Cornelia Parker

Friends of the Earth talks to contemporary artist Cornelia Parker. Her last exhibition featured an interview with world famous writer and thinker Noam Chomsky.

During the interview we hear Chomsky's views on politics, globalisation and the environment.

In the case of global warming, the Bush Administration, the energy corporations and multi-nationals don’t care that much what happens

Noam Chomsky

About Poison and Antidote

Cornelia Parker was presented at the Whitechapel in partnership with Friends of the Earth. We're working together with the Whitechapel to engage people in a new inspiring way.

Video of launch night >

An interactive installation ran alongside the exhibition:

Here visitors were encouraged to ask their own questions about the state of the world.

Poison and Antidote finished with a discussion event on 29 March. A group of artists, activists and academics answered some of the questions posed during the 6 week exhibition.

More details of event >

Interview with Cornelia Parker

There’s a huge emotional dimension to global warming, but scientists aren’t allowed to be activists. Whereas artists can be expressive, acting more like free radicals.

Cornelia Parker

How easy is it to approach climate change in your work?

It’s really hard, I’ve never wanted to make didactic issue based art. This piece is an attempt to respond to my ambivalence to what we can do as artists.

Climate change is so huge and complex a problem; it touches on every facet of life: the economic, the political, the scientific; there are so many layers to it; there’s no one solution, and everything has to be rethought. It’s so all pervasive and people don’t seem to be as alarmed as they should be.

Climate change touches on every facet of life: the economic, the political, the scientific.

Cornelia Parker

So is there a role for artists in tackling climate change?

There’s a huge emotional dimension to global warming. We’re all emotional human beings but scientists aren’t allowed to display their personal feelings about this – they’re not allowed to be activists.

Scientists have to be seen to be rational otherwise it will undermine their work and people won’t take them seriously. Whereas artists can be expressive, acting more like free radicals.

You personally care a lot, don’t you. What does this look like?

In the last two years my partner and I have done all kinds of things; for example we’ve put solar panels on the roof, cut down on flying, offsetting those that we do take; we’ve signed up with Good Energy, invest ethically...

We are very vocal and involved in a debate within the art world about what it can collectively do about the problem.

My partner and I have put solar panels on the roof and cut down on flying.

Cornelia Parker

What action do you think needs to be taken?

What’s slowing all this down is the Government not being tough or urgent enough. If the general populous really were asked by the Government; “this is your kids’ future, your future; everyone has to do the max,” people would do it.

At the moment, people think: if it’s so serious why aren’t the Government doing anything about it.