Art Davos 2023 brings attention to the patriarchy and climate change

Thousands of the world’s wealthiest gathered in the Swiss town of Davos to once again welcome the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. 

The theme this year was given the name “Cooperation in a Fragmented World” to address the world’s most pressing global challenges while providing understanding and forward-looking solutions.  

“The arts help people understand, negotiate and navigate their way through the challenges of the modern world,” says Joseph Fowler, Head of Arts and Culture, World Economic Forum. “They also help us explore what divides people in a way that fosters understanding and cooperation.”

Fowler selected works by artists and photographers focusing on technology, climate change, gender equality and the global refugee crisis. Artworks selected included those by Turkish-American new media artist and designer Refik Anadol and New York-based interdisciplinary artist Sarah Cameron Sunde. 

In a statement published in partnership with Forbes, Fowler comments on Sunde’s most notable work, 36.5 / A Durational Performance with the Sea. He says the series of nine site-specific performances and video artworks is “an artistic reflection upon the fragility and vulnerability of ourselves, as well as our cities and urban environments in the face of extreme weather events, climate crisis and rising sea levels.”

Artist Sarah Cameron Sunde’s 36.5 / A Durational Performance with the Sea is a series of nine site-specific performances and video artworks where the artist immerses herself in water, feeling the tide rise and fall, where locals can participate. Photo: Sarah Cameron Sunde

The project began in Maine in 2013 as a response to Hurricane Sandy’s impact on New York City, where she realised that the water could swallow up her home in her lifetime. Spanning nine years and six continents, Sunde has filmed other tidal works collaborating with communities in Mexico, San Francisco, The Netherlands, Bangladesh, Brazil, Kenya and New Zealand.

Refik Anadol’s Artificial Realities: Coral, inspired by the deterioration of the coral reefs, explores the space between the digital and physical worlds. This large “data sculpture” aims to connect a “digital ecosystem of data and a landscape that is home to many living ecosystems with the aim of using the potential of both Metaverse and blockchain economies to alleviate global climate change issues”, says Fowler.

Fowler adds, “what is particularly fascinating about Anadol’s work is how it bends our perceptions and provides new ways of interpreting data, as well as alternative ways of seeing and thinking about form, colour, shape and movement.” 

Another Art Davos 2023 unveiling included a large-scale mural titled The Colour of Resilience, created by young people in refugee camps worldwide. It celebrates resilience in the face of global crisis, with each section of the work representing the community where it was created and “a way forward through one of the most pressing crises of our time.”

Lastly, Fowler curated an exhibition together with filmmaker and television producer Immy Humes called The Only Woman in the Room, featuring images from Hume’s book The Only Women. The exhibition highlights “women who made their way into a man’s world, shown through group portraits, each featuring a lone woman”.

Fowler adds, “each image offers forensic evidence of patriarchy on parade, along with all the other forces of domination. This is a fresh contribution to the visual and cultural history full of unheard stories, courage, achievement, outrage, mystery, fun and above all, extraordinary women,” Fowler says.

To see Fowler’s full statement published in partnership with Forbes, click here.

Main Image: Unknown nurse in Boston, Massachusetts, 1890 Boston City Hospital Collection, City of Boston Archives, Boston Image: Immy Humes book, The Only Woman in the Room