Art exhibition on climate change and sustainability

Meling ice sculptures

Ice sculptures made by Néle Azevedo for the exhibition opening; picture: Goethe-Institut/ Carola Dürr

With support from the BMUB, the exhibition 'Examples to follow! Expeditions in aesthetics and sustainability', has opened in Lima.

Organised by the Stiftung der Kulturen zu Fragen der Zeit, the exhibition 'Examples to follow! Expeditions in aesthetics and sustainability' has been touring the world since 2010. It has now arrived in the Peruvian capital Lima. The Goethe-Institut Lima invited the exhibition to the city to coincide with the climate negotiations taking place there later this year. The project is being supported by the German Federal Environment Ministry's International Climate Initiative (IKI). The exhibition opened on 28 October and is due to run until 18 January in Museo Metropolitano, the museum put forward by the authorities in Lima as a project partner. El Comercio, Peru's leading daily paper, described the exhibition as 'the most important cultural event in connection with the 20th World Climate Conference (COP20), which will take place in Lima in December' (edition printed on 10 November 2014).

Hannah Arendt provides another view of the exhibition in a quotation from the curator, Adrienne Goehler: 'What can art do that others cannot do? It can create a public.' But why even have an art exhibition on climate change and sustainability? The curator is convinced that the challenges we face through climate change demand a cross-discipline approach, with interaction between the arts, science, activism and inventions. In her exhibition she not only touches on the traditional political approach prevalent in corporate departments and various lines of business, which she tries to contrast with a more holistic approach, she also addresses the entrenched attitudes in the art business. By doing this, she introduces the concept of pure art to the theme. Artworks are displayed alongside inventions as the exhibition shows examples of work where the boundaries between art and business are fluid. This is the first major exhibition within Germany to deal with the cultural dimensions of sustainability.

Artwork by Michael Saup; the amount of oil exhibited equals the energy consumption generated by downloading the trailer 'Avatar' one million times. Picture: Goethe-Institut/ Carola Dürr.This artistic approach to climate change and sustainability allows the visitors to explore the emotional aspects of the often complex and seemingly highly technical issues. And some things that we cannot grasp directly through our senses are transformed by art into a sensuous experience. An example of this is the installation created by Michael Saup, which visually highlights the CO2 emissions that result from our daily use of the internet.

Through the IKI project, the exhibition is being complemented by works from local artists and enriched by an extensive supporting programme. These aspects are being jointly organised by the Goethe-Institut Lima and the Instituto de Ciencias de la Naturaleza, Territorio y Energías Renovables (INTE/PUCP). The supporting programme includes film showings, workshops, discussions and presentations with international experts from the art world, academia, government institutions, foundations and NGOs.