Take Me to the River

The climate crisis can no longer be ignored. Increasingly alarming events chart the ecocide wreaked by humankind.

Take Me to the River is an online journey into the landscapes and experiences of the climate emergency. Moving through this platform, you will encounter 15 interdisciplinary artistic projects from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, woven together to explore modes of response that are empowered and global, respectful of diverse perspectives. All are the result of a joint funding programme by the Goethe-Institut and the Prince Claus Fund. Together, they have been supporting cultural and artistic responses to the global environmental crisis since 2018.

From the river deltas in South Asia and the marshes of the Tigris and Euphrates to the rainforests of South America, the artists and collectives highlighted in Take Me to the River work with local communities to document their knowledge. In doing so, they elevate these voices into a call for needed action.

These urgent stories are told through audio-visual archives, VR videos, film, photography and community radio. The online platform presents the projects as a chorus of voices that are raised against extractive practices, environmental abuse and the violation of indigenous rights. These diverse perspectives are part of a narrative that proposes alternative responses to the climate crisis, detailing the urgency and possibilities of symbiotic living with nature.

The journey takes you across five narratives: Nature is repositioned as a Subject of Rights, presenting works that afford the non-human world a renewed subjecthood and respect. Here, the platform foregrounds the innovations exemplified by recent landmark legal cases, as well as critical alternative cosmologies – indigenous belief systems that respect non-human nature as a living being. Object of Abuse takes an unflinching look at the anguish of nature and the irreparable damage inflicted by exploitative practices. Furthering the narrative of a legal gesture, Nature Prosecutes imagines vengeance. The precarious zones of natural disaster, dwindling resources and increasingly unpredictable circumstances are unmasked as direct results of human action. The cruel and ambivalent effects of the climate emergency are charted in Humanity Sentenced. The online journey reveals rays of hope: The projects collected in Motion to Recover seek new attitudes and empowered solutions to resolve these calamities.

Where current attitudes to the environment would see the world broken down into multinationals, frozen between borders, driven onwards through rigid, linear, profit-oriented progress, Take Me to the River conceives of a world that is fluid, collective, porous – each moment and each place linked to every other. The expressive and empathetic capacity of the arts opens new imaginative territories: Active and practical solutions are found and new connections are forged in a global exchange of ideas. Heard together, as a chorus of voices, these worldviews diversify the discourse, creating new spaces and structures where the climate catastrophe can be conceived of anew – spaces where nature is not an object of abuse but a subject with rights that must be urgently recognised.