Barricading the Ice Sheets - A research endeavor by Oliver Ressler


Barricading the Ice Sheets - A research endeavor by Oliver Ressler

30.11.2021 - 06.02.2022 / MSU, 3. kat

Barricading the Ice Sheets at Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb is the first solo exhibition to encompass all of Oliver Ressler’s artistic production focused on climate breakdown. The 59 works exhibited span from 1994 to 2021, including films, video installations, photographic works, a three-channel slide installation, sculptures, banners, drawings and one painting.


Barricading the Ice Sheets investigates the climate crisis, the climate justice movement and the relationship between the movement and the arts. The title refers to the scale of the emergency the climate justice movement faces and the scope of what it sets out to do. To barricade ice sheets as they melt is physically impossible, but the movement is attempting something historically unprecedented because the planet has never in recorded human history confronted so absolute a threat. When Arctic ice melts, sea levels rise everywhere; islands and cities sink, global exploitation of agriculture/fisheries lurches off schedule.

Ressler records and documents some exemplary mobilizations, activities, assemblies and working meetings of the climate movements. But no “neutral” position exists from which a social movement could be merely documented. Every decision – concerning how and what to record, what to omit, and the inclusion, exclusion and/or editing of the activists’ direct speech – must be recognized as simultaneously conditioned by and constitutive of the relation to that movement. Consequently, the artistic production drawn from his research combines material that might at first be seen as straightforwardly “documentary” with other elements in which the “artistic” engagement is more obvious. Yet closer attention reveals how systematically these works blur every artificial line between “document” and “artwork”.

During the opening Oliver Ressler will conduct a tour of the exhibition in dialogue with curator Leila Topić.

Research associate: Lisbeth Kovačič
Curator: Leila Topić

Further information here.

Barricading the Ice Sheets is a research endeavor by Oliver Ressler, supported by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF: AR 526) together with Camera Austria, Graz, the research institution where the first exhibition of the cycle appeared (September 4–November 21, 2021). Further configurations of Barricading the Ice Sheets will be solo exhibitions at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.), Berlin (June 4–July 31, 2022); Tallinn Art Hall, Tallinn (September 9–November 13, 2022); The Showroom, London (October 12–December 7, 2022).

The exhibition was made possible by the support of Austrian Cultural Forum Zagreb; Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, the Civil Service and Sport (BMKÖS); City of Zagreb and the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia.