Art of Change 21 – What is your experience and analysis of the current pandemic?
Lucy et Jorge Orta – It reflects all the disruption that has been accumulating for some time, the consequences of our behavior that has gone too far. It may be an accident, but it’s hardly a surprise. Problems precede epidemics. The relentless destruction of nature has long been one step ahead of this health crisis. Covid-19 will change things; there will be a ‘before’ and ‘after’. Through this crisis we are directly experiencing the full acceleration and interdependency of our world. This heightened awareness may lead to changes and the realisation that current problems can only be solved collectively and at planetary level. Time and again, the nonsense of barriers is hindering the solution. Indeed, “No Borders” lies at the heart of our Antarctica project; it is the prerequisite for seizing a common good, like human health or the climate.
During our confinement, we are even busier than usual. We are driven by a sense of urgency to grasp and respond to global challenges, to accelerate awareness of the interdependency of social and environmental issues, as well as creating a collective change. During this confinement, we are ramping up the digital side of our activities. Together with the University of the Arts London, we are going to animate the digital community of 32,000 holders of the Antarctica World Passport.
AOC21 – How did you come to bring the environment into your work?
L. & J.O. – Through the social dimension! Once you start exploring the causes of key social issues, as we did for migratory movements at the start of our collaborative work in 1991. We couldn’t fail to notice the growing role of environmental factors in migration. From 1995, the problem of water scarcity soon became one of the themes of our work. Since then, we have worked on almost every possible environmental issue… the decline in biodiversity, food waste, the climate, pollution… What interests us most is expressing how all these issues depend on each other and linking them to humans. By going to Antarctica with its extreme climate conditions, or to the Amazon, we can approach these challenges from our own sensory experiences.
AOC21 – Which exhibitions should you be showing in right now?
L. & J.O. – At Drawing Lab in Paris, which had to close! We made a new film, Symphony for Absent Wildlife, about vanishing species for the Courants Verts (Green Wave) exhibition at the Group EDF Foundation. It was due to open on 17 March. Our plan to purify the water from the Hudson river in New York has also been postponed. Also, we are waiting for the green light to start touring the Antarctica World Passport Office in various museums across the U.K., with the final step being COP26 in Glasgow.
We aren’t taking these cancellations and postponements too badly. With nearly 40 years of creativity under our belts, we prefer to see them as necessary for the transition to a new era. Indeed, we have never been so optimistic!
Lucy and Jorge Orta / Drawing Lab, 2020 / Photo : Olivier Lechat
More information about Lucy and Jorge Orta, here
Conversation with Alice Audouin, March 2020.
Find all the articles from Impact Art News n°17 – Special COVID-19 – March 2020