The collective nature of the looming ecological crisis exposes previous conceptions of the individual as direly inadequate for resolving planetary-wide concerns. At the same time, the human is implicated as never before in the mechanisms of an increasingly fragile ecosystem. New social paradigms are being proposed whereby the conditions for improving existing institutional structures are created through inter-activism or intra-action (Barad) as part of the struggle to locate these structures outside the sphere of oppressive forms of techno-capitalism (Latour). And here the question of environmental refugees coincides with ecological concerns (Baldwin, Bettini). In navigating the Anthropocene or new climatic regime, how can social justice and ecology inform one another?
Performance Art & Multimedia Installations
Olafur Eliasson is a contemporary artist of Danish and Icelandic origins known for his high sensibility to climate change matters and inventive use of to water as a medium for his sculptures and large-scale intallations.
Ice Watch is an installation made of gigantic pieces of melting ice first presented in Copenhagen, at City Hall Square, from 26 to 29 October 2014, to mark the publication of the UN IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report on Climate Change. The second installation took place in Paris, at Place du Panthéon, from 3 to 13 December 2015, on the occasion of the UN Climate Conference COP21, and the third version of Ice Watch was on view from 11 December 2018 to 2 January 2019 at two locations in London – outside Bloomberg’s European headquarters and in front of Tate Modern.
In 2015, choreographer Steen Koerner, an expert in street dance and slow-motion movement, performed a quiet intervention in the circle of twelve blocks of glacial ice that Eliasson had brought to the Place du Panthéon, in Paris, to draw attention to the melting of Arctic ice.
Uranine, a water-soluble dye used to test ocean currents, was poured into rivers in urban and rural settings, turning the rivers green. Carried along by the currents, the dye radically changed the appearance of the rivers and their surroundings. Eliasson has carried out this unannounced intervention in six different locations: Bremen, Germany, 1998; Moss, Norway, 1998; The Northern Fjallabak Route, Iceland, 1998; Los Angeles, 1999; Stockholm, 2000; and Tokyo, 2001. Response to the intervention varied greatly depending on the location.
Pekka Nittyvirta (b. 1974, Helsinki) work is often dealing with consequences of human actions, whether they are related to the society, technology, environment or the financial market. He mostly uses photography and video as a material in various ways to depict a situation or phenomena.
Lines (57° 59′ N, 7° 16’W) is an interactive site specific light installation located at Outer Hebrides interacts with the rising tidal changes; activating on high tide. The work provides a visual reference of future sea level rise.
Marina Abramović’s Rising (2018) addresses the effects of climate change by transporting viewers to witness rising sea levels.
Wearing an immersive headset, viewers enter an intimate virtual space, where they come face-to-face with the artist, who beckons from within a glass tank that is slowly filling with water from her waist to her neck. Users are invited to make contact with the virtual Abramović, and then find themselves surrounded by a dramatic scene of melting polar ice caps. Abramović urges viewers to reconsider their impact on the world around them, asking them to choose whether or not to save her from drowning by pledging to support the environment, which lowers the water in the tank.
Marina Abramovic (b.1946) is a Serbian artist who pioneered performance art in the 1970s.
Rising (2019) is VR installation created for Acute Art.
Directing Waves (2013) is a performance created by Marina Abromovic and Robert Wilson at Watermill Center as an hommage to Panoramic Sea Concerto (1967) by Tadeusz Kantor.
The Harrison Studio consists of Helen Mayer Harrison (born 1929) and Newton Harrison (b.1932). Working with biologists, ecologists, architects, urban planners, and other artists, the Harrison Studio initiates collaborative dialogues to uncover ideas and solutions that support biodiversity and community development.
Apologia Mediterraneo (2019) and Bad News Map (2019) are both part of video installation created by the duo for Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH)
On the Edge of the Sea (2019), installation commissioned for the Senate House of Madras University
Atul Bhalla is an Indian artist particularly sensible to water, its political and cultural significance in urban and non-urban environment. Atul Bhalla is also a Professor of Visual Arts at Shiv Nadar University.
Nothing Reached Home (2009), wood
Fatric Bewong is a performance artist and teacher from Ghana exposing worldwide.
Walking Legs (2018), performed with Jamestown fishing community (Accra)
Fatric in Plastic (2012), performed at Ave Maria sea front (Tema)
Theater & Live Performance
A History of Water in the Middle East (2019), written and performed by Sabina Mahfouz
British Egyptian Sabrina Mahfouz always loved the mix of places and rivers she grew up around – Thames, Tees, Nile, Essequibo. But when she applied to be a spy, she realised that inBritain an identity not easily defined can be considered a risk, in ways she was not aware of before.
So now she’s on her own intelligence mission – to explore how the water of the Middle East has enabled British power through the ages; and how Britain stilleffects landscapes, lives and legacies in the Middle East today.
Directed by Stef O’Driscoll at the Royal Court Theatre with Laura Hanna, David Mumeni, Kareem Samara
2071 is a ‘dramatised lecture’, written and performed by acknowledged climate scientist Chris Rapley, it is also a year when his youngest grandson will be his age. Important page in the story of collaboration between playwright Duncan McMillan, director Katie Mitchell and set designer Chloe Lamford.
Water, created by Filter and David Farr, connects personal stories with the wider problem of climate change. Two half-brothers struggle over the legacy of their father, one of the first scientists to warn about global warming, while a civil servant battles strives to push through a deal at a political summit. Water opened at the Lyric Hammersmith in 2007, before touring the UK. The show was revived in 2011 at the Tricycle Theatre, London, and toured Australia in 2012 before arriving in New York in 2013.
Anna Mendelssohn is a British actress and live performer, her special interest lies in a conscious, emotional, analytical exploration of language and a close listening to the forces and mechanisms of it’s employment in social and political contexts.
Cry Me a River (2010) is a solo about inner and outer climate catastrophes. Walking the thin ice between the personal and the political, the piece deals with the complexity of climate change communication and it’s rhetorics. Playing with the monologue-format it focuses in on the multiplicity of talking heads, voices and opinions buzzing around this topic. Emotions of fear, anger, hope and despair, strongly connected with visions of a changing climate are whenever necessary chemically reproduced or bio-engineered.
Ludovico Einaudi – Elegy for the Arctic
At the request of Greenpeace, this award-winning Italian composer created an original piece and performed it while floating on a platform in the Arctic Ocean, with the towering Wahlenbergbreen Glacier (in Svalbard, Norway) slowly melting in the background.
Before the flood is 2016 documentary on climate change directed by Fisher Stevens and coproduced by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Trashed by Candida Brandy follows the actor Jeremy Irons as he investigates the global scale of wasteful consumerism and pollution.
Seaspiracy is a 2021 documentary film about the environmental impact of fishing directed by and starring Ali Tabrizi, a British filmmaker. The film premiered on Netflix globally in March 2021 and examines various human impacts on marine life and advocates for ending fish consumption.