POLAR: The Art and Science of Climate Change

A taxidermied polar bear stands with it's mouth open wide.
POLAR: The Art & Science of Climate Change, 2007.

A programme focusing on the curation and production of climate change knowledge in the polar regions

POLAR: The Art & Science of Climate Change was a multi-disciplinary project exploring cultural and scientific issues surrounding climate change.

It incorporated a 2-day international symposium, a publication Bipolar, a series of public lectures, and two new artists' commissions from Anne Brodie and Weather Permitting. POLAR was curated by Kathryn Yusoff and The Arts Catalyst, and organised with the British Library and the Open University.

Polar: Fieldwork & Archive Fever - An Interdisciplinary Symposium

Polar: Fieldwork & Archive Fever was an interdisciplinary symposium at the British Library on the 19 & 20 November 2007. It focused on the curation and production of climate change knowledge in the polar regions. Keynote speakers were Professor Denis Cosgrove, University of California, Professor Sverker Sörlin, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, Professor Rachel Weiss, Art Institute of Chicago, and Simon Faithfull, artist.

Full programme and abstracts can be downloaded opposite.

Public Talks

As part of the Polar programme, a series of four public lectures addressed broader cultural and policy-related themes arising from the symposium:

Wed 17 October - Everyday Disasters
Mon 5 November - Climate Change & Human Rights
Mon 19 November - The New Iconography of Climate Change
Mon 26 November - Geopolitics of Cold 

Bipolar Book

Bipolar is a interdisciplinary polar archive created for International Polar Year 2007-08. It is published to mark the 'Polar Archives' symposium and series of talks, held at the British Library in Autumn 2007, which brought together leading artists, scholars, scientists and thinkers to explore how our knowledge of the Polar regions is constructes and how it can be enriched.
The book features essays from the renowned geographer Denis Cosgrove and cultural critic Kathryn Yusoff, and over 30 'archives' contributed by the symposium participants that investigate various records — visual, personal, historical, chemical, biological — that can enrich and extend our engagement with the Polar regions and their effect on global environments. The collection investigates how archives place demands on us to think about what is vital in that knowledge—vital to our present work and to the work to come—the basis on which we remake worlds. With the Polar regions under increasing pressure due to climate change, both environmentally and geopolitically, these archives assume their most potent role as the basis on which we imagine and shape the futures of both polar and global spaces.
Authors include Denis Cosgrove, Kathryn Yusoff, Nicola Triscott, Eric Wolff, Heather Frazar, Rachel Weiss, London Fieldworks, Stephan Harrison, Marko Peljhan, Katrina Dean, Anne Brodie, Sverker Sörlin, Simon Faithfull, Aqqaluk Lynge.
Price £12.95
ISBN 9780953454662
Edited by Kathryn Yusoff
Published by The Arts Catalyst, 2008
Designed by PKMB/Paul Khera
Full colour, 128 pages, softback.
Dimensions 220 x 170mm.
Buy online from Cornerhouse


Anne Brodie, Weather Permitting, Jennifer Gabrys, Kathryn Yusoff
Fri 20 June 2008
Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BE
New works by Anne Brodie and Weather Permitting shown at the Society of Antiquaries, London, alongside the launch of a new book, Bipolar.
Two new commissioned works were shown at the Society of Antiquaries to coincide with the launch of the new book Bipolar, as the culmination of the Polar programme.
Artist Anne Brodie took one of the lumps of ice that she had brought back from Antarctica out of its lodgings inside the British Antarctic Surveys freezer in Cambridge and let it not so gently melt over the course of the evening. It was acoustically wired up by sound engineers Lee Patterson and Mark Hornsby, and produced uncomfortably loud interruptions as the ancient air kept locked under pressure by the ice belched into the London air. The cabinet was recycled from an exhibition held in the British museum.
Weather Permitting (Kathryn Yusoff and Jennifer Gabrys) presented a series of large snow globes containing contemporary or near-future polar landscapes. Forecast Factory: Snow Globes and Climate Change are part of a project that investigates the phenomena of weather, from tornadoes in trailer parks to drifting ice shelves in the Antarctic. 


Simon Faithfull’s work often involves elements of failure and anti-heroism. Journeys and travelling are also central to his practice. In a series of experiments conducted over ten years (1995–2005), Faithfull sought to defy gravity with his ‘Escape vehicles’. On September 12 2004, Escape Vehicle No.6 started as a live event commissioned by The Arts Catalyst for its first International Artists Airshow. In December 2004, Faithfull was invited to travel to Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey as part of The Arts Council’s International Fellowships Programme. This journey culminated in a series of exhibitions in London, New York and Edinburgh, and was published in a text entitled Ice Blink: An Antarctic Essay. In 2007, Faithfull was involved in the symposium, POLAR: The Art & Science of Climate Change. In 2008, Simon Faithfull produced an essay for the Bipolar publication alongside 30 other essays submitted by participants in the Polar programme. Bipolar encourages us to consider how our knowledge of the polar regions is constructed and can be enriched.
London Fieldworks aims to enable creative research and collaboration at the art, science and technology interesection. Typically, their projects deal with issues relating to complex relationships existing between social, natural and technological worlds. London Fieldworks was formed by the artists Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson.


The project was supported by a grant from Arts Council England, the Open University and in-kind support from the British Library.