At COP 27, an artist asks attendees to feel climate change

[13-11-2022 11:28 AM]

Ammon News - As world leaders debate climate change policies at COP27, the annual UN climate summit on Friday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Bahia Shahab wants to literally turn the temperature around. Cairo-based artist poses a threat to a hot planet A reference to the current, human-centered geological era, “Heaven and Hell in the Anthropocene” is more visceral with an immersive installation.

Set in an area known as the Green Zone at COP27, the artwork features two unlabeled rooms—described as “landscapes of eternity”—to represent two possible outcomes for humanity. There are different temperatures, sights, sounds and smells. Inspired by a 2011 study that suggests people who are in warmer environments are more likely to call climate change a problem, the piece, Created in collaboration with the arts and social justice organization Fine Acts, it outlines the physical and personal stakes of a global issue that, to many, can seem abstract and unbearable.

Shehab, 45, told The Washington Post in a phone interview, “We’re trying to simplify and streamline scientific data, make it relevant to everyday people, and help them feel like they have access to decision-making.” has power.” “We just see the flood and we see the news and we get scared. [The installation] powerful because I can tell you something that’s really complicated in a very simple way.”

COP27 comes at the end of a year that has seen devastating floods in Pakistan, landslides in South Africa, drought in China and heat waves in Europe and the United States. Through this sensory installation, Shehab hopes to give visitors a sense of agency and challenge those who say there is nothing we can do. She wants to make the threat feel immediate and concrete – but not insurmountable.

“Something is innate. It has nothing to do with our mind. It has to do with our biology,” Shehab says of the psychology behind the artwork. He added that the installation also explores deep spiritual beliefs. “The sermons we’ve been fed for, like, millennials say, if you’re bad, you’ll burn in hell. Heat is bad. ,

More activists are linking themselves to the arts. His strategy is not new.

Before entering the installation spectators answer a questionnaire: a question asking participants whether they would agree to shower for four minutes, wash only with a bar of soap and conserve water and limit the use of plastic. To reuse a day old towel. In the end, participants receive a score, which sends them to a room.

Some people will find themselves at a comfortable temperature in the low to mid 70s in a light, domed interior, Shehab said, surrounded by the sounds of nature and the scent of “freshness, orange blossom.” Others will find a dark, claustrophobic spot that’s set at about 95 degrees and prevents rotting fruit and hospital rooms. So far, Shehab said that he has sent 537 people to “hell” and From 969 to “Paradise,” which she calls a “very interesting social experiment.” Afterwards, she encourages them to go to another room.

The piece is based on the concept of “gut fit”: the theory that “people will judge the states of the world as being more likely to be associated with their current visceral experiences,” according to researchers Jane. Risen and Clayton Critter. For example, thirst can increase expectations of drought and desertification. Warmer climates may raise concerns about global warming. We think with our bodies.

This is in direct conflict with the way climate change has been discussed historically – with graphs and numbers and jargon. Shahab wants to fight it.

“I wanted a concept that everyone could understand,” she said. “I have site workers and doctors and professors and climate workers and professionals and everyone walks in, and they all get it.”

While she recognizes that questions of personal responsibility — whether you recycle, for example — are only a small piece of the puzzle, she doesn’t discount them. His work is aimed at places where conversations about climate change are more limited.

“Yes, we need to talk to high polluters. We need to talk to people who are flying their private planes for COP.” “But we also need to talk with developing countries with simple discourses. And we really need education. ,

Shehab has admired climate activists since she was a child, and in 2020 she herself took to the field, building a pyramid of garbage In Cairo which was about 20 feet high. This was to contrast the majestic Pyramids of Giza with our current “highly producing, over-consuming” existence, she wrote in an artist’s statement.

Shahab, who is also a street artist and one art and design The American University professor in Cairo has long used art as a political and educational tool. During the Arab Spring, he created calligraphy-inspired frescoes with messages such as “No to a New Pharaoh” and “No to Violence” written around Cairo. And as Britain prepared to vote on Brexit, she wrote “No to Borders” and “No to Brexit” on the walls in London.

In “Heaven and Hell in the Anthropocene”, which, under an open license, will be copyable once the COP closes, Shehab wants people to say yes: yes to wear old clothes; Yes for water conservation; Yes, they can do anything to stop climate change.

In both rooms of the installation, visitors will find mirrors—in the broken hell and the curved ones in heaven. The artist hopes they will immediately ponder: “For us to really face our future, we need to really look at ourselves.”

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