Current Knowledge | 2021 – 2022
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Ocean and the Cryosphere from 2019 is one of their many reports detailing the scientific research on the enormous changes taking place on earth due to climate warming. In 2021, as a way of absorbing some of the vast nature of the changes taking place, I copied out by hand one of the chapters from the report, Chapter 3: Polar Regions, using graphite pencils from hardest to the softest. I followed a pattern of crumpled paper, which in some ways resembles the fragmentation of ice melting and refreezing, and references the life of these reports as paper documents. So much scientific work, even when reflecting physical explorations in the field, ends up on paper, with the danger that it lands up crumpled, unread, deposited in the wastepaper basket.
The 4 drawings that resulted from this are not particularly legible to viewers, as my intention was to undergo a more personal and intimate form of research to absorb the alarming information on the polar regions. In making this meticulous written drawing I came across a terrible kind of poetry in the report connected with the information about the massive impacts of accelerating climate change on the oceans. The information in the report is factual, measured, described in quite dry and direct scientific language. However, the conditions and situations it describes are extremely alarming and devastating in some cases, regarding the loss of habitats, lives and livelihoods. This process of careful copying and conscious deceleration may seem like a futile attempt to stop time and halt the cascading effects of warming, though on another level, it can also be seen as the starting point for an engagement now thoroughly internalized. Sometimes, especially in a crisis, it can make sense to slow down.
The drawings were installed as part of the exhibition Troubled Waters – a Confused or Chaotic State of Affairs, held at Pictura Gallery, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, from April 2nd to May 8th, 2022. The exhibition explored the role and response of artists during a time of climate crisis.