Dancing with the Wind

By Joan Sullivan

A short midsummer night’s post.

Back in 2017, I wrote about three musicians who climbed to the top of a wind turbine in Québec, Canada, to perform a magnificent sunrise concert – a world first. 

Last month, another world first was achieved by the Austrian extreme performance artist Stefanie Millinger, who hand-balanced without security ropes on the blade of a (non-spinning) wind turbine.

Millinger’s electrifying performance was sponsored by the Austrian Wind Energy Association to commemorate Global Wind Day 2020. She was invited by IG Windkraft to Lichtenegg, in eastern Austria, to perform an acrobatic wind dance 70 metres above the ground on an Enercon 1.8 MW turbine.

As a renewable energy photographer, I have climbed dozens of wind turbines over the past decade, and I know how difficult and dangerous it is to work at those heights. It took me several years of training and experience before I became comfortable moving around on top of the nacelle – always attached via my security harness! But I never imagined walking out onto a blade – no way! I am simply in awe of Millinger’s strength, confidence, and grace to perform flawlessly at such dizzying heights without security equipment. Speechless! 

All I can say is “Brava, Stefanie!” I hope that the Cirque du Soleil will be inspired to follow in your footsteps… 

And kudos to photographer Astrid Knie for these beautiful images.

(All images reprinted with permission from IG Windkraft. Photo by: Austrian Wind Energy Association / © Astrid Knie.)

This article is part of the Renewable Energy series.

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Joan Sullivan is a Canadian photographer focused on the energy transition. Her renewable energy photographs have been exhibited in group and solo shows in Canada, the UK and Italy. She is currently working on a long-term, self-assigned photo project about Canada’s energy transition. In her monthly column for Artists and Climate Change, Joan explores the intersection of art and the energy transition. You can find Joan on TwitterVisura and Ello.

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Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

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