Helen and Newton Harrison

Americans, 1929-2019 and b. 1932

Tibet Is the High Ground Part IV: The Force Majeure, 2008–present
Archival coloring on vinyl, 90 x 90 in. (228.6 x 228.6 cm)

The Harrisons address the effects of climate change in the Himalayas in Tibet Is the High Ground, which is part of a larger project called Force Majeure. Annotating a large-scale map of the region with poetic text, they spotlight an area containing 15,000 glaciers. As the source of major rivers—from the Indus, Ganges, and Bramaputra in South Asia to China’s Yellow and Yangtze and Vietnam’s Mekong—glaciers provide sustenance for millions of Asians. Freshwater shortages have been identified as potential sources of future conflict in the region.

The artists not only draw attention to climate change, they also propose a solution based on adaptation: reintroduce the forests and grasslands that once dominated an interglacial period with a warmer climate. This concept “assists the migration of a palette of species” and creates “a 2 million square kilometer sponge to normalize rivers and secure the lands from flood and drought.”

The Harrisons’ artworks, which encompass large ecosystems that transcend national boundaries, result from research and cross-disciplinary collaboration. Exhibited in a public forum, their art is embedded in the story of place and functions as a catalyst for conversation and activism.