In Climate Change and the New Polar Aesthetics, Lisa E. Bloom considers the ways artists, filmmakers, and activists engaged with the Arctic and Antarctic to represent our current environmental crises and reconstruct public understandings of them. Bloom engages feminist, Black, Indigenous, and non-Western perspectives to address the exigencies of the experience of the Anthropocene and its attendant ecosystem failures, rising sea levels, and climate-led migrations. As opposed to mainstream media depictions of climate change that feature apocalyptic spectacles of distant melting ice and desperate polar bears, artists such as Katja Aglert, Subhankar Banerjee, Joyce Campbell, Judit Hersko, Roni Horn, Isaac Julien, Zacharias Kunuk, Connie Samaras, and activist art collectives take a more complex poetic and political approach. In their films and visual and conceptual art, these artists link climate change to its social roots in colonialism and capitalism while challenging the suppression of information about environmental destruction and critiquing Western art institutions for their complicity. Bloom’s examination and contextualization of new polar aesthetics makes environmental degradation more legible while demonstrating that our own political agency is central to imagining and constructing a better world.
List of Illustrations ix Acknowledgments xv Introduction. From the Heroic Sublime to Environments of Global Decline 1 I. Disappearing Landscapes: Feminist, Inuit, and Black Viewpoints 1. Antarctica and the Contemporary Sublime in Intersectional Feminist Art Practices 25 2. Reclaiming the Arctic through Feminist and Black Aesthetic Perspectives 54 3. At Memory's Edge: Collaborative Perspectives on Climate Trauma in Arctic Cinema 85 II. Archives of Knowledge and Loss 4. What is Unseen and Missing in the Circumpolar North: Contemporary Art and Indigenous Collaborative Approaches / Lisa E. Bloom and Elena Glasberg 105 5. Viewers as Citizen Scientists: Archiving Detritus / Lisa E. Bloom and Elena Glasberg 130 III. Climate Art and the Future of Art and Dissent 6. The Logic of Oil and Ice: Reimagining Documentary Cinema in the Capitalocene 153 7. Critical Polar Art Leads to Social Activism: Beyond the Disengaged Gaze 176 Epilogue. Seeing From the Future 195 Notes 201 Filmography 229 Bibliography 235 Index 253
Lisa E. Bloom is Scholar-in-Residence at the Beatrice Bain Research Group in the Department of Gender and Women’s studies, University of California, Berkeley, and author of Gender On Ice: American Ideologies of Polar Expeditions. Two of the book’s chapters were written with Elena Glasberg, who is the author of Antarctica as Cultural Critique: The Gendered Politics of Scientific Exploration and Climate Change.
“Ever since the publication of Gender on Ice, Lisa E. Bloom has been one of the most innovative scholars in the field of polar aesthetics and the cultural history of the polar regions. Working with an array of creative art practices, Bloom demonstrates how new ways of feeling, seeing, and thinking are integral to the current and future social, environmental, and geopolitical predicament. This is a book for dark times, but it is hopeful, resilient, and socially just.”
~Klaus Dodds, Professor of Geopolitics, Royal Holloway, University of London
"An impressive and fascinating study which prompts further critical discussions in the field of polar art. The book is a must-read for any scholar interested in the aesthetics of climate change and will have a lasting impact within the field of Environmental Humanities."
~Anne Hemkendreis, ArtHist.net
“Lisa Bloom’s Climate Change and the New Aesthetics integrates text with imagery to highlight problems, not isolated to one location or a particular ethnicity. . . . Close scrutiny of artworks which contextualize Climate Change brings problems and hopefully solutions to the forefront without verbally scolding.”
~Jean Bundy, AICA E-MAG
“This is a book capable of expanding a reader’s understanding whether they are drawn to it from the worlds of art, activism, critical scholarship, or some combination thereof. Connecting what is often separated, Climate Change and the New Polar Aesthetics is a vital read for artists, activists, and academics alike.”
~Alice Oates, H-Environment, H-Net Reviews
"[T]hrough well-chosen examples, understandable text, an extensive bibliography, and detailed footnotes, Bloom’s scholarship makes an important contribution to the literature for institutions with graduate programs and/or libraries which aim to include diverse views of the global environmental crisis."
~Barbara Ann Opar, ARLIS-NA
"Climate Change and the New Polar Aesthetics marks an important intervention in aesthetic and environmental criticism. The book contributes to a growing body of scholarship that engages with climate change not merely as an ethical injunction but as an unavoidable facet of contemporary life."
~Elizabeth Berman, Journal of Postcolonial Writing