What happens when artists become weather keepers and creative spaces turn into weather stations?

As a partner organization of the World Weather Network, a global project of artists, writers and communities documenting their local weather, Khoj’s ongoing exhibition 28° North and Parallel Weathers probes into this very question. Tracking climate change across regions falling on the circle of latitude 28° North, artists monitor and respond to the concerning effects of atmospheric changes in a fascinating dialogue between art, science and digital intervention.

Studying the health of the local weather as the basis for a deeper comprehension of global climate change, the projects mainly focus on the element of water and the consequences of its abundance, absence and physical shifts.

Raqs Media Collective’s Na-Bam (Measure without Measure) elaborates on problems of plentitude in flooded banks as opposed to scarcity in drying plantations by mapping and comparing regions like the Teesta riverbanks in Sikkim and the Osun-Osogbo sacred grove in Nigeria. Engaging with local communities and their relationship with water and the climate crisis, the collective Karachi LaJamia’s Our Watery Relations draws from their research with the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and the Sindh Indigenous Rights Alliance to explore Karachi as a centre for the intersection of militarism, indigenous dispossession, climate crisis and knowledge production. At the other end, questioning the narrative of preservation, Ron Bull, Stefan Marks, Janine Randerson and Rachel Shearer’s Nga Raraunga o te Maku: The Data of Moisture highlights the indigenous Ngai Tahu tribe’s celebration of the melting of the Haupapa Tasman glacier in Aotearoa, New Zealand, while visitors see real-time data and visuals of the disintegrating glacier. [1]

While these works look at how indigenous communities understand and cope with climate change, Atul Bhalla stresses the irreversible effects of capitalism and consumerism in False Clouds and Real Deluges. He places stones collected from the India-Pakistan border as witnesses of the changing weather on fragile Kintsugi plates, [2] while drawing attention to the ecological impacts of replacing Rajasthan’s khejadi trees with more commercially viable pomegranate trees.

The exhibition also points to the deadly consequences that come with the climate crisis. Norway-based Jana Winderen’s Listening Through the Dead Zones allows viewers to listen to the sounds of underwater aquatic animals recorded over 16 years. As a map of the Baltic Sea illuminates the room, the project draws attention to the expansion of dead zones, areas of low oxygen levels that are unfit to support life. Mithu Sen’s I Bleed River 2124 projects a more apocalyptic reality, as it transports viewers over a hundred years into the future, where a river and its surrounding landscape are ablaze, sacrificed at the altar of human-induced destruction. The artist plots coordinates of conflict zones such as the Gaza Strip and predicts a larger calamity approaching with warfare aggravating the deterioration of the climate.

The significance of an exhibition such as this lies in its innovative approach towards building much-needed awareness on a pressing issue. It realizes this aim by making scientific data and environmental research accessible to a wider audience through immersive artworks and by amplifying resource and knowledge sharing between local and global communities. Moreover, it acknowledges that climate change is inevitable, but puts the onus on human beings (who triggered it in the first place) to make amends and regulate the number of casualties who will be hit by this unnatural crisis.

28° North and Parallel Weathers is on at the Khoj International Artists’ Association, New Delhi, from January 31 to March 12, 2024.


[1] The tribe believes that the melting glacier and the winds passing by lead to the release of the breath of their elemental ancestors, whose names are chanted by artist Ron Bull as a part of the project experience.

[2] Kintsugi refers to a Japanese technique of mending broken objects, especially pottery, using urushi lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum. Adopting this approach in his art, Bhalla suggests how the consequences of climate change, unlike the cracks in the plates, cannot be easily repaired.

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