The Chicago Cli-Fi Library
|Feb 2, 2023 - Jun 10, 2023|
The Chicago Cli-Fi Library at the Neubauer Collegium
Curated by Dieter Roelstraete
This exhibition is a modest attempt to make sense of the paralysis that sets in when artists try to fashion a response to the complexity and enormity of climate change. Featuring recent works by Chicago-based artists Beate Geissler & Oliver Sann, Jenny Kendler, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, and Dan Peterman.
Climate change is a great existential crisis for humanity, yet the apocalyptic prospect of global warming and other consequences of this great disruption hardly make themselves felt in the mainstream of cultural production. Whether we consider art, film, literature, or music, the specter of climate change has yet to produce the Anthropocene’s defining masterpieces. One could make the case that it is the very enormity of the challenge of imagining the unimaginable that causes this creative paralysis. The Chicago Cli-Fi Library is a modest attempt to make sense of this paralysis, suggesting that art’s response to the complexity and enormity of the issue at hand can only ever be piecemeal, ad hoc, and hyperlocalized – all of which must be understood as virtuous. Named after the emerging literary genre of “climate fiction,” or “cli-fi,” and accordingly bookish in both conception and outlook.
Performance: In honor of Earth Day, the Neubauer Collegium presented an afternoon of programming inspired by The Chicago Cli-Fi Library, on view in our gallery through June 11. A screening of Alain Renais’s documentary film Le chant du Styrène (1958; 13 min.) offered a poetic meditation on the plastic industry which resonated with Dan Peterman’s sculptural installations Archive for 57 People and Archive (One Ton). A performance of How Does the World End (for Others)? featured a dramatic reading of a score the artists Geissler and Sann composed for the exhibition, which included fragments from classic “climate fiction” (“cli-fi”) texts. The reading was followed by a musical performance in which Chicago-based percussionist Michael Zerang animated Jenny Kendler’s sculpture Whale Bells, made in collaboration with Andrew Bearnot.