A climate for change

2011-12-02 10:33

As world leaders and climate activists gather in Durban for the 17th yearly Conference Of the Parties (COP17), artists from across the world have also descended on the city to make their voices heard.

As part of COP17 – a civil society climate conference – creatives from around the globe have joined the call for action to be taken to reverse the effects of climate change.

Across the city, murals, exhibitions and pop-up shows can be seen.

The exhibitions, which are run by the DurbanKnights collective, are aimed at building public awareness around climate change, with a particular focus on Africa.

According to DurbanKnights’ Angus Joseph, art is a valid platform of engagement. “It’s very important for us to speak directly to people so that they can join the call for immediate action,” he says.

“The emerging narrative from the artists has been that of COP being a ‘conference of polluters’ and we are hoping this will help people take note of the cause.”

Among the many works in the city are the three Oil in the Soil murals, as part of a global-tagging initiative where artists recreate a mural several times in the same city. Durban has joined cities like Lagos, Nairobi and Santiago.

Speaking about the importance of creative solidarity and this initiative, artist Keith Brunner says: “It’s absolutely important for artists to collaborate.

This is one of those initiatives where, regardless of where you are, you can own the space and take action. I really hope the powers that be will heed this call.”

Also joining in are musicians and videographers, such as award-winning Durban poet and activist Ian “Ewok” Robinson, who has created a song that has gone viral on the web.

Entitled Occupy, it has become the informal anthem of civil-society groups during the conference.

Visiting artists have also been hosting workshops and creative outreach programmes, in a bid to help create a lasting legacy of protest and environmental art.

Workshops like these, says American photographer Carly Hosford, serve as catalysts and are important in building stronger networks.

“It’s vital for artists to share their knowledge and resources, and work with civil society groups.

Through workshops, artists can share knowledge – and even those that have not been at COP can engage on various aspects of protest and environmental art.

We hope this work can be collected and curated soon and be part of a global exhibition,” she says.

»?COP17 ends on Friday, December 9

» Follow our COP17 coverage here.

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