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  • Isabela Valencia

Call for Participants in Art Project: withNature2020

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

The following is a call for participants for an art project led by Emma K. Thomas, which will showcase the biodiversity crisis that the world faces in an effort to rouse people to take action.

My name is Emma K. Thomas. I'm an Oxford alumnus and I live and work as an artist in Copenhagen, Denmark.  In 2018, I conceived a global collaborative artwork called withNature2020, as a response to the extinction crisis.  The term refers to the loss of species, now occurring at 100-1000 times the natural rate, due to human activity and influence over ecosystems and habitats.

The work aimed to shine a light on biodiversity loss, by assembling people at multiple locations across the world on 22nd May 2020 - the International Day for Biodiversity - and stand them in formation in coloured clothing to generate giant images of endangered plant and animal species.  The images were to have formed at 14:00 in each location, starting in the far east and sweeping across the world westward throughout the day, generating a rolling visual tapestry of the species we risk losing.  

The Great Yellow Bumblebee (kløverhumlen) at 1:100 scale.

With thirty locations in play, across six continents (none in Antarctica), the project was taking shape nicely when Covid-19 reared its head.  The plan is now to hold the event a year later, on 22 May 2021, which falls during the UN biodiversity conference COP15, at which new biodiversity targets for the coming decade will be agreed.  To reduce the risk of infection, we will no longer ask people to stand in close proximity, but to lay an item of clothing in the place they would have stood, lending an air of absence to the work, a reference both to the species being lost and to the pandemic.  There is now a clear link between ongoing habitat destruction and crossover into humans of infectious disease.

COP15 may represent one of the last chances for governments to take the issue of biodiversity loss seriously and act in the name of humanity.  There are still glimmers of hope that where concerted action is taken to protect nature, nature responds.  withNature2020 aims to show what can be achieved with concerted collaborative effort, and connect onlookers and participants with what we risk losing.  

If you, or anyone you know, is willing to join our network and coordinate an image as part of this work, please contact   Or just follow us on social media  @withNature2020.

In addition, one of the coordinators for withNature2020 is the director of Bærekraftige liv, a Bergen, Norway-based sustainable living community network, and is organising a TED event on 10 October showcasing local/regional actions towards building a sustainable future.  The event will be in English. Sign up here.

Emma K. Thomas Artist and creator of withNature2020 On Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @withNature2020 Supported by: Alastair Mackie, artist, Britain; Richard Mabey, writer and naturalist, Britain; Joseba Eskubi, painter, Spain; David Takayoshi Suzuki, geneticist, Canada; Jackie Morris, artist and illustrator, Britain; Lars Agger, artist, Sweden; Richard Long, artist, Britain; George Monbiot, journalist, Britain; Dave Goulson, biologist, Britain; Jeremy Deller, artist, Britain;  Nicola Davies, zoologist and children's author, Britain; Alice Hunter Morrison, explorer, Morocco; Sam Lee, folk singer, Britain; Rasmus Nielsen, artist & member of Superflex, Denmark; Rodrigo A. Medellín, ecologist & 'batman', Mexico. Together we stand withNature #withNature2020 #biodiversity2020 #art #contemporaryart #landart #samtidskunst #kunst

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