Cultural Leaders Respond to Global Challenges at World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023

09 Jan 2023

Chloé Laluc, Media Lead, Public Engagement,

· Culture and cultural leaders from around the world will feature prominently in the official programme of the Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos-Klosters

· The cultural dimensions of global issues will be highlighted on the agenda, with panels, exhibitions, installations, performances and screenings

· The 2023 Crystal Awardees Maya Lin, Renée Fleming, Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba will participate in the meeting

Geneva, Switzerland, 9 January 2023 Several cultural leaders will participate in the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos-Klosters, 16-20 January. They will join their peers from business, government, the media and civil society to advance dialogue on how inclusivity and sustainability can be pillars of change under the meeting’s theme, Cooperation in a Fragmented World.

The cultural leaders include the 2023 Crystal Award recipients: Maya Lin (USA), architect and environmental activist; Renée Fleming (USA), acclaimed soprano; and Idris Elba (UK) and his wife Sabrina Dhowre Elba (CA), IFAD Goodwill Ambassadors. Other leaders at the meeting will be Refik Anadol (TR), media artist; Vik Muniz (BR), sculptor and photographer; Nouf Alosaimi (SA), environmentalist; Immy Humes (USA), documentary filmmaker; Ahmad Joudeh (SY/NL), dancer and human rights activist; and Sarah Cameron Sunde (USA), interdisciplinary artist. For the full list of cultural leaders, click here.

“The arts have a significant role to play in helping address global issues and, as such, need to be central when thinking about how people connect to one another, communicate with each other and how, together, we understand the past, embrace the present and together, shape the future,” said Joseph Fowler, Head, Arts and Culture, World Economic Forum.

Arts and Culture will be integrated across disciplines and in joint efforts with several partners to advance change in the following areas:

  • A focus on gender equality and female empowerment. The specially curated exhibition entitled, The Only Woman in the Room, featuring images from the book, The Only Women (Phaidon), by Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker, producer and author Immy Humes, is an original approach to gender equality. It comprises over 25 striking pictorial statements of women who have made their way in a man's world, shown through group portraits each featuring a lone woman, highlighting the compelling and undeniable phenomenon of “the only woman” across time and cultures, from countries including the USA and the UK, France, Peru, Mexico, India, China, Japan, and Australia. This powerful exhibition reveals and reframes how women and men have related socially in surprising and poignant ways and is a fresh contribution to visual and cultural history.

· According to the UNHCR, “at least 103 million people around the world are forcibly displaced, 4.9 million are asylum seekers and 32.5 million are refugees – more than at any time in documented history.” Over half of the world’s refugees are children. In collaboration with Artolution, a global community-based public art and education non-profit organization, the World Economic Forum commissioned a large-scale mural entitled, The Colour of Resilience. Created by four separate groups of refugee youth currently living in the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan, the Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement in Uganda, the Rohingya Refugee Camp in Bangladesh and Venezualen refugee and internally displaced communities in Colombia. This large-scale work is the first collaborative, transcultural and internationally made public art from crisis contexts around the world. It is a celebration of resilience and each individual section is a physical artefact that represents the community where it was created and a way forward through one of the most pressing challenges of our time.

· Global sea levels are rising as a result of human-caused global warming, with recent rates unprecedented over the past 2,500-plus years. Interdisciplinary visual performance artist Sarah Cameron Sunde places focus on the fragility of human beings and environments facing the imminent threat of sea-level rise. 36.5 / A Durational Performance with the Sea is a combination of participatory performance works and video artworks that engage people on personal, local and global scales in conversations around deep time, embodiment, sea-level rise and modes of fostering eco-spheric consciousness. Spanning a decade, Cameron Sunde has taken this work through six continents – from Mexico and Bangladesh to Kenya and New Zealand – culminating in a final performance on the Hudson River in New York in September 2022.

· The ocean environment and the plight of coral reefs are the inspiration for a new site-specific piece, created by media artist Refik Anadol, to be unveiled at the Annual Meeting. Artificial Realities: Coral is a large data sculpture, which uses approximately 1 billion images of corals that have been processed with machine learning classification models. Combining science, technology and visual arts, this exciting work focuses on the preservation and sustainability of corals as it connects a digital ecosystem of data and a landscape that is home to many living ecosystems. The work uses the potential of the metaverse and blockchain economies to alleviate global climate change issues.

· The Annual Meeting’s opening concert, entitled “I Sea You”, is a powerful cultural statement of unity and collaboration, and a call to action to world leaders and policy-makers to implement the appropriate and required agreements to protect and preserve the coral reefs of the Northern Red Sea. Performed by the Morphing Chamber Orchestra, featuring world-renowned oud virtuoso Joseph Tawadros and percussionist James Tawadros, “I Sea You” also features exclusive performances by internationally acclaimed award-winning artists including soprano Fatma Said, pianist, composer and arranger Tim Allhoff, virtuoso Farah Siraj, guitarist, composer and producer Andreas Arnold and singer, songwriter Achinoam Nini (Noa), who is joined by her longstanding musical collaborator Gil Dor. The concert includes a specially created immersive backdrop featuring footage of the Red Sea corals, filmed by environmentalist and deep-sea diver Nouf Alosaimi, as well as imagery provided by Coral Morphologic.

Notes to editors
About the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023
The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 will convene the world’s foremost leaders under the theme Cooperation in a Fragmented World.

Find out more about the Annual Meeting 2023 here
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