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Maeve Brennan
Research project, Somerset House & King’s College London

In 2019, Stella Sideli has curated five new commissions part of the King’s College London x Somerset House Studios scheme. Studios residents receive support to collaborate with King’s researchers, with each artist-academic partnership creating projects that test ideas and offer new perspectives on contemporary issues.

Mossi forecast: reading weather in Burkina Fasu

With the aim of encouraging a co-production of indigenous and scientific knowledge to tackle climate extremes, filmmaker Maeve Brennan and researchers from King’s Department of Geography, Dr Camilla Audia and Frances Crowley, researched the knowledge and expertise held in Burkina Faso’s rural households; homes that are subject to the most immediate and dramatic effects of climate change.

Climate change demands that science and technology increase their reach and relevance in order to help us prepare for greater weather extremes and shocks. Rural households in Burkina Faso are subject to the most immediate and dramatic effects of climate change, meaning that accurate and usable climate information is essential to protect their crops and livelihoods. But whilst scientists attempt to translate and communicate technical weather jargon to remote localities, what about the knowledge and expertise already held within these rural households?

Combining rigorous research with an artistic documentary approach, this project gathered personal testimonies and first-hand evidence of the indigenous ways of knowing that these farming households possess. With the aim of encouraging a co-production of indigenous and scientific knowledge to tackle climate extremes, these intimate accounts hoped to provide a tangible understanding of what it means to interpret the weather and changes in climate using tools provided by nature itself.

Maeve Brennan is an artist based in London and currently resident of Somerset House Studios. She works with moving image and installation to explore the political and historical resonance of material and place. Recent solo exhibitions include The Drift at Chisenhale Gallery, London; Spike Island Bristol and The Whitworth, University of Manchester (all 2017) and Jerusalem Pink, OUTPOST, Norwich (2016). She was educated at Goldsmiths, University of London and was a fellow of the Home Workspace Program at Ashkal Alwan in Beirut (2013-14). She is a co-founder of Sharna Pax, a film collective working between the fields of visual art, anthropology and documentary. She was the recipient of the Jerwood/FVU Award 2018.

Frances Crowley is a Researcher in King’s Geography Department whose interests lie in social ecological systems, transformation and the role of embodied practice and indigenous knowledge in addressing climate change. Whilst based in the social sciences, her research also draws on performance theory, artistic research and practice, and ecopsychology.

Mossi forecasts: reading weather in Burkina Faso is a collaboration between King's College London's Department of Geography and artist Maeve Brennan, brokered and supported by the university's Culture team in partnership with Somerset House Studios.

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