Climate change is everybody’s business — yours included. Meet the man behind Project Pressure, the charity planning to make sure we don’t forget that fact with beautiful visual inspiration.
Climate change is one of the greatest issues of our time. Contrary to what many people think, it’s happening around us right now and has been going on for quite some time already. It is not a problem that may or may not appear in the distant future.
To raise better awareness and inspire greater action and participation from us all, Klaus Thymann, an award-winning photographer, founded Project Pressure, a charity documenting the world’s vanishing glaciers. Rather than scaring people off with an endless stream of statistics – an approach that hasn’t had much of a visible impact yet – Project Pressure is aiming to get its message across by collaborating with selected international artists, scientists and funding partners to publish the information via an open-source digital platform, a touring photography exhibition, a hardback book and a free e-book.
Both of Thymann’s parents are scientists, meaning that science has always been part of his practice as a photographer. This gave him the idea him to initiate a project that could best be described as a network activity, where art, science and public engagement are connected in a synergy of feedback loops, and where the individual parts inspire each other and encourage each other to grow.
The idea was to look for new ways of story-telling and thereby use art for the greater good of society.
The choice to utilise glaciers as a focal point has many advantages. Not only are they incredibly impressive and beautiful, but they are also key indicators of climate change, as their condition doesn’t fluctuate with regular variations in the weather. “When you stand in front of one of those ice giants, you feel humble but also become painfully aware of the human impact on nature,” says Thymann.
Currently, Project Pressure is collaborating with a number of international artists who are contributing with their personal interpretations of climate change and the receding glaciers. They have been selected based on artistic criteria but also in accordance with their relevance to the core issue of the project. “Not all of them may be an obvious choice,” says Thymann. “But to turn it around, not all nature photographers, for instance, are appropriate for this project.”
The selection of artists spans from outdoor and documentary photographers to cross-discipline artists, sculptors and painters, who are using individual expeditions to the glacial areas to create and/or gather material for their artworks. One of them, Royal Academician Emma Stibbon, has collected glacial soil that will be used as the paint for her drawings. These expeditions are being funded thanks to the help of sponsors and partners that include the camera manufacturer Hasselblad and the Danish royal fund Dronning Margrethe og Prins Henriks Fond. As with the artists, these partners have been carefully chosen to match the personality of the initiative and all need to be approved by Project Pressure’s board of directors first.
Many attempts to halt climate change in the past have failed and the responsibility for the issue is often, partly unfairly, referred to governmental level and multinational companies. Thymann explains that, while we cannot stop the modern way of life, there are choices we make and actions we carry out every day that can and should be directed in ways that support the environment. Our choice of energy provider, lower consumption of red meat and travelling to work by bike instead of car are just a few examples of this.
Seen as individual acts, these activities may seem insignificant, but if we’re all doing it together, the scale and magnitude will have a significant impact. The vision and purpose of Project Pressure is to inspire people and communities all over the world to be increasingly conscious about their consumption choices and to stand together to create a demand for positive change from above, too. As Thymann says: “Nobody has to be a purist, but we all need to rethink and we all share a great responsibility – for our own actions and also for those of others.”
Words by Johanna Bergström
Photography & image credits:
#1 Mariele Neudecker & Klaus Thymann, Greenland
#2&3 Noémie Goudal, Glacier du Rhône
#4-7 Peter Funch, Mount Rainier
#8&9 Mariele Neudecker & Klaus Thymann, Greenland