6Qs with Visual Artist Sarah Rifaat //
When you think of the desert, you wouldn’t ordinarily think of the word “green,” but visual artist Sarah Rifaat along with the help of an international campaign to raise awareness about the climate crisis, 350.org might have just changed that. Together, as part of the “350 eArth: Climate Art Visible From Space” campaign, they created a giant scarab holding the sun in the middle of the desert on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. The campaign spanned across the world, covering cities such as Cancun, New Delhi, Los Angeles among several others. For more about this project of satellite proportions and Sarah’s work, keep reading…
Siwa or Sharm: Siwa
Coke or Pepsi: Coke
Marker or Pencil: Marker
1. How did you become involved with 350.org?
I have been a local 350 organizer for over a year now, ever since I attended the Performance Art for Climate Advocacy workshop organized by 350 and the IDEA institute last year in Turkey. The EARTH Project is the fifth and largest 350 event that I’ve been involved in organizing.
2. What is the most challenging thing about taking on a project of this size and scale?
Finding a suitable location. It’s very hard to obtain permission to do something like this on public property. Luckily, my father let us use a piece of desert land he owns when all of our other options failed, so I owe the success of this project to him.
3. What does this particular project mean to you?
This project was a chance to do something that, as far as I know had never been done in Egypt before, so it was an exciting personal challenge and a real test of determination. Also, it was
a chance to create greater awareness amongst Egyptian youth about the global climate movement as well as the huge potential for renewable energy in Egypt — an issue I am passionate about.
4. Do you believe art can save the climate? If so, how?
Art is a tool by which we can mobilize people to save the climate. Climate change is a universal, yet complex issue because its effects are as diverse as the regions it affects. This is where I think art can play a strong role by uniting people from different cultures and backgrounds and motivating them to take action, whether they be scientists, leaders, engineers or individuals.
5. What can artists do to be more environmentally friendly?
Artists can minimize the environmental impact of their art by
reusing their materials, using found objects, or using natural materials, not to mention being more environmentally conscious individuals in their day-to-day lives as well.
6. If you could pick one event in Egyptian history to have shot, what would it be?
The building of the Great Pyramid (Khufu).
To support this project, you can order a print based on Sarah’s work at artwelove.com >>