Julian Charrière
Calls for Action

Jun 8th – Oct 6th, 2024
Globus, Market Square, Basel

Copyright the artsit; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; Photo Mark Niedermann

Fondation Beyeler and Globus

This summer, Swiss-French artist Julian Charrière will transform Basel’s historical department store Globus, currently under renovation, with a boundary pushing artwork that aims to connect visitors across vast distances, bridging mountainous Switzerland with a Western Andean Cloud Forest in Ecuador. A radical intervention in public space, it invites the citizens and visitors of Basel to become participants and protectors, lending their voices to one of Earth’s critical carbon sinks and biodiversity hotspots.

Calls for Action is the second iteration of the “Globus Public Art Project”. During the three-year renovation of its iconic department store on Basel’s market square, Globus is collaborating with the Fondation Beyeler on inviting artists to conceive and realize new site-specific works of art that engage with the building and the public.

Calls for Action is both a playful and critical intervention, showing the importance of emotional connection to environmental action. Though rainforests act as important carbon sinks and home to vibrant biodiverse communities of life, few people in the Global North have had the opportunity to experience them first-hand. I wanted to create an opportunity for the public to intimately engage with an ecosystem distant to Basel, and to hear their own voices within it. It is a reminder that our presence is felt even in places we imagine are remote. Everything is connected, and there is no place that does not feel the consequences of human action, as well as inaction. Calls for Action is an encounter with this reality, but also with the possibility that if we act with intention, if we put out voices together, we can support and regrow that which might otherwise have been silently lost.”

Julian Charrière

Julian Charrière, Calls for Action, 2024, behind the scenes in Western Andean Cloud Forest, Ecuador

Copyright the artist; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; Photo Alcuin Stevenson
Copyright the artist; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; Photo Mark Niedermann

Julian Charrière’s Calls for Action brings together public art with land conservation, opening a live feed between the city of Basel and a Western Andean Cloud Forest in Ecuador to highlight the interconnectivity of our planet, along with the environmental issues that threaten such vital ecosystems. Featuring a large screen suspended on the department store façade, the project acts as a real-time window into the rich biodiversity of an endangered ecoregion. Encouraging communication and interaction, a phone booth has been installed on the market square, wherein visitors can pick up a phone to both listen and talk to this far removed ecosystem. Fostering a more intimate connection between the city and the jungle, Calls for Action thus proposes an encounter beyond mere spectatorship, whereby speaking into the rainforest we can also speak out on its behalf.

Through this collective experience, Julian Charrière seeks to create new planetary bonds beyond the boundaries of our immediate surroundings, showing how art can be a tool for connecting with environmental issues beyond our everyday lives. In the process it brings to the foreground urgent concerns regarding deforestation, environmental stewardship and the sustainable management of rainforests.

Inherent in the project is not only creating an emotional link to a specific region, but also to make direct donations for conservation efforts there, in this case a cloud forest in Ecuador. Ranked as a biodiversity hotspot, it is one of 36 sites around the world that has at least 1,500 species of vascular plants that exist nowhere else on Earth, but which has already lost 70% of its primary vegetation. One of the wettest regions on the planet, it has a high rate of endemic species that occur nowhere else. Habitat to a number of endangered species, it is home to Great Green Macaws, Brown-headed Spider Monkeys, Black-breasted Pufflegs, White-lipped Peccaries, Harpy Eagles, Banded Ground Cuckoos, Geoffroy’s Tamarins, Tapirs, and Pumas. Beyond being crucial for biodiversity, carbon sequestration and hydrological cycles, cloud forests such as these represent a vital component of mitigating climate change and maintaining the health of our planet.

The conservation efforts of Calls for Action are facilitated with the support of Art into Acres, an artist-run, non-profit environmental initiative; Re:wild, a global organization supporting environmental causes around the world; and local collaboration with Fundación de Conservación Jocotoco, an Ecuadorian nongovernmental organization protecting areas of critical importance for the conservation of threatened species in the region. The installation represents the beginning of a larger effort by the artist to bring awareness to the threats faced by rainforests around the world, run on an environmentally minded solar panel system, promoting a renewed closeness to the life and liveliness that inhabits these ecosystems.

By using a QR-code within the phone booth, visitors can individually join the fundraising efforts and contribute to protecting the site depicted in the livestream.

The “Globus Public Art Project” is an initiative by the Swiss department store Globus, realized in collaboration with the Fondation Beyeler. As part of this cooperation, each year during the three-year renovation of the iconic department store on Basel’s market square, an artist is invited to conceive and realize a work of art for the public space in and around the building. The “Globus Public Art Project” is curated by Samuel Leuenberger.

Julian Charrière, Calls for Action, 2024, behind the scenes in Western Andean Cloud Forest, Ecuador

Copyright the artist; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; Photo Alcuin Stevenson

In Baden-Baden (Germany), Museum Frieder Burda presents Julian Charrière’s Calls for Action as an immersive, participatory installation featuring a second livestream into a Coastal Rainforest in Ecuador as part of the museum’s 20th anniversary exhibition I Feel the Earth Whisper with Bianca Bondi, Julian Charrière, Sam Falls and Ernesto Neto, from June 14th until November 3rd, 2024.

Curated by Patricia Kamp and Jérôme Sans.

Julian Charrière, Calls for Action, 2024, behind the scenes in Western Andean Cloud Forest, Ecuador

Copyright the artist; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; Photo Alcuin Stevenson

About Julian Charrière

Charrière's work is a blend of conceptual explorations and poetic archaeology which includes performances and photographs as well as installations.

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