“While the Fires Burn. A Glacier Odyssey” with Daniel Schwartz — Part I

February 15, 2021
10:00–11:15AM EST
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This series of three webinars with Daniel Schwartz will shed light on the origins and metamorphoses, on the making-of, and the intellectual context of this climate crises-driven project accomplished between 2009 and 2017. The series will be moderated by Ziyah Gafic.

For While the Fires Burn. A Glacier Odyssey the author embarked on a journey that led from the relics of Holocene glaciation in Switzerland and the Alps into the milieu of the Anthropocene, to collapsing glaciers on three continents. The outcome, a “glaciology in pictures,” as it were, is the result of a synthesis of scientific observation and artistic action. The environmental context makes the project the counterpart and continuation of Delta. The Perils, Profits and Politics of Water in South and Southeast Asia (1997), one of the earliest comprehensive photojournalistic studies on the climate crisis. While the Fires Burn. A Glacier Odyssey was realized partly in collaboration with institutes of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) and of the University of Bern, published in 2017 by Thames & Hudson and exhibited in 2018 at the Bündner Kunstmuseum, Chur, Switzerland.

Part I. From Delta to Glacier — February 15, 2021 @ 1000 EST, 1600 CET

The initial webinar will introduce approaches and strategies—photojournalistic, conceptual and  science-supported—and discuss the reasons for merging terrestrial and aerial photography. Together, these practices have found very diverse applications during the past thirty years—at first documenting the densely populated coastal habitats in Asia increasingly endangered by sea-level rise as a consequence of the climate crisis, then, more recent, representing the accelerated agony of Alpine and Equatorial glaciers as well as of West Asian glaciers where, in the early 19th century, mountaineering and world politics had met and where conflict and glacial melt today simultaneously occur, with the risk of looming war for resources.

Part II. Bringing down Images from the Mountains — February 17, 2021 @ 1000 EST, 1600 CET

The second webinar is dedicated to the short film Bringing Down Images from the “Mountains of the Moon” (35’), a tour from below the Equator to the darkroom and beyond during the making of While the Fires Burn. A Glacier Odyssey. It shows the author at work in the Rwenzori Mountains of Uganda as well as in his laboratory and studio in Switzerland while printing and editing his glacier work for the book and the exhibition. Following the presentation of the film is a Q&A session.

Part III. Inquiries Concerning the Memory and Domestication of Glaciers — February 19, 2021 @ 1000 EST, 1600 CET

Being a visual manifesto aimed at structural change in the way humanity deals with the climate crisis, the concluding webinar will discuss methods applied during the realization of While the Fires Burn. A Glacier Odyssey. These include the melding of the autobiographical and the socio-political, archival and archaeological research as artist practice, appropriation of historical documents in storytelling as well as the typographic word-work paired with photographs to extend their meaning. The experiential of the project echoes processes that accompanied the understanding and moral perception of glacier landscapes since they became object of study in the late 18th century.