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Art Forum - September 20, 2019


As the United Nations prepares to host the Youth Climate Summit and the Climate Action Summit on September 21 and September 23, which will introduce government, corporate, and civil initiatives that aim to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent over the next decade and to net zero by 2050, the New Zealand–based artist Joseph Michael will light up the UN’s New York headquarters with large-scale projections of a massive iceberg.

Titled VOICES FOR THE FUTURE, the artwork was produced in collaboration with the environmental charity Project Pressure and the Permanent Mission of New Zealand, and will be unveiled to the public on Friday, September 20, at 7:30 PM. It will include light projections of one of Antarctica’s disappearing icebergs—an iteration of Antarctica:while you were sleeping, 2007—that will cover the UN’s five-hundred-foot-tall building and be accompanied by a soundscape composed by Rhian Sheehan. Together, the audio and visuals intend to convey how icebergs crack, shift, and breathe, revealing their fragility.

The work will serve as a backdrop for six young activists who will speak about the climate crisis, including the sixteen-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg who sailed to New York in an emissions-free yacht last month. Each climate advocate will address the public in one of the six official UN languages—Russian, Arabic, French, Spanish, English, and Mandarin—and represent one of the world’s populated continents. Their words will also appear on the building, accompanied by music by Brian Eno.

In the lead-up to the summits, young people from around the world have been participating in coordinated climate strikes. According to NBC, today, New York City’s public school system is giving excused absences to any of its 1.1 million students who want to join—so long as they have their parents’ permission. The youth action, dubbed Fridays for Future, is part of a week-long Global Climate Strike—live updates about strikes, which are taking place in all fifty US states and in more than 150 countries from September 20 to September 27, can be found on the Global Climate Strike’s website. ...
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