Climate activism is one of the most pressing movements of our times. Despite its prominence, scholarly work has overlooked a critical concept at the heart of climate activism: ‘the future’. This research directly addresses this gap mobilising creative methods to explore how futures are produced and circulated in contemporary climate activisms. Whether the future is framed as a time of extinction, or through invocations of the urgency of emergency, contemporary climate activisms are animated by claims about the future. However, despite their increasing frequency and scale, little attention has been given to how exactly futures are present in recent climate protests, and their relation to a novel context in which human and non-human entanglement is increasingly recognised, By working with three movements central to the new climate activism, Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future and Black Lives Matter UK, this project will examine how the futures that animate climate activisms are formed, and their effect on the enactment of activist subjectivities. What types of futures circulate in the spaces of recent climate activisms? Which agents populate these future worlds? And how does the existence of these shared futures transform human subjectivities, and the relations that exist between activists, other people, and non-human worlds and actors?
Given that geography is undergoing a creative turn foregrounding the possibilities of arts-based research methods, the research will work with activists across the movements using painting-as-method. In particular, this work will explore the ways in which participatory painting practice can be generative of futures which might transform the present into alternative ways of being. Here the research material is both the final product – paintings depicting futures – and the research process itself – the process of painting.