This autumn, Against Apartheid, a new group exhibition curated by Ashish Ghadiali will open at KARST gallery in Plymouth. Through the work of international contemporary artists and activists, the exhibition explores the origins of climate apartheid.
Life becomes impossible
UN Special Rapporteur, Philip Alston, has dubbed the potential outcome of anthropogenic climate change as “climate apartheid” – where life becomes impossible for increasing sections of the human population. This scenario would predominantly impact black and brown communities living on the frontlines of climate breakdown.
Historic ecologies of empire
Against Apartheid situates this projected future in historic ecologies of empire – African enslavement, the middle passage, the plantation and the genocide of indigenous peoples – as well as the geopolitics of international borders, urban air pollution and species migration.
Featured artists include: Sue Williamson, Khaled Jarrar, Forensic Oceanography, Annalee Davis, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Sylvie Séma Glissant, Kedisha Coakley, Angela Camacho, Ashanti Hare and Iman Datoo. New representations of work by climate scientists affiliated with the University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute and by the activist collectives, Alarm Phone and the Anti-Raids Network also feature.
Artists and activists included in the show put forward strategies for challenging the inherited culture of apartheid – restoring hidden lives and forgotten futures. Works in the exhibition point towards the transcendence of race-thinking, new ecologies and intergenerational and interspecies sensibilities through which landscapes and our sense of future possibility is transfigured and transformed.
“The human climate niche”
The exhibition responds to recent research from the leading edge of Earth system science and led by the University of Exeter’s Professor Tim Lenton (on which Ghadiali has also been a collaborator) that projects radical shifts through the course of the 21st century in what is known as “the human climate niche”. The study points towards the essential and racialised injustice and draws connections between forced migration and global warming – themes that Against Apartheid works to draw together and amplify.
Describing the implications of the study, Lenton says: “Currently weak international climate policies will commit two billion mostly black and brown people to live in unprecedented hot temperatures later this century.
“Already deaths from extreme heat are escalating in the Global South. This climate apartheid needs to be fought with a decisive effort to limit global warming to 1.5C, and to provide meaningful finance from the Global North to those suffering loss and damages in the Global South.”
Ashish Ghadiali, Curator of Against Apartheid said: “Against Apartheid speaks to the underlying conviction that has driven the emergence of Radical Ecology: that the planetary crises we face are in essence crises of relation and imagination and that through the agency of contemporary artists, activists and thinkers new worlds come into being. I hope that visitors coming into the space we’re creating will have the same feeling I’ve experienced while putting the show together: that just and sustainable futures are emerging here.”
‘City of discovery’
Ben Borthwick, Head of Programme at KARST says: “Ghadiali’s exhibition activates themes that are significant to Plymouth – historically branded as the ‘city of discovery’ and more recently recognised for its pivotal role in initiating Britain’s slave trade, underpinning its imperial legacy. We are excited to bring this timely exploration of the intersecting strands of climate change and colonialism
top image: It’s a pleasure to meet you (2016), Sue Williamson
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