Imagining the Great Transition

Photo credit: © XTNT

June 21, 2013 // By: Imagine2020

The Imagine 2020 Network ( is a group of eleven European arts organisations trying to engage artists and audiences with the subject of climate change. We span a diverse range of countries: the UK, France, Portugal, Latvia and others, and sometimes have completely different approaches to how we make art, but we are committed to working together to ways of making great art events about climate.

Since the network was founded in 2007 we’ve found ourselves moving away from presenting artworks that look at purely ecological environmental questions and beginning to think about climate change as symptomatic of problems created by wider systems of finance and power. Our projects have included Plane Food Cafe, offering audiences all the fun of an in-flight meal without the emissions of a flight; Plunge – a vision of a future London submerged by rising sea levels, and The Hellenic Peninsula Devoured by Pigs, an extraordinary and messy food installation by Santiago Serra.

We’ve wanted to collaborate with nef for some time. nef's publication, The Great Transition (“the first comprehensive blueprint for building an economy based on stability, sustainability and equality”) resonated with all the members of the network and, with the support of Stephen Reid and nef fellow Andrew Simms we developed an ambitious programme bringing together the research base and vision of that document together with the unpredictable and exciting work of the artists who inspire us.

Imagine the Great Transition will take place across nine European countries over the next 18 months (with the first event this week in London). We’ve commissioned new performances and films from artists responding to The Great Transition and they will be presented alongside talks, discussions and a chance to celebrate what we’ve already achieved towards this vital transition.

We’ve commissioned four short artists’ films about The Great Transition, all of which will be screened at our events and can also be found online. These include Gonçalo Tocha’s The Trail of a Tale, a hopeful message sent back from a future after transition, and depiction of the small creative interventions that helped us get there. At the London event we’ll premiere the first in a series of new performance commissions, by UK-based science/theatre collective curious directive and family of activists The Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home.

In creating this programme we have been amazed by the multitude of ways artists have responded to The Great Transition, proposing and creating artworks that take nef’s ideas into new territories. For us, the most successful way to engage art with issues like climate, power and social justice is not to simply depict or represent existing research, but to give layers of meaning, find stories that bring the broadest societal change back to the personal, and overall to be part of a re-imagination of our future.

Imagine the Great Transition takes place on Saturday 22 June at Toynbee Studios presented by Artsadmin and LIFT as part of Two Degrees.


Energy & Climate Change

Imagining the Great Transition

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