• Climate, Power, and Possible Futures, from the Banks of the Humber Estuary

    Tom White (see profile)
    TC Ecocriticism and Environmental Humanities
    Art, Economics
    Item Type:
    Energy humanities, Visual arts, Political economy
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    Nayan Kulkarni’s Blade, Lucy and Jorge Orta’s Raft of the Medusa, and Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen’s Quicksand were exhibited in Hull during its year as the 2017 UK City of Culture. These artworks provide the impetus for an article that moves between the local, national, and global, in order to connect visual culture, climate politics, and questions of citizenship and borders in a warming world. In the first section, I discuss how Blade—a wind turbine rotor blade repurposed as a public art installation—provides the opportunity to examine the role of large-scale renewable energy transition in addressing the deep regional economic inequalities in the UK. In the second section, I consider how artworks displayed as part of the ‘Somewhere Becoming Sea’ exhibition linked Hull’s recent history to a global context of displacement and precarity, in the wake of the ongoing ‘refugee crisis’ within Europe and at its borders. In the final section, I seek to bring together a number of threads from the preceding discussion, in order to outline some alternative political horizons. I turn initially to Sean McAllister’s documentary A Northern Soul (2018) and its powerful examination of how personal debt, the toxic fuel of neoliberalism, forecloses the future. In opposition to a future of deepening inequality and climate breakdown, I trace a renewed politics of public ownership and expanded social welfare in the UK, and its place in a prospective global renewable energy transition. This is a hopeful vision, given the current political climate, I argue, but it is also an eminently feasible one.
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    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
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