The Burning Question

The Burning Question

A dual-medium creative arts project to raise awareness of climate change in Eswatini, featuring a regional fine art exhibition at the Bushfire Festival and a freely-distributed feature-length creative writing supplement in the national newspaper

Mbabane | Started on 1/2/2017 – Concluded on 1/6/2017

A highly-collaborative, multidisciplinary creative arts project coordinated by Yebo Gallery in partnership with the Eswatini Climate Coalition, the Observer Newspaper, and the Bushfire Festival of the Arts. There were two key elements to the project, namely a climate-themed art exhibition and a creative writing “fictional news” supplement that was distributed nationally.

Yebo partnered with Bushfire to host an art exhibition at the festival that was open to artists from across the southern African region. The exhibition was titled “The Burning Question”, and featured over 50 physical artworks from over 20 selected artists, with work exploring land rights, ecology, water scarcity, human migration and our collective identity crisis. The exhibition ran on-site for the duration of the festival, which itself hosts over 15,000 visitors, before relocating to Yebo Gallery for a further month.

Concurrent to this, Yebo worked with the main print newspaper in Eswatini, The Observer, to run a project with a selected team of its journalists that involved creating “a fictional edition of the Observer set May 2050”. The purpose of this work was to run a training with the journalists to better understand the implications of climate change (and climate inaction), and collectively brainstorm story ideas, topics, themes and content for a newspaper edition set in a future that was deeply affected by climate change. The edition was explicit about negative realities in some of its stories, but also portrayed a world less damaged (i.e., better prepared) than anticipated due to concerted global action and cohesion in tackling the climate crisis. Stories covered a wide range of typical news articles, from politics and business, to sports and entertainment. Real businesses paid money to advertise in the supplement with hypothetical “future products and services”, which financed the publication. This was included in all copies of the Observer distributed nationally on 27 May 2013.

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Editor’s Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made to increase readability and understanding.