Art for Climate Action: Texts of Restoration

In today’s world, the effects of climate change and the accompanying catastrophes are a reality confronting the present and future survival of mankind hence the adoption of art as a way to address this. Consequently, the climate crisis has informed research and collaborations across different disciplines, fortifying advocacy and activism. “Ways of Repair: Loss and Damage,” a key example of a symbiotic network of trans-local collaborators, has commissioned three critical thinkers to create the “Ways of Repair: Loss and Damage Texts of Repair.”

The need for the integration of knowledge and perspectives of artistic practitioners representing affected communities into consideration and negotiations on Loss and Damage has been greatly motivated by the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund at COP 27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and the eventual operationalization of the fund at COP 28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In a press statement, the program has announced a diverse pool of professionals from the arts and humanities, including the Queer Black troublemaker and Feminist poet, Alexis Pauline Gumbs. A love Evangelist and an aspirational cousin to all sentient beings, Alexis’s creation in the Texts of Repair will be guided by the last works of the poet and environmentalist Audre Lorde.

With a provisional title of “Generating Survival: A Ceremony for Transforming Loss,” it will be a written ceremony accentuating loss, and the swell of grief, with questions, offerings, and provocations that offer support in finding a collective way forward in the details of our survival. Alexis is the author of “Survival is a Promise: The Eternal Life of Audre Lorde” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2024), “Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals” (AK Press, 2020), to name a few. “Her poetic work in response to the needs of her cherished communities has held space for multitudes in mourning and movement,” the statement read in part.

An interdisciplinary scholar, speaker, and author, Dr. Farhana Sultana, a professor of Geography and the Environment at Syracuse University, will work to document the loss and damage happening and how it impacts communities in the global south through the lens of climate coloniality.

“Decolonizing Climate Coloniality” from “Not Too Late: Changing the Climate Story from Despair to Possibility” (Haymarket Books, 2023) is among her latest publications. Using her expertise, the visiting fellow at the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University, Bangladesh, will draw attention to the care, repair, and mutuality work that exists within and beyond impacted communities to highlight the unequal burdens of climate change.

The award-winning writer on Contemporary art, global politics, and ecology, Professor T.J. Demos, is the third member of the pool of commissioned critical thinkers. A professor in the Department of the History of Art and Visual Cultures at the University of California, Santa Cruz, T.J. plans to bring critical analysis to the loss and damage discourse by focusing on the aesthetics and politics of experimental artistic practices that connect harm and reparation to care and transformation, extending the horizon of flourishing ecological futurity beyond green capitalist solutionism.

“Beyond the World’s End: Ecologies of Catastrophe, Just Futures, and Arts of Living at the Crossing” (Duke University Press, 2020) is among the recent publications of a writer whose work centers broadly on the conjunction of art and politics, examining the ability of artistic practice to invent innovative and experimental strategies that challenge dominant social, political, and economic conventions.

The Ways of Repair: Loss and Damage Program is supported by the Open Society Foundation and is part of the Loss and Damage Collaboration’s Art and Culture Program. The initiative aimed at facilitating a transdisciplinary exchange around the issue of loss and damage caused by the climate crisis is a groundbreaking effort in the call to attention on climate change and also goes a long way in amplifying the voices of the affected communities.

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