Lena Dobrowolska and Teo Ormond-Skeaping “Geohistory” (29.09-27.11)

By entering the so-called Anthropocene, our anthropogenic shift into a new geological epoch has revealed the power of human agency. As a geological force, humanity is now known to be responsible for the unprecedented warming of our planet and the sixth great extinction. But are we all equally responsible?

Working with medium format film cameras Dobrowolska and Ormond-Skeaping have approached the landscape of the Hindu Kush Himalaya, a region that is highly sensitive to climate change, to document phenomena associated climate vulnerability, development and environmental degradation with the intention of  asking who is the ”Anthropos”? Or who the invisible agent in charge of the “Geostory” that is the Anthropocene?

Working in Nepal, Dobrowolska and Ormond-Skeaping have focused on two locations and the climatic and economic processes that link them: the city of Kathmandu and the Solukhumbu region that surrounds Chomolungma (Mt Everest). 

In Kathmandu Dobrowolska and Ormond-Skeaping explored energy poverty, rural urban migration and pollution in the rapidly developing urban centre in the midst of a fuel embargo imposed by India that severely limited access to electricity and fuel one year on from the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck in 2015. 

In the Solukhumbu region Dobrowolska and Ormond-Skeaping explored the regions vulnerability to climate change through its glaciers and the colonial legacies and capitalist egocentrism that drive the business of concurring Mt Everest through the labour of the porters who make climbing the mountain possible. 

By photographing what first appear to be insignificant events such as the running of a petrol generator or the darkening of a glacier by soot, Dobrowolska and Ormond-Skeaping seek to define historic markers that represent the geohistorical significance of the often-banal acts that constitute human agency.

In doing so Dobrowolska and Ormond-Skeaping intend to reveal how human agency is made up of the actions of many different individuals, each with varying degrees of agency that cannot all be ascribed equal responsibility for such things as climate change. 

In this way Dobrowolska and Ormond-Skeaping hope to call into question the common “we” that the Anthropos, which is Greek for man, of the Anthropocene wrongly implies and instead propose the more politically enabled descriptor of Captialocene, which more accurately points to capitalist enterprises as drivers of climatic change and ecocide.   

Teo Ormond-Skeaping (born 1987, UK ) & Lena Dobrowolska (born 1985, Poland) are a Polish -British artist collaboration working with conceptual documentary photography, artist film installation, research and virtual reality. They live and work in London.