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Many of us ‘preach to the converted’ (so to speak), in our work, with hope that our efforts might either broaden conversations or deepen knowledge.
If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably an interested or committed cultural environmentalist.
Thank you for that.
… the so-called deficit model or the idea that people will change their behaviour related to some problem — say, the effects of smoking — if only they had more information about it.CBC Radio’s What On Earth How the arts might help us grapple with climate change
In other words, I assume that ‘once you know, you act’.
This is both arrogant and naive.
The truth is that most people, including most artists, do not respond to ‘wake up calls’ about climate change and other existential issues, no matter how passionate or compelling the arguments might be.
The public are overwhelmed by the magnitude (and invisibility) of the issues and live in denial.
A form of emotional, psychic, and/or existential distress caused by the lived experience of unwanted transformation or degradation of one’s home environment or territory.Photographer and writer Joan Sullivan in Solastalgia
There is also the issue of privilege: of being aware and changing one’s behaviour. I like Jimmy Ung and his ‘Shaping Privilege’ project on this.
I want to explore how we can develop a clearer and more practical understanding of the concept of Privilege, by focusing on the different forms it can take, and how it affects dynamics of power at a personal, social and systemic level, as well as its resulting ethical implications. By reshaping the way we understand privilege, I believe we can make better sense of the world around us—an essential condition for true inner and outer peace. How can we be truly at peace in a world we don’t understand?Jimmy Ung, Shaping Privilege
What then is an earnest art and environment podcast producer to do?
How to remain engaged with a modicum of hope?
I think you have to follow your gut instinct and buckle down on where you think you can make a real difference and not look back.
My gut tells me to produce cultural content that raises the public’s awareness about environmental issues and that leads to environmental action.
I call this a conscient gesture.
The audience is likely to be other artists, cultural workers and cultural environmentalists. This is ok. We can help each other figure things out and support an active network.
‘Art can be a powerful way to convey the complexity of the problem and to close the gap between what we know and what we actually do about climate change’.CBC Radio’s What On Earth How the arts might help us grapple with climate change
My challenges are to overcome being terrified, to learn from ah-ha moments, to observe microcosms, to understand intent and to reset, deeply, in order to move from preaching to teaching and from education to transformation.
Imagine art which is capable of rekindling values of care, kindness, compassion, action-taking, social justice and cooperation. I’d like art to take a larger social dimension. Art isn’t about stagnation, conformism, fear. Art is about risk taking, resistance, empowerment and transformation. If we are going to have to re-engineer society after coronavirus, we need art that is less about individualism and the “artistic genius” and more about artists and institutions that focus on systematic solutions and collective/collaborative practices that foster community care and participation, collective consciousness and action-taking.Curator Carmen Salas What should we expect from art in the next few years/decades? And what is art, anyway?
I welcome your feedback.