Leave It in the Ground

A film by Oliver Ressler

18 min., HD, AT/NO 2013

In recent years, countless extreme weather events have clearly indicated that climate change is not only a future phenomenon but is already taking place. Some of the effects of global warming – desertification, more frequent droughts, less frequent but more intense precipitation, lower crop yields – are inflaming existing social conflicts. In the Global South, climate change aggravates the crises of poverty, violence, and unrest that result from the legacies of colonialism and neoliberal capitalism. This vicious circle fuels humanitarian crises and civil wars that amplify political, economic and environmental disasters.

Despite clear warnings, the ruling powers do not have a political agenda with a serious strategy to reduce use of fossil fuels, the main cause of global warming. Fossil-fuel fundamentalism seems to dominate throughout the globe.

“Leave It in the Ground“. Installation view: “Be-Diversity”, Muse Museum Trento, Trento, 2015
(photo courtesy Muse Museum Trento)

Recently, some of Norway’s politicians have advocated extracting petroleum in one of the largest fish and aquatic life spawning grounds on the planet, the sea encircling the Lofoten archipelago. The deepwater drilling would have unpredictable effects on the fish populations and some of the world’s cleanest waters. With the idyllic landscapes of the Lofoten archipelago as its background, Leave It in the Ground describes the climate crisis not as a technical and scientific problem, but as a political problem. The film discusses how ecological and humanitarian disasters caused through global warming might topple old orders and open up possibilities that could lead to long-term social and political transformations, both positive and negative.

“Leave It in the Ground”, 18 min., HD, AT/NO 2013

Director and producer: Oliver Ressler
Narration text: Oliver Ressler & John Barker
The text is partly inspired by Christian Parenti, Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence (2011); Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell (2009); Naomi Klein, Capitalism vs. the Climate (2011).
Narrator: Andrew Golder
Camera, film editing: Oliver Ressler
Sound design, mix and color correction: Rudolf Gottsberger
Music from the album: Kate Carr, Songs from a Cold Place (2013)
Footage: Mosireen; Anonymous video makers

Special thanks to: Bassam el Baroni, Dorian Batycka, Derek Jarman, Tadzio Müller, Maren Richter, Odd Arne Sandberg, Berte Tungodden Ynnesdal

The film was commissioned by LIAF – Lofoten International Art Festival 2013, supported by BMUKK.

The film is accompanied by three photographic works evoking scenarios of a post-oil world.

“Leave It in the Ground (Think the impossible)”, LED lightbox, 84,1 x 59,4 cm, 2014
“Leave It in the Ground (Construct glimpses of utopia)”, LED lightbox, 84,1 x 59,4 cm, 2014
“Leave It in the Ground (The cleanest oil)”, LED lightbox, 84,1 x 59,4 cm, 2014