After the End of the World

Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain
25 October 2017- 29 April 2018

“This civilization is over. And everybody knows it.” McKenzie Wark
“Marxism can include nonhumans – must include nonhumans.” Timothy Morton

In the coming decades, humankind will face one of the most complex challenges it has had to address in its history. In the second half of the 21st century, we will have to stop emitting CO2 into the atmosphere forever. After the End of the World is a spatial essay on the present and future of climate change: a voyage to the landscapes of the Anthropocene planet; and a conversation with the humans and non-humans of the year 2100.

Artists, philosophers, heaps of sand, novelists, sea creatures, playwrights, plants, architects, objects, speculative designers and scientists have worked together to imagine situations, to tell stories and to devise strategies for survival and peaceful cohabitation in the world to come. The result is a hypnotic and startling experience, one that exposes the trauma caused by the magnitude of the crisis and the disappearance of the world we once knew, but also one that speaks of the opportunity for change and of the pressing need for an intergenerational pact.

After the End of the World consists of eight immersive installations in the exhibition gallery, a base for participative experimentation and action in the public space of the city of Barcelona, and the design and launch of a Ministry of the Future to formulate very long-term policies with the aim of examining the conditions of inequality, temporality and the various dimensions of the crisis.

Immersive installations
The participants in After the End of the World include a coalition of humans and nonhumans, some of whom have a name that they go by, notably: the German documentary theatre company Rimini Protokoll (DE), who will be offering a dramatic experience on the animal species that will be the winners and losers in the climate crisis; Tomás Saraceno (AR), presenting the Aeroceno space agency, a utopian architectural project that envisages the atmosphere as a new territory for human expansion; and the Unknown Fields Division (Kate Davies + Liam Young) (UK), running expeditions into the Anthropocene that take us on a journey through the global infrastructures of fashion while exploring the planetary landscapes of desire. Charles Lim (SG) will give the first presentation of his research into the terraforming of Singapore, a country made of artificial sand at war with the rising sea. The curatorial satellite photography platform Overview (US) presents us with an installation that shows the reality of the Earth’s new skin. The fiction design studio Superflux (IN/UK) transports us to an apartment in the year 2050, a time when droughts and hurricanes have altered our dietary routine. The engineer and artist Natalie Jeremijenko (AU), an influential figure in the field where art meets science, will be installing the headquarters of her Environmental Health Clinic in the exhibition, thereby constructing new and mutually beneficial relationships between the various lifeforms that live alongside each other in the city.

The exhibition will also feature a staged prologue by Kim Stanley Robinson (US), one of the leading figures in contemporary sci-fi writing, and an essay-cum-installation in five chapters by the philosopher Timothy Morton (UK), the father of ‘dark ecology’ and of the concept of ‘hyperobjects’.

Laboratory spaces
Beta station, a laboratory within the exhibition, will host workshops, presentations, guided visits and talks organised jointly with scientific and technological centres and universities in Catalonia to offer views and perspectives from different fields and different formats of the issues addressed in the exhibition throughout the six months of the project.

After the End of the World also includes City Station: a base for experimentation and participatory action in the public space of the city of Barcelona.

City Station is based on the conceptual framework proposed by the engineer and artist Natalie Jeremijenko and houses her Environmental Health Clinic. Set up in the district of Sant Martí and designed as a coproduction of the CCCB and Barcelona City Council, the Station consists of a series of infrastructures to carry out participatory actions where citizens contribute actively to improving environmental health. Activity takes the form of a series of recipes to improve the quality of the soil and the air, or increase green space and biodiversity. With the emphasis on the collective research and public participation that form part of citizen science, the Station has the support of the scientific community, and local bodies and associations. The Citizen Science Office of the Institut de Cultura de Barcelona is also involved in the project, as is the International School of Citizen Science, where investigators from all over the world will be joining in with this collective effort.

Debates The CCCB has invited some of the foremost experts and intellectuals on the international scene to talk about the implications of climate change for the future of the planet and to debate the challenges we have to face as a human species to transform the way we inhabit the world.

The “Planet 2050” cycle of the ICREA–CCCB debate will take place on 7, 14, 21 and 30 November. Taking part will be Ricard Solé, Patrizia Ziveri, Xavier Rodó, Frederic Bartumeus, Victoria Reyes García, Paula Casal, Giorgos Kallis and Pau Baizán. The debates will be led and moderated by the journalist Mercè Folch.

Vandana Shiva, MacKenzie Wark and Rosi Braidotti have confirmed their presence at the Barcelona Debate 2018, which is to take place in January, February and March. An online dialogue and interview with Donna Haraway and Georges Monbiot are also planned.

Reflections and data about After the End of the World
In December 2015, 195 countries around the world adopted an agreement that, to a certain extent, means the end of our civilisation as we know it. The Paris Climate Agreement, the last attempt on the part of global diplomacy to slow climate change, calls for the phasingout of the use of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions as a way of avoiding a rise in the average global temperature of more than 2ºC. At some point in the second half of the 21st century, the use of coal, oil and gas, and their attendant pollution, will have to come to a halt, forever.

Whether or not the goals of the Paris Agreement are achieved, the world between 2050 and 2100 will be very different to the one we were born into and grew up in. To get there, we will have to give up the most important source of growth and wealth in the history of humankind, the one that transformed a planet with a billion inhabitants in 1850 into one with more than 7.5 billion today. The transition will require greater effort and sacrifices than just replacing fossil fuels with renewable energies. We will have to rethink the food chain, the design of cities and homes, transport and the birth rate.

If the objectives of the Paris Agreement are not met, and the Earth in 2100 will be on average 3-4ºC hotter than today, with dramatic consequences and drastic changes to the lives of future generations due to increasing forest fires, drought, hurricanes and other extreme weather events; deforestation, desertification and melting icecaps; uncertain global food production and the large-scale movement of climate refugees; the mass extinction of animal species; and the transformation of the planet’s very geography as islands and coastal cities struggle to survive in the face of the rising sea.

After the End of the World is an exhibition about the Earth of 2017 irreversibly transformed into the Anthropocene planet after two centuries of human impact on natural systems. But it is also an exhibition about how we will reach the world of the latter half of the 21st century, and about our society’s responsibility to the generations who will be born and grow up in it.

-José Luis de Vicente, curator