Slow Violence

Participants: Maria Thereza Alves, Pia Arke, Mia Edelgart, Harun Farocki, Basia Irland, Runo Lagomarsino, Zoe Todd

Kunsthal Charlottenborg
Nyhavn 1
1650 København K

18. June – 13. August 2017
Opening 17. June 3pm

Runo Lagomarsino Mundo Novo, 2017, detail

The Anthropocene and climate change reflect nothing so much as industrial capitalism’s dependence on ancient sunshine
Elizabeth Povinelli

The planet is undergoing radical transformation. The massive destruction of its ecosystems comprises not only climate change and species extinction. Continent-sized floating plastic islands, toxic waste and monoculture farming are also part of the processes that are changing the conditions of life on Earth.

We call it development. Progress. Growth. Development based on centuries of unrestrained intervention in the complex and interdependent processes that make up the life-sustaining systems of the Earth. The destruction of these systems, however, are also the result of slow violence. A violence that is exercised in the margins of our attention, a violence that is often out of sight, invisible, and whose destruction emerges with a delay. A violence not perceived as violence.

The story of the Anthropocene, the new geological era in which we live, puts mankind at the centre of the development of the Earth, designating humans as the most significant geological factor. Yet the consequences of planet-consuming activities are deeply embedded in a specific way of perceiving the relationship between Man and his surroundings. A perception that developed in concurrence with European colonialism and early capitalism.

The narrative of the Anthropocene considers the destruction of the Earth as collateral damage, unintended harm, but use of the term ‘climate change’ in the 18th century tells a different story. Even then, it was crucial to control not only physical surroundings but also to change climatic conditions. Along with the enslavement and annihilation of people, the manipulation of environments and climates was integral to the colonial project.

How did it become possible to consider people and environments as inexhaustible resources to be used and abused without costs? The exhibition Slow Violence is an attempt to read the destabilization of the climate and the destruction of the Earth as a history of slow violence.