Climate Summit Art. Art and Political Event


Already during the first World Climate Summit of 1972 in Stockholm and the first Conference of Parties (COP1) of the United Nations (UN) in 1995 which was held Berlin, artists took the opportunity to produce artworks that concerned themselves with climate protection. In 1995, the UN established the COPs as an annual international forum for negotiations by delegates from the realms of politics, science, economics as well as NGOs on measures against climate change. The countless artistic and curatorial projects that typically occupy the urban space and various institutions on account of these climate conferences are an established concomitant of the summits. The history and development of this phenomenon are unresearched to date. It is paradigmatic for the novel relationship of the arts to politics, society and science since the 1960s. In acknowledgement of this background, this project aims to analyze the situation and institutionalization of art in the framework of political events as exemplified by international climate summits. On the one hand, the project is driven by the observation that since the 1990s, a new type of exhibition developed that thematically accompanied climate conferences. On the other hand, artists have also increasingly reacted to political mass events individually since the 2000s – producing performances, sculptural interventions, participatory art and activism. Through this analysis, a fundamental methodical desideratum of art history is faced: to gain a comprehensive account of the conditions of curatorial and artistic practices, curatorial and artistic concepts will be analyzed within their institutional positioning as well as in their cultural-political and social context. The project is powered by the thesis that exhibitions and artistic projects dealing with climate change in the context of political media events are not to be seen as internal developments of the art world. Rather, material and institutional conditions, such as the context within specific cultural-political frameworks and funding programs, are essential for the creation and the unique design of such projects. The available and potential infrastructure inherently determine which art reaches the public in what form. This study offers a new perspective on the phenomenon of ecologically engaged art. Within the historical context of the last fifty years (1972–2022), the history of political functions of particular presentations of art as well as the phenomenon of art’s globalization will also be researched. By connecting art historical analyses with art sociological questions, these investigations will constitute a model study in line with an art historical practice that is aware of the arts' broader contexts.


Principal Investigators
Burchert, Linn (Details) (Modern Art History)

Duration of Project
Start date: 04/2021
End date: 03/2024

Research Areas
Art History

Last updated on 2021-04-01 at 17:54