"I hope the children will have a feeling of well-being, pride for having co-created this project and that it matters to work together."

We sat down with artist Stine Marie Jacobsen ahead of the unveiling of her Liverpool Biennial commission ‘Future, Before it Happens’, a film project devised with local children from St Anne’s Catholic Primary School.


Tell us about you and your practice…

“I am a conceptual artist who develops long-term participatory and pedagogical art projects. Most of my art concepts are like nodes, where my root node creates a tree of many artworks made with or by participants.

My motivation to integrate participatory elements in art comes from my opinion that there is too little participation of those who are directly affected by a particular artistic (or political) outcome. I don’t just follow the argument that convinces me the most, or the one that is more consistent with my point of view. I consider the opinion and input of the participants, I step back as an artist and try to give space to the artwork in the plural. Artists – almost like parliaments – are always the last ones making decisions.”


Tell us a bit more about the project…

“‘Future, before it happens’ is a collaborative project with children which draws on visualization methods to ignite new imaginations of climate emergency and our common futureVisualization is a simple technique to create strong mental images of what kind of future we want.

We invited children from St. Anne’s Catholic Primary School in Liverpool to travel in time, write messages from the future to the present, bring things from the past and imagine time changing them into future objects. They then built their problem-solving objects for the future and decided to work on rising temperatures, human pollution and the protection of nature and animals.

Their teachers had been so kind and prepared them before we met them again. We had a fun recruitment session in March with 120 children – and 96 said yes to work with me. I made a funny “yes/no” note and “why yes” to see what their motivation was and many said they cared about nature and want to help the climate. One note said: “I want to have more creation in my brain. Also I want to see the climate change”.”


What inspired you to participate in this project?

I liked that Liverpool Biennial were looking for projects that would address the climate emergency with a participatory and digital approach. Participation in art has for a long time been my favourite genre because I like to look at art’s role in engaging with a public. I immediately invited my long-term collaborator Aleks Berditchevskaia on board and we wrote a series of exercises which will be shared with the public in Summer 2024.  


How important is it for you that younger people get to see or participate in these types of projects?

Children are amazing builders and creators. It’s important to show them that art can be a way of thinking together and that working together results in much better ideas. I believe we need more of this for the future. It is not just the next generation that has to help but also adults. I want the ‘Future, Before it Happens’ project to take a bit of the pressure off children.


What do you hope the young people will take from participating in this project?

“I hope the children will have a feeling of wellbeing, pride for having co-created this project and that it matters to work together. One of the children said that they would always fight when they had to work together but they managed to make a single visualisation narrative. I hope they will remember how they managed to do this collaborative work together.

Now, we are working on a strategy for how ‘Future, before it happens’ can become an open-source project which can be run by children. I really hope that we can make the project so accessible that many others schools and students can use it to discuss wellbeing and how to collectively manage climate emergency.”


‘Future, Before it Happens’, will be displayed at Bluecoat as part of their 2024 Summer Programme.⁠ The film will be accompanied by a series of free family workshops taking place during the Summer Holidays, kindly supported by SEVENSTORE.⁠  

Head to biennial.com/events to find out more⁠.