30 November 2023–6 January 2024
By Julian Charrière
Part of The Avenue during COP28
Bringing to light rarely seen perspectives of our planet’s polar regions
Starts 30 November 2023
Ends 6 January 2024
“Melting Point” creates a kaleidoscopic vision of the glaciers, showing them at a critical point in time. This exhibition is a collaboration between Alserkal Initiatives, Art of Change 21, and studio Julian Charrière, and is part of Art of Change’s “Art at COP28'' programming.
The exhibition transports the viewer into a frozen world, where towering glaciers emerge from a polar darkness and the visitor soars over bright Arctic vistas. It brings together Towards No Earthly Pole (2019) and Pure Waste (2021), two films which showcase our limited sense of the cryosphere. Together they address the atmospheric repercussions of our large-scale extraction of natural resources, questioning if we comprehend what is being lost as global warming accelerates. It is a cinematic journey which both enthralls and challenges our perception of reality, representing the importance of emotional engagement as a stepping stone for changing the future.
Towards No Earthly Pole was conceived when the artist was invited aboard a research ship as part of the first-ever Antarctic Biennial. For the project, a number of nocturnal glacial landscapes were filmed using custom equipment developed by the artist, including drones mounted with cameras and spotlights. In the film, Charrière foregrounds an uncanny and dark polar world, not frozen solid but alive with flowing water and crackling ice. The otherworldly scale of the landscape that emerges highlights our limited experience of such regions.
In turn, the intervention and video project Pure Waste was produced by the artist during a scientific expedition. Set in North Greenland, it documents a material reversal that effectively inverts the conventional geological mining process. As a result of a scientific collaboration with Prof. Dr. Aldo Steinfeld (ETH Zurich), the project mixed human exhalations (gathered by the artist, who invited 1000 people to blow into balloons), and carbon molecules from the ice cap collected using direct air capture technology, which together are transformed into lab grown diamonds. This interdisciplinary and experimental intervention then culminates in an act of reconciliation, with Charrière tossing the diamonds into a rushing glacier mill. By throwing these objects of desire into oblivion and back to their mineral home, we question their symbolic value and bring hope that one day our destructive industrial cycles may end.
In order to be aligned with the message being conveyed by the exhibition and its production process, all three partners are working together to reduce its environmental impact and will produce a carbon assessment. Among the implemented actions: no transport of works (sent electronically only), minimised air travel (two round trips, the artist and his assistant), use of lent local equipment, choice of a vegetarian menu, extension of the duration of the exhibition beyond the COP, over more than one month to increase its influence.
The “Melting Point” exhibition is supported by R3, Maison Ruinart, Fondation LAccolade and Epson, and is part of Art of Change 21’s “Art at COP28” programming.
COP28 is the 28th UN Climate Change Conference, taking place in Dubai, UAE (30 November – December 12, 2023). This inter-governmental meeting is a crucial milestone for global climate action after an unprecedented year of record-breaking temperatures and its consequences, including wildfires, severe droughts, flooding... For the calendar year to date, January to October 2023, the global mean temperature for 2023 reached the highest on record, 1.43°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average1. Polar regions are key in stabilising climate and sea level on Earth and are especially affected. Last September, the Antarctic ice sheet reached its lowest annual maximum level on record. Recent scientific studies estimate that global warming will exceed 1.5°C in the 2020s and 2°C before 2050. We are reaching the tipping point - a massive mobilisation and greater climate justice is now needed to tackle the climate crisis.
About the artist
Julian Charrière (1987) is a French-Swiss artist based in Berlin. Marshalling performance, sculpture, film and photography, his projects often stem from remote fieldwork in liminal locations, from sites of industrial extraction to volcanic calderas; icefields to nuclear testing grounds. By encountering places where acute geophysical and cultural identities have formed, Charrière speculates on alternative histories and our changing ideas of "nature". Seeking to deconstruct the cultural traditions which govern how the natural world is perceived and represented, Charrière's multidimensional practice frequently leads him to cross-field collaborations with scientists, musicians, engineers, and philosophers. The core of his practice concerns itself with how the human being inhabits the world, and how it in turn inhabits us.
His work has been the subject of monographic exhibitions worldwide, most recently SFMOMA, San Francisco (2022), Langen Foundation, Neuss, Germany (2022), Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas (2021), among others. Charrière's work has been featured in multiple international Biennales, such as the 16th Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale (2022); the Guangzhou Image Triennial (2021); and the 57th Biennale di Venezia (2017). He is represented by the galleries Dittrich & Schlechtriem, Galerie Tschudi, Sies + Höke, Sean Kelly Gallery and Perrotin.
About Art of Change 21
Art of Change 21 is a non-profit organization which connects contemporary art with climate change and major environmental issues. It engages in different modes of actions, including exhibitions, art prizes, debates, workshops, and its online media Impact Art News. Founded by Alice Audouin in 2014 just ahead of COP21 in Paris, the organization has played a key role in each COP, collaborating with leading contemporary artists (John Gerrard, Lucy Orta, Hassan Hajjaj, Wen Fang…). This year’s programme “ART AT COP28” also includes a roundtable discussion at the French Pavilion (COP28 Blue Zone) on December 6th and a speech at the Louvre Abu Dhabi Sustainability Day on December 7th, both in collaboration with France Museums. Art of Change 21 is supported by the French Ministry of Culture, ADEME (French Environmental Agency), Maison Ruinart, Maison Guerlain, Schneider Electric Foundation, Norsys Foundation.
ART AT COP28 Programme: https://artofchange21.com/en/portfolio-items/actions-during-the-cop/
Thank you to our partners
“Melting Point” is supported by the French company R3, at the forefront of CSR, Decarbonisation, and Energy Performance solutions, assisting companies in accelerating their transition, Maison Ruinart, the first established champagne house, deeply committed to sustainability and art, Fondation LAccolade, an international programme of artistic residencies and exhibitions at the intersection of art, environment, fragility of the living and Epson, a market leader for projectors for the last 20 years, supporting with visual technology to bring the installation to life.
Location: Project Space
Time: Opening at 6PM on 30 November
10AM-6PM until 6 Jan 2023