US artist Agnes Denes’s site-specific flag installation is fluttering in the breeze in the Venice lagoon, her latest cultural call to action coinciding with the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, Cop26 in Glasgow (until 12 November). The flag, installed by local fishermen last month, is the latest iteration in an environmental project led by Healing Arts, a non-profit founded last year by the Culturunners organisation and the World Health Organisation’s Arts & Health Programme.
“Denes's flag calls out for an urgent response, not only to Covid-19 but also to climate change—as she has been doing through her art over the past 50 years. With UN environmental agencies describing the virus as nature’s first ‘warning shot’ to civilisations playing with fire, it is a stark reminder of the need for cooperation across borders and generations,” according to a press statement.
The installation marks the close of Healing Arts Venice, a six-month programme in partnership with Community Jameel (Art Jameel's sister organisation); Ocean Space run by the TBA-21 Academy; and Ark Re-Imagined, the organisation behind the pavilion of Iraq at the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organisation, tweeted: “During Cop26, watch this video showing a Healing Arts Installation…by environmental artist Agnes Denes. The installation is a cultural call to action in response to the crisis of human and planetary health.”
In April, Denes’s flag—emblazoned with the message The Future is Fragile, Handle with Care—was hoisted above Tate Britain in London, marking the conclusion of the Healing Arts London project and the launch of a global 2021 Arts & Health campaign.
Healing Arts will host a symposium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on 14 November which examines the issue: how are the arts a vital investment in our physical, mental, and social health across the lifespan?