Greenwich+Docklands International Festival (GDIF) has announced that this year’s 26th edition will open with Swiss artist Dan Acher’s timely intervention on the climate crisis, We Are Watching, from 27 – 30 August in Greenwich.
The Festival then runs until 11 September, with the highlights and full programme to be announced shortly. All programming will be once again planned whilst closely monitoring government guidelines around live events.
Dan Acher’s We Are Watching is a striking image of a giant eye, comprising of thousands of digital portraits, contributed by people from over 191 countries across the globe, flown on a monumental flag. The 10-storey high flag is designed to send a clear message to world leaders with the power to affect decisions about climate change: that the eyes of the world are upon them. We Are Watching will fly over Greenwich from 27 – 30 August, ahead of the planned COP26 later this year in Glasgow.
Having previously flown over the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, and the UN Conference on Climate Change in Madrid, We Are Watching was due to continue the journey through Paris and New York. One of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was that many events like this were cancelled; another was the reduction in climate emissions thanks to a global economy on hold. As the world begins to open up and recover, the appearance of We Are Watching at GDIF’s opening weekend will serve as a reminder that climate change is still firmly on the agenda.
Dan Acher said today, ‘We Are Watching brings the eyes of the world to key climate events. It’s a collective message of hope, fear and love and a resounding call for global action.’
Bradley Hemmings, Artistic Director of GDIF, said, ‘GDIF is keen to play its part in promoting environmental responsibility and responding to the climate emergency. Dan Acher’s We Are Watching will offer a spectacular opportunity for Londoners to reflect on and engage in the forthcoming COP26 Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow. Flying this extraordinary artwork as the opening event of this year’s festival, close to the line of zero degrees longitude (the symbolic centre of time and space) will further reinforce the resonance of this act of art and activism’.
The flag’s image of a giant eye is made up of thousands of portraits, uploaded by people across the world, straight from their phones. This form of agency is ongoing, with anyone able to add their face and voice to the We Are Watching website and get involved in the project. GDIF will be building several strands of local engagement around the Greenwich flying, including hosting an online exhibition of portraits contributed to the Greenwich event, alongside a ceremonial moment taking place on 27 August as the flag is raised.
Following GDIF, We Are Watching will be touring to other locations across the UK as part of Global Streets, managed by FESTIVAL.ORG and funded by Arts Council England.
Attendance at the event will be free, but tickets may be required. Following a safe, successful, live festival in 2020, the team behind GDIF is incorporating health and safety measures into all aspects of planning for the 2021 festival. The full programme and ticketing details will be announced in June.