The artistical aspect of sustainability

“Our failure to address environmental issues is not a failure of information but a failure of imagination.”


As far as we know, businesses build upon rationalism and data-driven concepts. Boosting profits, enhancing efficiency, making productivity as fast as possible. But in order to provoke commitment – which is one of the core elements of sustainability – humans have to be touched emotionally. This week, I read an utterly interesting article on The Guardian by Joseph Zammit-Lucia about “The art of sustainability: imagination, not spreadsheets will create change”. Since I am more the emotional type of person, I was really impressed by his approach.


Gallery 21

The picture you see above is part of an exhibition of the author which simply shows animal portraits in black and white. Now forget one second about the text you read so far and just look at the photo for a while – what is your feeling?

Joseph Zammit-Lucia conducted this experiment with the visitors of his exhibition and made an interesting discovery: about 90 % changed their perception and started to think about a new, animal-protecting & sustainable lifestyle. Without any words or comments, the picture touched the visitors more than a talk possibly could. Just try to recall some childhood memories – aren’t most things we can remember, even if it happened more than 10 years ago, connected to an emotion, be it pain or happiness?


“We reduce the amount of packaging around a product and call it sustainable. We make something out of recycled material and we call it sustainable. We jig our supply chain around and call it sustainable.”

Zammit-Lucia says what I always tried to state during my last blog posts: we live in a world where sustainability is a simple word, easily applied to every tiny change in behavior. How can we know which companies among those myriads of “sustainable-producing” institutions really help the planet by trying to change the future?And this is what it’s all about, the future. Data lies in the past, and only those businesses which really include emotional intelligence in their concepts will achieve to stay sustainable and to be the leaders of a new movement. The future is uncertain, but why don’t we use our imagination?

Some further reading:

“Roobarb” on the meaning of sustainability for contemporary art

A book by Sacha Kagan about the cultural dimension of sustainability



  1. I really appreciate the way you directly address the reader, this makes me feel integrated in some way and therefore makes me think more about your topic.
    Your writing skills are great and also the involvement of quotes and the picture, not to forget that you draw a connection to the visual, impressed me.
    Nevertheless you should maybe think of another way to include the links as it is not that “beautiful” this way.
    Keep on like this, go Mieki!!!

  2. I like your subheads, they give your blog a clear structure. But sometimes i wasn`t able to follow your train of thought. Moreover, the picture is really helpful but maybe you could put the picture beneath your question “what is your feeling” as then one wouldn`t have to scroll back up and then down again. Way to go!

  3. Nice! Very well structured and easy to read. Maybe you can figure out a way to include the links better, like Charlotte said. But I don’t know how to do it either (;

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