During the last week of October, 2019 Michael Pinsk's groundbreaking installation Pollution Pods attracted thousands of visitors to Brownsea Island.
The installation's journey to Brownsea Island was a collaboration between Activate, producers of Inside Out Dorset, the county’s biennial outdoor arts festival, and Cape Farewell, the artist-led organisation that uses culture to change how people think about climate change. It was hosted by the National Trust, Brownsea Island and the event was also supported by Arts University Bournemouth and the Cultural Hub network.
Over 2000 visitors experienced the artwork including groups of local school children who took part in a day of activities with climate change scientists from Kings College London after their visit to Pollution Pods.
Over 100 Arts University Bournemouth students also spent time touring the pods and speaking with Michael Pinsky when he visited the island to tour his installation.
Kate Wood, Activate's Executive Director and Co-Artistic Director was interviewed by the BBC about the importance of the installation:
Details of the artwork:
Through a series of interlinked geodesic domes, you can travel through the atmosphere in each separate pod which recreates the air quality, smell and temperature of five major cities – Tautra, London, Beijing, São Paulo and New Delhi.
Each dome contains a carefully mixed recipe that safely emulates the excessive quantities of ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide that pollute these cities. As you pass through the five cells, moving from dry and cold locations to hot and humid, for a few minutes at a time you will experience, at no risk to your health, the sensation of breathing toxic air that is a daily reality for millions of people.
“In the Pollution Pods, I have tried to distil the whole bodily sense of being in each place,” says artist Michael Pinsky. “For instance, being in São Paulo seems like a sanctuary compared to New Delhi, until your eyes start to water from the sensation of ethanol, whilst Tautra is unlike any air you’ll have ever breathed before, it is so pure.”
In western cities such as London, one in five children suffer from asthma; while in cities such as Delhi in developing countries, more than half the child population has irreparable stunted lung development. Many of the airborne toxins in cities such as Delhi and Beijing are created by industries fulfilling orders for the developed world.
A walk through the Pollution Pods reminds us our world is interconnected and interdependent and the price of the western world’s need for ever cheaper goods is the ill-health of our planet as a whole. In this installation you can feel, taste and smell the environments that are the norm for a huge swathe of the world’s population.
Michael Pinsky’s work has been experienced by more than 20,000 people since it was launched last year at the Starmus Festival in Norway. Climate activist Greta Thunberg and a host of world leaders who gathered for the UN Climate Action Summit in September also had a taste of the toxic air pollution when they visited Michael Pinsky's Pollution Pods in New York.
Did you know?
- Sending one person to all five Pollution Pods locations is the equivalent of 5,288 return journeys from the mainland to Brownsea Island.
- For the equivalent carbon footprint of one class of primary school children experiencing the air pollution in each city in real life the entire population of Bournemouth could visit Brownsea Island and experience Pollution Pods.
Pollution Pods is generously supported by the following organisations: Airlabs, Arts Council England, Build With Hubs, Cape Farewell, International Flavours & Fragrances Ltd, Norwegian Research Council, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), The Norwegian Institute of Air Research (NILU), University of East London.