On World Children’s Day, 20 November 2020, artist Olafur Eliasson asks political leaders and changemakers to demonstrate they are listening to the next generation. Initiated by Eliasson’s public artwork Earth Speakr, kids’ messages on the future wellbeing of the planet are being delivered to politicians prompting reaction, and amplified on social media under #ListenToTheFuture.
Over 250,000 people have collectively taken part in Earth Speakr since it launched in July on the occasion of the German Presidency of the Council of the EU 2020. Eliasson started the multilateral artwork – featuring an app and a website available in 25 languages – to amplify kids’ hopes and concerns on climate change, promoting cross-generational exchange across Europe and beyond.
Art and culture provide a space, a meeting point, to connect and share perspectives, while celebrating differences. When engaging with a work of art you can gain a sense of feeling listened to, seeing your ideas reflected in the form and structure of an artwork. To me this two-way exchange is essential. Earth Speakr is an artwork made by kids who express themselves creatively about the climate and their own future. The artwork invites you to listen to their brilliant, funny, and, not surprisingly, heartbreakingly honest messages.
World Children’s Day is a reminder to us all to show kids – and to demonstrate through action – that their down-to-earth views are entirely valid and much-needed in shaping our future. They must become co-designers of our tomorrow. To recognise the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including the child’s right to be heard, I ask politicians and other people in power to work to make this happen, not just today but every day of the year.
– Olafur Eliasson, Artist
Kids are speaking up
Children from 70 countries and counting are co-creating the artwork by sharing their views – in their native languages – using the app’s augmented-reality technology. The video messages are addressed to adults, but also to other kids, offering solutions, ideas, and sharing frustrations.
Hello, I need to say something. Please protect the environment, otherwise there won’t be any future. There is no Planet B, and there is no Plan B if we are not doing something. Thanks for your help. – states the pavement in Kapfenberg, Austria
I wish people would eat fewer animals. – says a wall in Tallinn, Estonia
For each child born, a tree should be planted. – suggests a leaf from Leiria, Portugal
To ensure kids’ messages are being heard, over 108 Earth Speakr virtual or in-person events, organised by a growing network, are actively inviting kids to be the artists and bring their surrounding environment to life. Goethe-Institutes and German Embassies across the EU have supported the artwork from its initiation, enabling kids to discuss their messages first-hand with local politicians. Innovative collaborators and partners, including Dokk1, Aarhus Public Libraries (Denmark), the cultural institution TBA21–Academy Ocean Space (Italy), World Clean Up Day, and Young Innovators by EIT Climate-KIC are integrating Earth Speakr into their environmentally-focused activities.
Earth Speakr is funded by the Foreign Federal Office and realised in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut. To take part, download the Earth Speakr app from Google Play or App Store and visit https://earthspeakr.art/en/
Earth Speakr in Malta
Like Earth Speakr, we think that children represent the present and the future, and their voices need to be listened to by the current leaders to ensure the environment they are set to inherit is not one damaged beyond repair as a result of pollution, habitat destruction, mass extinction and climate change. Earth Speakr gives children an engaging, yet very powerful, platform through which to find their voices, speak their minds and amplify their messages. The earth is suffering, children are speaking out, but are the adult world leaders actually listening?
– Amy (17) & Ella (15) Founders of Kids Against Plastic
During these particular times, our planet needs hope, and the key to our future are our children. We believe that by giving children an empowering experience through the Earth Speakr application, we are providing them with a broad platform to share their thoughts and ideas about the world we live in. This would give everyone the optimism that is much needed all around the world. – German Embassy in Malta and German Maltese Circle
In October, Olafur Eliasson presented Earth Speakr during the TED Countdown, alongside Climate Activist Al Gore and Musician and Actor Jadon Smith. In Malta the German Maltese Circle hosted workshops to bring Earth Speakr into the hands of kids. Studio Olafur Eliasson has collaborated with leading institutions and experts to create Earth Speakr toolkits – free of charge and available in 25 languages – to inspire kids in museums, libraries and classrooms to speak up for the planet.
Across the country
Kids are taking part across the country, with messages arriving from cities and towns, from Pembroke to Ta’ Xbiex to Rabat. Kids have created Earth Speakr messages to air their concerns, creatively share ideas, or to support international environmental days such as World Clean Up Day and the Global Climate Strike. In Malta a high number of kids have categorised their messages under the headlines City, Plants and Pollution.With individual messages animating local environments, the artwork reveals a global picture of hyperlocal views, united in the framework of the artwork.
Why don’t you humans invest in more of us? I mean its free energy plus its good for the environment because coal plants aren’t really good for you and they have made our summers hotter than the most hot. – suggests a solar panel in Rabat, Malta
Hey, why have you been building so many buildings? You’re changing this land from a lush green one into a dark sad one and I do not like that! – questions a rooftop terrace, also in Rabat, Malta
Explore AR Loud Speakrs in person or online
On the artwork’s interactive website, adults can amplify messages by creating a Loud Speakr – a large collection of messages brought together in augmented reality. Once created, Loud Speakrs can be shared online and placed on the virtual world map – in public squares, parks, in front of political buildings – to be explored in real life through the Earth Speakr app.
Over 580 Loud Speakrs are currently on the map in prominent locations, including the Parliament of Malta, Valletta.
Watch Olafur Eliasson walk through his artwork, Earth Speakr, at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D00JF75NZdM&feature=youtu.be
Kids can create Earth Speakr messages and invite their friends to make more.
Adults and today’s decision-makers, change-makers, and global leaders can explore the Earth Speakr messages, create groups of messages – so-called Loud Speakrs – and share with others to amplify the topics that they find most relevant. Eliasson hopes those in politics will be inspired to bring Earth Speakr messages to the table to make kids feel met and heard.
Institutions can host an event and encourage kids to participate. Toolkits available on the website guide you in co-creating engaging activities for kids to explore the artwork and in bringing Earth Speakr into your existing programming.
Find out more at https://earthspeakr.art/en/get-involved