Apres Copenhagen / by Jeannine Cook

Sadly, the results of Copenhagen do not surprise - the interests of too many powerful industries seem to take precedence over the future health of many parts of our world. I wonder what Goethe would say about such situations. He remarked once, "Science and art belong to the whole world and before them vanish the barriers of nationality."

I am not sure that Copenhagen bore out the first part of his observation for the barriers of nationality seemed to have been stronger than the collective science presented. So I am left wondering about the validity of his thought about art being deemed universal and breaking down barriers. I think that it is becoming more accurate insofar as Chinese, Indian, Indonesian or many other non-Western artists are gaining more and more success in the Western world, while high-profile Western artists are highly esteemed throughout the world. Whether it is because art is a more universal language or whether the highest profile artists are being skilfully promoted - by their representatives or by themselves - time alone tells, decade by decade. It is strange because science would seem to be much more cut and dried as facts, not needing the same dialogue as a viewer and a piece of art. Yet scientific facts seem to become much more politicised when it comes to issues like climate change/global warming.

Clearly Goethe regarded both science and art as valuable tools for banishing national barriers. Perhaps we still need collectively to deepen our respect for both, especially when it comes to a Copenhagen-like forum.