Some contradictions in current debates on ecology and crisis
THE END OF NATURE
November 14, 2014 to March, 1 2015
Opening: Thursday, November 13, 2014, 7 p.m.
Discussion with Kijan Malte Espahangizi (Managing Director of the “History of Knowledge” centre of excellence, ETH & University of Zurich) andartists Ralo Mayer and Tomash Schoiswohl
Environmental destruction and the consumption of resources are inseparable from how capitalist modernity developed, but are criticism thereof and an ecological mindset automatically progressive? Often, the distribution of wealth and resource consumption remains unquestioned.
Ecological critique is often reactionary in nature: for example, the notion of “Dichtestress” (translatable as “stress caused by densely populated areas”) entered Swiss debates and could express the fear of loss of those who are used to not having to think about the distribution of space and resources, since they profit from the current distribution model.
Such thought patterns recycle racism and sell it as an “avant-garde” concern for the “earth”. They are offering a nationalist and racist option to those who want to see themselves as “progressive” and up-to-date. Models like the “New green deal” or “Green Capitalism” ignore the issue of social power relations and social equality. They are enforced against those who are rendered narrow-minded and “unclean” in their ecological awareness.
Shedhalle is following up on the issue in the framework of an exhibition project and commissioned two artists to develop new works.
In his installation, Ralo Mayer walks the fine line between conspiracy theories and “ecological” reasoning. Additionally, we will see Mayer´s video “Why do we see the photo of the whole Earth so often (that we don’t even see it anymore)?” (2012). The film shows the history of the image of the earth that was taken by the crew of Apollo 17 in 1972 from a distance of 45,000 km. It is interested in the relations of this image with 1960s counterculture, technological domination and ecological movements.
Tomash Schoiswohl deals with the fatal relationship between “dirt” and “cleanliness”. Both notions are heavily used in discourses on “nature” and “environment” as well as in urban policies. They are central for the justification of social inequality: the place of the “dirty” is assigned to those who should disappear from the townscape/one’s own residential area/Switzerland. “Clean” are those who live on the greener side of the grass. Schoiswohl compiled an installation which explores the manifold functions of both notions.
In his works, Ralo Mayer develops ecologies of contemporary history in the broadest sense of the term which explore in exemplary fashion the relationship of nature and society and the fading line between them. Between past futures and science fiction of the contemporary, his performative research is intertwined with multi-layered narratives which he translates into cross-media ensembles.
Tomash Schoiswohl is active in conveying knowledge of culture and history. He works with aspects of urban history, art in public spaces and history studies. One of his larger projects deals with researching the Viennese “Matzleinsdorfer Platz” (“Matzleinsdorf square”, a so called non-space in Vienna´s east) – as a vehicle for political critique and space for utopian ideas. Through the concept of “history construction site”, he philosophically deals with history in a confrontational manner.