Illustration: Lisa Hartje Moura.
Climate Emergency > Emergence
maat Climate Collective:
T. J. Demos
Chair and Chief Curator
Molemo Moiloa, Susan Schuppli, Paulo Tavares
Bringing urgent focus to climate emergency, maat Climate Collective energises critical analyses and creative proposals in moving beyond catastrophism and toward the emergence of environmentally sustainable and socially just futures. Interdisciplinary in breadth and international in scope, our program assembles diverse cultural practitioners working at the intersection of experimental arts and political ecology in a year-long project of collective deliberation. The goal: to unveil horizons of thought and action vital for a liveable future, dedicated to unpacking the complexities – socio-economic, juridico-political, techno-environmental and cultural – of climate transformation.
Rather than viewing climate emergency as uniquely situated in the not-yet, we insist on connecting present anxieties over climate breakdown to long histories of socio-environmental violence. Preparing the ground of near-future collapse, past formations of colonial extractivism and racial capitalism have already multiplied emergencies and continue to do so in our present. They also widen the scope of emergency beyond the narrow focus on atmospheric carbon, expanding it to complex entanglements of socio-political and techno-economic climates within and beyond the human.
Among our central questions:
What reparatory climate futures are necessary once we adopt greater historical sensitivity to socio-environmental emergencies?
How might these manifest through new frameworks of ecologies of care and mutual aid (framed as solidarity, not charity)?
In what ways do technologies of sensing not only observe climate transformation, but construct objects of knowledge, science, and politics, and reimagine relationships with more-than-human beings?
How and why does climate justice require not simply decarbonisation but decolonisation?
How do the anti-racial-capitalist politics of abolition – which articulates social justice demands for the end of policing, mass incarceration, and of militarisation more broadly – extend to ecological and multispecies concerns?
Enlivening a public arena of collective debate, Climate Emergency > Emergence asks how we can move from climate emergency (the catastrophe of Earth systems breakdown as much as failed sociopolitical arrangements) to climate emergence (generating new forms of life founded upon social justice and environmental wellbeing). Initiating our collective study from the context of maat and Portuguese histories of colonial-ecological intersections, the project expands across narratives from around the world over a nine-month period. Integral to our initiative will be to explore how and why socio-environmental approaches that foreground social justice, decolonial thinking, and critiques of racial capitalism matter to climate policy.
"maat Explorations" is a programme framework featuring an ongoing series of exhibitions, public and educational projects delving into the multi-faceted subject of environmental transformation from various scholarly and experimental vantage points – it brings philosophical and political perspectives forward, as well as sociocultural and technological investigations interwoven in speculative and critical practices in the arts and design at large.
Central to the discursive and critical effort of "maat Explorations" is the establishment of the Climate Collective, a rotating group of experts in the expanded field of contemporary art, design and technology that will each year propose a refreshed vision on the connection between creative practices, ecological thought and politics.
For the launch and first year of activities that take the forms of various on site and online events, from talks to fieldwork, the collective is made of four members, who bring critical perspectives from various academic and geographic angles: T. J. Demos (USA), Molemo Moiloa (South Africa), Susan Schuppli (UK), Paulo Tavares (Brazil).
The Climate Emergency > Emergence public programme initiative energises critical analyses and creative proposals in moving beyond catastrophism and toward the emergence of environmentally sustainable futures. Interdisciplinary in breadth and international in scope, the programme is conceptualised by the newly-formed Climate Collective, chaired by T. J. Demos, and geared toward assembling diverse cultural practitioners working at the intersection of experimental arts and political ecology.