Read Olafur Eliasson’s Poem to Accompany His New TIME Cover

2 minute read
Eliasson is an artist and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals

Contemporary artist Olafur Eliasson, a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador who is known for engaging viewers in his art, produced the image that appears on the cover of this issue of TIME. Eliasson has written the following piece to accompany the work.

Read more: The Story Behind TIME’s ‘Afterimage’ Climate Change Cover

Your planet seen from within

Create your own earth view –
Your unique planet,
Your afterimage,
Your artwork.
This blurry earth is your home,
An image of what you are sitting on,
Standing on,
Walking on,
Right now
And all the time.

While everyone’s relationship with the planet is unique,
It is home to us all.

Look around.
Look down,
Down to earth.

Not long ago, philosopher Bruno Latour wrote:
‘The ground is giving way beneath everyone’s feet at once, as if we all felt attacked everywhere, in our habits and in our possessions’.
He continued:
‘There is no planet . . . that can shelter the utopia of modernization’.

Today we know –
We would need several earths to sustain that utopia.

Who, ‘we’?
Those of us who take more from the planet than we give,
Who borrow from the future to spend now,
Who have colonized,
Who have forgotten to respect earth
And listen to its ecosystems,
We have taken from the future,
Leaving our kids to pay the debt.

Fifty years ago, a famous photo of the planet
– The Blue Marble
Was taken from Apollo 17
(A ‘Man’-goes-to-the-moon mission).
It presented a view from outer space,
Earth from outside earth,
At a distance,
For the very first time.
People were moved by the image.

Your planet seen from within
Moves you to shape your own earth,
Still a ‘blue marble’,
Fragile and home
To all of us – to the more-than-human.

Mindful of this,
Make the artwork again.
Create your earth anew
And be present to the feelings that arise.
The earth in your afterimage is also under your feet.

We are learning
That we can only see earth
While part of it.
We are nature.

Look down.
Look around.

Let us re-world.

In memory of Bruno Latour (1947–2022)

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary on events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors.