Art of Change 21 at COP27:
The creativity of Egyptian civil society in the spotlight with Maskbook
Art of Change 21 has been uniting art, creativity and the environment at every UN COP Climate since COP21 in 2015. This year is no different, as the organisation has put together an ambitious programme for the forthcoming COP27, which is to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 6 to 18 November 2022.
Art of Change 21 is joining forces with leading environmental and photography organisations in Egypt for a series of workshops and exhibitions as part of its Maskbook campaign, including an exhibition and events at the heart of the COP27.
Its actions are supported by the Schneider Electric Foundation, main partner of the non-profit organisation since 2015, and the French Embassy in Egypt, its institutional partner for COP27.
Art of Change 21: Art at the heart of COP Climate
Whether in the COP’s “Green Zone”, “Blue Zone” or its side events, Art of Change 21 creates for each climate conference a specific programme that unites art, creativity, innovation and the environment. For example, at COP26 in 2021, it showed for the first time John Gerrard’s artwork “Flare (Oceania)” at the prestigious University of Glasgow and held a round table on the French Pavilion during COP26 (2021). Amongst other activities, the NGO organised workshops and Maskbook exhibitions in Katowice, Poland for COP24 (2018), hosted 10 days of debates, workshops and festivities in the riad of upcycling-based artist Hassan Hajjaj in Marrakech for COP22 (2016), as well as exhibiting a large Maskbook exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris, alongside workshops in the Green Zone for COP21 (2015). John Gerrard, Lucy Orta and Jérémy Gobé are among the many artists who are emblematic of an art form committed to a better environment and who have contributed to the organisation’s actions at the COP Climate.
COP27: An action centred around Maskbook, which puts Egyptian civil society at the forefront
After two years of COVID-19 pandemic, COP27 in Egypt is the occasion for a strong reactivation of the organisation’s flagship project, Maskbook, which was launched in 2015 for COP21 and which accounts for more than 200 workshops and exhibitions around the world and nearly 8000 participants. Art of Change 21 has chosen to partner with some of the country’s leading non-profit actors in the field of environment (Greenish, Banlastic, VeryNile) and photography (Photopia, Humans of Upper Egypt) and coordinates with them to mobilise citizens by appealing to their creativity through Maskbook workshops and exhibitions across Egypt.
In the run up to COP27, four Maskbook workshops have been organised in October, in Cairo, Alexandria and Luxor. A large Maskbook workshop will also be held in Sharm El-Sheikh during COP27 in the garden of the newly-opened Sharm El-Sheikh Museum as part of the #ArtCultureHeritageCOP27 day dedicated to art, culture and heritage, in collaboration with CultureCOP and the Climate Heritage Network.
These workshops are followed by three Maskbook exhibitions, in Alexandria, Sharm el-Sheikh and Cairo, co-curated by Art of Change 21 and Photopia, to show the portraits and messages of Egyptian civil society regarding the climate emergency. The first exhibition will be held throughout COP27 in the UNFCCC Green Zone in Sharm el-Sheikh (Tente D, booth B4). It will present both the portraits made in the workshops in Egypt and a selection of international portraits, including some by well-known public figures.
Finally, for the last stage of the Maskbook campaign’s journey across both Upper and Lower Egypt, the exhibition will travel to Cairo, at the photography school and arts space Photopia in the heart of the capital, from 22 November to 5 December. Finally, the exhibition will travel to the Goethe Institute in Alexandria, to highlight in particular the portraits made by Alexandrian citizens.
As part of this COP27 campaign, anyone, anywhere in the world, is invited to participate online and post their portrait on maskbook.org, and potentially be shown in these exhibitions. To participate, go to maskbook.org!
6 October: Banlastic headquarters, Alexandria
7 October: VeryNile headquarters, Cairo
13 October: Humans of Upper Egypt arts centre, Luxor
21 October: Photopia School, Cairo
11 November: Sharm El-Sheikh Museum
6-18 November: Green Zone, COP27, Sharm El-Sheikh
22 November-5 December: Photopia, Cairo
Dates TBC: Goethe Institute, Alexandria
Local partners and support from the Schneider Electric Foundation
Art of Change 21’s work is based on strong partnerships with local actors, both in the field of environment and photography.
Main Project Partners :
The NGO Greenish promotes and implements sustainable development through interactive educational activities and environmental assessments. Organiser of the first environmental festival in Egypt, Greenish supports local communities affected by the adverse effects of climate change.
Photopia is a Photography school, a studio, a gallery and a unique hub for hundreds of photographers in Cairo. Photopia hosts Photobook Egypt and the major Egyptian photography event Cairo Photo Week.
Other Project Partners:
Banlastic is a social enterprise based in Alexandria that has been acting against plastic pollution since 2018. It aims to ban single-use plastic in Egypt by providing alternative eco-friendly products as well as workshops, training courses, beach cleanups and mobilisation campaigns.
Humans of Upper Egypt aims to support photography by teaching the basics of the practice and to use all available media to showcase and document Egypt’s cultural heritage.
VeryNile is the first initiative to develop sustainable means to clean the Nile while raising awareness on the importance of protecting our environment. VeryNile interlaces social and environmental impact and develops eco-friendly solutions to remove inorganic waste from the river.
The Maskbook project at COP 27 is supported by the Schneider Electric Foundation, which, under the aegis of the Fondation de France, aims to encourage and empower young people to imagine and build their future.
Create and share your very own mask on maskbook.org
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