On Sunday 29th November 2015 London saw over fifty thousand people march to demand action against climate change. I took part in the march in association with ArtCOP21, a global programme of over 550 creative events including installations, plays, exhibitions, concerts, performances, talks, conferences, workshops, family events and screenings.
With help from a friend to conduct and film interviews we spoke about fifty people asking them to suggest one thing that people do that causes climate change and one thing people could do to help prevent climate change. Responses were filmed and a brief summary was written on to a tag and attached to the person as a reminder of their personal responsibility to take home, to follow, and to share. A photograph of each tag was shared on social media via Twitter and Instagram on the day using the hashtag #daretoknow.
We carried a handmade banner created from used estate agent corrugated plastic advertising panels and attached to two bamboo sticks cut from my garden. The text Dare To Know was painted on the front, and a picture of the Earth and the hashtag #daretoknow on the back. The design was inspired by images of homemade banners commonly seen on marches, painted in a large, clear font, with one short, powerful message, in this case, inspired by the essay Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment, by Immanuel Kant. He used the Latin phrase Sapere Aude, which translates as dare to know, to describe enlightenment as learning to have the courage to think for yourself:
“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another. This immaturity is self –incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolution and courage to use it without guidance of another. The motto of enlightenment is therefore; Sapere Aude! [Dare to be wise!] Have the courage to use your own understanding!” (Kant, 1991)
By physically returning each person’s personalised tag and metaphorically giving back responsibility to act on what they themselves had said, a sense of pride and empowerment seemed to be engendered in everyone we spoke to. It felt like the natural closing of a loop – a farer and positive end to each conversation – a challenge to each of them to know their self.
The film and images of the banner can be viewed here: Dare To Know.
The film is also featured as an event on the ArtCOP21 website: http://www.artcop21.com/events/dare-to-know/