In 2016, the Williams College Museum of Art commissioned Ghana ThinkTank for a yearlong project focused on Climate Change. A group of students formed an “Action Team,” who repaired Ghana ThinkTank’s mobile unit (a teardrop trailer built from scratch as a video-booth, meeting place, and mobile workshop) to collect responses to the question:
Those problems were then sent to think tanks in Morocco and Indonesia, two countries already grappling with the effects of climate change. The think tanks provided solutions to these US climate change problems, and then travelled to the United States to help implement their solutions.
This was a breakthrough project for Ghana ThinkTank, as it was our first opportunity to develop the Ghana ThinkTank Process as something external to the members of the Ghana ThinkTank artist collective, as a long term process that can live on without our continuous physical involvement. We worked extensively with Williams to integrate the process into their institutions – into their curricula, work studies, alternative spring break, conferences, and programming. Williams took on this project as their own, and it expanded the space of the exhibition into neighboring communities, and the museum’s collaborators into many different insitutions.
It resulted in an art exhibition that included:
- a 21 foot aluminum vault, perforated with Islamic patterns, designed to move to Detroit at the closing of the show to become a permanent part of the courtyard in the American Riad project.
- A 10 foot “purple bubble” (Williams school color is purple), squashed between the Islamic Vault and the Ionic Columns of the Williams College Museum of Art’s Rotunda
- Vinyl type declaring the problems and solutions, ranging from tinder for 90-year olds to rebranding climate change into smaller initiatives acceptable to those who do not believe climate change is affecting (or caused by) them.
- Videos of people in the Berkshires submitting their climate change problems (for some their climate change problem was that it does not exist) and of the think tanks in Morocco and Indonesia solving these problems
- A series of tortured “grid walls” – easily modifiable shelving units that could be adapted to contain the changing contents of the exhibition as the think tanks’ solution were enacted
2016 was the year that Donald Trump was elected president. This added an urgency to the project, as the term “climate change” was struck from the EPA’s website and research, and our think tanks in Majority-Muslim countries struggled with the ramifications of Trump’s travel ban.
At this stage of the project, we have received all of the solutions from the think tanks, and are planning their trips for Spring 2017 as we begin to implement Indonesian and Moroccan solutions to U.S. Climate Change problems.