Clamoring to be heard and nearly submerged in murky water, the men in grey suits all appear to be stepping inward and under.  The Berlin-based exhibit left the image open to audience interpretation but it wasn’t long before folks on social media dubbed it an image of “politicians discussing global warming underwater”. The resulting tweet, sent out in March of this year, was mistaken as being the official vision of the artist’s and helped the image go viral.

The exhibit– named Follow the Leader– consists of a series of sculptures created by Spanish street artist Isaac Cordal and has been exhibited several times in 2012 and 2013 from locations in Belgium to France.  Cordal sought out to “reflect our own decline” through the various pieces and describes the exhibit as such on his website:

Follow the leaders is a critical reflection on our inertia as a social mass. Representing a social stereotype associated with power compound businessmen who run the global social spectrum. I worked with a great team of people that have helped me to realize this project.

The sculptures themselves are only 15-25cm tall but the resulting photographs are large and powerful.  While this specific piece wasn’t meant as a commentary on global warming specifically– Cordal does have a 2012 piece entitled “Waiting for Climate Change” which feature his tiny sculptures submerged in various aquatic settings.  The chilling rendering’s poignancy lies in the unfortunate reality that these images provide an accurate depiction of our stalled conversations on global warming, climate change and energy consumption.

The fact remains that our current thinking and the urgency greeting these issues is as small as the sculptures used in Cordal’s depictions.

Sara Haile-Mariam

Sara Haile-Mariam

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