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Instruct & Delight
July 24, 2012
by Alec Soth
On the website for The Sustainable Practice in the Arts, Robert Adams was asked, “What part does an artist play in society.” This was his answer:

"First we have an obligation simply to be the citizens we want everyone to be – informed, engaged, reasonable, and compassionate. Then as artists we are called historically to a double mission, to instruct and delight, to tell the truth but also to find in it a basis for affirmation."

With this in mind, it is interesting to look at this year’s finalists for the prestigious Prix Pictet – a $100,000 award described as “the world’s leading prize in photography and sustainability.” When it comes to such vexing global problems, it seems extraordinarily difficult to fulfill Adams’ “double mission.”

Yesterday a friend of mine, Sarah Newman, sent me a link to her Kickstarter Project: Imaging Sustainability. Sarah’s plan is to photograph the sustainable urban landscape of Malmö, Sweden. She writes:

"Here in the U.S., renewable energy is often kept outside of the energy-consuming cities – making energy production (and consumption) less visible in our landscape and in our consciousness. In Malmö, I will photograph green architecture and design, and people within the community, while conducting independent research on environmental and social sustainability.”

By showing us what the sustainable landscape might look like, Sarah is providing a valuable service. The challenge, I think, is to fulfill Adams’ double mission – to both instruct and delight.

I hope you’ll join me in supporting Sarah in this effort: