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What role can art play in envisioning a sustainable future for our planet?

Grand Tour 2020: Meetings Across Europe on Art and Ecology


2018 marks the ten-year anniversary of Imagine 2020, a collaborative project on art and ecology started by a group of European cultural organisations. Over the years, the project’s focus has shifted away from raising awareness about climate change, and towards speculating about a sustainable future through artistic creations that allow alternative perspectives to come to the fore.

To celebrate this anniversary, Imagine 2020 invited the freelance critic and curator, Pieter Van Bogaert on a Grand Tour in the course of which he visited artists who had been chosen by the different organisations. And so it was that, in the spring of 2018, Pieter met with ten artists in the cities where they live and work: Antwerp, Hamburg, Lisbon, Ljubljana, London, Lyon, Riga, Rotterdam, Terschelling and Zagreb. He travelled by train and bicycle; once, he took an airplane, and once a boat. The book offers bits and pieces of the conversations and experiences he gathered on the road.

This short film demonstrates how to open the pages of the book gives your a preview of what's inside...

Here's a short excerpt from the start of the book:

On the morning of 22 June 2018, the postman slides a letter through my letterbox. The letter is in a stamped envelope, my name and address handwritten on the front, and the sender’s information is handwritten on the back. The letter itself is also handwritten; it is a very nice letter, well composed, with a good flow. I am touched, moved: I remember, I think, the last handwritten letter I ever sent, a very long time ago – I am talking decades, another age – in what you might call a more romantic context. I am surprised, both by the gesture and its content. 

The letter is about this book, which does not exist yet. It comes from Maaike and Fairuz. They just moved a few kilometres outside the city centre. They have already had to drain water from their garage once, and now know what climate change means. They are the designers of this book and they have been searching for the most ecological options. They found a printer who works carbon neutral, but that is primarily thanks to the careful use of energy to compensate for any waste produced during the printing process. Maaike and Fairuz themselves want to ensure that the book itself is an ecological object – not just the printing. 

The letter contains some data. One printed sheet contains sixty-four pages without any waste. Sixty-four pages make up four signatures. Vegetable inks seem to be the most environmentally friendly. There is also software called Inksave, which keeps the ink settings as low as possible in the pre-press phase. The paper with the smallest ecological footprint is uncoated paper. It is the least treated paper on the market. There is some debate as to the sense, or nonsense, of Fsc labels. But the good news is that the more paper, the better! Paper guarantees forestation (here Maaike and Fairuz quote the climate-neutral printer). Paper is the most recycled product: 70% re-enters circulation while much of the remaining 30% simply remains in circulation. That is also why they decided to write me a letter. If I want to read it again, as I am doing now, while writing this text, it costs the earth nothing. My computer, the screen and the server that transmits my emails, on the other hand, all use a lot of energy. In other words: long live paper. 

Artists featured in the book include:

Janis Balodis (b. 1987) is a playwright, occasional performer, student, teacher and in-house dramaturge at the Dirty Deal Theatre in R?ga. 

Lotte van den Berg (b. 1975) is an artist. She lives and works in Amsterdam. 

Primož Bezjak (b. 1977) is an actor, performer, a member of the Mladinsko Theatre (SI) and a cofounder of Beton Ltd., Ljubljana. 

Tamara Bilankov (b. 1988) is a conceptual artist and a teacher in high school. She lives and works in Zagreb.

Thierry Boutonnier (b. 1980) is an artist. He lives and works in Lyon, France. 

Armin Chodzinski (b. 1970) is an artist, performer and lecturer. He lives and works in Hamburg, Berlin and Ludwigshafen. 

Branko Jordan (b. 1977) is an actor, performer, a member of the Slovenian National Theatre Maribor (SI) and a cofounder of Beton Ltd., Ljubljana. 

Vera Mantero (b. 1966) is a choreographer and performer. She is the artistic director of O Rumo do Fumo in Lisbon. 

Clare Patey (b. 1965) is an artist, curator and director of the Empathy Museum. 

Sibylle Peters (b. 1972) is a researcher and performance artist. She is artistic director of FUNDUS THEATER / Theatre of Research in Hamburg. 

Michael Pinsky (b. 1967) is an artist and curator. He lives and works in London. 

Katarina Stegnar (b. 1976) is an actress, performer, a member of Mladinsko Theatre (SI) and a cofounder of Beton Ltd., Ljubljana. 

Benjamin Verdonck (b. 1972) is an artist. He lives and works in Antwerp. 

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