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 1: Dark Star – After the Catastrophe
The catastrophe is not impending; it is already long here. Now we have to find a way to live with the consequences or to draw the right conclusions, so as to prevent things getting even worsen. In Deep Weather, in the form of an essay, Ursula Biemann presents her findings on the seas around Alaska and the rising sea level in Bangladesh. In Salarium, Sasha Litvintseva and Daniel Mann undertake test drilling in the Dead Sea, wishing to understand the phenomenon of sudden holes in the earth. In her poetic experiment The 1001st Island, Tita Salina shows how plastic waste in the Indonesian seas can suddenly be turned into absurd live-saving islands. And in Circular Inscription Lukas Marxt uses a minimalist and metaphorical approach to present human intervention into nature, while his film Imperial Valley (cultivated run-off) captures a fundamental principle of the Anthropocene in a bird’s eye view—the autocratic appropriation of a piece of land into monocultural structures with disastrous consequences.
Ursula Biemann, Deep Weather, 2013, 9 min
Tita Salina, The 1001st Island – The Most Sustainable Island in Archipelago, 2015, 14 min
Lukas Marxt, Circular Inscription, 2016, 7 min
Sasha Litvintseva, Daniel Mann, Salarium, 2017, 42 min
Lukas Marxt, Imperial Valley (cultivated run-off), 2018, 14 min
Presented by Christian Höller, followed by a conversation with Lukas Marxt
Christian Höller is editor and co-publisher of springerin – Hefte für Gegenwartskunst.
Lukas Marxt lives in Cologne. Exhibitions/festivals (selection): Reign of Silence, Torrance Art Museum, Los Angeles (2018); Berlinale – Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin (2018); Raum D: Digitale Projekte, with Vanja Smiljanic, Künstlerhaus, Graz (2018); Curtas Vila do Conde, Vila do Conde (2018)