Barricade Cultures of the Future

A film by Oliver Ressler

38 min., 4K, AT 2021

This film discusses the role of artists and cultural producers in the climate justice movement. It consists of a conversation between internationally respected climate movement protagonists working between art and activism. While their practices and approaches differ, they share a direct involvement in the struggles as organizers, and they all see environmental matters as inseparable from sociopolitical and economic frameworks of injustice.

“Barricade Cultures of the Future”, 38 min., 4K, 2021
“Barricade Cultures of the Future”, 38 min., 4K, 2021

The artist-activists discuss the movements’ methods, purposes, past and future, each speaking from the perspective of the fields in which they are personally active.

“Barricade Cultures of the Future”, 38 min., 4K, 2021 (excerpt)

The performance artist Marta Moreno Muñoz is engaged with Extinction Rebellion in Spain, and in the film advocates the group’s agenda of “globally disrupting the capitals of the states”. Jay Jordan from The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination points out the necessity of a diversity of tactics, of “people doing nonviolent resistance and […] people doing more aggressive resistance” and encourages artists to involve themselves in the movement. Nnimmo Bassey of the Nigerian Health of Mother Earth Foundation believes that art plays “a fundamental part in any movement” and that the best way forward is “to coordinate between all these different struggles” and “to bring together the synergy to force the political leaders and industry to know that there is really no way to hide”. The Inuk poet Aka Niviâna emphasizes the need to “move as a collective community”, and sees advantages in the way an artistic approach to issues can be less paternalistic than traditional forms of political statement. Steve Lyons from the traveling pop-up museum The Natural History Museum argues that “building an anti-imperialist movement as opposed to a climate movement” might help to ensure the inclusion of the movements and resistance of oppressed people.

“Barricade Cultures of the Future”, “Overturn the Present, Barricade the Future”. Installation view: “Barricading the Ice Sheets” (solo show), Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, 2022. Photo: Jens Ziehe

Bringing together artists involved in activist practices, “Barricade Cultures of the Future” questions the widespread habit of treating “art” and “activism” as distinct categories, when in practice they often overlap and cannot be separated.

The film “Barricade Cultures of the Future” is complemented by the short video “Overturn the Present, Barricade the Future” (4K, 10 min., 2021).

Director and producer: Oliver Ressler
Participants in the discussion: Nnimmo Bassey, Jay Jordan, Steve Lyons, Marta Moreno Muñoz, Aka Niviâna
Cinematography: Thomas Parb, Rudolf Gottsberger
Editing: Janina Herhoffer, Lisbeth Kovačič, Oliver Ressler
Sound, sound editing, color correction: Rudolf Gottsberger
Sound design and music: Vinzenz Schwab
Title design: Nils Olger
Footage: Jean-François Castell, Lisbeth Kovačič, Jamie Lowe, Thomas Parb, Oliver Ressler, Michael Toledano, Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre – YEAC
Special thanks to the speakers for sharing insight into their outstanding practice, and to Ayreen Anastas & Rene Gabri, Reinhard Braun, TJ Demos, Noel Douglas, Elisabeth Hajek, Matthew Hyland, Lisbeth Kovačič, Margarethe Makovec, Angelika Maierhofer, Julia Ramírez.

This film was produced in the framework of “Barricading the Ice Sheets”, funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF: AR 526).