Toby Smith

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12 prints from the project  ‘Heavens and Earth on Aragat’ are being exhibited as part of:


A Visualization of Climate Change by Project Pressure

Natural History Museum Vienna

June 5th 2019 – September 8th 2019


The Natural History Museum, Vienna is premiering MELTDOWN, an exhibition created by the climate change charity Project Pressure.

Project Pressure uses art as a positive touch-point to inspire action and behavioural change. The selected artworks in MELTDOWN relate to vanishing glaciers, and demonstrate the impact of climate change through various media. Unlike wildfires, flooding and other weather events, glacier mass losses even out variations and can be attributed to global warming. As such, they are key indicators of climate change.

Since 2008 Project Pressure has been commissioning world-renowned artists to conduct expeditions around the world, and for the first time these works will be shown together as MELTDOWN. The projects were developed and executed with scientists to ensure accuracy.The exhibition is a narrative of the importance of glaciers told in a scientific, illustrative and poetic way and each artist has a unique take on the subject. MELTDOWN shows scale from the planetary level to microscopic biological impact, and considers humanitarian suffering and more. Together the artistic interpretations in MELTDOWN give visitors unique insights into the world’s cryosphere, its fragile ecosystem and our changing global climate.

MELTDOWN will inspire, and will also activate the visitor. It is time to move beyond awareness: the mission of Project Pressure is to incite real behavioural change.
To encourage this, Project Pressure has created a carbon footprint calculator. Touchscreens for this digital tool are placed at the exit from the exhibition, where individual visitors can learn how carbon-intense their lifestyle is. As well as an estimate, they will get recommendations for improvements to make in areas such as home, transport, energy, food, and more. They will then be prompted by email to revisit and re-calculate online after two months. As they track their changes, each individual is reminded to keep on.

Project Pressure was founded in 2008 by Klaus Thymann

MELTDOWN is curated by Lina Aastrup



Corey Arnold
Michael Benson
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin

Edward Burtynsky
Scott Conarroe
Peter Funch
Noémie Goudal
Adam Hinton
Richard Mosse
Simon Norfolk
Norfolk + Thymann
Christopher Parsons
Toby Smith
Klaus Thymann

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Political ecologist Eszter Kovacs and photo-journalist Toby Smith report on the water issues of Mussourie, Uttarakhand, India.

The hill station Mussoorie’s urban expansion is exhausting its spring-based drinking water supply. The town has been in a water crisis since early March, as the hot season’s scarcity meets its tourist peak.

The tourist economy defines hill station towns across the lower Himalaya: visitors sustain and give rise to food vendors, hotels, local museums and amusement venues. In turn, they demand more and better roads, electricity, sanitation and water.

The numbers of tourists to Mussoorie have increased linearly over the past decade. According to local hoteliers and shopkeepers, people today are more likely to visit the town for short weekend breaks instead of week- long trips, leading to demand for services all through the year.

Mussoorie’s thirst for water is further propounded by the growing numbers of its permanent inhabitants, whose households tend to have informal status. However, these households successfully blur the lines between formality and informality vis-a-vis the state through their usually successful individualised access strategies for piped water.


From the time of hill stations’ Britisher establishment in the early- to mid- nineteenth century, the towns have been a respite from the scorching heat of the plains.

The roads linking the main Mall, Himalayan Club and Landour are the most popular walking, shopping and exhibit areas. This popularity has been matched as the majority sites of new hotel, vendor and houses’ construction.


Linking all these landscape uses is the unchecked and lop-sided nature of urbanisation, which is overwhelmingly precarious and dangerously unplanned for a seismic zone that also experiences large seasonal rainfalls with attendant landslides.

 Urbanisation has consisted of myriad tenuous tenements for new permanent arrivals as well as for the average tourist, but there has been little corresponding investment in sanitation, waste management, and water provision.


Water arrives to households in Mussoorie through a complex gravity- and pumping system that taps over twenty local springs. Over the past decades, these water sources have experienced serious declines, further stressed by the increased water demand of Mussoorie that now far exceeds its capacity.


The continued development of Mussoorie as a town dependent on tourism seriously stretches and jeopardises the long-term sustainability of these springs, especially as water catchment areas are very visibly not adequately protected from construction nor tree felling, despite the Supreme Court ban from 1980.


Kempty Falls demonstrates how rapidly these processes take place, as the Falls have been built around through the past decade.

The construction surrounding the falls epitomises broader urbanisation processes that circumvent planning and safety for immediate expediency, access and profit, putting tourists at risk.

Further, the Falls depict how ‘tourism’ is no longer an activity only of the elite: local 50-rupee bus deals link surrounding villages and towns with the Falls, making the precarious facilities available to an ever-burgeoning crowd.


Changing tourist identity and demand also affects peri-urban and rural communities around Mussoorie, some of whom traditionally made their living from water, such as the local laundry-families at Dhobighat.

Demand for their services are in decline as their washing methods no longer meet tourists’ expectations: speed of laundry turn-around and higher cleanliness standards mean that both hotels and the Dhobighat community now invest in water- and energy- consuming washing machines and dryers.

These narratives and dynamics of growth, tourism, unregulated urbanisation, demand for services and water security concerns bind and challenge the hill stations of the lower Himalaya today, and call for a mountain-specific conversation and strategy around urbanisation and for the ecological maintenance of water systems.