In her video essay Deep Weather (2013), Swiss artist Ursula Biemann exposes the consequences of the relentless search for fossil fuels for distant regions of the world and their inhabitants. She makes manifest the correlation between the havoc wreaked by tar sand exploitation in Canada and the problems faced by the population living in low-lying Bangladesh due to rising sea levels.
The aggressive extraction of oil from the Athabasca oil sands is causing massive ecological damage while releasing significant quantities of CO2, further exacerbating the greenhouse effect and increasing global warming. The work addresses the cause and effect of anthropogenic global warming: while the energy-intensive, growth-based economic system of the Global North exploits natural resources, its negative repercussions such as the increase in severe flooding are essentially shifted onto countries of the Global South. Biemann’s video work illustrates the fact that everything within ‘system earth’ is interconnected. Her work can also be read as an appeal for climate justice in that it defines climate change not just as an environmental problem, but also as a complex issue of social justice.
Ursula Biemann, born 1955, lives in Zurich, Switzerland.