Image from Evening Standard: Kris Martin, 100 Years, 2004
It's a bomb, but a quiet rather beautiful one. It will blow up in a hundred years and self destruct. Just like the world if we don't watch out. That's the message of this huge art exhibition, Earth: Art of a changing world, dedicated to warning of the dangers of climate change at the esteemed Royal Academy of Arts.
The exhibition includes the who's who of artists in the field: Edward Burtynsky, Cornelia Parker, Chris Jordan, Antony Gormley plus many others who have lots to say. Its thesis follows, uneasily, through 5 themes (perceived reality, destruction, the new reality, artists as explorer) but it's better to just absorb the impact of the work rather than divide it into categories.
Mona Hatoum: Hot Spot 2006
Climate change art is popping up everywhere--it's a different and perhaps more accessible way of educating people about the issue and appealing to their senses about the enormity of the state of affairs.
What is the artist's role and how successful can they be? One commented: "It is not to advocate solutions. It is something much deeper and more subtle-- to make us reflect and rethink what it is to be a human being in the 21st century. We don't have that much power. It's nature that creates us. That's the kind of education too subtle to put on a syllabus: that's the important role of art."
Clare Twomey: Specimen, 2009
The first section of the show is the Introduction, and it shows us familiar work in unfamiliar ways. Clare Twomey depicts some lovely flowers made of unfired clay. But some are behind glass walls and protected, whilst others are strewn on the floor. They are natural in their depiction but unnatural in their fragility and colour.
Ackroyd & Harvey: Beuys' Acorns, 2007 onwards
Ackroyd & Harvey have planted acorns in pots in homage to the German artist Joseph Beuys who planted 7000 Oaks as part of a huge art project in which he planted trees in Kassel, Germany. They also travelled to the Arctic, as members of a Cape Farewell project in 2004. They collected a polar bear bone and reduced it to carbon graphite and turned it into a man-made diamond which is on display. It is a statement on carbon consumption and poses the question, what price is paid for carbon.
Chris Jordan: Paper Bags, 2007
In the Perceived Reality section, Chris Jordan, long a TreeHugger favourite, has a piece. It depicts the 1.14 M brown paper bags used every hour in American supermarkets. Edward Burtynsky is represented with a very topical picture of the Alberta Oil Sands in Fort McMurray ( oh Canada).
Lucy+Jorge Orta: Antarctic Village--No Borders, Dome Dwelling, 2007
In the Artist as Explorer section, this tent, stitched together out of various odds and ends of textiles, national flags, and second hand clothes, was installed in Antarctica in 2007. The domes symbolised the plight of immigrants fleeing because of social and political issues.
Sophe Calle was part of the Cape Farewell expedition in 2008. Following her dying mother's last wishes, she took her mother's ring and necklace and buried them in a glacier. Panels on the wall contemplate the items' future.
Cornelia Parker: Heart of Darkness, 2004
In the Destruction section of the show, Cornelia Parker's Heart of Darkness fills a whole room. It is made up of pieces of charred wood from a Florida forest fire. She says that her work is not deliberately propagandist but "after all, the first world war artists were recruited to help fight the war - and this is the equivalent of war."
Darren Almond: Tide, 2008
Darren Almond's wall of 567 digital wall clocks registers the relentless progression of time. They draw our attention to the fact that time is running out.
Yao Lu: Spring in the City, 2009
In the Re-reality section, images of the new world are shown as artists envision different futures and new, altered realities. Yao Lu photographs mounds of garbage and manipulates the images to create fake chinese landscapes, inspired by traditional paintings. They reflect on the radical changes affecting modern China.