Santiago Mostyn

The Warming Plateau

Solo exhibition at Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm

The Warming Plateau refers to a set of statistics often used to justify climate change skepticism as they appear to indicate that global average temperatures have been declining over the past fifteen years. However, if one has a more long-term view it is clear that each of these plateaus has been higher than the last, and the world is actually heating up very quickly. The Warming Plateau serves here as a metaphor for looking at the objects and films in the exhibition, in that what may appear as a formalist arrangement – of plants, a wooden sculpture, photographs, a film – is to be understood as connected gestures that relate both to ways of looking at a colonialized past, and to our anthropogenic present.

Read more here.

Installation photographs: Jean-Baptiste Béranger

The Warming Plateau (film)

16mm to 2K transfer, stereo sound, colour/black & white, 12’00”

The Warming Plateau was recorded on Tobago, an island unique among the former British West Indies in that much of its West African heritage survived the obliterating effects of slavery and exists in vibrant tradition long into the present day.

One segment of the film recalls the legend of Gang Gang Sarah, the ‘African slave witch’ who, wishing to return to her homeland, climbed the sacred Silk Cotton tree and tried to fly, not realizing she had lost her powers during her stay on the island. 

The other segment of the film shows four men cutting their way through the jungle, making measurements, calling out to each other, working on something that comes into focus as a kind of land claim or marking of territory. The film as a whole is a portrait of the island as a sentient being, showing sites of past and present exploitation.

Stills and excerpt courtesy the artist and Andréhn-Schiptjenko. 

Possible Islands

Mixed media installation, including:

Tuff (1995), painted wooden sculpture by Luise Kimme
Grand Courland Bay (2017), silent super 16 mm film loop, colour, 10’30”
Asyncronous audio loop (2017), 12’00” 
Enlarged plaster cast of a batik stamp found by the artist’s mother in Ghana
Svenska minnen på utländska orter (1874), published by P.G. Berg
Red Dracena Marginata plants
Found postcard
Photo studio backdrop 

Exhibited as part of Nordic Trouble at Konsthall C, Stockholm.
Images courtesy the artist. 


Two-channel HD video with sound, 4 hr 12’ 00”
Archival inkjet print on cotton

Mostyn’s work Citizen documents a recent action in which the artist rowed a small boat across the Aegean Sea, from Dilek Peninsula in Turkey to Samos in Greece. Presented as a double-projection, the work follows the journey in real time. One side documents the artist departing Turkey and rowing away in the direction of Greece, and the other shows Mostyn approaching and arriving on  the Greek coastline. Most of what we see is the serenity of the artist in his boat surrounded by the sea, in a vast space of openness and surrender. It is also significant that the artist undertook this action without the necessary permissions, aware that Europe has a policy to protect its borders against mass migration. In undertaking this journey, mirroring that taken by asylum seekers in recent years, Mostyn acknowledges that the history of the Mediterranean has been significant in understanding both the origins and development of modern societies, and the European self-image. The ocean is something integral to sustaining life, yet also to death—not least, considering the number of undocumented migrants drowning during their journey across the Mediterranean.

Installation views from Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, 2017, Göteborgs Konsthall, Hendrik Zeitler.

With support from the Swedish Arts Grants Committee.