• gerard van weyenbergh

Will "Art" be a victim of the climate crisis?

Plastic artists travel to seek inspiration or to accompany exhibitions of their works. The musicians go on tour to give recitals or sing in operas or festivals of all kinds of music, in every corner of the world. Writers wander around to feed their imagination and promote their books in the countries where they are translated. Comedians run the world to perform in theaters, make films, defend them on their releases, and attend countless festivals.

Independently of the artists, the works also travel: more and more countries, cities, demand the arrival of temporary exhibitions of the masterpieces of humanity, or at least works, old or contemporary, of their own cultures, settled - by the chances of colonization or sales - far from home.

In the name of climate protection, should these trips be banned? We are still far from it. And we have not even, for the moment (with very few exceptions), calculated the carbon impact of a concert tour in America of a great Russian pianist or the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in Japan, or Rolling Stones, or works by Picasso, Monet or Rembrandt. Nor are we trying to calculate the carbon impact of guests at the Cannes Film Festival, or those of the Oscars. Nor has the carbon emission caused by the worldwide roaming of some of Tutankhamun's treasures been calculated.

It will come. And we will ask ourselves (we ask ourselves already) these questions, at least for the live performance, and for all forms of live activities promoting registered or missing artists.

So what will we do? Should we ban the travel of artists and works of art? Do not "consume" only local art, as it is recommended to eat only local products?

Will our societies, which owe their incredible progress to their mobility, to their nomadism, for bad and good reasons, have to pack their bags and reduce their material and artistic exchanges?

Highly possible. In any case, we will see people demonstrating in front of one of these concerts, or one of these exhibitions, to boycott them.

The consequences of art in the making, as for culture, and civilization will be gigantic. This will be part of the great movement of populism and nationalism. And the proponents of these deadly currents will ally themselves with the most extreme ecologists to claim it.

Some artists are already very aware of this. And begin to imagine different solutions, from holograms. But how much energy would the hologram broadcast of a concert spend? Without a doubt, even today, much more than the artist's journey.

Art is the most precious human activity — the highest. And since we have to make drastic savings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we must now prioritize the activities that must be limited and those that must be protected. If we do it rightly, without fanaticism, art and artists will have nothing to fear. If not....!

Le Journal des Arts