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Art History in Climate Change – June 25th – 26th

June 25 - June 26

This is a live online event

About this Event

Please register for details. The platform and log in details will be sent to attendees at least 48 hours prior to the event time.

Day 1: Thursday 25th June, 12.45pm – 5.30pm BST

Day 2: Friday 26th June, 1.00pm – 5.30pm BST

This online conference will explore the stakes of art and art history in the climate crisis.

In recent years, climate change has become a central issue on the international political agenda, due to the activism of groups such as Extinction Rebellion and the worldwide campaigning of figures such as Greta Thunberg. Yet the disastrous effects of excessive fossil fuel emissions on the biosphere and human civilisation have long been understood by scientists, politicians and public figures alike, and environmental activism is hardly a new phenomenon.

In this decisive moment for our planet, we need to think critically about who or what is allowed to represent the climate crisis. As Chika Unigwe has recently argued, the long-term efforts of climate activists of colour risk erasure in the western media’s current promotion of Thunberg.

Since the emergence of the novel coronavirus, the global economy has been in a state of partial shutdown with a reduction of emissions, surely providing an unprecedented opportunity finally to transition to a ‘greener’ mode of production. How can art contribute to this effort, especially in a moment when many arts organisations risk permanent closure? As events move online, including this conference, how do we need to rethink accessibility to ensure the widespread dissemination of knowledge?

We shall consider the role representation plays in our understanding of climate, and ask why some images of climate activism and environmental disaster might appear and become more alluring, effective and widespread than others. We’ll also explore the particular dialectical potentials of art in the effort to avert the catastrophic levels of warming. Papers will address the work of artists based in Europe, North America, Australia, Africa and South East Asia, and consider the methodological implications of both artists and art historians in global warming.

Please join us as we consider what it might mean for art to ‘tell the truth’ of the climate crisis.


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REAL is a community interest company that aims to support citizens and organisational leaders to transition to carbon zero and sustainability, founded by Safia Minney & friends.