We are in the middle of the end of the world right now. If not The End of the World, the end of a world: our form of life is on the brink.
With the consequence of human activity, the ongoing processes within the ecosystem of the Earth (climate change, rising sea-levels, migration and the accelerating rate of extinction of species) call for the introduction of a new geological epoch. The experiments undertaken so far of facing up to the challenges of the new era do not give cause for optimism. If we are not able to exceed damaging paradigms, we will irreversibly move towards barbarization, perpetual crisis and ecological collapse.
We are now both actors and victims of an unprecedented world-conflagration, which partly explains our deranged reactions. How could we know how to act properly in the time of an imminent physical and metaphysical global scale catastrophe, which is inconceivable and at the same time inevitable, not yet but already happening?
In order to name the state of mind of the human experiencing ecologic changes, we have to elaborate new conceptual frames: due to our “eco-paralysis” we will become subject to “eco-anxiety”, meanwhile our power for action will eventually be consumed by “global dread”, a fear of the future burdened with a mixture of terror and hopeless sadness. Those who do believe all this – as we know, many people doubt the scientific predictions; both powerless voters and potent politicians alike –, although whether they believe it or not, they’re subject to it, can be divided into three groups according to political philosopher Jodi Dean: victims, observers and survivors. The victims, who are the inhabitants of the most exposed regions, are refugees. The majority flee from countries which, due to their underdeveloped economies, aren’t responsible for climate change since they don’t produce considerable amounts of harmful emissions. Among others Dean places scholars with the observers, since given they possess no operative powers they are practically powerless, and their depressing predictions almost constitute a sub-genre among writing on climate change. We could also place ourselves in this group, the inhabitants of Europe, who so far are witness to the increase in hot weather and in places the signs of desertification. Regarding migrational trends experienced in the last years, however, it would be self-delusion to declare that we still had time to prepare: people who had until now only been visible in news broadcasts are today knocking on our door, having travelled several thousand kilometres to our lands chased by the social tensions induced by unstoppable ecological changes. Among the observers there exists a separate sub-group of those for whom the baleful air is both rich and stifling at the same time: theorists and artists are bewitched by the possibility of the end of our civilization, the melancholic “pre-loss” state; and while, in privileged spaces protected by the bastions of academies and the walls of galleries, various pre- and post-apocalyptic, trans- and post-human concepts compete, the still unofficial name of the period, became „anthropocene” – it’s to be feared that it will go out of fashion before escalating in reality.
The exhibition means to show an emphatically regional trend in this intellectual climate change: of the European countries Hungary is within the region suffering most from climatic change, and also a transit country for the wave of migration from the Middle-East, yet artistic discourse isn’t dominated by the topic of climate change – politics neither.
We’re standing on the periphery of these changes while also finding ourselves temporarily in the centre, and in this peculiar situation I am attempting to mark out the place of art, and to measure its competency. For this I’m drawing inspiration from the work of a partly forgotten Hungarian painter, István Farkas, who painted works not unlike ominous waking dreams from a similarly ill-omened period. The pictures in the exhibition are paraphrasings of Syracusan fool, Green and black and Wave. The appropriated scenic elements are no longer shaken by the winds of a historically significant catastrophe, but they have been regraded as depictions of geochronological true-to-scale ecological collapse.