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As London-based environmental non-profit Do The Green Thing launches an exhibition to explore the patriarchy’s role in climate change, we go behind the scenes to discover more.

Supported in part by ASAI, and featuring the work of 30 women and non-binary artists, who operate at the intersection of creativity and social change, ‘Man-Made Disaster: Patriarchy and the Planet’ took place at Protein Studios in London on 25 April. We asked Naresh Ramchandani, a co-founder of Do The Green Thing all about it.

What was the inspiration behind the exhibition?

Do The Green Thing

The exhibition was a response to Do The Green Thing’s latest Issue ‘Man-made disaster: How patriarchy is ruining the planet’ that explored the patriarchy’s ongoing role in accelerating the global climate crisis.

The Issue argues that in climate terms, toxic masculinity is frankly, toxic. Research shows that women waste less than men, recycle more than men and outperform men in nearly every environmental behaviour. But while men disproportionately contribute to climate change, women and girls are disproportionately affected by its negative impacts.

As women are on the frontlines of climate change, their perspectives are vital as governments develop the laws and policies that will shape our global response to it. That’s why we need more female voices at every stage of political and public life to meaningfully create radical, realistic and lasting climate change solutions for everyone.

And importantly, this exhibition is not about blaming individual men for their role in climate change. Instead, it’s about recognising strong societal forces at play in our society – to condition both men and women’s actions.

How did you select the artists?

Do The Green Thing

We made a list of our dream artists from around the world – from painters to poets, filmmakers to photographers – who were diverse in both race and age.

We then asked the artists to respond to facts and insights from the issue. The fact, for example, that women are 14 times more likely to die during natural disasters. Or, that as dry seasons extend and lakes disappear, women in rural developing communities are forced to work harder, walk further and put their health at risk to feed and care for their families.

The artists’ responses took the form of prints, paintings, films, poems, essays, sculptures and dustbins. By bringing together a wide range of mediums and experiences to form a powerful collective voice, we hoped to spark debate about the role of gender norms in our society and how they affect our climate crisis.

What was the purpose of this exhibition?

Do The Green Thing

We wanted to reveal the gendered dimensions to climate change in its causes, consequences and solutions. ‘Man-Made Disaster’ is a way of making that real for people.

The artists’ responses reflect the experience of living under the patriarchy in a time of climate crisis. Through their creativity, expressing rage, sadness, humour and hope, they explore the world we’ve created, to inspire, educate, provoke debate and offer a powerful new vision for the world we want.

How was the feedback?

Do The Green Thing

More than 800 people came to see the exhibition and the reactions were so engaged and moving – possibly the best project I’ve ever been lucky enough to be part of. It made a splash in the UK press, being covered by The Evening Standard, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Creative Review, It’s Nice That, Shago Magazine and AIGA.

Comments from guests on the opening night included:

“Truly inspirational and insightful. Thank you for this exhibition.”

“Was really great to see people who want a change. It’s so important – especially that women have the freedom to speak their opinions on the matter without being suppressed by the patriarchy.”

“…If only I could take this room across the whole world and share…”

“Congratulations on a brilliant exhibition. Such a mix and so many stories and facts that need to be shared”

“Really thought provoking and inspired work – so much to be done to smash the patriarchy!”

“..What an amazing, inspiring show. Incredible artists, inspiring ideas. I will walk away full of ideas…”

What’s next for the exhibition?

Do The Green Thing

We’re building on our very promising start. Our exhibition lives on at manmadedisaster.art, where the artist statements and full bios are showcased. We are also looking to take the exhibition further – with interest from Bristol, Sydney, Miami and Washington DC.

Check out images from the event in London below and the online exhibition here: manmadedisaster.art

Read the original issue on Do The Green Thing here: Man-made disaster: How patriarchy is ruining the planet.

Who knows, maybe we’ll see it at ASAI in the future? Stay tuned.

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