Everybody Talks About the Weather at the Prada Foundation
“Everybody Talks About the Weather” is a research exhibition conceived by curator Dieter Roelstraete on view at the historic palazzo of Ca’ Corner della Regina, Fondazione Prada’s Venetian venue, from 20 May to 26 November 2023.
Featuring work by fifty contemporary artists as well as a comprehensive selection of historic paintings, “Everybody Talks About the Weather” explores the semantics of ‘weather’ in visual art, “taking atmospheric conditions as a point of departure to investigate the emergency of climate crisis.” Curated by Dieter Roelstraete, the exhibition pairs past with present, taking over two floors of the historic palazzo, and demonstrates how the weather has long been a preoccupation of artists, from traditional Dutch landscapes to plein-air painters to more recent multi-media works and activist interventions. The title of the exhibition comes from a 1968 Socialist German Student Union poster that depicted images of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin with a slogan that translated from the German as ‘Everybody talks about the weather.’ In 2019, German artist Anne-Christine Klarmann designed a variation of this poster representing activists Judith Ellens, Carola Rackete and Greta Thunberg, twisting the original slogan to ‘Everybody talks about the weather. So do we.’ While the original implied a social-political connection to the everyday concerns of men and women, today, climate change and the weather has become a politically sensitive, if not controversial topic that only few dare to speak about at loud volumes.
Throughout the exhibition, themes such as clouds, long an obsession by many artists, the desertification of landscapes or the impact of ice melt on Inuit tribes run throughout many of the works on view. Paintings and prints by historic artists including Gustave Courbet, Katsushika Hokusai and Pieter Brueghal the Elder (in replica) sit alongside contemporary pieces by artists such as Theaster Gates, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle and Giorgio Andreotta Calò. Roelstraete takes as a base, the ideas of Indian writer and anthropologist Amitav Ghosh who, in his 2016 book, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, exposed the failure of contemporary culture to adequately address the threat of climate change. Ghosh referred to this as the world’s “great blindness” towards greatest existential threat to humankind namely, climate change. In addition to the artworks, there are a series of “research stations” that feature more than five-hundred books, scientific publications and articles as well as videos and interviews with scholars and activists.
“The project arose from the idea of taking weather as a starting point to highlight the urgency of climate change, empirically equating meteorology and climatology, and using the tools of art and science together. The goal is to understand the environmental crisis and its undeniable impact on our lives by drawing attention to, representing, and analyzing meteorological phenomena. Climate is a global issue that influences the actions and destinies of people worldwide. Talking about the weather today therefore means talking and worrying about everyone’s future,” states Miuccia Prada, President of the Fondazione Prada.
The exhibition design was conceived by New York-based studio 2×4, with a series of in-depth scientific contributions developed in collaboration with The New Institute Centre for Environmental Humanities (NICHE) at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice. It follows up on other recent exhibitions at the Prada Foundation, “Human Brains: It Begins with an Idea,” (2022) and “Cere anatomiche: La Specola di Firenze / David Cronenberg” currently on view in Milan. These exhibitions attempt to address broader cultural challenges between science and the arts.
In a city whose future is in peril due to rising waters and the effects of climate, “Everybody Talks About the Weather” is a smart and insightful exhibition that offers visitors the chance to engage and explore with the theme through poetic artworks and reference material. An accompanying catalog has been published on the occasion featuring an introduction by Miuiccia Prada, an interview with Amitav Ghosh by Dieter Roelstraete, with contributions by several other leading scholars, activists, curators and historians. “Everybody Talks About the Weather” is on view through November 26th, 2023.