Art Activism, Climate Justice and COP15

In December 2009 we went to Copenhagen to protest at COP15. We used the £2000 artist fee from C Words: Carbon, Climate Capital Culture to fund our activism. We stayed with Ulla and her two children, attended some demonstrations, and thought and thought and thought about what it means for artists to be part of a social movement, in this case for climate justice. The breakdown of our expenditure (as well as accumulation of rubbish along the way) and The Institute – Dealing with Distractions at COP15 video film.


Lena did an artist talk entitled Art as Protest: With our £2000 artist fee we are going to COP15. This event was a joint presentation by the Cultures of Climate Change Group and the English Faculty Drama Seminar at the University of Cambridge on 2 Feb. The paper and power point presentation below.

Gary talked about the Institute at Politicized Practice Research Group at Loughborough University at the Radical Aesthetics Radical Art symposium which took place on 17 Feb. Gary argued that the maxim in English Law – qui tacet consentire – (‘silence gives consent’) is a useful way of thinking through our positions as artists. Gary argued that, for example, if we are silent about stuff we don’t like (from international politics to domestic issues in the home) the law construes that we are in agreement with that thing. Speaking out becomes a necessity especially when staying neutral was never even an option to begin with.

james difference

photo by The Gluts at Cafe Carbon

We participated at What Difference Does it Make roundtable discussion at the Stanley Picker Gallery in Kingston-Upon-Thames. The discussion was a part of Louder Than Bombs: Art, Action and Activism series of residencies and events. We sent the vacuum cleaner a package by way of a contribution to a debate about climate change and COP15. The package contained a letter to read and a parcel full of the rubbish we had collected from our own trip to Copenhagen in December 2009. It also included the last of the £2000 artist fee for C Words Carbon Climate Capital Culture: £191.08. The vacuum cleaner passed the money on to Transition Heathrow.