Artifact Title: Unbearable

Medium: Sculpture, copper

Artwork Title: Unbearable

Artist: Jens Galschiot

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Date: 2015

Image credit: David James and Veronica James, GypsyNesters

TERA Curator: Amanda Nichols


“Unbearable” is a sculpture in Copenhagen, Denmark created by Danish artist Jens Galschiot for COP21 (Paris, 2015). It depicts a polar bear impaled by an oil pipeline. The curve of the pipeline mimics the shape of the graph showing the increase in global fossil fuel emissions over the last century. In his book Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom, and the Forces of Capital (Minnesota, 2013), Matthew Huber connects energy, capital, and ecology in a way that speaks to what Galschiot portrays in his sculpture: “With machinery reliant upon nonliving forms of energy, dead ecologies form a material basis for this cultural politics. Through the forces of fossil-fuel power, automatic machinery is posited as an external force separate from the vast majority of living workers. Thus only through dead ecology can dead labor appear as devoid of labor…and thus as purely capitalistic.”