Carbon 14: Climate is Culture

By Leslie Anthony

In November 2011, on the shores of Lake Ontario, 25 North American “cultural producers”—artists, filmmakers, poets, writers, musicians, ad directors—gathered in Toronto to interrogate eight “informers” from across the spectrum of climate engagement—scientists, economists, new-energy technologists, politicians, eco-theologians and social scientists. The goal: to spur creative exchanges across disciplines concerning issues related to global climate change. The successful result is the exhibition Carbon 14: Climate is Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum’s Institute for Contemporary Culture. In it, 14 artists have collaborated with workshop participants to confront climate change in poignant, subversive, humorous, and passionately human ways. In addition, a series of public programs, satellite projects, and partnerships will unfold under the Carbon 14 banner over the five-month exhibition run.”Four months of cultural engagement visioning the challenge and the possible future, a unique and powerful narrative engagement with what is one of the most pressing issues of our time, climate change.”

Carbon 14: Climate is Culture is the inaugural programming coming out of the North American office of Cape Farewell – the Cape Farewell Foundation, based in Toronto. It is a two-year project that began with an intensive workshop on the shores of Lake Ontario in the fall of 2011 and continues with a wide range of programming activities, culminating in a major exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum’s (ROM) Centre for Contemporary Culture, a performing arts festival with The Theatre Centre (Toronto), and a rich series of public programs and events.

Exhibition, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. October 2013-February 2014


“Climate change on its own is an impersonal force, deeply disempowering. Art inspired by climate change, because the making of art is personally involving, a whole-person activity, is empowering, both for the maker and the spectator.”
Yann Martel 2009

article continues below