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‘’Artivism’’ Against Climate Change

Artivism aims for people to uniquely curate and design visual and performance artworks consisting of multi-media art formats such as acrylic, charcoal, photography, videography and spoken word to advance social justice issues in today's changing dynamics regarding various problems and violations. The activism under artivism shows that we as humans can play a part in defending human rights and stopping mass violence. Through their artworks, artivists are the promoters of a world that appreciates and equally respects human rights for all. Furthermore, the artworks beneath artivism illustrate the significance and obstacles of identifying and resolving the horror of the consequences of the catastrophes. Today, artivism is of great importance, especially in raising awareness about the adverse effects of the climate crisis and taking action on how we can save our future before it's too late.

Climate Change Art

Environmental disasters have been occurring since the Industrial Revolution. These results have shaped not only the economic and political statuses of the nations but also the sociological, social and cultural ones. Art is one of these statuses as well.

Climate change art is inspired by climate change and global warming. It is commonly planned to overcome humans' brutal acts through nature and create awareness by making the data "vivid and accessible". The purpose is to "make an emotional connection...through the power of art". Artworks under the movement of climate change art vary in how they are analysed and influence the observer.

According to The Guardian, in reaction to a backlash during the 1990s against the usage of fossil fuels and nuclear plants, significant energy corporations stepped up their charitable giving, including to arts organisations, "to a point where multiple prominent national associations and institutions were on the payroll of the fossil fuel giants," prominently silencing many artists who work in the field of environmental art.

In 2009, Madeleine Bunting, former associate editor and columnist at The Guardian, wrote an article called ‘’The rise of climate-change art’’. This article stated that the art world was ‘’waking up to climate change art’’ by underlining the importance of rediscovering a sense of purpose in activism.

For a long time, arts organisations have committed to self-censorship to pay for their exhibitions, putting on special programming and wrapping critical topics, as long as it wasn’t a thorough discussion of our dependence on fossil fuels. Unfortunately, this tactical exclusion of an issue from public debate for more than a generation has led to ignorance and unawareness.

Art News specifies that climate change disasters can be portrayed pointedly in artwork since ‘’art has a way of getting ahead of the general discourse because it can convey information in novel ways.’’

In addition to the artists’ approach to this issue, there are also five critical understandings of how arts organisations can tackle the ongoing climate crisis:

  1. Start Collecting Data to measure their carbon footprints.

  2. Cut Down Emissions to reduce carbon footprints by investing in eco-friendly infrastructures and finding green energy sources to power the building’s electrical and heating systems by eliminating all landfill waste.

  3. Offset Carbon Emissions to balance out the carbon impact.

  4. Stage Environmentally Themed Exhibitions for raising awareness and giving a chance to artivists.

  5. Rethink Radically the Status Quo for becoming more sustainable.

What is ‘’Indigenous Art?’’

Indigenous Art contains methods and techniques outside the Eurocentric traditions of artistic composition, design and categorisation, along with the engagement with all significant movements and trends regarding art in today’s dynamics. Indigenous art comes to light of living cultures, driving it highly dynamic and altering gradually. Today, many indigenous artists and the sovereignty under the indigenous culture inspire the need for change and act concerning environmental pollution and climate change through the concept of ‘’artivism’’.

The collection of Indigenous Art contains many and numerous divergent artistic techniques that perform outside of specified western doctrines of art and art history. Many contemporary Indigenous artists sketch and paint on their ancestral heritage, combining these with their knowledge and engagement with global problems such as climate change and human rights violations. The consequent artworks usually critique social conditions and injustices resulting from the colonisation process (and climate crisis). The background of forced assimilation, cultural repression, displacement, and exile represent elements of these artworks. The National Gallery of Canada’s Collection of Indigenous Art includes First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artworks, emphasising contemporary art under artivism from 1980 to the present day.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ cultural knowledge and worldly-wise interpretation of weather systems is an essential cornerstone for Big Weather, an exhibition showing at NGV Australia’s Ian Potter Centre in 2021. ''Climate Crisis'' has been consistently at the surface: It is evident in artworks by artists like Karla Dickens, Clinton Naina, Treahna Hamm and Nici Cumpston, pointing out the changing climate patterns and the enduring consequences of the colonisation of the land and its processes.

‘’Stolen climate is made from cotton and bleach, representing the capitalist industry of cotton born from slavery and theft, which helped create the foundation of what is known today as climate change. White King bleach is used in this work as a metaphor for western imperialism and colonisation that has also played a major role in the creation of the circumstances that we face together globally as people.’’ - Clinton Naina

A Hub for Climate Artivists: Terra Movement

Terra Movement is a community of artivists who use creativity to help awareness concerning the planet and the world's citizens. Terra Movement’s mission is to help the planet earth by utilising artworks in different areas. Furthermore, it aims to inspire artivists worldwide to become a part of this unique community and make a difference. As the first-ever platform for artivists, Terra Movement welcomes a new approach to activism in today’s challenging problems.

You can find our interview with Sofia Hadjiosif, the founder of Terra Movement, available here.

IG: @sofia.the.artivist


Closing thoughts

Our world is faced with a new disaster almost every day. So it is clear that more than ever, we need the dynamics of artivism to raise awareness and stay at the centre of people's attention in terms of both the violation of universal human rights applicable to each individual and the catastrophes of climate change. Of course, it is challenging to get everyone's attention. However, using artivism to engage in activism on issues of urgency and importance makes a lot of sense because the artistic dynamics of artivism appeal to human emotions. It is also precious compared to other types of activism, as it also holds emotional power. However, it should not be forgotten that all kinds of beneficial and non-corrupted activism are very valuable in creating a healthy and wholesome consciousness.


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