Students from the Royal College of Art will join Peter Kennard, Britain’s most important political artist, in Fiddling While Earth Burns, a powerful new exhibition to coincide with the UN Climate Summit (COP21).
Venue: Dyson Gallery at the Royal College of Art Battersea Campus.
Date/Opening times: 28 November – 8 December, Mon – Friday: 10.00-17.00, Saturday: 12.00-17.00 Closed Sunday.
This thought-provoking exhibition will include video, photography, digital and sound artworks by 15 current Fine Art RCA students alongside work by leading political artist and Reader in Photography, Art and the Public Domain at the RCA, Peter Kennard whose retrospective exhibition Peter Kennard: Unofficial War Artist is currently on show at the Imperial War Museum, London. Fiddling While Earth Burns was conceived in relation to the COP21 UN Climate Conference beginning on 29 November where world leaders will meet in Paris to discuss imposing legal frameworks for restricting the rise in greenhouse gas emissions. The work on display reflects alarming climate concerns around reports that the world temperature could rise by 4.8° over the next 80 years, resulting in extreme weather, global food shortages and rising sea levels.
Drawing inspiration from Kennard’s iconic photomontage style, Fiddling While Earth Burns delivers a fresh perspective on political art from a new generation of artists. Highlights include a monochromatic work by second year Painting student Eunho Rhee that depicts a melancholic and starving polar bear clutching a bottle of Coca Cola. Kennard’s career of creating definitive images for landmark political moments is reflected in the work of first year photography student Theo Ellison, who also employs a monochromatic palette in his haunting image of the earth in complete darkness. Second year performance student Selina Bonelli has created a visceral work called Can You Swallow The Cost of Carbon Complacency that parallels Kennard’s oeuvre in terms of its force and transformative powers. The artists call themselves the RCA Climate Action Collective.
Kennard’s iconic images have been widely used in protests from the 1980s to the present day. Alongside individual artworks, the exhibition will include an installation made by the Collective that utilises recycled materials and incorporates protest placards made by the group. These will be used in the Climate Change demonstration in London on 29 November 2015.
Kennard says, ‘In 1821, Shelley wrote in A Defence of Poetry that, as writers and artists, “we should imagine what we know”. The work in this exhibition by the RCA Climate Action Collective is an attempt to make visual work that imagines what we know about the danger to our planet from rising CO2 levels. We know it leads to extreme weather conditions, war, economic ruin and ultimately to the displacement of hundreds of millions of people. We know that governments and citizens have to stand up to the power of the fossil fuel corporations. We know we are burying our heads in the sand as we pump out the oil.’
Source: Royal College of Art (RCA)