What If?

A lost number in the equation.
A simple, understandable miscalculation.
And what if, on the basis of that,
the world as we know it changed its matter of fact?

Lemn Sissay performs his powerful piece What If?

Lemn Sissay’s poem and film commissioned by Channel Four for Three Minute Wonders, and exhibited with Cape Farewell’s Unfold and Earth exhibitions.

What If?, DVD, 3 mins, 2009
A film by Lemn Sissay
Musicians: Peter Edwards (piano) and Gary Crosby (double bass)
Produced by Artsadmin, DVDance for Channel 4
Film copyright Artsadmin and the artists

Lemn writes: “I was commissioned by Southbank Centre to work with musicians, Gary Crosby OBE and Peter Edwards. Meanwhile Channel Four commissioned me to make a piece of work on the subject of Darwin for their TV slot Three Minute Wonders. The two projects flew together perfectly. Having recently returned from a sojourn to the arctic with Cape Farewell the organic natural force of the piece began to take shape and since the matter was fresh in my mind, the subject of Darwin and climate change and the financial crisis converged and What If? was born. And each time it is viewed it becomes itself once more. It happened naturally and with nature.”

The work was exhibited at the Royal Academy for the Earth: Art of a changing world exhibition, co-curated by David Buckland. It also featured in Cape Farewell’s exquisite international touring exhibition Unfold, reaching audiences in Beijing, Liverpool, New York, Chicago, Falmouth, Newcastle, London and Vienna, as well as the accompanying Unfold book.

Lemn joined Cape Farewell on the Disko Bay Expedition in 2008, visiting the spectacular Disko Bay area of West Greenland with over 40 international artists, journalists and scientists.

See also

man in black stands in front of a glacier

Lemn Sissay

British poet, author, broadcaster and official poet of the 2012 London Olympics
exhibition installation view


Our exquisite exhibition toured Beijing, New York, Chicago, Vienna and across the UK
U-n-f-o-l-d book front cover

Unfold book

Released to accompany the Unfold exhibition, this exquisite book profiles the work of the artists, alongside innovative responses to climate change. Available for £18

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