In June, 7 international artists joined forces with Parley for The Oceans (the association of Cyrill Gutsch, which campaigns for a more responsible and ecological fashion) by creating a piece aimed to fight against plastic pollution.

Celebrated worldwide, the artists Doug Aitken, Jenny Holzer, Ed Ruscha, Julian Schnabel, Pipilotti Rist, Walton Ford and Rosemarie Trockel represent the international contemporary scene. For this collaboration, they each customized a model of bags made from Parley Ocean Plastic ®, a recycled plastic, harvested at the bottom of the oceans.

Source : Numero

Designer Cyrill Gutsch, winner of the 2018 British Fashion Awards and founder of the « Parley for the Oceans » association, is an important figure of the « upcycling »movement. For this collaboration, each bag is made from bottles recovered from abandoned islands and coastlines.

Source : Deezen


For him, mentalities will evolve through the mobilization of creative environments, which he sees as true vectors of societal change, both inspiring and impacting. According to him, art would serve the ecological cause much better than a long explanation or guilt-inducing speech.

Cyrill Gutsch par Sacha Maric

“For every project we do, we try to convince by focusing on positive arguments and involving artists in our approach, to create beauty and to inspire our audience, rather than overwhelming people” declared Cyrill Gutsch at Numero Magazine, last year.

Source : Numero

It is interesting to note that while this vision of the importance of art’s commitment to ecology is topical (a burning issue at the moment), it is however not that new. We can find a good example of this in France, thirty years ago.

In 1989, a time when few artists were interested in talking about environmental issues, a time when few people knew the existence of the “hole in the ozone layer” and when artistic “collectives” were very rare, four French graduates from the School of Fine Arts in Grenoble, appear as precursors by organizing a singular collective project entitled “Ozone”.

Nature (and the relationship between man and nature) was the central theme of this exhibition consisting of various elements between which the visitor could wander. The four artists each brought their particular contribution.

Source : Expositions modernes

One could thus contemplate an ultra realistic dinosaur painting realized by artist Bernard Joisten on two projection screens, bringing the viewer back to the vision of an era (and a nature) “pre-technology”.

Information on environmental issues (such as an image of the last tree remaining in Chernobyl or memories of great environmental activists) was made available to visitors by the artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster in the form of postcards, newspapers to consult on the spot.

Source : Numero

Collection of the Fonds régional d’art contemporain Corse (destroyed). Photo: Le Magasin

Philippe Parreno chose to illustrate the relationship between modern man and nature through the presentation of accessories related to certain sports, such as windsurfing, paragliding or scuba diving.

Finally, artist Pierre Joseph presented digitized images of nature, displayed on large plastic slides, exploring here the relationship between nature and digital technologies: one could for example see a computer-reconstructed waterfall.

Source : Numero

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Bernard Joisten, Pierre Joseph and Philippe Parreno, “Vidéo Ozone” (1989). 

Like an ecosystem composed of different and complementary elements, this exhibition was particularly surprising by the message it bore, at a time when art was much less engaged than today, especially on subjectlike the relationship of man with thenvironment.

If the work (which was part of the FRAC Corse collection) was destroyed during a fire in 2001 and is no longer visible today, it showed a strong (and not so recent) willingness to question the issues of artistic creation and its commitment, necessary to change mentalities.

Source : Numero

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Bernard Joisten, Pierre Joseph and Philippe Parreno, “Sac Ozone” (1989).

With a thirty years distance, we observe a not so strange parallel between those artists who considered art as a vector of societal change and a real tool for raising awareness for the ecological cause.

While this July 29, humanity has reached the day when we have already consumed more natural resources than the earth is able to produce during a year (a day that arrives earlier each year), we can not help but think that we might havent heard enough (or listened to) the warning signals from these artists about the need to protect our environment.

Alexandra Hostier

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