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Around 150 artists, activists, technology leaders, economists and scientists are launching an initiative called Hard Art, a think tank invested in prompting discussions about climate and social justice. The collective includes artists Jeremy Deller, Cornelia Parker, Gavin Turk and Clare Patey, as well as musician Brian Eno, artist and designer Es Devlin, film-maker Danny Boyle and Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Stickler.

The initiative began to take form over a year ago at Eno’s London studio with invitation-only convenings of industry leaders participating in roundtable conversations about topics ranging from geo-engineering to alternative forms of economics. Unsurprisingly, given Eno’s role as the project leader, music is an essential part of the group’s gatherings, including February’s four-day music festival The Fête of Britain at Aviva Studios in Manchester, which was spearheaded by Devlin.

Stickler’s web platform Metalabel hosts Hard Art’s website, where group activities are made public, including clips from past talks and updates about new project releases. “We are operating as we go with each member having the opportunity to take initiative and the rest can follow them,” Strickler says, likening the initiative to an alternative record label.

Artist interview

A brush with… Jeremy Deller

The organisation’s first release is Deller’s 300-edition zine, The WORK We Need to Do, which includes illustrations and a manifesto about participation in climate awareness in the artist’s poetically political style. An open letter signed by Emma Thompson, Thom Yorke, Peter Gabriel, Stephen Fry, Olafur Eliasson and others, about the freedom of nonviolent climate action, is featured on the project’s site. The proceeds from the group’s releases will go to a treasury to support future projects or will be donated to different organisations based on the project’s nature. Forthcoming releases will include a new book by Eno, a card game about warfare by digital artist Joshua Citarella’s and paintings by member artists.

The group’s name came from Eno’s conversations with Clare Farrell and Charlie Gardner, members of the climate action group Extinction Rebellion, about this generation’s need for symbols like Nina Simone or Rock Against Racism.

“They decided (possibly while a few sheets to the wind) that people from all walks of life should be brought together in trans-disciplinary artistic practice,” Eno says. “A scientist with a dancer, or an economist with a poet—or all four—and then it dawned on them that this would be rather hard, but it’s a nice kind of hard.”

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