Some say art is pointless. How can a work of fiction, a drawing, or giant puppet actually stop global warming? Surely, only constructing one art piece as the only strategy to bring corporations to their knees is a hollow one. Yet, as part of an overall strategy to change the narrative of what is going on at COP21, art is powerful and essential. Looking at art or listening to a song forces the people who are experiencing it to confront it. In our information saturated world, discussions and long dry proposals move little. Art that calls out the human rights travesty of Paris Accord plans and especially REDD+ forces the public to confront and decide for themselves: is this what we want our world leaders to do?
Activist art creation at the #COP21 resistance is central to the people-led mobilizations outside Le Bourget. Everyday activists gather to create art in a warehouse near the Alternatibas’ Global Village. The artspace changes every day. Clotheslines run through the place on exposed ceilings. Plastic tarp covers the floor with slogans that had been printed on cloth and dried. The overarching color is red, because of another organization’s slogan of a red line against climate change – a red line against carbon emissions.
People make tables out of saw horses and plywood. Art is strewn everywhere, with slogans like “Keep it in the Ground” and “Climate change is Climate Violence”.
It Takes Roots’ art table drew a lot of attention. One of our members, Arturo Trejo, developed 10 placards of the things we are fighting: genocide, patriarchy, false solutions, fracking, GMOs, environmental racism, pollution, poverty, Obama, and more.
In the art space, the delegation developed the main messaging: It takes roots to weather the storm. The storm is all the bad ideas at the #COP21 – which are placed on the placards. This is the storm frontline communities weather through roots. We are the roots, the representatives of our deep resistance to the storm. We have been called to plant the seeds for the next generation, to stop the #COP21 and all the apparatuses of exploitation. The deep resistance, the roots rise up to say: this our planet, for the people; not just for a few.
Now, we embodying this powerful metaphor through visuals and song. The first act will be the storm that is blocking the peace. The second act is our resistance, our struggle and tearing the placards down. Then, the delegation will come out and sow the seeds of a just transition, women leadership, keeping the fossil fuel in the ground, the wisdom of frontline communities being heard and made the law of the land. The final act is a joyous celebration of sunflowers and all our people dancing, chanting, celebrating that we are the ones we have been waiting for.
It was exhilarating to have everyone at the art space for the dress rehearsal. Other artists stopped what they were doing and watched our street theater; they clapped and chanted with us, they wanted to join us. The action is strong in its critique and solution and is deeply inspiring to all who watch it. It is an act of defiance that we will continue every day, until the world is at it should be.