CCCB

An exhibition inaugurated this week in Barcelona discusses the influence of human behavior on Earth and casts a different light on our world

It’s 2100 and we have a very, very different world. There is no food for all and water is an overpriced good. Lands are dry – well, not all lands. Cattle and fertile farms prosper in Siberia, Greenland or Alaska, but big parts of Latin America, Africa and Europe are now desertified. Does it sound like a nightmare or a prefiguration of the future? Or is this the beginning of the end of the world as we know it?

On Wednesday 25th of October, the «Despŕes de la fí del món» (After the End of the World) exhibition was inaugurated at the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB), Spain with a selected audience that was invited to participate in an “Artists’ Talk”, an event whereby a number of artists shared their work and views of the world.

Iron mines in Australia. Source: Daily Overview from Benjamin Grant

Benjamin Grant, the founder of Daily Overview, a project which explores the power of high-resolution satellite photography and which made him a popular social media personality, was one of the talking artists. His idea is to offer a different perspective on our planet, either by sharing beautiful landscapes such as the Amazon rainforest and the Florida Everglades or the ugly impact of mining and of the refugee crisis worldwide. Some of his work bears a strong resemblance to that of Piet Mondrian and Ellsworth Kelly. «There is a lot of thinking behind my work. I want to raise awareness of our planet by showing how it’s changing through perspectives we can’t have in our everyday lives», he said.

The artists and expeditionists Kate Davies and Liam Young presented Unknown Fields, a nomad study that shows the shadows of the contemporary city. In their expeditions around the world, they uncover the impacts of industry and consumption on nature and human lives. The “forgotten ones” – that is the hidden workers of the fashion industry or the cargo ships that travel the world endlessly to deliver goods – are integrated with our daily lives in unexpected and surprising ways.

Unknown Fields Division Showreel 2013 from liam young on Vimeo.

The amazing transformation of Singapore is the topic chosen by Charles Lim. Using maps and telling local stories, he exposes how rapidly the landscape of his country has changed – through land reclamation from the sea, elimination of hills, and renaming islands, Singapore has lived through an intense land revolution, still ongoing.

The collective Rimini Protokoll, from Germany, shared a surprising experience with Documental Theatre. One of the ‘plays’ invited an audience of 500 people to be part of an imaginary Conference of the Parties (COP) whereby they are asked to make decisions for each country and try to reach the 2020 target on greenhouse gases emissions. It is an exercise of awareness and commitment that changes the perspective of normal citizens on climate change.

«Després de la fí del món» is an exhibition that explores Earth in 2017, a planet irreversibly transmuted into Paul J. Crutzen’s Anthropocene after many centuries of the influence of human behavior. Yet it is also an exhibition that forecasts the second half of 21st century and determines our generation’s responsibility to future generations.

What do alternative sources of energy, cooking workshops and a virtual reality device to make people feel like refugees have in common? Cultural innovation and the will to change positively the world we live in. Last month, the Center for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona hosted a round of conferences and a prize for social innovation, gathering specialists in such topics as sustainable cultural management and climate change in a two-day row of interesting debates about the challenges of our times.

Cultural Innovation International Prize
Cultural Innovation International Prize

The pannels started with Laura Pando, an experienced cultural manager who strives to help the cultural sector to adopt more sustainable practices. In the last 10 years, Laura helped museums, music festivals and governments to opt for clean energy solutions, calculate their carbon footprint and develop leadership in the industry. «In a recent poll, we discovered that 50% of people don’t remember ever having a conversation about climate change. Art and culture have a great responsibility on promoting this debate. If we don’t talk about it, it won’t exist in people’s minds», she said.

The following conference was presented by Laura Faye Tenembaum, science senior editor for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. In a passionate talk, she engaged the audience on the idea that climate change is a «fascinating challenge». «You can’t see countries’ political divisions or boundaries from the space. We’re all facing the climate change and have to work together», she said. Laura warned that the effects of carbon pollution might be invisible on earth but are becoming more visible from space. Climate change, she says, is not a topic of the future. It’s already been happening for decades now and affecting our daily lives. «We need to transform how we live. Society is resistent to change, and has a negative feeling about it. I dare you to face the challenges as exciting”, she concluded.

Laura Faye Tenembaum
Laura Faye Tenembaum

Laura Tenembaum was also a member of the jury for the Cultural Innovation International Prize. In its second edition, the competition gathered 228 projects from 59 countries, mainly developed by young researchers, artists and entrepreneurs. The 10 finalists presented their projects in Barcelona and the winner was The Newton Machine, a battery prototype that stores renewable energy using gravity. The prize also gave an audience award to Neighbourhood Upcycling, a locally based project for plastic recycling that can be replicated to promote circular economy worldwide.

The jury gave a special mention for the project Ode for the Future, which used art, installation, and performances to show the effects of climate change in six geographic spots from Catalonia, Spain. All the projects, though, had the opportunity to be presented to a broader audience and to create an impact – the finalists received feedback from the jury, as well as ideas to put into practice.

The projects were exposed at the Centre of Contemporary Culture in Barcelona
The projects were exposed at the Centre of Contemporary Culture in Barcelona

Click here to read more about the 10 finalists and the Cultural Innovation International Prize. (in Spanish)

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

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