Switching Zeitgeist: A Green Climate for the Arts

The past year was marked by a switch in thinking and direction in the arts—go digital,
local, and sustainable. Although most of these changes are still at an early stage, there
is a palpable electric feeling in the air: time for change.

At the core of this new breeze of green air are a number of art professionals and
organizations trying to create a collective movement forward—towards new and
sustainable practices. Art / Switch is one of the organizations at the center of this
movement; working to publicize isolated adaptations and sustainable developments by
institutions and individuals, which are often neither shared between departments or
organizations. The fact is that collaboration and coalition are essential to building
climate consciousness on a long term scale. Art / Switch addresses this need:
connecting people and institutions, sharing cross-sectorial information, redefining the
methods of today and developing climate-conscious practices for a carbon zero present
and a future proof arts sector.

Art / Switch was founded in 2019 by a group of individuals—partially from the UdK Berlin—
who saw that the art world at large was slow to react and mitigate its collective
environmental impact. As a network and incubator, they are addressing the switch to
sustainability as a global movement—a shift in thinking that bridges academic theory
with art practice, the museum world with the galleries, and every other actor along the

About the Conference Series

With covid-19 Art / Switch shifted, as many others, from the physical to the digital
realm with a trilogy of virtual conferences [re]Framing the Arts: A Sustainable Shift.
Each digital session creates a specialized yet interdisciplinary hub bringing together
diverse players to share knowledge and experiences from different fields. The
conference sessions narrow in from broad:
The first edition in October 2020 was dedicated to Institutional Approaches to
Sustainability, with speakers from Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, and the US. The
second is scheduled for January 29th 2021 with a focus on [re]Shaping Exhibition
Practices, followed by a final edition in March on Sustainable Conservation and

The first edition’s wide angle focus was on the structural and institutional shift towards a
carbon zero arts sector: environmentally sustainable architecture, organizational
choices behind sustainable storage facilities, energy efficient climate control systems,
and cultural guidelines in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In other
words: how can sustainability be prioritized on an institutional level?

What’s Next

These high level topics lay the groundwork to begin examining the role of exhibitions
within ecologically sensitive museum-, gallery-, or art fair-practice; the question is how
sustainability can be(come) intertwined with an exhibitions’ conception and production.
With the covid-19 crisis, the art world has had to take a step back from its planned
programming of international collaborations and blockbuster exhibitions. Out of this
predicament comes the opportunity to question business as usual with new notions
taking the forefront, such as hyper-local exhibitions and slow curating.

One tangible result of this first conference series will be an academic publication in
2021—manifesting the knowledge produced in this conference trilogy, sharing steps to
sustainability, and providing foundations for future collaboration and cooperation.

Art / Switch would like to invite you to join [re]Shaping Exhibition Practices on
Friday 29, January 2021 starting at 4pm to 7pm CET.
Tickets are on sale here.

– Charlotte Somerville