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'Photo's as Science' | Dr. David Shim on the photo exposition Climate No Future'' in Galerie Lichtzone Groningen

06 May 2024
dr. David Shim
Dr. David Shim. Photo: Marco in 't Veldt

This month, 34 special photos are on display at Galerie Lichtzone in Gelkingestraat. Special, not only because they were not taken by photojournalists but by activists themselves, but also special because they are science. Science?

Yes, says Dr. David Shim. 'They are the outcome of a scientific research project that started in June 2022. It’s a joint project with Dr. Delf Rothe from the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg and myself, a researcher of the Department of International Relations and International Organization. This exhibition is the result of our research project ‘Security Imaginaries of Climate Movements.’

How climate activists imagine their future

Shim: ‘We wanted to know how climate activists imagine their future and what role images play. Images are a very powerful way to send a message. The innovative aspect of this project was that we didn't research them, or about them, but with them. The activists are diverse in terms of age and live in the Northern parts of the Netherlands and Germany. Obvisouly they are concerned about climate change. We held two workshops in Groningen and Hamburg to train eight activist-photographers. We were able to connect with the activists through our student assistants who were already interested in these well-known environmental movements. We chose to carry out the project with three prominent climate movements: Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future, and the Last Generation.

Foto-expositie in Galerie Lichtzone
Visitors during the opening of the photo exposition.

Fridays for Future is the movement of the well-known Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. And Extinction Rebellion is well-known in the Netherlands for the occupations of the A12. The movement demands that the Netherlands abolish fossil subsidies. It's not just about subsidies, but a range of government regulations that benefit users or producers of fossil fuels. The Last Generation became known in Germany for its disruptive climate actions such as glueing themselves to streets.

Most surprising

What was the most surprising aspect of this research? We perhapsexpected climate activists to be pessimistic. There has been a lot of talk about the environment for a long time, but things are getting worse. But our research revealed that these people are also optimistic. Where do they get their hope from? Their images help us better understand how they remain hopeful in these times of uncertainty. They draw hope from the fact that they are doing something together. The sense of community, of doing things together, gives a lot of solidarity.


Information on the exhibition

The exhibition "Climate No Future" is still on display at Galerie Lichtzone Groningen until Sunday, May 26th. After that, it will be shown in Hamburg from 2-15 October. More information


Articles in preparation

  • Showing Climate Action – Exploring Fridays for Future Germany’s Visual Activism on Flickr, Visual Communication, accepted for publication.

  • Performing legitimacy – exploring video clips by climate activists as everyday practices of (de)legitimation, International Studies Review, part of the Forum “Practices of (De)Legitimation in World Politics” (with Laurenz Krumbacher), accepted for publication.

  • Visuality, in: Shepherd, Laura (ed.), Thinking World Politics Otherwise, Oxford: Oxford University Press (with Lisa Bogerts), accepted for publication.

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Photo exposition in Galerie Lichtzone
Last modified:06 May 2024 5.00 p.m.
View this page in: Nederlands

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