This immersive exhibition at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) is at the intersection of art, politics and science. It may not necessarily teach you anything radical or new, but it will certainly get you thinking.
The exhibition brings together designers, artists and philosophers with something to say on the present and the future of the climate crisis. The installations pull no punches; while some other artistic exhibitions could be said to lack direction, the message here is loud and clear. In the words of McKenzie Wark, which the exhibit quotes:
“This civilisation is over.
And everybody knows it.”
It starts with a video played out on multiple screens which asks you to “think of yourself as a planet”. Highlighting the environmental issues that humanity faces while showing you mesmerising images of oceans and forests, this video installation sets the tone for the entire exhibit: one which will get you considering nature, the environment, and humanity’s impact on it.
This is not your standard art gallery experience. Do not expect to make your way through endless rooms of paintings. Instead, the mixture of information boards, videos, audio clips and physical installations makes for a more intense experience.
One of the most captivating installations is the exploration of the fashion and textiles industry by the Unknown Fields Division. Several screens show us the processes involved in manufacturing the clothing that we wear each day without further thought. How often do we ask ourselves where our clothes came from? Who makes it? Where does the cotton come from?
Another striking installation comes from Superflux. Using the imagined setting of a London home in 2050, it looks at the issue of food insecurity and the potential future changes to our eating habits. Worms, anyone?
Now, one criticism that can be aimed at this exhibition—and others like it—is that it could leave the most scientific minds or the most devoted artists unsatisfied. This is because it borders both schools; the art and installations are not always that outstanding, but nor are the scientific explanations behind the art.
If, like me, you are neither of these things, then I doubt you’ll have too much of an issue. Having said that, I imagine that—with a little more space—there could have been more detail on the expanding human population, or the impact on wildlife that has already been seen, not only in well-known extinctions but in the worrying reduction of certain species.
But then, this is an art gallery and not a science museum.
What the exhibition does do is guide you through various themes surrounding climate change. More importantly, it will get you thinking, about the human impact on landscapes and the lack of social and political will to enact fundamental, much-needed change.
Now, here’s the practical stuff. The CCCB is located in Raval, an eclectic and bohemian barrio in Barcelona. Being so central, it’s easily accessible by walking, bus or metro. We visited on a Sunday afternoon, as the exhibition is free after 3pm on Sundays. Having said that, I would happily have paid the €6 entrance fee. The exhibition runs until the end of April 2018.