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Art & Climate Destruction

Updated: Mar 5, 2019


The art of protest is centuries old and art is often at the vanguard of social change. Art historically has informed and influenced a wide variety of social, political, cultural and anti-war and anti-capitalist movements and in the process produced some of the world’s best art.


The 20th century Avant - Garde art of Weimar Germany used a variety of art (the collage of Hannah Hoch and Kurt Schwitters) to create social change. The 1917 Russian revolution used art to mobilise the populace, (Alexander Rodchenko) the Mexican revolution used murals to promote and inform theirs (Diego Rivera) and more recently a variety of anti-war artists such as Paul Nash, Max Ernst and Peter Kennard have successfully influenced public opinion as to the futility of war. The protests that ended the Vietnam war were driven by music. (Country Joe & The Fish, CSNY) and social movements such as civil rights and feminism were highly influenced by art. Jazz, song and poetry were prevalent in the civil rights movement, and Jo Spence, The Hackney Flashers, Nan Goldin and many others produced great feminist art.


More recently the Occupy Wall Street movement sent shock-waves throughout the realm of art and culture when Occupy artists took their work to the streets, designed posters and logos to collectively construct the aesthetic appeal of the movement, and organized to occupy museums such as the MoMA.


I seems to me that the art of climate destruction and environmental catastrophe has a slow burn. I am not aware of any major art institution that has promoted or exhibited art related to climate change despite there being a number of artists engaged with the topic. The reasons for this are complex but may be linked in some way to the fact that many major art institutions are funded by fossil fuel extractions corporations (such as BP) who use art sponsorship to launder their toxic image.


There is good (most of it digital) art related to climate destruction out there. You just have to dig around for it. Art, and its capacity to inform and change public opinion regarding climate destruction, should really be promoted, particularly in schools. The links below, taken from The Guardian are a welcome addition to this struggle.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/feb/20/artists-fighting-climate-change

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/20/arts-climate-change


Please note, the views expressed here are my own and not necessarily shared by CANWM