Artistic and Architectural Responses to Climate Change

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Christian Freigang


In the recent past, awareness has grown that man and civilization are not concepts opposite to nature and geographical environment, but are intimately imbedded into them. The main reason of this fundamental change in men’s positioning can be seen in the massive destruction of nature, by industrialization and pollution. This massive human intervention since ca. 200 years justifi es to qualify modernism as „Anthropocene“. Face to the gigantic endangering of individual life, coexistence and ecological welfare, resulting from an increasing climate change due to this large scale mismanagement, man and civilization are
now more and more seen as a responsible part of nature and its complex metabolism. These worldwide efforts to rescue human conditions of life, can be paralleled by signifi cant changes in the former duality between nature and art, where the latter
often played the role of an ideal conceptual order, opposed to inert and savage nature. The paper proposes to present some important examples how this ecological responsibility is treated and reflected in art and architecture. In doing this we will not limit us to contemporary works, for example by Olafur Eliasson with his treating of natural and climate cycles. We try also to demonstrate how yet older apocalyptic sceneries referred the topos of an ecological collapse of earth, such as did pictures of
the Deluge, or even the Eiff el Tower as an attempt to escape urban pollution. Artistic and architectural working and reworking of the ecological condition of men thus sharpened the awareness how deeply the climate change menaces our all lives.

Published: Dec 20, 2021

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Art Studies