Every so often, weather inspires more than small talk. Sometimes it inspires rage (you missed your flight home, again), joy (how about that perfectly sunny day?) and, of course, fear. Because of all that, it also inspires art. As disparate as the weather can be across our planet at any given time, it’s also a cultural through-line.
Strange Weather, a recently opened exhibition at the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, is an exploration of weather in all its strangeness and unpredictability through the lenses of 21 artists. The show’s tagline, “Forecasts From the Future,” is apt—most of the works center on the imagined future of our climate and how we as a species might interact with those changes. But instead of being cautionary and nagging, the show takes on the complex issue of climate change with a wink and a bit of dark humor. “We wanted to treat the audience more like adults,” says Zack Denfeld, a founder of Co Climate and curator of the show. “We wanted to reignite people’s imaginations around this topic, not make them feel guilty or powerless, but make them laugh.”
So much of the conversation around climate change involves pointing fingers. The work in Strange Weather doesn’t preach so much as provoke. The hope is that the stories and objects in the show will help visitors engage with their changing environment in a new light.
The exhibition includes everything from Marina Zurkow’s child-sized hazmat suits to an interactive installation that allows visitors to read weather forecasts from 50 years in the future. You’ll find Matt Kenyon’s Cloud installation from 2013, a machine that creates artificial clouds shaped like house and sends them off floating around the room, as well as Alistair McClymont’s Raindrop, in which the UK artist built a machine to suspend a drop of water in mid-air.
Denfeld describes the exhibition as adult— “It’s not a do-gooder show,” he says. But the whole point was to frame the issue in a different way. Strange Weather, then, is not about a call to action, but rather about how we can adapt our culture to fit a changing environment (or change the environment to adapt to our culture). “By letting people be a bit more fantastical or even appreciate the gallows humor, we hope that opens up their minds instead of closing off the debate,” he says.