Climate Change Concern Studio
interactive project by Patrik Qvist
with Tuomo Väänänen, Janika Marjaana, Michel Ruths, Dragos Alexandrescu
and Clara Diesen
climate change scenario texts by Dougald Hine
produced by Platform, Vasa, Finland
The installation is set up like an old- fashioned portrait studio with a landscape backdrop. The participant is asked to consider five different statements about climate change and pick one that he/ she can relate to. Depending on which one is chosen, a cardboard sign is selected to reflects the statement. The participant is photographed against the backdrop holding the sign.
Climate Change Concern Studio was first shown in February 2014 at the independent art fair Supermarket in Stockholm. There were more than 500 participating visitors during the three days of the fair, resulting in some 300 portraits on the wall. The participatory element of the installation proved to be an efficient and successful way to engage the audience in a dialogue about a serious topic, while retaining a sense of enjoyment in the process.
I have explored themes relating to climate change, environmental concerns and models of sustainable structures in my art for the past six years. My main motivation has been a desire to explore an era which in so many ways is characterized by the rapid unravelling of narratives and structures hitherto considered to be permanent. The age of the anthropocen is an interesting time; and my work is in many ways a vehicle for exploring both the complexity of this era and the potential for developing new narratives with bearing on environmental concerns.
The Climate Change Concern project sprung out of a sense of frustration about the state of things- the rapidly approaching scenarios of environmental collapse, a global over-consumption of non-renewable sources of energy and an overall lack of political clout to bring about the changes necessary. The frustration soon gave way to a more productive curiosity- how do other people feel about this? I devised the project as a means to explore ways to engage an audience within the framework of art, a simple set-up that could lead to an exchange of ideas, an airing of sentiments and a platform for discussion about these matters.
The following statements were used at Supermarket 2014 -
A: Obviously climate change is a real challenge.The key to solving it is economic growth, because that's what makes science and development possible. Only the combination of liberal democracy and the free market can deliver a safe, secure and sustainable future.
B: Climate change? It's a load of hype by journalists and politicians. Sure, the weather changes, jump on the bandwagon - and when one of them tries to speak out, they cover it up. Back in the 1970s, they were telling us we were headed for a new Ice Age!
C: Climate change scares the shit out of me and I see evidence of it everywhere. It feels like the whole world has gone mad. I just don ́t know what to do with myself. The world is on the verge of social, economic and ecological collapse and I fear for the future of my children.
D: Climate change is real, but it's just one symptom of a much bigger set of problems. We must take a long hard look at how we live, work and engage with one another. Our whole way of living is coming apart and our best bet is to meet the situation with open eyes and start looking for new ways to make sense of the world and our place within it.
E: I would trade my freedom to drive what I want, drive wherever I want and travel at leisure I welcome the abolishment of democracy and free enterprise in exchange for a society dictated by ecology and civic values .
The image printed on the backdrop is a view from a 600 million year old meteorite crater in Ostrabothnia, Finland. The impact site is a flat disc with a diameter of 6 kilometers. The whole area was inundated until the 20´s, when it was drained with a system of ditches, yielding an almost perfectly flat disc with very fertile soil in a landscape otherwise dominated by forest and rocky terrain. I had come to Finland to work on a project that focused on environmental disasters, and got fascinated by the crater- a place where a disastrous event radically transformed climate and topography in an instant a long time ago; to become a site with unusually beneficial features for humans and wildlife alike (The crater is a major resting point for cranes and other migratory birds).