Night shining clouds above my hometown. According to a trustworthy source (Wiki), these clouds are the highest in our planet’s atmosphere, as far up as 76/85 km. They were wrinkly as well.
The Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria, had a special exhibition on glaciers named: DAHINSCHMELZEN. Gletscher als Zeugen des Klimawandels (or MELTDOWN), created by the climate change charity Project Pressure.
My partner and I happened to be in Vienna when this exhibition just opened, and I just had to go. We both really enjoyed the set-up and the visuals. How can something so catastrophic be so aesthetically pleasing? I found Noémi Goudal’s work in particular very beautiful.
One thing that struck me was the discrepancy (for the lack of a better word) between… artist/observer and the subject of the works of art. Most of the artists were born in either West Europe or North America, and the places and people shown were elsewhere. For me, this exhibition mostly raised one (or a set of related) question(s): who gets the tell these stories? Whose voices are we hearing? According to a website, Project Pressure’s mission is (amongst other things), “to depict first-hand the environmental impact of climate change”. But is it, really?
Last year, I was asked to write a short blog for the Problems of Place series at EnvHistNow, a website that highlights environmental history scholarship by women, trans, and non-binary academics. EnvHistNow is run by Elizabeth Hameeteman.
Writing about personal experiences is scary (especially when they’re not positive), but I’m grateful for the opportunity this gave me to write about academia, precarity, and the “places” you take with you as a firstgen academic.
Workshop/excursion to the CampusGarten during the EASLCE conference at the University of Würzburg. The CampusGarten was definitely one of the conference’s highlights for me, especially because of the great workshop on cyanotype printing.
The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. I adore the museum’s Plants of the World exhibition and will forever regret not having my camera with me. Enjoy this snapshot of Máximo instead.
There was also an interesting quote from Loren Eissley’s The Immense Journey (1957):
“Without the gift of flowers and the infinite diversity of their fruits, man and bird, if they had continued to exist at all, would be today unrecognizable. / The weight of a petal has changed the face of the world and made it ours.”
I have yet to read The Immense Journey (or any of Eissley’s books, to be honest), but I do now wonder about the tension between praising biodiversity and the anthropocentricity of this little citation.
This picture was taken during an excursion to the Nationalpark Berchtesgaden – only one of two national parks in the state of Bavaria, which makes up about 1/5th of Germany. We had a tour from one of the park rangers and visited the information centre “Haus der Berge”, where we also had a lecture by the park’s director, Dr. Roland Baier, and learnt that part of the park has been a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1990.
See my review of Timothy Clark’s Ecocriticism on the Edge: The Anthropocene as a Threshold Concept (2015) and Adam Trexler’s Anthropocene Fictions: The Novel in a Time of Climate Change (Bloomsbury 2015).
Published in Frame: Journal of Literary Studies 29.2, special issue on Perspectives on the Anthropocene (link). This issue also has essays by Lawrence Buell and Rosi Braidotti, and an interview with Cary Wolfe.