Arts

Antony Gormley criticises huge carbon footprint of the art world—but admits he is part of the problem

Antony Gormley's Event Horizon was presented in Hong Kong by the British Council in 2015 Photo: Oak Taylor-Smith

The UK sculptor Antony Gormley has highlighted the taboo subject of the art worlds carbon footprint, raising the issue of art fairs impact on the climate crisis. In an interview with the Sunday Times,marking his forthcoming survey at the Royal Academy of Arts in London (21 September-3 December), Gormley discusses the Tates recent climate emergency pledge when its officials committed to reducing the institutions footprint by ten per cent over the next four years.

Gormley says that “weve got a very short amount of time to do a really huge amount of work”. The art world, he adds, “has to inquire into its own means. Theres no question that the art fair is [up there] along with probably the arms industry.”

In a recent conversation with the artist Jeremy Deller, Gormley says both had mapped “the routes and the prevalence of arms fairs and art fairs”. We asked Deller if he equates art fairs with arms fairs. The Turner prizewinner tells us: “No. Though arms dealers do buy art. But I think he [Gormley] was getting ahead of himself.”

Antony Gormley Photo: Stephen White

Gormley adds in the interview that “art fairs serve a minute proportion of the worlds population, and just the export and import and packing, and transport of all the works, and then you add to that all the air fares of all the people who go to them, and theres no question this is a profligate use of resources.” Asked if he stands apart from this, he says, “No, Ive been absolutely hook, line and sinkered by it!” Gormley declined to comment further.

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