IMAGE BY JACK WALKER HEPPELL
“The point of no return is no longer over the horizon. It is in sight and hurtling toward us.” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres exclaimed as world leaders gathered in Madrid for the COP25 – The UN Climate Change Conference, which takes place December 2 – 13, 2019.
Discussions will undoubtedly be heated as new record highs of greenhouse gases have been recorded, delegates will be working to secure commitments as set forth in the Paris Climate Change Agreement. And with next year’s COP26 fast approaching, the mandate is to ensure developed countries resubmit effective strategies for achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
While the world watches and waits, artists are being activated to use their platforms to bring awareness to this crisis and the summit. #CreateCOP25, a contest founded by Art Partner, one of the world’s leading creative talent agencies, ‘called on young creatives and climate activists to submit artistic responses to the environment and climate emergency.’ #CreateCOP25 was born of the need to create a visual dialogue surrounding the climate crisis, resulting in a visceral and hopefully real reaction.
The jury – designer and entrepreneur Francisco Costa, Eco-Age Founder Livia Firth, fashion designer Gabriela Hearst, artist and writer Wilson Oryema, agent Giovanni Testino, Vogue Italia Creative Director Ferdinando Verderi, and photographer Harley Weir – reviewed hundreds of multi-disciplinary submissions from over forty countries, ranging from photography to fashion design to film. The following are the six most impactful works with winner Nicholas Bennet, receiving $10,000 and five runner-ups receiving $2,000 each to fund future projects that respond to climate change.
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NICHOLAS BENNET, 19, NORTH YORKSHIRE
“I wanted a fresh view on the future and to rethink the importance of traditions that we take for granted but would miss if they were gone. I focused on daily rituals and products that can be overlooked but are a definite part of working life and overall well-being.
With this film I aim to rethink what’s most important to us: tradition, innovation or a mixture of the two. To look at different ideas for reusing products, maintaining well-being and living conditions in the threatening futures. Yorkshire’s recent flooding as an example. Testing whether you can overcome the problem without new ways of living. With increasing flooding, getting to work and staying dry would be difficult so I had to create simple waders that could be hidden and forgotten about.”
KAILASH BHARTI, 22, LONDON
AN EXTRACT FROM “HALF LIFE”
PHOTOGRAPHY + POETRY
“A sense of urgency has grown in me in response to the decline of our natural world, as well its multitude of repercussions. Poetry and photography allow me to navigate the emotions that arise from living in this age, communicate and navigate feelings around the concept of extinction and the weight of the current climate emergency. Equipping young people with the power to translate feelings of hopelessness into positive action. Starting from the small proposal of planting a seed with intention.”
ZHU OHMU, 25, AUSTRALIA
“THAT FEELING WHEN YOU FINALLY DECIDE YOU WANT TO HAVE CHILDREN ONE DAY, AND THE NEXT DAY YOU READ THAT CLIMATE SCIENTISTS ARE WARNING WE ONLY HAVE 12 YEARS BEFORE THE SHIT HITS THE FAN #2”
“Divulging the implicit nature of the internet as not only a place to disseminate information concerning environmental annihilation, but as a community where we awaken our awareness of our personal contribution and reaction to the fallout of our role within the destruction of the planet’s ecosystems.
12 years is also the length of childhood, and this challenges the artist to consider the personal uncertainty of climate change as an intimate politic. The mention of such a private thought as having children one day in the title, is not just the title – it’s a life. This is no longer just a temporal frame, the possibility of life – it is the consideration of if it is more loving not to bring a child into a world that is facing and contributing to an uncertain future.
The organic fluidity of these ceramic structures, their flow of form openly addresses the environmental crisis of the Anthropocene – of earth as a vessel that is slowly, then quickly losing its ability to hold.”
SIS GURDAL, TURKEY/ NEW YORK
“IN YOUR OWN TIME”
“I focus on the connection between mental health and climate action using a ‘Meditation Guide’ format, in which the guide attracts the listener to focus on the short-term self, ignoring any dangers and signs of global warming.
The format and core message merge in an unexpected sense; creating a duality of how our mental health is negatively impacted by the lack of focus, while drawing attention to the need for focus when it comes to climate change. By asking my audience to steer away from any thoughts about climate change, I call for the need to create clarity in the climate discourse.
I open these ideas as meditative questions rather than presenting them as complete statements.”
ANDREA SAUM, 25, NEW YORK
“In this video, the dancers have created an incoming tide that is disrupted by manmade pollution. Using physical bodies to embody the characteristics of environmental breakdown gives the audience a more personal and relatable experience to changing environments that otherwise may seem out of reach and unimportant to their day to day lives. Having humans embody the nature we are destroying also creates a paradox that hopefully makes the viewer slightly uncomfortable.”
DAPHNE GOMEZ, 18, PERU
“MI PEQUEÑO ESFUERZO” (MY LITTLE EFFORT)
A traditional Peruvian ‘Marinera’ dress from recycled materials, including used jute flour bags and bottle caps, and organised for the 2016 ‘Marinera’ world champion to wear it for a special performance in her community.
“‘My little effort’ is an initiative that seeks to pay tribute to all those attempts to improve the difficult environmental situation, no matter how small they may be. I was inspired by the ‘marinera dance’ for being a typical dance of my country that I have always liked. I thought that dance and culture would attract the attention of others and thus be able to deliver our message. The message is that we can all carry out climate awareness actions, regardless of our profession or daily activity.”