Tipping point – BENGAL by Gerry Judah
Artist Gerry Judah has been commissioned by international development agency Christian Aid to produce a series of works for Tipping Point, a new exhibition about climate change in association with Wolverhampton Art Gallery, which runs from 11 May – 6 July 2013.
Entitled Bengal, and consisting of five sculptures, Gerry’s new work was inspired by a trip to West Bengal and Jharkhand in India to see how poor communities affected by changes in the climate are adapting to unpredictable weather patterns and rising sea levels.
Tipping Point also features work by international artists including former Turner Prize winner Simon Starling and former Prize nominees Darren Almond and Anya Gallaccio. The exhibition explores the unstable future of our environments and economies, and centres on global climate change and the ways artists have chosen to highlight these issues. It also continues the Gallery’s commitment to presenting art which is socially relevant, and to use contemporary art as a vehicle for exploring challenging issues.
Gerry, who was born in Kolkata in West Bengal, but has not returned for 50 years, was struck by the inequality that comes with dealing with climate change in India.
‘It seems to me that there are people in India getting richer and richer and there are people in India getting poorer and poorer. And it’s those who are really more affected by climate change.
‘I remember we were in a village having dinner and were sitting on these chairs that you would have thrown away in a skip. They were torn plastic vacuum formed, but they were wired together with old rusty metal to become chairs again. And it seemed to me that people are just using anything they can to patch up their lives, so that they continue living or existing, and it seems to me that climate change has such an impact on people that they’re trying to patch up whatever they can just to deal with it.’
During the trip Gerry saw how giant coal power stations, which are fuelling India’s thirst for energy, are contributing towards the CO2 emissions that lead to changes in our global climate. Yet India is a country where half a billion people still have little or no access to energy. Some poor communities, who live in shadows of the power stations, are plagued by the fly-ash deposits, which affect their ability to grow crops to feed themselves.
He also met communities of subsistence farmers, whose crops, homes and businesses are increasingly affected by unpredictable droughts and floods, and who are working with Christian Aid partners to adapt their farming methods to cope with their environment. The same communities are also learning how to use sustainable, clean energy sources, such as solar and biogas, and how to develop early warning systems, which allow them to prepare for disasters.
Other highlights in the exhibition include Darren Almond’s Bearing, a film about sulphur miners in Indonesia, Anya Gallaccio’s You got the best of my love and Merel Karhof’s Wind Knitting Factory, alongside works by John Kelly, Heather and Ivan Morison, German artist Mariele Neudecker, Mexico-based Virginia Colwell, English/German artist duo HeHe and Katie Paterson. There will also be a selection of photographs from The City series by American artist Lori Nix, who creates images proposing the effects of a man-made apocalypse on our civic and communal spaces.
For details of the work by Gerry Judah visit www.christianaid.org.uk/tippingpoint