A Road Not Taken with Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller
Winners of Collide Pro Helvetia 2019
Join artists Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller for the discussion of their projects that bring energy histories into the present moment.
Swiss artists Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller, winners of Collide Pro Helvetia 2019, will discuss their projects that bring energy histories into the present moment in Solar Imaginaries: Play and Pragmatism in Energy Futures organized by the University of Pennsylvania Program in the Environmental Humanities. The sessions will be held on the 18th of February, 25th of February and 5th of March.
Hemauer and Keller will discuss two films. Produced for the 11th Cairo International Biennale, No1 Sun Engine deals with a largely forgotten episode from the early history of solar energy's commercial use. In 1913, American engineer and inventor Frank Shuman inaugurated the first large-scale solar power generator near Cairo, Egypt. Although it was economically viable compared to coal power, the plant was only used for a year. The artists reconstructed two segments of this facility and established an information kiosk in Cairo, where residents and passers-by discovered and contributed to its story.
A Road Not Taken examines former US President Jimmy Carter’s early and ultimately futile efforts to raise awareness about oil dependency, as symbolised by the installation, in 1979, of solar panels on the White House roof. This symbolic installation was taken down in 1986 during the Reagan presidency. In 1991, Unity College, an environmentally-minded centre of learning in Maine, acquired the panels and later installed them on their cafeteria roof. In the documentary, Hemauer and Keller travel back in time and, following the route the solar panels took, interview those involved in the decisions regarding these panels and those involved in the oil crisis of the time. They also look closely at the way this initial installation presaged our own era.
Solar Imaginaries: Play and Pragmatism in Energy Futures is a 3-part program that brings together practitioners from environmental and creative sectors to re-envision the role of energy in our lives organized by the University of Pennsylvania Program in the Environmental Humanities.