Oliver Ressler: Leave It in the Ground

A film by Oliver Ressler, 18 min., 2013

In recent years, countless extreme weather events have clearly indicated that climate change is not only a future phenomenon but is already taking place. Some of the effects of global warming—desertification, more frequent droughts, less frequent but more intense precipitation, lower crop yields— are inflaming existing social conflicts. In the Global South, climate change aggravates the crises of poverty, violence, and unrest that result from the legacies of colonialism and neoliberal capitalism. This vicious circle fuels humanitarian crises and civil wars that amplify political, economic and environmental disasters.

Despite clear warnings, the ruling powers do not have a political agenda with a serious strategy to reduce use of fossil fuels, the main cause of global warming. Fossil-fuel fundamentalism seems to dominate throughout the globe.


Recently, some of Norway’s politicians have advocated extracting petroleum in one of the largest fish and aquatic life spawning grounds on the planet, the sea encircling the Lofoten archipelago. The deepwater drilling would have unpredictable effects on the fish populations and some of the world’s cleanest waters. With the idyllic landscapes of the Lofoten archipelago as its background, Leave It in the Ground describes the climate crisis not as a technical and scientific problem, but as a political problem. The film discusses how ecological and humanitarian disasters caused through global warming might topple old orders and open up possibilities that could lead to long-term social and political transformations, both positive and negative.

Director and producer: Oliver Ressler

Narration text: Oliver Ressler & John Barker

The text is partly inspired by Christian Parenti, Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence (2011); Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell (2009); Naomi Klein, Capitalism vs. the Climate (2011).

Narrator: Andrew Golder

Camera, film editing: Oliver Ressler

Sound design, mix and color correction: Rudolf Gottsberger

Music from the album: Kate Carr, Songs from a Cold Place (2013)

Footage: Mosireen; Anonymous video makers

Special thanks to: Bassam el Baroni, Dorian Batycka, Derek Jarman, Tadzio Müller, Maren Richter, Odd Arne Sandberg, Berte Tungodden Ynnesdal

The film was commissioned by LIAF – Lofoten International Art Festival 2013, supported by BMUKK.

Ressler will be showing his film Occupy, Resist, Produce at the exhibition REPAIR:RESSURS at galleri ROM in Oslo 23rd February – 26th March 2017.

ressler-oliverOliver Ressler, born 1970, lives and works in Vienna and produces installations, projects in public space, and films on issues such as economics, democracy, global warming, forms of resistance and social alternatives. Ressler has had more than 60 solo exhibitions, among them in Berkeley Art Museum, USA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade; Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid; Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum, Egypt; Wyspa Institute of Art, Gdansk; Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz; Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo – CAAC, Seville; Foundation Fabbrica Del Cioccolato, Torre-Blenio (CH); MNAC – National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest; and SALT Galata, Istanbul.

Ressler has participated in more than 300 group exhibitions, including Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven; MASSMoCA, North Adams, USA; Centre Pompidou, Paris and at the biennials in Seville (2006), Moscow (2007), Taipei (2008), Lyon (2009), Gyumri (2012), Venice (2013), Athens (2013, 2015), and Quebec (2014). He is the director of 27 films. A retrospective of his films took place at Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève in 2013.

He is the co-curator of an exhibition cycle on the financial crisis, It’s the Political Economy, Stupid, and project leader of the research project Utopian Pulse – Flares in the Darkroom at Secession in Vienna in 2014.

Ressler is the first price winner of the newly established Prix Thun for Art and Ethics Award in 2016. www.ressler.at









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