Official opening of the exhibition Nanoq - Imag(in)ing climate change

The photoplay exhibition Nanoq - Imag(in)ing climate change, showcasing Ilona Mettiäinen’s work, opened officially on May 23rd at 18h30 at Lycée de Garçons Esch (LGE) in presence of the artist. Ilona Mettiäinen is a Finnish scientist at the Arctic Center of the University of Lappland and loves to communicate her fieldwork through art.

After welcoming words pronounced by the school director Pascal Bermes and by a representative of the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth (MENJE) Ilona Mettiäinen presented her fascinating work to the guests. Giving insights into the concepts of photoplay, she explored the science behind her art and the audience was invited to explore the imaginary science fiction world of Nanoq – Imag(in)ing Climate Change.

The exhibition was co-organized by SCRIPT, the Luxembourgish Ministry of Education, Children and Youth (MENJE), the Lycée de Garçons Esch (LGE) and – Luxembourg’s Polar Program asbl.


About the exhibition

In the Arctic, average temperatures are rising due to climate change almost twice as fast as in the rest of the world, but what does it mean for Arctic communities and nature? The photo exhibition Nanoq - Imag(in)ing climate change visualizes some imaginary, possible and even impossible worlds that may result from climate change.

Polar bear is a symbol for climate change in the Arctic. As the Arctic sea ice melts, polar bears slowly lose their preferred habitats. Through displaying a polar bear figurine in different natural environments, the exhibition challenges to think about the consequences of climate change and to ask: what if? The purpose of the exhibition is to visualize by the means of art, play and imagination the possible worlds opening up because of climate change.

The exhibition counts as science communications, as it visualizes some theoretical ideas in Mettiäinen’s doctoral research, and as science fantasy. The photos of the exhibition form a hybrid or artificial and imagined timeline of the impacts of climate change from icy to hot climatic conditions.

For the exhibition, Mettiäinen has taken photographs of a polar bear figurine during the years 2011–2016 in different parts of the Arctic such as in Greenland, Iceland, North Norway and Finnish Lapland - and even in very different climatic conditions in India. The polar bear figurine has been photographed in the natural landscapes seen in the photos, not added afterwards by image-editing software. The illusion of a true-sized polar bear in the photos is created by applying forced perspective by utilizing the fractality and scalability of forms in the nature, and the different scales of plastic animals, as well as the functions of a digital camera. The method is close to photoplay.

Photo credit: Christian Schaack, LGE, 2019