Art Basel is behind us and someone ate the $120,000 banana. Shocking headline, right? But away from all that puffy sensationalism lies some real-life lessons worth hearing about.
Xavier Cortada, Pinecrest’s Artist-In-Residence, is also part of Facebook’s AIR (Artists In Residence) Program. During Art Week, Facebook utilized Cortada and several other artists to creatively highlight climate change, and in particular South Florida’s looming sea level rise disaster.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, South Florida’s sea level could be 3 feet higher by 2060 and as much as 8 feet higher by 2100. Consciously, Facebook’s exhibit space was placed on the sands of Miami Beach where they will almost certainly be underwater in a few short decades.
For years, Xavier Cortada has artistically expressed his concern for sea level rise. In 2018, he created The Underwater HOA as a participatory public art project. Many people in Pinecrest placed Cortada’s ocean-themed number signs in their yards to show their property’s height above sea level. Certain intersections were painted similarly. The goal of the project was to create awareness about rising sea levels and engage citizens throughout Florida to take action.
Visitors to Cortada’s Facebook exhibit were treated to his DO NOT OPEN interactive presentation in which Xavier asks participants to write letters to people in 2119, when Miami will likely be underwater. “I do so because today, many of their neighbors aren’t willing to listen. Today, too many are in denial about the human impact on global climate change,” explains Cortada. “For many, denial comes easier than visualizing the future impact of rising seas on their community. Our words fall on deaf ears. So, instead, we must write it all down, keep it in a safe place, and share it later, when others are willing to listen. Although the letters are intended for people not yet born, the true audience is those breathing in the present.”
In the letter, you are asked to write to your 19-year old great grandchild about your life in Miami. Perhaps apologize for not taking action or just leave a memory. Cortada then collects the sealed letters and locks them up in a time vault.
Here is the letter I wrote:
To the 19-year old receiver of this letter- Tomorrow matters. What are your plans for tomorrow? Seeing a friend? Kissing your mom? I had daily plans too. I probably did many of the things you will do. But I lived in the now lost city of Miami. A place that in 2019 we knew would no longer be dry land in 2119. We planned our days, but couldn’t see long-term enough to save our city. We hoped a global problem away, yet it came anyway. Was there a way to delay or avoid the Lost City of Miami? I fear no one ever truly tried. Do you still have Facebook and social media? Do you think beyond your plans for tomorrow? -Stay high and dry. Hal
“Being able to connect with our progeny raises the stakes for us now. It lengthens the ‘care horizon’ beyond our lifetime. It provides a path to hope and purpose,” says Cortada. “It encourages us to do all we can now to protect our planet, its future generations and the animals we coevolved with.”
Full story at miamihal.com/hals-blog/donotopen
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