Self-inflicted catastrophe or a cosmic joke? Our planet is not doing well. From day to day, we see this more clearly. Images of rubbish heaps, plastic in the oceans, and the drastic recent effects of climate change point to a dark future. In the early 2000s, Dutch chemist Paul Crutzen coined the term Anthropocene for the irrefutable traces that humankind leaves on the earth and in the atmosphere. Since then, artists and filmmakers have taken ever greater interest in this drastic situation, whose underlying causes are often more complex than many evident ecological disasters would suggest.
The series in four parts, Third from the Sun, looks at artistic approaches that reveal the specific symptoms, manifestations, and effects of the Anthropocene. The focus is less on warnings or shocking images of catastrophe and more on the forms of implication in largely irreversible processes. The first part (Dark Star – After the Catastrophe) illustrates the ways humankind has shaped our environment, also by utilizing visionary counter images. The second part (Earthbound – Resistant Natures) explores the strength and resistance of the “natural,” without ignoring the role of the still dominant human subject. The third part (Electric Warriors – Last Humans) takes a closer look at the views, intentions, and future prospects of this human subject, which is in danger of ever further irrelevance given the escalation of the problem, but which can see this situation as an opportunity too. The fourth and final part (Stone Free – The Time that Remains) considers the latency or potential of whatever has not yet become reality, but is the germ of change in relation to our traditional understanding of nature and the environment. Planet Earth is blue, and there’s nothing we can do?
Curated by Christian Höller
Part 4: Stone Free – The Time that Remains
Is there still time left to take action, or are our options already exhausted? Is it possible—anywhere, and however futile it may meanwhile seem—to intervene and interfere “sustainably”? And can the ecological subject really and meaningfully regain anything that might delay death by warming? Ana Vaz and Tristan Bera create a contemporary image of this kind of interference and reclamation, not least by projecting the sampling pool of the past onto the contours of a future that seems to have become impossible. In Indivisible and Inseparable, Siniša Radulović uses multi-layered overlapping to ask how purposeful concepts of progress, “transition,” and development for improvement might be today. Demanding a right to get involved, in spite of it all, is presented emblematically in Metahaven’s music video for Holly Herndon, even if the future appears as just a torn flag. Ursula Biemann and Michaela Grill take us back to (lost) nature: Biemann‘s Subatlantic in artistic science-fiction style addresses the ominous changes that global warming is bringing to the North Atlantic, while in Antarctic Traces Michaela Grill recapitulates the disastrous history of whaling in the South Atlantic, with a view of an impending post-human void that this history portends. We see the traces of a paradoxical freedom, rooted in the depths of nothingness.
Ana Vaz, Tristan Bera, A Film, Reclaimed, 2015, 20 min
Siniša Radulović, Indivisible and Inseparable, 2017, 8 min
Holly Herndon/Metahaven, Interference, 2015, 5 min
Ursula Biemann, Subatlantic, 2015, 12 min
Michaela Grill, Antarctic Traces, 2019, 30 min
Presented by Christian Höller, followed by a conversation with Michaela Grill
Christian Höller is editor and co-publisher of the magazine springerin – Hefte für Gegenwartskunst.
Michaela Grill lives in Montréal and Vienna. Exhibitions/screenings (selection): Mein Rastloses Herz, together with Andreas Berger, Kunsthaus Graz (2014); BAFICI Buenos Aires Festival International del Cinema Independiente (2014); Rock'n'Roll Will Never Die (together with Billy Roisz), Austrian Film Museum, Vienna (2013); Place Becomes Time, Space Becomes Mine, together with Christof Kurzmann, O.K Centrum für Gegenwartskunst, Linz (2004).