if we are attached to a certain way of life which is linked to a certain consumption of energy.

“I’m passionately attached to the idea of ​​an aesthetic of recycling. And that’s because I realized that I was working in one of these spaces – temporal practice, cinema, television, cinema – which is an incredible waste. If you make a documentary, you shoot, say, 100 hours and all this travel, all this journey around the globe, leaving a carbon footprint of gigantic proportions, comes down to an hour of material, because it is all you have been commissioned to provide.

“I deeply believe that if I have a good relationship between myself and the practice, I also align forces that might be just outside. Yes, I am interested in archives for all kinds of memorial reasons and for their importance in maintaining a diaspora. But this leads to another ethical movement in which I believe there is so much going on out there, that to add more without thinking about what to do with what is already there is criminal. More and more, I feel that there is no need to add more things.

Jane and Louise Wilson

“Like many artists, we try to reduce the environmental impact of our film and photography practice by working on more sustainable digital solutions instead of analogous chemical processes.

“We try to consider our photo printing methods, so that we can reduce paper waste also by choosing companies and products that are environmentally friendly and that use recycled products in their manufacturing processes. made several online exhibitions last year which not only reduced the costs of producing and transporting works of art, but also presented a compelling virtual platform.