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Naziha Mestaoui

Tamsin WalkerDecember 9, 2015

"It's up to us to be the actors of change. The earth doesn't need us. We are not able to destroy earth, what we are destroying is ourselves."

Frankreich Cop21 Klimagipfel in Paris - Faces of Climate Change - Naziha Mestaoui
Image: DW/T. Walker & R. Krause

Long beams of light dancing from the iconic frame of the Eiffel Tower illuminated the Parisian cityscape with a call for action. #link:http://www.1heart1tree.org/:1 Heart 1 Tree# is the work of Tunisian-Belgian artist Naziha Mestaoui, and aims to connect people to nature through the use of technology. Anyone can be a part of it. Anyone can see their name and their heartbeat projected onto one of the most well-known landmarks in the world. For each person who does, a tree will be planted. It's what she calls "a citizen work of art".

In a room on the banks of the river Seine looking out over the work that began as a crowdfunding initiative four years ago, she spoke animatedly about the role that art can play in changing society. "It questions," she said. "And we need to question our society."

Naziha, whose father comes from a part of Tunisia where rain now falls just a couple of times a year, believes that in reconnecting with "our consciousness and nature", we might use the tools we have today to build a different future and a different reality. "We can sign as many treaties as we want, we can make as many decisions as we want, but if we are not conscious, we might go into the wrong direction and make the same errors."

Eifel tower iluminated with green lights
Trees of light on the Eifel towerImage: picture-alliance/abaca/M. Aurore

The artist wants to see more people becoming engaged in the climate fight. "This is really about citizens around the world. Governments are going to move when citizens feel responsible."