The original ‘Buy This (v1) installation created with support from Virtual Migrants as part of their Centre Cannot Hold ongoing exploration of climate imperialism was complex and interactive, exhibited at The Arnolfini in Bristol (2009) as a part of the ‘C Words’ exhibition about climate justice. A version 2 (v2) was created for the event “Climate Justice, Science and Refugees” by Virtual Migrants, the culmination of an award-winning project led by Kooj Chuhan.
A later non-interactive video-based version (v3) was premiered at the first Platforma Festival in December 2011 as a proper 2-screen installation followed by Manchester’s local Chorlton Arts Festival in 2012. Subsequently the two screens were compiled into a single screen video art work for ease of exhibition.
This 2-screen installation Buy This (v3) video installation art in its re-formatted version as a single screen artists’ video then toured Canada during 2013 as part of the Monitor 9 programme by SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre) in Toronto. It was shown in Toronto, Mississauga Ontario, Kingston Ontario and Montreal Quebec, and then also at No.W.Here Gallery in London. It was then archived by Vtape, a non-profit distribution and resource centre in Toronto. Vtape is the leading distributor for video art in Canada, established in 1980. They represent a collection of over 5000 titles, accessible to artists, curators and educators.
Most recently the piece was shown as a part of the ‘Doh Mix Meh Up’ Diaspora and Identity in Art exhibition by Oxford Diasporas Programme in Oxford, November 2014, and then at the Royal Geographical Society, London (2015). It was included in the Doh Mix Meh Up publication (Oxford Diasporas Programme 2015).
Although this work has been screened as a single video stream, it is best viewed using two separate projectors as an installation because the intention is that the two screens loop at different rates so that the imagery juxtaposition continually changes. Here is the original description of the work:
Buy This (v3) video installation art
by artist Kooj (Kuljit) Chuhan, 2012, a part of an ongoing exploration by Virtual Migrants artists’ group
Year of completion: 2012
Country of production: UK
Running time: 6 mins 20 secs as a continual loop
Refugees and ‘third-world’ migrants bring with them intimate and undervalued knowledge about climate change. ‘Buy This’ juxtaposes such voices on one screen against another, over-saturated with colliding imagery of wars, colonial struggles, environmental upheaval and UK racism, overlaid with scrolling news messages.
An exploration of how environmental change is integral to the economic and political forces bringing about human displacement and racial inequality, and a continuation of the “Centre Cannot Hold” project discussing climate imperialism and the violent commodification of humans and the environment.
Increasing numbers of people in the UK are sceptical of man-made climate change, outnumbering those who accept climate change as man-made. Many local members of refugee communities have recent personal experiences and observations from their originating countries which are able to testify to environmental change. By enabling local refugees to express first-hand observations from countries they have recently migrated from, collaborating with scientists and social scientists to discuss their data, local people can intimately appreciate changing conditions in other countries. At the same time, it is an opportunity to raise discussion in the UK about the global connections between race and climate, and also how they may impact on issues such as asylum in Europe and the West.
The media-saturated culture which we in the western world inhabit is a facet of a wider approach to (over-) consumption which has become the norm, and which is fundamental to ideas of maximising economic growth with the resultant process of murdering the planet’s resources and bringing about climate devastation. More than this, the arts, media and cultural sectors is largely complicit in nurturing false illusions and political amnesia, this ‘soft’ consumption of particular cultural and aesthetic meanings actually forms our ways of thinking, seals our disconnections, and this video work taunts the viewer to Buy This.