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No way back?

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Leading artists, scientists, academics and politicians from across the world are to challenge each others thinking for an enquiry into the critical ecological issues of today.

No Way Back?, a two-day international conference to be held at LSE on Monday 11 and Tuesday 12 December, will hear leading figures from a broad range of professions explore the depths of global ecological crisis, and see if artists can help us navigate the complexity of the issues.

Ecologists, economists, architects, philosophers and anthropologists will contribute keynote presentations, workshops, panel discussions, a walk, readings, screenings and artists' interventions and will encourage dialogue with and among the delegates.

Speakers include Turner prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, minister for culture David Lammy, Professor Zou Ji, the Chinese delegate at UN climate change talks, chief executive of Arts Council England Peter Hewitt and chairman of the Soil Association Craig Sams.

The conference - produced in partnership between Arts Council England, the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and LSE - will take place at LSE.

The book Land Art: a cultural ecology handbook, edited by writer and curator Max Andrews, will also be launched during the conference.

Topics at No Way Back? include climate change, land and energy use, perspectives on the rapid development in China, alternative energy, the role of art, and social ecosystems.

No Way Back? is part of the RSA's Arts & Ecology initiative, launched by the Arts Council and RSA in 2005 to support the work of the arts in examining and addressing environmental concerns in an interdisciplinary and international arena.

Peter Hewitt, chief executive of Arts Council England said: 'No Way Back? will bring the often unique insights of the art community into the ongoing debate on the ecological issues which are a part of all our lives. The environment and the way we interact with it as individuals and communities has become a topic of increasing importance to many people. By sharing our knowledge, skills and concerns, and working together with specialists from other communities we hope to make a real difference to the future.'

Michaela Crimmin, head of Arts at the RSA said: 'There is an increasing yearning for fresh thinking in addressing the challenges, many of them exceedingly grim, that we face at this pivotal and portentous moment in our history. The strength of artists is that they operate across margins and disciplines, revealing alternative perspectives and insights, raising questions, challenging the orthodoxies. Artists should be encouraged and supported in this. The RSA is therefore delighted that Arts Council England and the LSE are joining with us to provide an open platform for artists and promoting new connections across disciplines.'

Professor Patrick Humphreys, director of the Department of Social Psychology at LSE, said: 'LSE is delighted to host this two-day conference that will bring together experts from a range of disciplines to explore the increasing global ecological challenges faced today. By bringing together artists, geographers, ecologists, economists, sociologists, architects and philosophers to discuss the shared concerns of these disciplines we hope to foster a longer term interdisciplinary exchange and bring new solutions to light to address the very real problems faced today.'


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Notes to editors:

RSA Arts & Ecology consists of a series of initiatives including conferences, networking, ongoing discourse, international research trips, education pilots, artists' projects and commissions, a website and a publication. This programme is generously supported by organisations including Arts Council England, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Creative Partnerships, Danish Arts Council, Danish Embassy in London, inIVA, The London School of Economics and Political Science, The Pontin Charitable Trust and the Royal College of Art.

Arts Council England works to get more art to more people in more places. It develops and promotes the arts across England, acting as an independent body at arm's length from government. Between 2006 and 2008, it will invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and the National Lottery in supporting the arts. This is the bedrock of support for the arts in England. 

The RSA encourages the development of a principled and prosperous society. Drawing on an influential network of leaders from every field and background, the RSA confronts the complex issues facing today's world with initiatives effecting real and lasting change.  

5. Programme highlights:

Monday 11 December

  • Addressing Climate Change: politics, environment, society. Speakers include: Professor John Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Professor Zou Li, China's delegate at the UN climate change talks.
  • Screenings of artists films Brilliant Noise by Semiconductor and Arrested Development by Grace Ndiritu, and others.
  • Fostering New Environments: land and energy use. Speakers include Allan Jones CEO, London Climate Change Agency and Craig Sams, chairman of the Soil Association, UK.
  • Ruth Padel reading. Includes extracts from her prose book, Tigers in Red Weather, which recorded her two year search through Asian jungles for the increasingly threatened wild tiger
  • The launch of Land Art: a cultural ecology handbook, edited by writer and curator Max Andrews. The book presents a compendium of essays, dialogues and commissioned projects by artists, ecologists, cultural theorists, activists and curators exploring art's varied modes of response to notions of territory, cultural production and the emergencies of the 21st century. Contributors include renowned art historian Lucy R Lippard and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai.

Tuesday 12 December

  • Welcome and Ministerial Speech by David Lammy MP, minister for culture
  • The Role of Art in Promoting New Ecological Thinking. Contributors include Maria Thereza Alves, John Jordan and Tue Greenfort. Chaired by Ralph Rugoff, director, Hayward Gallery
  • Bat House Project. Jeremy Deller, artist and initiator of the project with bat conservationist Dr Katie Parson.
  • Economics and Urbanism in China. Case study presented by Peter Head, Arup and Shan-Feng Dong - designers of Dongtan City, Shanghai - a city powered by renewable energy, self-sufficient in water and with all food sources from surrounding farm land
  • Social Ecosystems. Contributors include Jiang Jun, Editor-in-chief of Urban China Magazine, Bronislaw Szerszynski, Senior Lecturer in Environment and Culture at the Department of Sociology, Lancaster University.

Press cuttings

No way back?
(6 Dec 06)
Website highlights the event No way back, an upcoming two day international conference to be held at the School on 11 and 12 December.

Time Out

24 November 2006