Draw The Blue Line is an urgent and ambitious public art protest that is a call and response. The goal is to communicate to attendees of the United Nations General Assembly that the public supports the Paris Agreement. Hopefully, they will hear this message and reassert their country’s commitment to the fight against climate change. This visual conversation will be a tangible demonstration of solidarity against climate change denial.
I do not live in America by default. I chose to build my life in the US after spending a significant amount of time abroad. I believe in the promise of this country and the liberty it offers but the election of Donald Trump’s administration has ushered in a precarious era. Personal safety is arguably one of the most basic freedoms that is under dire threat. Climate Change is real and the existential threat it presents to the entire planet cannot be overstated. American withdrawal from the Paris Agreement would weaken efforts to stem this phenomenon and it is undoubtedly the wrong decision.
As with other treaties, there is concern that signatories of the Paris Agreement will not fulfill their obligations due to political and economic realities. While America’s exit from the treaty is not yet imminent, the specter of abandonment has the potential to weaken the resolve of other nations to keep their promises, thereby creating a domino effect of renegement. This project aims to bolster resolve for all remaining signatories to keep their commitments.
There are several inspirations for this protest and its form. Visually, it is an echo of the yellow ribbons tied around trees to show support for soldiers which I first saw during the Gulf War.
Trump claimed he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” to which Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto responded by publicly affirming the city’s commitment to the guidelines of the deal. Other municipalities and states have followed. Businesses have also decried Trump’s claim that the Paris Agreement will be bad for commerce.
It’s a unique, harmlessly jarring experience to slowly become aware of something momentous taking place while you’re abroad - such as a holiday you’ve never heard of or an election you’re oblivious to. I want members of the UN, their staffs, their families, everyone in New York, to see blue lines everywhere they go. I want people to ask: “What’s up with the blue lines?” Ideally, once they find out, they’ll communicate their solidarity with the Paris Agreement back to me - with blue lines of their own on Permanent Mission buildings, consulates, embassies and digital media. Even better they could pull a Pittsburgh and pledge to go beyond the Paris Agreement.
Finally, the importance for non-violent protest is more important than ever – especially in light of recently false, disingenuous rhetoric about the “Violent Left” and the tragic loss of life in Charlottesville. Art can be a productive and provocative way to challenge the current regime.
Artistically, I am excited about the conversations that will occur. I encourage anyone who is participating to do so however they can and however they see fit. The line you draw does not have to be straight. It doesn’t have to be drawn for that matter. This project, much like the earth and the fight to stop climate change, is shared. Draw The Blue Line will continue with additional initiatives until the United States has reaffirmed its commitment to climate change.
Courtney Frances Fallon, August 2017