Culture and Climate Change – Editorial

One of Tea Mäkipää’s 'Atlantis' installations, Reykjavik 2008; © Tea MäkipääWhat will the climate be like in future? How will our society change? How will people around the world react, and how will they cope with all this?

These are questions that are being raised not only in the field of science; nowadays, they are also a subject for art, social sciences and the humanities.

The Goethe-Institut has defined “Culture and Climate Change” as a key topic and aims to focus on reflections on climate change in the worlds of art and cultural studies.

The international Goethe-Instituts have been made aware of the importance of this topic as a result of the growing interest shown by their local partners. Interests differ depending on the local situation. It is clear that the issue is being addressed by the arts worldwide and that the ways in which they are approaching and critically examining the topic are as diverse as they are exciting.

How do artists view the subject of climate change? Most pick up on one particular aspect – determined by their individual and aesthetic interests – which they seek to question and condense; they shed light on individual facets and reflect on the relevant issues. They employ the entire spectrum of creative techniques to achieve the art itself, using everything from photography and installations to concept and action art.

Equally wide-ranging are the artistic statements and messages that the artists seek to communicate: they include documentation, even meditation, as well as quiet criticism and vociferous activism. Besides the fine arts, it is above all films and performances that explore questions of climate change. Architecture and urban planning produce results that have a concrete impact on our everyday lives; they react to change processes and to calls for sustainable concepts, and attempt to use innovative solutions to achieve a new “greener” way to build.

The platform goethe.de/climate wishes to use examples to illustrate how art and cultural studies address the questions concerning the consequences of climate change, and to demonstrate that they are participants in the climate change debate who should be taken seriously. It is not possible to predict how cultural knowledge and artistic analysis will be translated into political or everyday action. The aim of the platform goethe.de/climate is to help make the variety of artistic contributions visible and in so doing to set in motion an international exchange on the subject.
Andrea Zell,
Goethe-Institut “Science and Contemporary Events” department

Translation: Chris Cave
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V.

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