Over the years, Art Partner - one of the world's leading art agencies - has been increasingly committed to 'creative and purposeful climate initiatives' thanks to its sustainability division, Earth Partner. Knowing this, their latest initiative, #CreateCOP27, comes as no surprise and with support from the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa, the virtual exhibition and competition are not only relevant to today but the results are profoundly moving. Having called on creatives of all nationalities, races, genders and faiths to submit work that generates conversations around the urgent need for climate justice, the competition hopes to raise considerable awareness of the critical decisions being made at the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2022 (UNFCCC COP 27).
Attracting hundreds of submissions from 64 countries, just eight finalists were selected (with 20 others receiving honourable mentions) from a panel of six jurors. With prizes of $10,000, $5,000, and $2,000 up for grabs for those who came in first, second and third place, the pressure was high. Alas, first prize went to Peruvian artist Lizeth Lozano Palomino for her climate activation and multimedia piece, Orilla Negra, a piece that remained delicate yet overtly powerful thanks to her skilful black and white capture of Panama City. Her submission raises the issue of corporate responsibility following the Repsol oil spill in January 2022, where more than 11,000 barrels of oil spilt into the ocean north of Lima, which has been said to be one of the worst ecological disasters in the history of Peru.
Art Partner co-founder Amber Testino said in a statement:
'Our goal is to draw more attention to COP27, where world leaders will determine the future of our earth. At the same time, we can leverage Art Partner and industry platforms to support the next generation of creatives from all backgrounds, especially those in underrepresented communities. This year we received an overwhelming response from a breadth of applicants – geographically, demographically and culturally – that reflected the global and shared concerns of a young, creative generation. We are immensely grateful for all the enthusiasm and support.'
The two second-prize winners - Aakash Malik and Avijit Ghosh - made sure to create work highlighting the diversity of the climate emergencies we face. Through his photo story, Malik depicted the flames of a forest fire around the Yamuna Ghat in Delhi, while his compatriot Ghosh explored the impact of flooding through his project.
The remaining prize winners included Woo Jin Joo's Waste Mythology and 25-year-old Sultan Ahmed Niloy's Water Refugee, both of whom thought outside the box to explore the impacts of climate change through creativity and honesty. They came in joint third place next to artists Bagels, Angela Blažanović and Miranda Varo.
#CreateCOP27 is also committed to longer-term issues regarding climate justice and protection. These include recognising disparities such as MAPA (Most Affected People and Areas), advocating for Net Zero by 2030, and supporting 30x30, a campaign organised by the intergovernmental High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People (HAC), which aims to stop the loss of species and protect vital ecosystems while protecting indigenous leadership and rights.