photo: Dustin Yellin Studio
There are issues that, to be addressed effectively, require the attention of every citizen, and the responsibility to inform the population usually falls to the media. However, they are not always able to convey the message with the necessary emotional charge and are often too modest to portray events so well that one can understand the essence of the problem. In such cases, the arts are able to "speak" very successfully on topics of public interest and even convince people of the importance of their involvement.
Climate change is an example of such a topic that has been active in humanity for some time. Ecology has never been talked about as much as it has now. Images appeared in the media space, such as that of Greta Thunberg, which attracted a great deal of attention through their contradictions rather than their ability to provide a solution or view the situation objectively. And although the original role of these images was always merely stimulating, now even this is lost when the focus falls on various speculations. For the time being, art remains unaffected by all this and manages to convey its ideas in a deliberate way, with artists trying to influence not so much through facts but through the moral aspect of problems.
Adhering to its tradition of always keeping up with the times, in 2019, the Venice Biennale for Contemporary Art was entitled: "May you live in interesting times". Curator Ralph Rugov himself explains the meaning of the topic as follows: "In times when the spread of fake news and" alternative facts "undermines the political discourse and trust on which it depends, it is worth trying to reconsider our understanding of what is happening. ". To illustrate this idea, the authors show the crisis of a person who has lived the morals of his era, through various socio-political turbulences, some of which are already environmental problems. The "Golden Lion" for the best national pavilion was awarded to Lithuania.
The pavilion presents an installation that resembles a beach with the typical scenes for such a place. You can see a mosaic of beach towels on the sand, human limbs, lazily relaxed on all sides, skin sticking with sweat and beach oil as the sun sets, children play, the waves clatter rhythmically. However, this landscape is surrounded by gray concrete walls and is accompanied by minor music - the opera Sun and Sea. The work epitomizes the apathy of people who, although increasingly pressured by climate change, continue to be idle.
Sun and Sea Installation, Lithuania
Photo: Neon Realism
Ecology is often affected by the works of many other artists. Danish Olafur Eliasson dedicates one of his projects to global warming. Climate change for the average person is something that he or she is easily aware of but cannot see or feel in their daily lives. His life unfolds without feeling alone in his commitment and need for action. Knowing this, Eliasson places blocks of ice in the center of Copenhagen, detached from the Greenland ice sheet due to climate change. In this way, it empowers people by touching and viewing the ice, to see its beauty on its own, but also the menacing speed of its melting.
Fast melting ice in downtown Copenhagen
photo: Olafur Eliasson
American Dustin Yellin states his position by planning to put the oil tanker upright and install it at a port to serve as a tourist attraction. Against the ticket, people will be able to take an elevator to the top of the tanker, where there will be a viewing site similar to the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building, for example. The proceeds will be invested in projects struggling to protect the planet. The goals, of course, are not just to raise funds. Yelin selects an oil tanker to remind himself that the fossil fuel industry, one of the major environmental pollutants, must stop.
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Cinema as an art, using reality as a means of expression, is naturally also involved in the cause of conveying social messages. A prime example is Wim Wenders' magnificent documentary, "Salt on Earth." He talks about Brazilian photographer Sebastio Salgado and his wife and their project of planting two million trees on deforested land in Brazil. As a photographer, Salgado travels around the planet's "hot spots" to seek the truth about man and the world.
However, he sees difficult pictures - suffering, destruction, death and finally returns to his native Brazil to heal his emotional trauma. There he realizes that only his care for the land, which, like man, has suffered, can heal him. The couple took the initiative to restore 1502 decares of rainforest, which at that time was almost completely destroyed. The work of planting trees took 20 years, but in the end they managed to turn the wasteland into a new forest, which attracts more and more of its abandoned inhabitants - animals. It now functions as a healthy ecosystem.
There is also a cinema award dedicated to social films. This is the European Parliament's Lux Prize, which is awarded annually to films that reflect the cultural image of Europe before and now.
The European Parliament finances the distribution of 3 films selected through a competition and the creation of subtitles for them in the 24 official languages of the EU. The aim is for quality cinema to reach more audiences across Europe, because, unfortunately, European films rarely leave the country where they were created, and they are an important artifact of our identity. They also help us build a bridge between cultures, make it easier to understand the other, or learn from our past.
Art is one of the most successful forms of protest because the personal stories these films tell absorb into our skin and then get tattooed on our hearts as well. Because emotion is the strongest way to influence someone and convey your message to them.
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