Public art and poets demand urgent climate action at COP26

09 November, 2021, Glasgow Scotland- “We take great pride in helping foment a global poetry rebellion instigated by poets and leaders from climate vulnerable countries, working with leaders of the Climate Vulnerable Forum in collaboration with artist Jenny Holzer, whose work to illuminate UK landmarks continues to draw attention to the climate crisis,” said Padmapani Perez, lead strategist of the Agam Agenda, which is behind the global When Is Now campaign. With high visibility in Glasgow, Scotland, light projections and street hubs today feature verse and pleas by poets and activists from Indonesia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Tanzania, and the Philippines.

Holzer’s public art, HURT EARTH, is on public display to coincide with COP26. The artwork is a collection of haunting, inspiring, and expert testimony in collaboration with the Agam Agenda, Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), and many more.

People watch the Jenny Holzer and company projection on Tate Modern as part of COP 26.

Alongside testimonies from Sir David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg, Mohamed Nasheed, and 40 other climate leaders and activists, contributors of the Agam Agenda whose writings are featured in the light projections are:

Launched at the Tate Modern in London, a public arts museum that has been a decommissioned coal firing station for several decades, Holzer’s light projections bathed the building’s iconic chimney to address the climate crisis. The artwork travels to Scotland to light Edinburgh Castle, the SEC Armadillo in the official Blue Zone of COP26 in Glasgow on 8 November, followed by the Met Tower in Glasgow from 9 to 11 November, succeeded by a series of pop-up locations in Edinburgh from 12 to 14 November. It is co-curated and produced by Artwise Curators and Shore Art Advisory, in collaboration with Art For Your World, a movement by WWF to engage the art world in the fight against climate change.

The CVF is composed of 55 countries. Agam Agenda is a pioneering vulnerable country-led cultural initiative of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities. The Agam Agenda works with poets, visual artists, writers and advocates to elevate the role of the humanities in advancing effective science-driven global climate action. ICSC is a Manila-based international think tank advancing fair climate policy and resilient, low carbon development globally.

Amplifying the climate vulnerable through poetry and art

Together with CVF Culture Ambassador, Marshall Islands climate envoy, and poet Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, Agam Agenda mobilizes arts and culture initiatives of the CVF including Ñaat? When Is Now: Seeding Climate Action through the Arts: a global call for poetry and art to demand urgent action. During the CVF Leader’s Dialogue with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Jetñil-Kijiner (also a contributor to Harvest Moon: Poems and Stories from the Edge of the Climate Crisis) encouraged more poets and artists of CVF countries to connect and co-create the Now we need. She emphasized the role of the youth in cultivating creativity and calling for change.

Writings featured in the UK are from the Agam Agenda’s climate literature anthology, Harvest Moon: Poems and Stories from the Edge of the Climate Crisis, which will be published in December 2021. The book is written in nine languages using 30 images and 30 narratives in verse and prose from 24 countries. Languages include Bahasa Indonesia, Binisaya, English, French, Kankanaey, Spanish, Swahili, Turkish, and Zapotec.

COP26 takes place in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021 where world leaders, government representatives, business and citizens will attempt to forge agreement over twelve days to help to stay within the 1.5°C average global temperature rise prescribed by the Paris Agreement in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.

Visible throughout Glasgow city center are street hub artworks by the Agam Agenda conveying poetic interventions demanding climate action and highlighting the plight of vulnerable countries, environmental defenders, and indigenous communities. The street hubs were made in collaboration with Agam Agenda poets from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific, and Brazilian artist Anna Denardin.