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'BARRICADING THE ICE SHEETS': In conversation with Oliver Ressler.

Interview by Gabry Menendez

Images by Lucy Henshall

Art was always there. We see it through history and anthropology. We feel it through creativity, awareness and spirituality. We experience it through tales and handprints.

In light and darkness. Always there. Through times of caves and rituals. Through scarcity and revolution. Through fear and laughter.

Art is humanity. Always at the forefront of change. Building social awareness, knowledge and mobilisation.

It really feels like we need, now more than ever, an imagination rebellion.

And it’s coming. Can’t you feel it?

Last February, we had the opportunity to sit down with Oliver Ressler at the opening of his exhibition ‘Barricading The Ice Sheets’ at LABoral Centro de Arte in Gijón.

Surrounded by massive screens projecting powerful imagery of protests, mobilisations and arrests, we chat about artivism, the role of the artist in today’s political reality and the beginnings of his career.

G: We wanted to start by acknowledging the fact that you’ve been documenting this type of environmental work and these stories for so long. What triggered you to start focusing your art on these stories in the first place?

O: “I started to be interested in these political issues very early, when I was still in high school, 16 years old. I was already interested in political issues, I was reading popular books also on climate breakdown, so everything was quite accesible. So often we hear “no one knew” or whatever. I mean, even for kids it was available the material. I started working in the art academy as a student when I was 19 and from the very beginning I started to use the art in order to express these ecological and political consciousness. It took me really long, several years, to find a language that I felt relates somehow to the complexity of what we are dealing with. I think since I’m 24 or so I only work with political issues. Over the years I very soon started to move towards working with video, just because it really gives me this possibility to bring in different voices. At the beginning I started to focus more on issues in an analytic manner. But as soon as I brought in forms of resistance then I started to connect this analytical approach with resistance and later on I also made a huge challenge to bring in alternatives. Alternatives to the existing system, this mixture between capitalism and representative democracy, thank kind of merge. So yeah, I work with different media, photography, sculpture, I edit books, I organise conferences, I do photographic works and my work is more linked together through certain themes and perspectives that I’m interested in.”

"...filming can function kind of like a protection shield against police violence"

G: How do you deal with such long-term working processes? For example in this exhibition you’re showing work that’s been documented during 10 years. Specially in today’s world where everything is digital and very fast.