Article

OpenArt – transforming a city center into a sustainable art exhibition

PARTNER UPDATE. OpenArt is Scandinavia’s biggest outdoor art biannual, attracting more than 200 000 visitors in the city of Örebro, Sweden.
This year, OpenArt has partnered with We Don’t Have Time to make the art exhibition more sustainable than ever before – and to inspire others to do the same.
”Big Yellow Rabbit", by Florentijn Hofman, gained OpenArt international media attention in 2011.
”Big Yellow Rabbit", by Florentijn Hofman, gained OpenArt international media attention in 2011.

Örebro is a growing city of 150 000 inhabitants two hours west of Stockholm. Every second summer its city center undergoes a very notable transformation – by turning into an outdoor art exhibition that no one can avoid.
Art is literary everywhere during this period. On squares, in shopping malls, in parks, on the river, in streets, and on the walls of buildings.
”You should not be able to walk in central Örebro this summer without facing art”, says Elin Persson, head of OpenArt.
Born in 2008, OpenArt gained worldwide fame in 2011, when pictures spread of a gigantic yellow rabbit lying feet up on the main square of Örebro. Some citizens loved it, others were furious. No one was indifferent.
Four years later, the biannual drew global attention again, when world-famous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was given a whole street to his disposal, draping it with worker’s uniforms in an installation called ”Think different (how to hang workers’ uniforms)”.
"Think different (how to hang workers’ uniforms)", by Ai Weiwei, OpenArt 2015.
"Think different (how to hang workers’ uniforms)", by Ai Weiwei, OpenArt 2015.

After a three-year pause, due to the pandemic, Örebro’s city center is now once again being turned into a global contemporary art exhibition. At the time of writing, constructions are being erected, sculptures installed, and walls painted in a creative final sprint to the official opening ceremony on June 18.
In the preparation for this year’s event, OpenArt has placed an extra focus on sustainability. For the organizing team, this goes far beyond the art exhibition itself.
”Even though we always feel that there is so much more we could do, we have tried to incorporate sustainability in every step of the way, from the choice of materials, to means of transportation. For example, we strongly encourage every artist traveling from nearby countries like Norway and Denmark to go by train if possible”, says Elin Persson.
"A number of artists has created art inspired by climate issues and the economic and social structures of our time”, says Elin Persson, head of OpenArt..
"A number of artists has created art inspired by climate issues and the economic and social structures of our time”, says Elin Persson, head of OpenArt..

A few other examples of Open Art's sustainability work:
• At all events hosted by OpenArt, vegetarian food is always served, and disposable plastic items are actively removed.
• A lot of the materials used for the artworks are collected, reused and recycled, and OpenArt is inviting the citizens of Örebro and nearby areas to be part of this. For this summer’s exhibition, people have donated old fences and bedposts for a big installation. For previous exhibitions, chairs, books, worn-out tights and other goods have been collected from citizens and turned into art.  This makes people feel that they are part of the exhibition, while at the same time drastically reducing the climate footprint and the use of resources. As a bonus it also lowers production costs.
• OpenArt 2022 is part of the EU project Fossilfritt 2030 – Rena resan (The Fossil-Free and Effective Transport in East-Central Sweden project.) During the exhibition, a whole street in central Örebro will be closed off, with the purpose of displaying how an area can change when cars and parking lots give way to art, playfulness and sustainable transport. Rena resan has also financed the artwork for this specific location, a running track on top of cars, created by Benedetto Bufalino.  
• OpenArt is working with the municipality of Örebro to measure and analyze its climate impact, and to take action in order to meet the climate targets for 2030.
• OpenArt is an exhibition free of charge, which means people of all ages are able to take part in the exhibition on their own terms. OpenArt acts as a megaphone for messages that are embedded in the works of art and in the artistry, thereby raising awareness of issues such as climate, identity or class.
”If we look at the art exhibition in itself, a number of artists have created art inspired by climate issues and the economic and social structures of our time”, says Elin Persson. 
This summer, art is once again transforming the city center of Örebro. The exhibition opens on June 18 and closes on September 4.
This summer, art is once again transforming the city center of Örebro. The exhibition opens on June 18 and closes on September 4.

Last year Open Art decided to partner with We Don’t Have Time. A bit reluctantly at first, Elin Persson admits, since she and her colleagues didn’t feel that they were doing enough in terms of climate action.
But the partnership has not only given OpenArt new ideas on how to reduce its climate footprint, it has also made the organizers aware of the good work they were already doing.
”We Don’t Have Time has brought in a whole new perspective. There have been times when we have felt that we are not doing anything good for the climate, and then you guys come in and say: ‘You are already doing this and this, which is great. Keep doing it, and start telling others about it’.”
So OpenArt started doing that – with good results.
”Simply by communicating to our artists that sustainability is important to us, we have seen that some of these artists have chosen different materials than they originally were planning to use”, says Elin Persson. ”We Don’t Have Time has taught us about the need to inspire others, and to communicate the good things we are already doing for the climate. For an organization working with art, this is really important. Because when people encounter art, something happens inside them. Lines of thought are broken, and new ones are created. This, I believe, can lead to a more innovative way of thinking, which in turn can help us get out of old and destructive mental structures.”
As a partner to We Don’t Have Time, OpenArt has its own Climate Dialogue page on the platform. The organization is now planning to use the page more frequently, to network and exchange ideas with other stakeholders.
Please also check it out for updates on this year’s biannual.
”Slingshot”, byt Cornelia Konrads. OpenArt 2019.
”Slingshot”, byt Cornelia Konrads. OpenArt 2019.

 ABOUT OPEN ART
  • OpenArt is an international outdoor exhibition of contemporary art, which takes place in Örebro, Sweden every second summer.
  • Born in 2008, OpenArt is this summer holding its 8th exhibition of contemporary art in Örebro, from the 18th of June to the 4th of September.
  • Around 65 artists and art groups from more than 30 countries are represented in this year’s exhibition.
  • OpenArt is Open for Climate Dialogue, and look forward to your review.
  • Pixel Planet Today

    104 w

    This is amazing! Wish I was in Sweden to attend (or if I worked in a physical medium, participate 😉)

    5
    • Tomas Roovete

      104 w

      I’m really happy to visit OpenArt in Örebro and culture and art could actually make a huge different to solving the climate crisis.

      6
      • Marine Stephan

        104 w

        Very much looking forward to seeing it!

        3
        • Patrick Kiash

          104 w

          Awesome article! Wish am in Sweden,I could definitely visit your exhibition of contemporary art in city of Örebro. Keep on communicating good things you do toward the climate! Sustainability is very important to everyone at this time as we don't have time to wait! May your targets and same to the municipality of Örebro be met towards the plans and targets they have by 2030! Kudos and Good luck in all!

          3
          • Sarah Chabane

            104 w

            This is so exciting, looking forward to visiting the exhibition this weekend. And very inspiring to read about the different climate actions you are taking!

            3
            • ibrahim farkash

              104 w

              Brining art into the sustainability concept is top tier, I love this.

              6
              Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
              Post youtube preview with preloading
              youtube overlay

              Write or agree to climate reviews to make businesses and world leaders act. It’s easy and it works.

              Write a climate review

              Voice your opinion on how businesses and organizations impact the climate.
              0 trees planted

              One tree is planted for every climate review written to an organization that is Open for Climate Dialogue™.

              Download the app

              We plant a tree for every new user.

              AppleAndroid