12 prints from the project ‘Heavens and Earth on Aragat’ are being exhibited as part of:
A Visualization of Climate Change by Project Pressure
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
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin
Norfolk + Thymann
Mount Aragats is the highest point in Armenia and is a national symbol for Armenians. The mountain is featured on the country’s coat-of-arms and represented in the names and logos of countless Armenian companies, groups and collectives. The expansive slopes have seen historic Armenian capitals, fierce battles for their control with many historical fortress and settlements surviving multiple regime and religious conquests over the centuries.
Aerial observations in the 1950’s showed the presence of permanent snowfields on the sides of Aragats’s upper crater cirque alongside moraines and glaciers inside the crater itself. A more detailed analysis in 1996 indicated a total glacial surface area of 5.5 km2 but this has been rapidly decreasing year on year. The glacial cover has been disappearing on account of the insufficient snowfall, changes in rainfall patterns and critically an increase in annual mean air temperatures.
The collapsed volcanic cone at the summit is, according to some interpretations of the Christian Bible’s Old Testament, the landing point of Noah’s Ark. Today the mountain ironically hosts an aging astronomical observatory which was once the heart of the USSR’s research program. Close to the summit is an atmospheric Cosmic Ray Detection facility – manned year-round despite the intense winter snowfall and gales at 3200m.
Those familiar with the mountain’s upper levels claim that the permanent ice has all but disappeared and is now found only in the crevices of north-facing slopes or shaded under scree fall. Tangible evidence of this recent, critical failure in the mountain’s hydrology is now only too obvious to the settlements and communities who live on downstream pasture. Entire herds of cattle, livelihoods and economic hopes are rapidly leaving this already deprived corner of Europe.
In collaboration with Project Pressure, a charity documenting the world’s glaciers, and with a grant from the Luminous Endowment for Photographers, photojournalist Toby Smith both circumnavigated and summited Mount Aragats in October 2016. The objective was to document the diverse narratives and situations all bound to and situated on the slopes of Mount Aragat. The Luminous Endowment for Photographers have made a significant contribution and without their support it would not have been possible.