Climate Culture Journalism

What is climate culture and for what purpose do I report on it?

My principles for good climate culture journalism

Climate culture is a promise. It is an option for the future, and if it is better than we currently have to assume, then we are on the way there. To a climate culture that both reflects and generates what we call the alternative in its symbolic processes and practices. The alternative to the fossil CO2 culture of our present. 

It remains to be seen what the economic, ecological, political and social alternative will look like in reality; it will be the result of the greatest conflicts of our time and the near future. However, countless initiatives and trends, activities and individuals are already demonstrating how the challenge of the climate crisis is being taken up – through artistic research, creative science and active resistance. 

As a climate culture journalist, I am traveling in this symbolic territory. 

Climate culture develops bottom up in the regions and cultures. I call both together – climate zone and climate culture – Climate Cultures in the plural. As artistic director of three major Climate Cultures Festivals in Berlin, I have already gotten to know many people and regions, theories and practices, traditions and conflicts of these climate cultures (links at the end of the article). 

As a climate culture journalist who reports neutrally on the cultural activities of others, I also start from a global perspective of knowledge. Above all, this means approaching what presents itself as a climate culture event, process or project with an open mind. 

The subjects are heterogeneous: a novel of climate fiction, all texts of climate writing in general, a UN climate conference, an eco-art exhibition or a sustainability project of the independent scene, an Inuit film collective in the Arctic or an intercultural environmental initiative in a major German city, indigenous energy struggles in the North American prairies against oil companies or in Sápmi against green colonialism, a climate hunger strike in front of the Chancellery, the ecocritical and climate culture trends at the world’s major art fairs and biennials and much more. 

We are not looking for norms and definitions of climate culture, but for logics of its world relations.   

Climate, crisis and criticism – What is climate culture journalism?

Traditional cultural journalism is based on expertise in the history, aesthetics and practice of individual genres; it takes the genre as its starting point.  When cultural journalism „does“ climate, the following applies: theater, film or literary critics judge a performance or a work according to the rules of their field. They assign the topic of the „climate crisis“ to this inherent law and assess it with reference to the criteria of their art. 

Climate culture journalism takes the opposite approach, it starts from the context. Climate culture journalism is not embedded in an established cultural industry that draws its existence from the past, it is the ride on the blade of a culture on the precipice from which the last possible opportunities for the future can arise – if we want to get a sharper view of both the precipice and the future. 

Climate, crisis and criticism – this is the triad of climate culture journalism. It traces the political symptoms of the climate crisis in the symbolic practices of cultures and explores an overall picture of the actors, their world of expression and potential impact. 

Climate culture journalism therefore means: expertise in the network of climate discourses, in which the intrinsic logic of art is transformed into the logic of global relationships. This expertise is in the process of emerging, it follows the empiricism of climate cultures bottom up.

Who am I to define climate culture journalism          

I have been active in the field of climate culture for a long time, as a critic, author and curator. I find my world in a global crisis dynamic and seek the corresponding cultural critique. 

I say: climate change = cultural change. It follows: cultural criticism = climate culture criticism. 

If culture in its material, ideal and symbolic sense is the collective effort to put human things in order, then climate culture is the collective effort to put planetary things in order. 

I believe that climate culture journalism must accompany the planetary path

Our cultural sector, which is organized into divisions, is overwhelmed by the climate crisis. It cannot transcend a permanent climate culture that spans all sectors.

Climate culture is also not a sector. Climate culture is multi-layered and open, it demands multi-layered and open thinking and requires global theory, local practice and differentiated journalism. 

On the one hand, this journalism accompanies the economic-ecological processes, that is climate policy criticism as the motivation of climate journalism. 

On the other hand, it captures their symbolic reflection in art, literature and science, and this is climate-ecological aesthetics as the subject of climate culture journalism.  

The task of climate culture journalism is to discover the new, the creative ideas of a planetary humanity. 

I prefer freedom of choice in the plurality of discourses and call for the duty to debate. This applies to those who recognize it. For the others, what they recognize applies to them.

My work as Art Director for the Climate Cultures Festival in Berlin

All festival websites in English