By Isaiah Esipisu
RIO DE JANEIRO, Jun 21 (TerraViva) Danish artist Jen Galschiot is sending a strong message to delegates at the Rio+20 summit – one that some may not wish to hear.
His metal sculptures, found outside the RioCentro summit complex, are elegant and diverse, but also aim to prick the conscience of world leaders gathered here. The most conspicuous one â the Statue of Liberty â holds a document with an ironic message: “The Freedom to Pollute”.
“We are not asking people to freely pollute the environment. But this sculpture symbolises the conflict between our demands for unbridled consumption and our concern for the planet that would imply that we restrict our excesses,” Galschiot told TerraViva.
Another eye-catching statue shows a pregnant woman hanging on a cross, titled “In the Name of God” – statement about the Catholic Church’s rejection of family planning and contraceptive use.
“The world is changing very fast, and population pressure is already affecting the climate and livelihoods. The more people there are in the world, the more forests are felled to create space for settlement, farming and grazing, the more the climate keeps changing,” said the artist.
“People need the freedom to choose the size of families they should have, in tandem with the available resources,” he added.
Galschiot’s sculptures, such as a series of figures titled “Climate Refugees”, paint a disturbing vision of a world plagued by hunger and want.
According to the United Nations, the number of people forced to move from their homes due to climate-related disasters could rise to 150 million worldwide in the next 40 years.
“It will be remembered that in 1992, the world’s heads of states made a promise to the world that they would form a global partnersdhip for sustainable development, and make the world a better place for the future generations. But 20 years on, all the promises have been broken. Billions of people are going without food, have no access to electricity, children are not going to school, and the list is endless,” he said.