In midst of climate change crisis, art helps us cope
The Economist writes about a number of recent art exhibits inspired by the climate change crisis:
The idea that art has the power to move, persuade and even inspire change is an old one. “Art is not a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it,” declared Bertolt Brecht. But climate change poses some tough problems for artists: as a concept, it has long seemed too big, too grim, too abstract, too political and too far away. Efforts to portray it quickly become too preachy, too scientific, too shaming. Few can make a living from making people feel bad about themselves and doomed about the world.
And it would seem that those who would pay to see such art would already be aware of the climate change crisis. The same challenge exists for journalism and documentaries and news programs about climate change. One of the challenges of producing any creative work about climate change is that it can sometimes feel as if you're preaching to the choir and not reaching new people. This is not reason enough to not cover this important issue, but it is a challenge. Thankfully, as The Economist notes, there is a trend underway:
Yet the MoMA PS1 show seems to be part of a trend. As extreme weather events seem to turn the distant threat of global warming into something tangible, cultural meditations on climate change are becoming more popular. In January Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt began what it calls “The Anthropocene Project”, a two-year culture programme that considers the human impact on the natural world. In October Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, one of the largest in North America, will host Carbon 14, an art exhibition and four-month programme of plays, talks and seminars about climate change. In apocalyptic fiction, climate change is steadily replacing nuclear warfare as the doom-monger’s cataclysmic threat of choice.
In this era of superstorms and massive wildfires, perhaps we have reached a point where people don't want to pretend the planet isn't warming and hope this problem will go away. We know it is and it won't. Maybe now people are anxious to hear the topic discussed and examined through journalism and art, both as a tool for education, but also a comfort to know that there are others equally concerned about the problem. As The Economist concludes, the crisis remains terrifying, but art is becoming a way to cope.