Back to Earth

How can art respond to the climate emergency?

Back to Earth is Serpentine’s long-term, interdisciplinary programme addressing the ongoing climate emergency. This multi-year project invites over sixty leading artists, architects, poets, filmmakers, scientists, thinkers, and designers to respond to the environmental crisis. With the support of partner organisations and networks, these collaborators are devising artistic campaigns, protocols and initiatives that act as catalysts for change.

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22 June - 18 September 2022

Throughout Summer 2022, Serpentine presents a Back to Earth exhibition and live programme that reflect how we can learn from diverse experiences to create change.

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Back to Earth considers ecology as embedded in everyday practices and agencies. Rather than celebrating escape strategies from Earth, reserved for the few, the project roots itself firmly in the messy and complex realities of the ground we all walk on.

Echoing the global response to the climate crisis, Back to Earth is a complex web of interconnected research, interventions and activities. Interdisciplinary at its core, Back to Earth manifests across Serpentine’s onsite, offsite and online programmes. It shares its resources in order to amplify ongoing projects or campaigns around the climate emergency, as well as to develop new ones. Back to Earth asks: What new ecosystems can foster agency within organisations? Which kinds of research-sharing, resource-sharing and collaborative working practices can help us find multifaceted responses to complex problems? How can arts institutions bring visibility to climate actions that create positive change for communities, places and imaginations around the world?

Back to Earth emerges out of the Serpentine’s long-standing engagement with ecology and extinction, beginning with the 2014 Extinction Marathon co-curated with artist Gustav Metzger, and with General Ecology, our related long-term research project. Find out more and for ecology news, sign up for our newsletter here.

Participants and project team

Back to Earth participants

Participants include: Maria Thereza Alves, David Adjaye, Etel Adnan, Black Quantum Futurism, Carolina Caycedo, Judy Chicago, Revital Cohen & Tuur van Balen, Cooking Sections, Agnes Denes, Manthia Diawara, Torkwase Dyson, Olafur Eliasson, Brian Eno, Jane Fonda, Formafantasma, Fernando García-Dory/INLAND, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Macarena Gómez-Barris, Jack Halberstam, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Bhanu Kapil, Karrabing Film Collective, Rudy Loewe & Jakob V Joyce, Metabolic Selves, Yoko Ono, Tabita Rezaire/AMAKABA & Yussef Agbo-Ola/Olaniyi Studio, Giles Round, Tai Shani, Sin Wai Kin, Himali Singh Soin, Superflux, Swoon, Bones Tan Jones, Sissel Tolaas, Dineo Seshee Bopape and Katy’taya Catitu Tayassu, Cecilia Vicuña, Studio Ghazaal Vojdani, and Vivienne Westwood and many more.

Posters by: Adham Faramawy, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Asad Raza, Ben Frost, Black Quantum Futurism, Bones Tan Jones, Cooking Sections, David Adjaye, Es Devlin, Etel Adnan, Gabriela Hearst, Himali Singh Soin, Hyphen-Labs X Allison Akootchook Warden, Jacob V Joyce and Rudy Loewe, James Bridle, Kate Raworth and Ruurd Priester, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Koo Jeong-A, London Fieldworks and Gustav Metzger, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Manthia Diawara, Martino Gamper, Newton Harrison, Parag Khanna, Pedro Reyes, Radha D’Souza and Jonas Staal, Raymond Pettibon, Revital Cohen & Tuur van Balen, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Seba Calfuqueo, Torkwase Dyson.

Back to Earth project team

Back to Earth is curated and produced by:

Sarah Hamed, Assistant Curator, Exhibitions
Rebecca Lewin, Curator, Exhibitions and Design
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director
Lucia Pietroiusti, Founder, General Ecology
Kostas Stasinopoulos, Associate Curator, Live Programmes
Jo Paton, Former Chief Producer
Holly Shuttleworth, Former Producer 

Further collaborations are also taking place across Serpentine.

Cooking Sections, CLIMAVORE

Cooking Sections, CLIMAVORE

Serpentine North Gallery Online Offsite International Ongoing

Working with scientists, chefs, farmers, policymakers and practitioners from several other disciplines, Cooking Sections' CLIMAVORE proposes an adaptive, regene...

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Tabita Rezaire, AMAKABA

Tabita Rezaire, AMAKABA

Offsite International Ongoing

A healing centre in the forests of French Guiana dedicated to the arts, sciences and spiritual dimensions of Earth, Body and Sky.

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Still from Karrabing Film Collective, The Family

Karrabing Film Collective, The Family

Online Offsite International Ongoing

An art residency for Karrabing ancestors and totems that shape the lands and more-than-human worlds they inhabit.

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Yoko Ono: I Love You Earth

Yoko Ono: I Love You Earth

April 2021

Yoko Ono's I LOVE YOU EARTH brings this simple declaration of love for our planet to billboards across the UK.

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Courtesy of Himali Singh Soin
Vivienne Westwood: SWITCH

Vivienne Westwood: SWITCH

Online Offsite International Late 2021

A call to action by Vivienne Westwood to SWITCH to green energy

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Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Pollinator Pathmaker

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Pollinator Pathmaker

Kensington Gardens Online Offsite From April 2022

Pollinator Pathmaker is a living sculpture made of plants, designed to prioritise the needs of endangered pollinating insects, rather than to please humans.

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Tai Shani: Untitled Hieroglyphs

Tai Shani: Untitled Hieroglyphs

Online Late 2021

A feminist history and mythology of the Ergot fungus.

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Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen: Heavens

Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen: Heavens

Offsite 12–17 Oct 2021

Aoving-image work overlaying planetary footage with deep sea imagery, looking at the sky to see deep into the ocean.

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Manthia Diawara

Manthia Diawara

International 15 Oct 2020

Manthia Diawara discusses the development of his new film for Back to Earth.

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Abstract image signalling the Metabolic Matters campaign

Metabolic Selves 2019-2020

Online 13 Aug 2020

Calling for a New Metabolic Order. Architect students from the Royal College of Art are rethinking the relationship between matter, bodies and spaces.

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Maria Thereza Alves: To See The Forest Standing

Maria Thereza Alves: To See The Forest Standing

Online Ongoing

Maria Thereza Alves is amplifying the Indigenous communities fighting to protect Brazil's forests.

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Carolina Caycedo: From River Rights to Just Fair Energy Transition

Carolina Caycedo: From River Rights to Just Fair Energy Transition

Online 13 Aug 2020

How can communities work together to dismantle oppressive infrastructures which harm our land, air and rivers?

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Judy Chicago, Jane Fonda & Swoon: Create Art for Earth

Judy Chicago, Jane Fonda & Swoon: Create Art for Earth

Online Ongoing

Judy Chicago, Jane Fonda and Swoon have joined forces to launch an open call to Create Art for Earth.

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Olafur Eliasson, Earth Perspectives

Olafur Eliasson, Earth Perspectives

Ongoing

A participatory project that invited the public to discover a new world view.

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Back to Earth: How do we get there?

Back to Earth: How do we get there?

How can the Serpentine contribute to discourse around the climate crisis in a meaningful way?

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Back to Earth: Sowing the seeds

Back to Earth: Sowing the seeds

How are artists developing campaigns for the Earth? How can an artwork reconnect us with the environment?

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Back to Earth Podcast

Back to Earth: Drops make an ocean

One of the core ecological principles of Back to Earth: we are all interconnected, smaller pieces of a larger whole.

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Back to Earth: By Leaves We Listen

Back to Earth: By Leaves We Listen

How can botanical knowledge support practices of ecological and personal healing?

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Back to Earth: Tracing the Roots

Back to Earth: Tracing the Roots

What does designing with and for the non-human mean?

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Jenna Sutela, I Magma App, 2019. Co-commissioned by Moderna Museet and Serpentine Galleries, 2019. Image courtesy of the artist.

Back to Earth: Systems and Sprouts

How are artists using technologies to imagine alternate realities, new alien languages and manipulate time?

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Back to Earth: Standing with the Forest

Back to Earth: Standing with the Forest

We listen to Indigenous organisations fighting extraction and climate change and the artists working with them.

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Back to Earth: Queer Currents

Back to Earth: Queer Currents

Artists and thinkers join the dots between queer theory and environmental activism and climate justice.

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Back to Earth: Can I Get Back To You?

Back to Earth: Can I Get Back To You?

Artists, poets and curators consider where the environmental and the artistic truly meet?

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140 Artists’ Ideas for Planet Earth

140 Artists’ Ideas for Planet Earth

3 Jun 2021

A new book inviting artists to re-think the climate emergency

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Back to Earth Day 2021

Back to Earth Day 2021

Online 19 Jun 2021

Back to Earth presents a day-long programme of talks, workshops, sound commissions, augmented reality and publications. 

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isual_essay_-_formafantasma_-_cambio_-_34.jpg

Retracing the Roots

Online 15 Oct 2020

In the face of ecological crisis, how can art, design and philosophy affect long-term change?

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Archive

Discover 50 years of the Serpentine

From the architecture pavilion and digital commissions to the ideas marathon and the General Ecology programme, explore 50 years of artists, projects and exhibitions.

View archive