UConn’s very own William Benton Museum of Art has done its part to keep art alive during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, sponsoring an exhibition entitled “The Human Epoch: Living in the Anthropocene.” The exhibition opened in October of 2020 and will be on display through March 13 of this year, showcasing works that highlight global environmental issues in what the Benton describes as a “a more holistic and reassuring” framing. Curated by Robert Thorson, professor and interim head of the geosciences department at UConn, the project is a collaborative effort between multiple departments and disciplines across campus.
Conversations have not been limited to the minds behind the effort, however, as student groups have continued the movement championed by the exhibit, using the artistic works to facilitate new conversations on climate change and climate justice. UConn’s Fridays for Future Club, having been inspired by the Benton’s exhibition, produced a short film discussing climate justice and green capitalism. Titled “The Contradictions of Green Capitalism,” Fridays for Future members Michio Agresta, Musa Hussain, Lindsey Orr and Harrison Raskin presented research in a video put together by Liam Lacey, a Digital Media and Design student.
The Fridays for Future Club at UConn is a student-run organization that advocates for policy change at UConn and in the greater Connecticut area to enact climate justice. The video they created discussed humanity’s relationship with the world around them, citing historical facts and figures to better paint the picture of human’s effect on the environment and the issues we now face today. Students of the project cleared up several misconceptions about climate change and the people it poses urgent issues for.
While it is hard to describe the extent of climate change and its dire future consequences in a film less than 10 minutes long, Fridays for Future students focused specifically on climate change’s relation to capitalism and the harm it specifically poses for minority and low-income communities.
Since capitalism is motivated by profits, all participating members find themselves exploiting others or being exploited themselves. The environment, also being among the exploited, receives little consideration when the need for profit and unattainable eternal economic growth takes higher priority. The companies, at the height of their power, can exert their influence on the public and government, affecting general sentiments and established policy.
“The environment, also being among the exploited, receives little consideration when the need for profit and unattainable eternal economic growth takes higher priority.”
The presentation included a political cartoon of the driver of an electric car claiming they were “eco-groovy” despite the fact that the cord of their car was plugged to an outlet that fed from several polluting factories and power plants. This emphasized the ability for companies to make empty claims that they have adopted eco-friendly and carbon neutral practices.
The film concluded with narrators pleading with fellow students to question the claims made by our world’s institutions, including our very own school, as the damaging effects of climate change are already apparent and are harming specifically BIPOC and low-income communities worldwide.
To learn more about the Benton’s 2020-2021 virtual exhibition, “The Human Epoch: Living in the Anthropocene,” or to view the Fridays for Future presentation for yourself, check it out on the Benton website.