UK Artists Call for Rethink on Climate Change Iconography

UK Artists Call for Rethink on Climate Change Iconography

22 August, 2017 | Share Article

University of Hertfordshire show addresses move away from images of melting ice caps


Early Warning Signs by Ellie Harrison who will feature in the Slow Violence exhibition at the Art & Design Gallery, University of Hertfordshire

The issue of climate change is insidious, warn eight UK-based artists who highlight the encroaching threat of environmental degradation in an exhibition opening later this year. Slow Violence, which is due to open at the Art & Design Gallery at the UK’s University of Hertfordshire (29 November-20 January 2018), will include new and recent works by Katie Paterson, Adam Chodzko and Thomson & Craighead, among others.

The exhibition title is taken from the 2011 publication, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, by Rob Nixon, a professor at Princeton University. “Slow Violence acknowledges that the violence of climate change can often be unrecognised, even invisible, incremental, localised, extended, durational,” the exhibition organisers say in a statement, adding that the contributing artists “challenge us to rethink the prevailing climate change iconography—of melting ice caps or desertification”.

London-based Michael Pinsky’s Pollution Pods (2017) mimic the smog found in some of the world’s most polluted cities. A series of interconnected geodesic domes contain polluted air, emulating “the relative presence of ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide which pollute London, New Delhi, Sao Paolo and Beijing”, the artist’s website says. Ellie Harrison’s Early Warning Signs (2011), which resemble garish retail notices, are also included (the words “climate change” spin round on revolving signs).

Emma Critchley is showing Frontiers, a photography and film series. “The viewer roams through a seemingly apocalyptic landscape encountering what may appear to be detritus from the aftermath of a disaster or perhaps boats carrying those fleeing crisis,” she tells The Art Newspaper. “Alternatively, we may be witnessing the discovery of new land, artificial islands or a future scenario where land has formed from debris.”