Installations, videos and projects in public space

by Oliver Ressler

For A Completely Different Climate


The exhibition project “For A Completely Different Climate” deals with an emerging social movement that questions and selectively fights the response (or non-response) of states and corporations to climate change. This leftist movement has the potential to mobilize especially in Britain, where in August 2008 a Climate Camp was organized to close the Kingsnorth coal-fired power station east of London. Although the Kingsnorth station will be shut down, the energy corporation E.ON plans to build, at the same location, a new coal-fired power station that will assure profits for the next few decades. This project completely conflicts with the necessary goal of reducing CO2 emissions. Preventing a new coal-fired powerplant in Kingsnorth is of great symbolic value, since a successful resistance could mean the end of other planned projects for coal-fired powerplants elsewhere in Britain.

The centre of the exhibition “For A Completely Different Climate” is a 3-channel slide installation, based on 96 photos taken in the Climate Camp and at the demonstrations and blockades of Kingsnorth. These photos are combined with short texts and audio recordings of the demonstrations and workshops. In a presentation lasting 16 minutes, three connected projections will be shown on an 18-metre-long wall of the gallery. The exhibition also includes three light boxes combining photos with police search protocols and information sheets that identify state repression.

“For A Completely Different Climate” is my third project focusing on climate-change concerns. The “100 Years of Greenhouse Effect” was done in 1996 (Salzburger Kunstverein) and followed in 2000 by “Sustainable Propaganda” that used a series of exhibitions to comment on the hegemonic discourse of “sustainable development” (exhibitions included K├╝nstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin). Ever since Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006), that is based on his slide shows, the debate about global warming has been part of the mainstream. Gore believes that trading emissions rights and using clean and efficient technologies can prevent global warming. However, “For A Completely Different Climate” uses the medium of a slide show to focus, above all, on resistance to the existing system and provides space for people who in contradiction to Gore believe that market-compatible approaches such as emissions trading is not about the protection of the climate, but instead only about ensuring continued capitalist growth. As noted in the installation’s audio recordings, CO2 emissions continue to rise years after the signing of the Kyoto Protocol. Climate change could therefore only be confronted through a radical transformation of society that would effectively challenge the existing distribution of wealth and power-relationships that are guaranteed by the military.