Creative Responses to Sustainability

In September 2019 the Asia-Europe Foundation published the publication Creative Responses to Sustainability: Green Guide for Spain. Studio 88 team member Claire Wilson developed the Guide from interviews with and research on 25 organisations that work at the nexus of art and sustainability in Spain.

The Spain Green Guide features a Directory of arts organisations and initiatives located on Spain’s diverse territory, from cities to rural and coastal areas. All selected organisations place environment at the core of their practice and are open to international collaborations. Among the trends observed, the concern for biodiversity preservation and new sustainable approaches inspired by the observation of nature’s patterns; the re-discovery of traditional ways of working with the land, especially in rural areas; the growing concern around waste especially where it relates to the over-production and consumption of plastic; and, sustainable tourism as the way forward especially for coastal and tourist hotspots.

On-going project (2015-2019), Habitantes Paisajistas, Virginia López in collaboration with the Museum Villa Romana de Veranes. Images courtesy PACA
On-going project (2015-2019), Habitantes Paisajistas, Virginia López in collaboration with the Museum Villa Romana de Veranes. Images courtesy PACA

This Guide comes at a pivotal time, when the climate emergency can no longer be denied. It is now time to think about what kind of world we want to see in ten or twenty years’ time. However this requires a big cultural shift, and that’s where the arts come in. The arts have a way of making the abstract seem more tangible and they have a way of reaching out on an emotional level to evoke change. The world needs these creative approaches more than ever. As Silvia Oviaño, Director of Mar de Mares festival, observes, ‘The messages that reach us through art and culture emotionally move us, and therefore they are the ones that drive us to change our way of relating to our environment. Through artistic work, we are capable of transforming a catastrophic message to one of hope.’ Art as a way to communicate the importance of sustainability was expressed by several of the initiatives. Imago Bubo · Rural Colectivo explains that ‘the added value of working through art is the possibility to reach people – whether they are participants or spectators in the artistic process – through unexpected avenues, the act of involving people through artistic-cultural actions and the power to generate messages and works that can break with traditional forms of communication and transmission.’

This guide is part of a series published by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF). Since 2015, ASEF has been publishing the series Creative Responses to Sustainability through its arts and culture portal, This series of country-specific guides looks at arts organisations that address issues of sustainability in their artistic practice in several countries of Asia and Europe. The previous Guides focused on Singapore (2015), Korea (2016) Indonesia (2017), Australia (2018) and Portugal (2019) with the spin-off in the series on the city of Berlin (2017).

You can download the Guides from the arts and cultural portal