Coal: Post-Fuel considers an alternative future for the material that powered the industrial age, and showing that even coal has an emotional value.
Coal is traditionally seen as a completely functional raw material; its value is derived solely from its own destruction. Jesper Eriksson’s investigation considers whether this cheap and dirty fossil fuel has a more complex emotional significance – particularly in Britain – and whether it has an alternative future as a desirable material. “Problematic, glorious, scandalous, essential—coal has many facets to it,” Eriksson said. “It has sustained communities and enabled technological progress, all the while polluting and harming health of those
who work it.”
Today, coal has become somewhat of a symbol for CO2 emissions and climate change. Eriksson poses simple yet timely questions; how do we, as a civilisation, reconcile the use of fossil fuels within a wider context of climate change? How is it that we are still on route towards a climate catastrophe with the knowledge that we have at hand? How is the relation to our resources defined?
By changing the material’s perception to a beautiful and mesmerising, textured material, Eriksson opens a debate about our relationship to this utilitarian substance giving a visual representation to seemingly abstract concept such as carbon footprint, climate change, CO2 emissions.
The title of the sculptures are named after the bizarre human construct by which heavily polluting companies may buy their way into carbon neutrality by ‘offsetting’ their carbon emission.
The image of coal - “Britain’s most iconic material” as the artist puts it - is transformed from a fuel that releases carbon dioxide to a material that encloses it.
Carbon Offset 001, 2020 Anthracite Coal, Steel Rod 29 x 36 x 102 cm
Carbon Offset 003, 2020 Anthracite Coal, Steel Rod 32 x 35 x 72 cm
Carbon Offset 002, 2020 Anthracite Coal, Steel Rod 33 x 38 x 80 cm