One Hundred Seconds to Midnight is a new collection focusing on the literary and scientific history of climate change dating back to the fifteenth century. The innovative exhibition will go on display at the London Frieze Masters Art Fair this month in the run-up to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.
Curated by London rare book dealers Peter Harrington, One Hundred Seconds to Midnight is an allusion to the current time on the Doomsday Clock, which is continually updated to indicate our proximity to climate catastrophe. The exhibit features 800 first edition books as well as items such as the 1970 board game Ecology (‘The Game of Man and Nature’) and is centered on the core collection belonging to David L. Wenner.
“This important collection is the first on the theme of climate change, the dominant issue of our times,” says Pom Harrington, owner of Peter Harrington. “It has been three years in the making and comprises an astonishing range of museum-grade material, scientific as well as emotional, including magazines which are very hard to get hold of. We hope it will be made available to the public as it could easily go straight into a museum for display.”
The wide-ranging exhibit includes a 1485 first edition on weather forecasting by Frenchman Firmin de Beauval; Mettallum Martis (1665) the earliest printed account of fossil fuel usage by English ironmaster Dud Dudley; and a first edition of influential forestry book Sylva by seventeenth-century diarist and horticulturalist John Evelyn.
Among the art featured is Earthrise, the first full color photograph of Earth taken by astronaut William Anders during the Apollo 8 lunar mission in 1968; a lithograph of early environmentalist Alexander Humboldt (1769-1859); and Banksy’s Save or Delete poster for a 2002 Greenpeace campaign against deforestation.
A portion of the sale proceeds will go to the conservation charity World Land Trust. There is a special microsite to accompany the collection, an online catalogue, and a video.