During COP26, artist Xavier Cortada’s HELLO project aims to reframe the way we see one another and our collective vulnerability, notably to the risks associated with global climate change and sea level rise. Rather than using a traditional name tag, participants are challenged to instead identify themselves with qualifiers such as their personal elevation, hopes, and fears.
This effort produces a nexus of commonality among conference participants through a subversion of the indifferent banality generally associated with name tags. Rather than their name, one presents their worries and desires to the public gauntlet, a naked performance in the face of uncomfortable truths. This makes participating individuals explicitly aware of their peers’ thoughts and feelings, relevant in regard to a conference of international consequence.
The effort’s online component affords those not attending the conference with the opportunity to connect, engage and participate in bringing about a better future for themselves, others and those not yet born. Aside from reading each other’s submissions, participants will be able to see images and updates from the conference and utilize a curated resources page.
The initiative takes Cortada’s celebrated “Underwater Homeowners Association” as a point of departure, inviting conference attendees to discover their community’s elevation above sea level (found here) and mark it on a name tag that says “Hello my elevation is” – just as he had residents of Miami, Florida place site-specific elevation yard signs in their front yards to catalyze conversations around climate change.
The background of each of the five “HELLO” name tags (elevation, fear, purpose, hope, future) features a different piece from Cortada’s Antarctic Ice Paintings series. In 2007, Cortada created these works using Antarctic ice and sediment samples provided to him by scientists working alongside him in Antarctica. Cortada was a recipient of a 2006-2007 National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers fellowship and currently serves as professor of practice in the University of Miami Department of Art and Art History.
On the first day of COP26, Miami artist Xavier Cortada invited those not attending the global climate conference to be a part of it. This conference impacts you and every single one of the other 7.8 billion people on Planet Earth. The HELLO campaign is an artistic passport to share your voice from home with those attending the conference in Glasgow. Together we can act decisively to deliver a better, healthier and more sustainable future.