Picturing Security in an Age of Climate Breakdown

Jill Gibbon & Rachel Julian

Picturing Security in an Age of Climate Breakdown

Small Group Project 2021

This project will bring Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists together with academics from Peace Studies and Graphics Arts using drawing, montage and animation to explore and challenge dominant discourses of security, to understand how we negotiate abstract concepts of the term in contrast to lived experience. 

As the world teeters on the brink of climate catastrophe the language of security, risk and threat has become increasingly problematic In January 2020 counter-terror police categorised XR as ‘a key threat’ while the Home Secretary Priti Patel described the group as ‘security risks, security threats’ (Duncan, 2020). This is underpinned by a growing industry in crowd control products promoted with slogans promising security. Climate activists are both physically restrained by this equipment, and silenced by its terminology. As Lyotard (1988) argued, language is largely defined by those in power. Discourses of security are framed by the industry, while activists ‘cannot find the words’ (Lyotard 1988: 13). Meanwhile, Security Studies tends to hold dominant notions of security in place as part of the ‘realist’ tradition, uncritical of the role of power systems in defining terms (Rossdale, 2019).  

This project brings art-based methods to this problem. XR activists Jane Tallents and Angie Zelter will work collaboratively with co-PIs Jill Gibbon and Rachel Julian, and animator Ben Hall using collaborative drawing to elicit and convey experiences, while sharing insights and artefacts from their activism and research. Material from the workshops will be formed into an animation making particular use of montage – juxtaposing elements as a means of disrupting apparently fixed meanings. The workshops will combine methods and insights from Julian’s (2020) research in peace and non-violent resistance, Gibbon’s (2018, 2020) art-based research into the security industry, and Hall’s (2019) use of collaborative montaged animation as a means of conveying diverse experiences.

Contacting Fellows

If you would like to contact any of our Fellows to discuss their ISRF-funded work, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) in the first instance, at [email protected].