There is no Wealth but Life
As an artist and creator it is necessary to embrace trouble, uncertainty and risk to engage with the wider conversation about sustainability, to confront the challenges, to question injustices and to explore difficult solutions to difficult problems. With climate change and the sixth mass extinction accelerating, we cannot look away, we have no option but, as Donna Haraway says, to stay with the trouble.
And this is what the students of Cambridge School of Art have done through their works for the Sustainability Art Prize 2019. From addressing sea water levels rising to domestic violence, plastic pollution or biodiversity loss, they have created work that talks about the complexity and interconnectedness of sustainability, knowing that what affects one part of life on earth will affect all.
This year I have invited two outside projects to participate in his exhibition alongside the students' works. Artist duo Ackroyd and Harvey, who have contributed to this conversation with their fantastic grass coat, which they presented recently at the London Fashion week in protest against the polluting and ethically questionable accreditations of the fast fashion industry. With this work they want to call attention to the environmental movement called Extinction Rebellion, which has recently staged protests across the country to demand real actions to combat climate change.
The other guests to this exhibition are the School Strike for Climate, which was initiated by Swedish youth activist Great Thunberg when she was 15 years old, striking from school in front of the Swedish Parliament on Fridays to protest against the grown up politicians who do nothing to combat climate change because, she says ‘Why should I be studying for a future that soon will be no more, when no one is doing anything to save that future?” Children and youngsters from all schools in Cambridge joined her in the strike on Friday 15th March and what you see here are banners they have donated for the exhibition.
I believe it is important that the academic research about sustainability remain porous so as to connect to the community and to engage in a wider conversation about sustainability beyond the university walls.