Saturday, November 21, 2015

Tipping Points

Tipping Points: Artists Address the Climate Crises 
December 8th - February 5th, 2016
Gallery Bergen, Bergen Community College
400 Paramus Road, Paramus NJ 07652-1595

Resa Blatman, Diane Burko, Nancy Cohen, Matthew Friday, Mary Mattingly,
Itty Neuhaus, Laura Petrovich-Cheney, Joan Perlman, Caroline Rothwell,
Rebecca Smith

On June 23, 1988, James Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies testified before a Senate committee that he could state with "99 percent confidence" that a recent, persistent rise in global tem​perature was a climatic sig​nal he and his colleagues had long been expecting. Hansen was willing to say what no one had dared say before. "The greenhouse effect," he claimed, "has been detected and is changing our climate now."

This statement was made 27 years ago and many in the science community believe that we have now passed a critical tipping point in terms of irreversible effects on the planet’s eco systems due to climate change. The Fifth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate  report stated with confidence that precise levels of climate change sufficient to trigger a tipping point, defined as a threshold for abrupt and irreversible change, remain uncertain, and that the risk associated with crossing multiple tipping points increases with rising temperature.

Tipping Points: Artists Address the Climate Crises will take place at Gallery Bergen timed in conjunction with the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21, held in Paris, from November 30 to December 11th. It will be the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The conference objective is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations from all the nations of the world.

In a 2005 article, “What the Warming World Needs Now Is Art, Sweet Art,” Climate activist and author Bill McKibben, founder of, wrote that although we knew about climate change, it wasn’t part of the culture yet. An intellectual understanding of the scientific facts was not enough – if we wanted to move forward and effect meaningful change, we needed to engage the other side of our brains. We needed to approach the problem with our imagination. And the people best suited to help us do that, he believed, were artists.

Artists can use their skills and imagination to address the issue of climate change and work towards this cause is now being seen in unprecedented numbers. The artists in Tipping Points use a variety of mediums including painting, photography, video, sculpture and drawing. Some have been partnering with scientists and environmental organizations. Others have been researching and documenting changes in glaciers and diminishing ice on trips to far northern regions of the planet; including boat trips to the Artic and Antarctic. Some take a more poetic and imaginative approach to confront the seriousness of the issue and single biggest challenge of our time.

Some hope for a technological breakthrough or miracle solution, while others believe that adaptation and fortifications can be built to mitigate harm. Science deniers in the political system clearly have their heads in the sand. The intensity of the power struggle over climate change, believers vs. non believers, has only grown over the years since this 1988 statement by Michael McElroy, Professor of Environmental Studies, Harvard University: "If we choose to take on this challenge, it appears that we can slow the rate of change substantially, giving us time to develop mecha​nisms so that the cost to society and the damage to ecosystems can be minimized. We could alternatively close our eyes, hope for the best, and pay the cost when the bill comes due."

And in a recent New York Times Dot Earth article: “Year by year, the great transition away from the world’s risky carbon-based path to progress is said to be just around the corner. This year’s Emissions Gap report from the United Nations Environment Program, aiming to energize Paris climate talks next month, was released today with this headline”:
Unprecedented Momentum for Climate Agreement in Paris, But Achieving 2 Degree Objective Contingent upon Enhanced Ambition in Future Years
“The message? You’re doing great, world, but raise your ambition some more and we’ll really get on track toward a safe climate.” – Andrew Revkin, New York Times November 6, 2015
The ambitious and visionary artists in Tipping Points are helping to raise awareness though their ideas and images to reach people on a level that science alone seems to be failing at. They are pointing the way towards new thinking and new possibilities regarding the future of life on the planet.
For further information and images please contact:
Amy Lipton, Curator, Gallery Bergen,,

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