Ice is universally recognized as under considerable threat by global warming and in urgent need of practices of care and preservation. Although temperature rise is viewed as a dominant feature of climate change, temperature is often ‘naturalized’ as an ambient environmental condition beyond human control when it comes to accounting for the role of temperature in the production of harm and violence against bodies within cold contexts; bodies, that are, more often than not, those of racialized peoples. 

Through the analysis of a series of contemporary as well as historic ‘cold cases’ the project explores the strategic role of temperature and speculates about the emergence of a new thermo-politics defined by cold. The word JUSTICE is an important starting point for this project as it comprises the two key terms -- JUST & ICE -- that structure its framework ethically and materially. How might we conceive of a ‘just’ notion of activities and actions related to the breaking, thawing, and melting of ‘ice’ or to the ways in which ‘cold’ been weaponized as a tactical instrument of policing, custody, and detention of indigenous and migrant bodies?

Each of these  COLD CASES exposes the degree to which temperature becomes a register of violence. One that includes the legacies of climate colonialism, longstanding socio-economic inequalities, and ongoing structural racism.

Investigating the politics of cold through these six cases,  invites viewers to reflect upon the ethical  imaginaries implicit in the conjoined term just-ice and by extension the experiential valence of temperature as it both interacts with and is instrumentalized by institutions, bodies, materials, and environments.

COLD CASES emerges out of Susan Schuppli’s multi-year artistic research project Learning from Ice.  

Special thanks to Candice Hopkins Senior Curator Toronto Biennale for her guidance and insights in producing these cases.

Three of the cases presented here have been produced in collaboration with researcher Henry Bradley and the human rights agency Forensic Architecture based in the UK. Design assistance Lou Moria & Kiki Mager.

Explore an evolving  ATLAS of COLD CASES here ︎︎︎

Canada Council for the Arts
Graham Foundation
SSHRC Connection Grant / Digital Citizen Research