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Global Affairs - "The Circle" is the Future: A Photographic Exhibition on the Circular Economy

For more than five years, award-winning environmental visual storyteller Luca Locatelli traveled across Europe in search of stories about cutting-edge sustainable solutions informed by circular economy measures. These stories, which he documented through his photography and filmmaking, are now the subject of his forthcoming exhibition, “The Circle,” commissioned by Intesa Sanpaolo for its Gallerie d’Italia in Turin, where it will premiere on September 21, 2023. Curated by Elisa Medde, and developed in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Fondazione Cariplo, and Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo, the exhibition describes the innovative and experimental practices of companies guided by circular economy principles to achieve sustainability, tackle climate change, and reduce waste, pollution, and biodiversity loss. In these companies, as Locatelli says, “the makers of the future” are bringing forward a “sustainable revolution” by creating productive and industrial systems that are environmentally regenerative by design.

The concept of the circular economy revolves around protecting and restoring natural ecosystems by decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation, thus eliminating waste and pollution, and circulating materials and products. For centuries the “take-make-waste” linear economy has extracted natural resources and produced waste−especially in urban contexts−while generating climate change and environmental destruction. Now, advocates of the circular economy seek to “bend” that linearity to build a more sustainable future, where nature is “our ally,” as Locatelli says. In this regard, cities have taken pivotal steps towards sustainability by embedding circular economy measures in their urban policies, from producing clean energy to limiting food waste, from recycling textiles to repurposing industrial areas.

Combining art and science, beauty and evidence, “The Circle” aims to initiate a dialogue about the potential of the circular economy for creating a sustainable future with the broader public, especially younger people who may be intrigued by the immersive, multi-media nature of the exhibition. Aspiring to work closely with policymakers, Locatelli believes that documentary photography—and documentary storytelling, more generally—can help to communicate climate change solutions more effectively. “The Circle” allows us to visualize the future and shows that change towards sustainability is already happening, and that it looks beautiful.


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