One-week studio researching the fossil addiction of a city through photography
Can a city ever escape its past? That is the question asked in this studio. In the city of Rotterdam, as in many cities in the west, the transition to a green economy fuelled by renewable energy sources, is advertised everywhere. At the same time Rotterdam is still the main hub for the import of coal, oil and natural gas of northern Europe. Its economy is mostly dependent on the import, export and refinement of fossil fuel. An industrial port city like Rotterdam has invested so much in the infrastructure of fossil fuel and its economy is so dependent on it, that a swift transition would make the city collapse, and also bring down large parts of the Dutch and even European economy with it. The scale and depth of Rotterdam’s addiction to coal, oil and gas becomes dramatically visible in the alienating landscapes of the coal terminals in the harbour area, in the wondrous skylines of the petrochemical refineries, in the immense tankerships docking at the harbour and the titanic scale of the pipes and installations pumping gas into the European mainland. The presence of the fossil economy is not limited to the port and industrial zones, but is also very much present in the daily life of the city itself.
We see fossil in the hundreds of thousands of cars buzzing through the suburbs, in the office buildings filled with fossil fuel related service industry, in the riverboats poisoning the air and the water and in the short distance flights departing from the airport. This all stands in huge contrast with the promotion of the circular economy, renewable energy, green economy with which the city associates itself.The incongruence between the landscape of a fossil city, and the imagery of a clean, green city signifies a worrying reality. Rotterdam is dependent on something of which the end date is swiftly approaching but the city has not yet invested in real alternatives. The landscapes and signs of Fossil Rotterdam is the subject of a week-long studio. With this crouse we want to make something that is invisible from the official imagery of the city visible again. We want to confront the city with its own reality, perhaps with its own impending demise, in order to force a debate. The artist Ruben Dario Kleimeer, who has developed his reputation and craft with his photographic reportages on the aggressive growth of Chinese cities, together with Crimson Historians and Urbanists, will join with the participants in documenting and visualising the landscape of fossil energy and economy in the Rotterdam area. The main result of the studio will be a set of photographic images that complement a set of maps and statistics, that together will make an honest portrait of a side of our western European economy that, even if it is being obscured from view, still dominates the way we live and breathe.The studio is open to a wide array of people, students and professionals, with a creative, research, journalistic or technical background. Photographic skills are not required, a visual imagination however is. The studio will culminate in a photography exhibition and a debate with city officials, planners and researchers.
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Photographic skills or special equipment are not required, a visual imagination however is. All photo cameras are welcome, but we do not offer facilities to develop analogue film. A smartphone and a lap top will do as a minimum.
Rubén Dario Kleimeer (Acándí Choco, Colombia 1978) is an artist from Rotterdam who depicts the urban landscape and the public realm. He uses the medium photography to analyse and better understand urban spaces. With the gaze of an urban ethnographer, a researcher of spatial and social contexts, he explores the built environment in which we live, work and dwell
The course will be cancelled and refunded in case less than 12 participants enrol. Participants will be informed before the 11th of October 2019.
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