Xavier Cortada, “DO NOT OPEN,” 2016.


  • Walk up to the “Do Not Open” wall in the exhibit.
  • Close your eyes: Imagine your city in the future. Imagine how rising seas will impact it and those who will live here then.
  • Think about what you would like them to know. Think about what you believe someone living in 2041, 2066, 2116 or 2216 will need to hear from someone living in 2016.
  • Unclip a blank piece of paper and envelope from the wall and use a pencil to write it all down:  Tell them who you are. Tell them why you are writing to them. Sign it. Date it.
  • Fold the letter in two, kiss it, place it in the envelope and seal it.
  • On the outside of the envelope write only one of these four phrases:

“DO NOT OPEN: 25 years”
“DO NOT OPEN: 50 years”
“DO NOT OPEN: 100 years”
“DO NOT OPEN: 200 years”

  • Clip the sealed envelope to the “Do Not Open” wall with the words facing out.
  • Stare at your envelope for 25 seconds, 50 seconds, 100 seconds, or 200 seconds.
  • Think of how your words will be received in the future.
  • Walk away



We are pioneers and runaway slaves and political refugees making new home.
In a strange place built on water.
With hurricanes.
And more.

We’ve witnessed destruction and loss.
But now face our greatest challenge:  Water is rising and it won’t recede.

We must summon courage, share wisdom with those who will follow.
We must tell them who we are.  We must explain what we saw.  We must show them how we responded.
We must help them navigate the greater chaos. To come.

We must write it all down.  Seal it in an envelope.
For them.  To read.


Tell them not to open it for a hundred years.
Or perhaps half that time, if you think they can’t wait that long.

Or maybe sooner;
In 25 years, when everyone will accept that the problem is real.
They will listen to us then.  They will finally understand.
We will all unite
As Antarctica comes to town.

Or tell them
Do not open for two hundred years.
When they will yearn most to hear from those of us
who once walked on land.

                                                                                          –Xavier Cortada

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The artist stands before his work, “Testamento,” at the CLIMA 2015 exhibit.  Photo by C.M. Guerrero, El Nuevo Herald


DO NOT OPEN:  Poem | Participant Instructions

During the Diatoms’ exhibit opening reception on January 19th, 2017, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy invited attendees to participate in Cortada’s “DO NOT OPEN” performance.   On January 27th it was performed at the National Wildlife Federation / Florida Immigrant Council exhibit in Little Havana. The work was first exhibited during the 2016 CLIMA exhibit in Hialeah.

Workshop with Seniors
Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 at 10 am
Milander Center for Arts & Entertainment
Hialeah Seniors








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Xavier Cortada, "Testamento," archival ink on aluminum, 2015

Xavier Cortada, “Testamento,” archival ink on aluminum, 2015