Across mediums, the event unites scenes of natural disaster with community action
With images of flooding and blazing wildfires, carefully crafted sculptures made of debris, and dispirited interviews with people displaced, artists sought to call attention to the climate emergency in the third annual environmentally-centered Art Partner competition.
The event calls for contestants to submit work—in any medium—that generates conversation around climate change. Art Partner co-founder Amber Testino proposed the competition, which first launched in 2019, in an effort to call attention to both the need for climate justice and the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, otherwise known as COP27.
“Our goal is to draw more attention to COP27, where world leaders will determine the future of our earth,” Testino was quoted in a press release. “At the same time, we can leverage Art Partner and industry platforms to support the next generation of creatives from all backgrounds, especially including those in underrepresented communities.”
Some of #CreateCOP27’s winning artists captured scenes of natural disaster by spotlighting the people affected, while others painted vivid stories through film and sculpture. All of the projects are available for viewing through a virtual 3D exhibition and on the Art Partner Instagram page through November 18.
Orilla Negra, Lizeth Lozano Palomino
Peruvian artist Lizeth Lozano Palomino won first place for her heartbreaking climate activation and multimedia piece Orilla Negra, which called attention to the Repsol oil spill in Peru earlier this year. More than 11,000 barrels of oil spilled into the ocean north of Lima, in one of the worst ecological disasters in the country’s history.
Palomino’s film features interviews with Peruvian citizens impacted by the oil spill, many of whom lost significant business—a consequence of closed beaches and decreased tourism. One man explains that he has been unable to work for nine months. He’s one of many affected workers who didn’t receive support from the government.
Residents share their concerns about their health and the health of their children. One woman describes how her sister was forced to relocate, as her daughter’s breathing was affected by the spill. “People have only cleaned the sea superficially, not internally. Now every time the sea moves, it releases that oil. We are grieving in Ancón.”
In the film’s conclusion, the camera pans over more than 2,500 people from various communities on the north coast of Lima as they gather on the Ancón boardwalk. Dressed in dark tones, they form a “black shore” in an effort to call for environmental justice and clean beaches.
Escaping Inferno, Aakash Malik
The scene of a wildfire around the Yamuna Ghat in Delhi is the centerpiece of Aakash Malik’s photographic series. The viewer’s vantage point is directly within the flames, where you see civilians running, and one young boy attempting to pour water onto the flames.
Malik was heading home from a day of taking photographs when he noticed the burning in the distance. He saw a family struggling, and helped them to call the fire department. He deleted everything he’d shot earlier that day to make space on his camera for the scene. Malik was so lost in the process, he was surprised to notice the heat on his heel as the sole of his shoe melted away.
“At first, it was overwhelming to witness a family fighting to stop a fire from reaching their makeshift home,” he explained. “Once I picked up the camera, I knew I had kept my emotions in check—but it’s not easy to ignore the crisis in front of you. I was just trying to keep the kids that were under 10 away from flames, as half of their family was inside the circle.”
“Our goal is to draw more attention to COP27, where world leaders will determine the future of our earth.”
They Lived Here, Avijit Ghosh
In They Lived Here, Avijit Ghosh captures civilians standing in the floodwater of Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove delta. The area’s sea levels have risen 0.3 centimeters annually. Ghosh submerges his photographs in sea water, in an effort to call attention to the impact of the flooding; the drops of water scattered across the prints draw the viewer into the scene, almost allowing them to feel the water droplets on the paper.
How Long Have We Been Doing This?, Bagels
The filmmaking duo Roni Niu and Patrick Carlo Bangit—Bagels—created an experimental narrative film that delves into uninhabitable environments on Earth. It follows a black-and-white cartoon character’s journey through a variety of landscapes. The project opens with a chorus of overlapping voices saying, “Too much of anything is never good,” as the Earth spins faster and faster.
Fragments of a River, Angela Blažanović
In Fragments of a River, Angela Blažanović contemplates the River Thames through sculpture. Her three pieces are created from debris found along the river bank, which, when brought together, provide a new lens through which we can examine the iconic body of water.
Waste Mythology, Woo Jin Joo
Sculptor Woo Jin Joo looked to East Asian mythology and folk culture when creating Waste Mythology, which brought everyday objects together, like a glove and a beanie, to reframe what we consider waste. It’s a reminder to viewers that any given object’s value is subjective. The inhuman, almost alien creatures feel alive in their attempt at a modern rendition of mythology.
Water Refugee, Sultan Ahmed Niloy
In Sultan Ahmed Niloy’s Water Refugee, images draw attention to the annual river erosion and flooding of Bangladesh, as a result of the melting Himalayan ice caps. The flood waters displace civilians, destroy homes and businesses, and prevent access to essential public services. In one striking image, a man standing in floodwater passes a child to a girl standing in the doorway of a building.
UNDO ctrl-z, Miranda Varo
Miranda Varo’s UNDO ctrl-z highlights the sentiment that there is no undo key to reverse the damage we’ve already done to the world—though we can strive to work toward a more environmentally-conscious future.
Along the Colorado River in Mexico, the artist speaks of the water that has dried up. She can imagine the smell and the sound of it, and imagines her grandparents, aunts, and father wading through it. “I want to cry until the Colorado River fills up,” Varo says in the film. “Hope invades my body, just thinking that my tears can help [in] some way.” She repeats the phrase, “There is no turning back,” which grows louder until she’s screaming, as she frantically tries to press Ctrl-z on her keyboard.