What Will Be, Mexico Universidad Technològico de Cancún, Mexico

Curated by Barbara Benish and Eileen Haring Woods catalogue essay by Eleanor Heartney


Opening: December 9, 2010 

Participating artists: Anila Agha (Pakistan/lives in USA) , Marcela Armas (Mexico) /, Barbara Benish (USA/CZ), Gilberto Esparza (Mexico), Jason deClaires Taylor (UK/lives in Mexico), Chris Jordan (USA)

In December of 2010, the Safe Planet Campaign participated in the UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP16) in response to the specific relationship between climate change and the work of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants or POPs. This group of toxic chemicals share particularly hazardous properties and can be found virtually everywhere on our planet in measurable concentrations, including in our bodies. Climate change increases the planet's vulnerability to POPs, by increasing exposure and heightening toxic effects on humans and the environment.

From the outset, the Safe Planet campaign has used the influence of arts and culture to challenge our perceptions of hazardous chemicals and wastes and stimulate new thinking about how each of us must take responsibility the safety of the environment and human health. WHAT WILL BE was the second in an ongoing series of exhibitions by contemporary artists, whose work responds to the Safe Planet issues through the visual and performing arts.

Over 2000 Mexicans came through the doors of the lobby at UT, visiting our installations, viewing the films, and experiencing the art of WHAT WILL BE. Linking the effects of climate change to global natural disasters such as the floods in Pakistan, several of the artworks dealt directly with specific climate issues. Following the press conference at the Hotel Moon Palace where the main UN conference was held, Donald Cooper, Executive Secretary to the Stockholm Convention, opened the exhibition at the University. Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, USAID liaison in Pakistan, introduced the film on the floods by South African Gideon Mendel, and applauded Safe Planet's activities via recorded video. Her husband, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter also lent his support to the Convention's release of new information on climate change and POPs effects, at the international press conference earlier in the week. Safe Planet's co-curators Benish and Woods, along with artist Anila Agha and UN Public Information Officer, Michael Stanley-Jones, also held a talk with UT's enthusiastic students on December 6.

Learn more about The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 16.