Oliver Ressler

Everything’s coming together while everything’s falling apart

Talk accompanying the exhibition Everything’s coming together while everything’s falling apart
Dec. 8.2017, 6pm
Postgraduate Programme in Curating, ZHdK

Everything’s coming together while everything’s falling apart
An ongoing film project byOliver Ressler

Opening and Talk: Dec. 8.2017, 6pm
Tue and Wed, 3–7pm and by appointment

Not too long ago, global warming was science fiction. Now it has become hard science, and a reality we already live in. The latest reports from the sober Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest that the planet may be approaching multiple thresholds of irreversible damage faster than was ever anticipated.
The title “Everything’s coming together while everything’s falling apart” refers to a situation in which all the technology needed to end the age of fossil fuel already exists. Whether the present ecological, social and economic crisis will be overcome is primarily a question of political power. The climate movement is now stronger than ever. It obstructed pipeline projects such as the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. It stopped Arctic drilling and blocked fracking all over the globe. Coal-fired power plants were shut down by resistance, and the divestment movement that pressures institutions to unload their stocks from fossil fuel corporations has had successes.

The story of this ongoing film project may turn out to be a story of the beginning of the climate revolution, the moment when popular resistance began to reconfigure the world. The project follows the climate movement in its struggles to dismantle an economic system heavily dependent on fossil fuels. It records key events for the climate movement, bringing together many situations, contexts, voices and experiences. There is one film for each event.

In the first film (17 min., 2016), activists contest the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, a city then under a state of emergency. Like twenty failed annual climate conferences before it, COP21 in Paris in 2015 proved the incapacity of governments to commit themselves to any binding agreement that would curtail global warming through a definite strategy for the end of fossil fuel use. The resulting Climate Agreement avoids anything that would harm the economic interests of corporations. The governments now pretending that non-binding agreements can hold back climate change are the same ones whose binding free trade pacts make dead letter of local environmental and climate legislation.

The film on the Ende Gelände (end of the road) action (12 min., 2016) shifts the focus to a massive civil disobedience action at the Lusatia lignite coal fields (near Berlin). 4,000 activists entered an open-cast mine, blocking the loading station and the rail connection to a coal-fired power plant. The blockades disrupted the coal supply and forced the Swedish proprietor Vattenfall to shut the power station down.
The action was part of an international “global escalation” against the fossil fuel industry, calling on the world to “Break Free from Fossil Fuels” and putting that imperative directly into practice.

The film on the ZAD (36 min., 2017) focuses on Europe’s largest autonomous territory that is located close to Nantes in France. The ZAD (zone to defend) emerged from the struggle against a new airport. In 2012 the French state’s attempt to evict the zone was fiercely resisted by more than 40,000 people and police has not set foot there since. Today 250 people in 60 collectives live permanently at the ZAD occupying the wetlands, fields and forests. The ZAD is a successful example that the creation of alternatives and resistance need to happen at the same time. While people take back control over their lives with self-organized bakeries, workshops, a brewery, medicinal herb gardens, a rap studio, weekly newspaper and a library, they hinder the construction of an unnecessary, ecologically disastrous airport project. The film is built along a group discussion with activists living at the ZAD.

The film “Everything’s coming together while everything’s falling apart: Code Rood” (14 min., 2018) highlights a civil disobedience action in the port of Amsterdam in June 2017. The blockade of Europe’s second-largest coal port draws a red line against this important infrastructure facility for fossil capitalism. The largest single source of the coal shipments is Colombia, where coal is extracted under ecologically and socially devastating conditions.

Despite the efforts of government and corporate PR to convince us otherwise, whether and when fossil fuels are abandoned will be determined above all by social movements and the degree of pressure they exert on institutions. Powerful structures force us into lives that destroy our livelihood. It is these structures that must be changed, and nothing but our action in common can change them.

“Everything’s coming together while everything’s falling apart” was first presented as a 2-channel video installation as part of Oliver Ressler’s solo exhibition “Property is Theft” at MNAC – National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest. The project was later expanded to a 4-channel video installation and will be ongoing, with further episodes to be added as the struggle against a fossil fuel-dependent economy continues.

Director and producer: Oliver Ressler
Cinematography, audio recording: Thomas Parb, Oliver Ressler
Narration text: Oliver Ressler & Matthew Hyland
Editing: Oliver Ressler
Narrator: Renée Gadsden
Color correction: Rudolf Gottsberger
Sound design and music: Vinzenz Schwab, Rudolf Gottsberger

The project received support from the ERSTE Foundation, BKA – Kunst, Otto Mauer Fonds, MNAC – National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest, 3. Berliner Herbstsalon / Maxim Gorki Theater,
< rotor > center for contemporary art.

Special thanks to: Calin Dan, TJ Demos, Ende Gelände, Christiane Erharter, Matthew Hyland, John Jordan, Erden Kosova, Anton Lederer, Max Liljefors, Margarethe Makovec, Adriana Oprea, Johanna Schwanberg, Walter Seidl, and Janet Stewart.