Monthly Archives: October 2020

Writers on Arts, Anthropology & Climate Change

ATAEC, Glocal Associative Network of Artists & Ecosocial Action, opens its doors to a space for reflexion and highlighting of topics related to Arts, Cultures, Resilience towards Climate Change and new communitarian models. 

We are creating a resilient community of artists on an international scale for common support, artistic encounters and a circular- autonomous economy model within the arts, cultural diversity, preservation and ecosocial actions.

The writings will be published at a time of one week, and as an exchange, the writers can access to a solidarity account on http://www.ataec.com

* all languages accepted.


What is ATAEC?

ATAEC it’s an Artists Network for Cultural Preservation & EcoSocial Action. BASED ON COLLECTIVE FUNDS. A worldwide data base of independent and collective artists, cultural organizations, galleries, art spaces, ancestral communities, or any kind of organization/ body that holds on ARTISTIC KNOWLEDGE & ACTIONS. 

Objectives

Artistic Synergies- Give & Receive Classes 

Collective Funds & Collaboration in Art & Ecosocial Action

Cultural Preservation

Networking

Giving ethnic, collective and autonomous support to art, circular economy models and diversity. 

How does it work?!

Very simple, according to your interests you can create your account/ profile, after three months of being part of the platform a 30€/1 year membership is asked to be payed in order to continue being part of the community.

The funds are collectivized at the Ecosocial Action Network.

You can apply for funds, filling up the form, you do not need any ¨special situation¨ in order to apply for funds, the projects must be related to: art, cultural preservation, climate change needs, food & water access.

Your projects can crowdfund thru the Collective Funds space.

Investors, donators, visionarys can choose to invest by project, type of action or territory.  

ECOSOCIAL ACTION 

A free and open space to co-create and finance communitarian action related to art, society & nature. Projects of artistic, ecological and social benefit can have their own profile with the calendar of actions and needs in order to get financial support and collaboration from the association and other users.

  • Art 
  • Cultural Preservation 
  • Climate Change Needs 
  • Food & Water access 

For more info on ATAEC

Open call for MUSTARINDA RESIDENCY

Working period: 1 – 2 months during
SPRING & SUMMER /// 15th January – 30th July 2021

Application deadline: 15th November 2021
We will inform all applicants about the selections by the end of November.

Due to the pandemic situation, the Open call for spring & summer 2021 is aimed at people from various fields residing in Finland and interested in Mustarinda’s themes.

Length of residency period is 1-2 months. As an exception the two last weeks of January suit very well for groups but also for single persons for an intensive work period. We consider important rich interactive, multidisciplinary, and interdisciplinary practices, and so Mustarinda fits well for practitioners widely from different fields. The applicant can be e.g. an artist, a worker from the culture field, a researcher, an educator, a journalist or a student etc. The Mustarinda Association reaches towards a post-fossil culture by combining scientific and artistic knowledge and experiential activity. The association aims to continually reduce its carbon footprint and impact on a local and global scale. We encourage travel to the residency by public or shared transportation.

Notice that during the corona-pandemic Mustarinda operates by following the official recommendations, therefore changes in the proceedings are possible.

More info

On Water as Polluted Body, Place of Solace, and Life Force

By Susan Hoffman Fishman

Since June of 2017, artists Jarrod CluckGina R. FurnarisTo LenLeslie Sobel and Rachel Wojnar have been on an intense physical, emotional, spiritual, and art-making journey, which culminated with their MFA Thesis Exhibition, Confluence, on view at the Joseloff Gallery of the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford (Connecticut) from September 10-19, 2020. 

They are the third cohort to complete the Nomad Interdisciplinary MFA program. Founded by director Carol Padberg in 2015, the program uses an innovative field-based model and offers a curriculum that includes art, ecology, the study of place, indigenous knowledge systems, and technologies. Encompassing two hands-on residencies per year, the Nomad MFA provides courses in El Salvador; New York City; New Mexico; Mexico; Oakland, California; Miami; and Minneapolis.

Having traveled, lived, and worked together for two plus years, the cohort is a cohesive unit. The work in the exhibition, although specific to the preferred media and individual inquiries of each artist, also suggests an on-going conversation among the artists, a collective voice expressing grief over ecological destruction as well as a genuine respect for the natural cycles of life and all living beings on Earth. The topic of water was a common thematic thread running throughout the work – the pollution of our waterways and oceans, the sense of place that bodies of water create, and the liquid resource that enables life itself.

Despite the pandemic, the decision was made by the university to install a physical exhibition in the gallery, but with access limited to the college community only. Virtual programming and resources, including an opening, a tour of the exhibition, artists’ talks, an exhibition catalogue, and a dedicated website were available to the public. The virtual tour and website continue to be accessible online and provide an accurate sense of the exhibition’s richness and power.  

JARROD CLUCK: DIRT
Jarrod Cluck, page spread from The Book of Dirt. Soil, plant pigments, and found objects printed on paper and bound with sheep’s wool on oak wood, 2020.

Jarrod Cluck’s body of work in the exhibition was a visual record of his activities during the year 2019 in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas where he lives – observing the land, collecting native plants and seeds, planting and harvesting traditional crops, building a cob kiln, and firing clay pots. As Cluck describes it, “so much of my work is about the soil and how things come into being,” the process of poiesis, or the creation of something that did not exist before. He went on to add that water, the liquid substance deep beneath the soil and raining down upon us, is a collaborator is this creative process and enables the dirt and living beings to exist at all.  

Cluck’s work includes a video collage called Aletheia that was projected onto a scrim in a ninety second loop and documented his working year; a digital print of eggs photographed while they were candled over a six-day period of time; and a handmade book called The Book of Dirt, whose pages consist of the pigmented imprints of the plants he collected as well as “things made from dirt.” Cluck calls the book an almanac of his observations and experiences. A visceral and beautiful object, it begs the viewer to touch the earthy pages and then go play in the soil.  

GINA R. FURNARI: HABIT DWELLS IN PLACE
Gina R. Furnari, A Place For Us, (selection of Waveforms). Stoneware, digital audio, speakers and MP3 devices, 2020.

Gina Furnari is interested in the meaning and construction of place and in “the edge spaces around and within habitat: where bodies, water, land, sea, sky, and light all come together.” Her ceramic Waveforms are reminiscent of the shells she found along the habitats of southern New Jersey, where she lives. They also represent shelters, the places of rest and solace that proximity to water brings. Emanating from the Waveforms through a digital audio system are environmental sounds, including seagulls over Ocean City, artesian wells, wind through oak trees, and car and boat traffic. The undulating shapes of the Waveforms clearly mimicked the motion of ocean waves as they move towards and away from the shoreline.

In her video, On the Edge, A Kind of Bridge, Furnari recorded a performance in which she lies on the sand at the edge of the sea and then in the water near the shore in order to feel how each of the experiences impacted her body. The video was projected onto a vertical window blind. Normally associated with a protective barrier between the outside and inside of a house, the blind implied a sense of home and security. Both the Waveforms and the video projection successfully addressed our common need for the consolation and comfort that occurs in a home and around water.

STO LEN: FUTURE OF A MATERIAL
sTo Len, FOAM (FutureOfAMaterial), installation detail. Gomitaku prints, sumi ink, Styrofoam, jute, linen, and canvas, 2020.

sto Len’s carefully conceived and striking installation, entitled FOAM (Future of a Material), reflects upon our polluted waters and the toxic, plastic substances within them that will remain in the environment for generations to come. Using pieces of Styrofoam that he found in bodies of water and a self-invented printing process that he calls “Gomitaku” (trash impressions), he created ink prints on “scrolls” of unstretched canvas, linen, and paper. “Gomitaku” is based on the 19th century Japanese printing method, “Gyotaku,” that was used by fishermen to both record and honor their catches. The printed scrolls in the exhibition were hung vertically from monofilament attached to the ceiling of the gallery and directly on the wall suggesting the downward movement and eventual crashing of waterfalls. Walking among the scrolls, one can feel the enormity of the plastic pollution in our waters.

In addition to being a printing process, Len describes “Gomitaku” as “a pictorial writing system, a new language of repetitive marks describing the poisoning of our environment” and notes that “the monumental scale of the installation emphasizes the monumental legacy of pollution” left by companies like Dow Chemical, the makers of Styrofoam, who have put profit over the health of the planet. 

LESLIE SOBEL: CONNECTING CLIMATE, WATER, AND DATA
Leslie Sobel, installation view detail. L-R: Lake Erie Hypoxia GulfGulf and Hypoxia, andMississippi Channel, all encaustic monotypes and mixed media on Rives BFK, 2020. On pedestals: Alga Flow, mixed media including cast resin in found box, 2020; Microcystis Box, cast resin and mixed media in found box, 2020.

Leslie Sobel has confronted the topic of water for decades, most recently focusing on the condition of lakes and river systems near her home in the Midwest. She is deeply concerned about pollution and the flooding and environmental damage that climate change has caused to our continental watersheds. Her series of large-scale, mixed media pieces on paper in the exhibition incorporate images from old survey maps as well as drawing and encaustic. The vibrant colors and visually pleasing compositions immediately draw the viewer into the work. At closer inspection, though, it becomes clear that Sobel is issuing a warning about and expressing her grief over the conditions of our water resources. The title, “Inflection Point,” which she used for one of the mixed media works, is a clue to that warning. As she states, “we are at the cusp;” we are at an inflection point where changes must be made in how we serve as stewards of our environment before it is too late.

As the daughter of two scientists, Sobel is finely attuned to scientific systems and often collaborates with scientists in the field. The more intimate, three-dimensional pieces in the exhibition, Alga Flow and Microcystis Box, reference the toxic blooms on Lake Erie and include cast resin pieces incorporating digital prints of photomicrographs of alga as well as digital photographs of Maumee Bay State Park – both in found boxes. The presentation of the objects in a manner similar to the storage of scientific specimens adds weight to their message of environmental crisis.

RACHEL WOJNAR: TO LIVE, ENTANGLED
Rachel Wojnar, Death and Her Faces. Plaster, growing medium, mycelium, mold, 2019-2020.

Rachel Wojnar embraces impermanence. Her intriguing, biodegradable masks in the exhibition were created to decompose, in direct contrast to the way in which the plastic products and other mass-produced, non-biodegradable, toxic materials in our culture remain in landfills and in the ocean for hundreds of years. The masks are also in direct contrast to the death masks dating back to ancient Egypt, which served as a likeness of a person’s face after death and were an attempt to immortalize the figure. Wojnar noted that she sees death, including ecological death, as the opportunity for renewal.  

Fungi is the medium Wojnar used for the decomposition process of her plaster facial casts. She filled the molds with natural substances, such as mushrooms and wood chips that fungi feed on, and then injected mycelium, the feeding structure of fungi, into the cavity. The symbiosis between the plastic cast of Wojnar’s face, the mycelium, and water, which activates the growth of the fungi and all living matter, created an ever-changing, human/non-human form, which underscored what Wojnar refers to as “our need to move from an anthropomorphic view of the world to one in which we are intrinsically tied to all living beings.

Confluence was a particularly fitting title for the combined work of these five artists. Their exhibition was a true confluence, a coming together of their individual styles, choices of material, and pressing personal and environmental interests, creating a narrative of grief, crisis, the cycles of growth and decline, responsibility, and solace. Flowing throughout was the presence of water, the force that makes life possible. 

(Top image: sTo Len, detail of FOAM (FutureOfAMaterial) installation. Gomitaku print, sumi ink on linen, 64” x 360,” 2020. All photographs are courtesy of the artists.)

This article is part of Imagining Water, a series on artists of all genres who are making the topic of water and climate disruption a focus of their work and on the growing number of exhibitions, performances, projects and publications that are appearing in museums, galleries and public spaces around the world with water as a theme.

______________________________

Susan Hoffman Fishman is a painter, public artist and writer whose work has been exhibited widely in museums and galleries throughout the U.S. Since 2011, all of her paintings, installations and photographs have addressed water and climate change. She co-created a national, participatory public art project, The Wave, which addresses our mutual need for and interdependence on water and has inspired thousands of adults and children of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to protect this vital resource. Her most recent body of work calls attention to the growing number of rampikes along our shores – trees that have been exposed to salt water and died as a result of rising tides.

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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.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

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But Is It Ecofeminist?

by Mary Jo Aagerstoun, PhD

Two exhibitions of art by women opened simultaneously in June 2020 within the menacing shadow of the COVID 19 pandemic, one in Santa Fe: Performative Ecologies, curated by Patricia Watts, at the new media gallery Currents 826, on June 9, 2020, and the other in New York City: ecofeminism(s), at the Thomas Erben Gallery, curated by Monika Fabijanska, on June 16, 2020. The shows’ appearances—the audiences mainly viewed the exhibitions online—also coincided with the righteous mobilizations and demands of Black Lives Matter spilling across the US in reaction to the murder of George Floyd by police. (1)

Neither ecofeminism(s) nor Performative Ecologies included works by Black women artists. A review of ecofeminism(s) in The Brooklyn Rail vividly underscored this absence. (2) The review’s author, Darla Migan, also asserts that an ecofeminism show foregrounding white women proved the ecofeminist movement and philosophy is “anti-intersectional” and “essentialist.” This point of view is not new and has stuck to the ecofeminist movement since its beginnings.

It was in this context that I received Patricia Watts’s invitation to write this essay on the two exhibitions for the online cultural platform, ecoartspace.(4) As I prepared to write the review I communicated with both Watts and Monika Fabijanska, asking them how they had chosen the artworks for their shows and why they had not included works by Black woman artists.(5) They both responded with reasons for the absence of Black women artists’ work and with statements of resolve that they intended to rectify this absence as they moved forward with their respective curatorial practices. They also offered detailed descriptions of their intentions for the exhibitions and their criteria for selecting the works.

Darla Migan’s critique of Black women artists’ absence from ecofeminism(s) is legitimate and can be equally applied to Performative Ecologies. There certainly are Black women artists who address relationships with the environment in a range of ways and whose works might have fit (easily or uncomfortably) in either show. Among these are the philosophically dense abstractions and performances of Torkwase Dyson, the lyrical, landscape-based photo-narratives of Allison Janae Hamilton, and the community-embeddedness of LaToya Ruby Frazier’s 2016 Flint Project. The inclusion of Black artists’ perspectives in future exhibitions of art by women concerned with environmental damage and crises will be something to look forward to!(6)

While an in-depth exploration of whether ecofeminist analysis is an appropriate lens through which to consider works by Black women artists concerned with environmental issues would be welcome, this essay will not elaborate on the absence of their work in these shows, aside from asserting the legitimacy of the criticism leveled by Migan. This essay will consider whether the works in these exhibitions engage ecofeminism, the relationship they might have with essentialism and whether they can be seen as deploying ritualistic characteristics to oppose and resist.

As I began to think about all this, I wondered if the curators’ intentions could be divined by considering their exhibition titles. Watts’s title, Performative Ecologies, seems gender-neutral, though all the artists in her show were women. She intentionally selected self-performative, ritualistic works where the artists appear alone (and sometimes nude) in landscapes, suggesting a possible essentialist valence that could connect with some of ecofeminism’s early tendencies to make strong, frequently celebratory linkages between biological women and the alleged feminine identity of Nature.

Fabijanska’s title, ecofeminism(s), suggests the curator intended to foreground ecofeminist politics and activism in her show. Yet, in an email to me, Fabijanska states she did not intend the show to be “a piece of theoretical writing,” because she expected her audience to be unfamiliar with either feminist or ecological art.(7) She wanted instead “to emphasize certain similarities and differences, to create the energy of pluses and minuses (think batteries): shapes, textures, sizes, colors, and content” to encourage gallery visitors to think deeply about what they were seeing.

Though Watts does not claim her exhibition engages ecofeminism, she has long pursued an interest in how artists (primarily women, but some men as well) place themselves in landscapes, alone, and in performative ways.(8) Emphasis on imagery of female artists, often nude, embedded ritualistically in landscapes, could suggest a fixed, universal—essentialist—relationship between Woman and Nature. At the same time, the artists’ intentions, or the works’ manifestations themselves, can also be seen as (directly or tangentially) political or activist.

Active opposition to all forms of oppression has been ecofeminists’ focus throughout the evolution of the movement and its discourses. Ecofeminists point to this focus as evidence of ecofeminism’s firmly embedded history of intersectionality. Could activist, resistant, or oppositional intent or manifestation influence whether a ritualistic work is interpreted as ecofeminist, but not essentialist, even when ritualistic and spiritual aspects are dominant? What makes a work spiritual or ritualistic? And how are we to interpret works that suggest activist intent but convey this in ritualistic ways?

Scholar of ritual Ellen Dissanayake identifies particular characteristics of ritual.(9)  She posits that ritual is characterized by “unusual behavior that sets it off from the ordinary or everyday” and that the place where ritual is enacted is “made special” by such behavior. She argues that “[t]ime, space, activity, dress, and paraphernalia are all made special or extraordinary by unusual behavior, and so we can speak of ritual time, ritual space, ritual activity, ritual dress, ritual paraphernalia. . .” Works in both shows display various combinations of these characteristics.

For example, some artists in both exhibitions choose to perform in, or refer to, damaged and even dangerous sites or to perform potentially physically dangerous or risky acts. Such choices draw attention to these sites, clear evidence of political and activist intent. If attention is not drawn to a situation of damage, the damage may never be addressed.

Dominique Mazeaud (French American 1942-), The Great Cleansing of the Rio Grande 1987-1994 ©Estate of Dominique Mazeaud. Courtesy of the artist

One work of this type, in Performative Ecologies, is Dominique Mazeaud’s seven-year-long The Great Cleansing of the Rio Grande (1987-1994). Repetition and endurance are characteristics of ritual, and are foregrounded in Great Cleansing. Mazeaud’s cleanups occurred in regular monthly sequences, stretching out over years, during which her community became increasingly involved in the project. Community members joined Mazeaud regularly in urging elected officials to improve enforcement of anti-littering regulations.

Mazeaud’s Great Cleansing also spawned activist involvement after the project ended. In one of these later activist interventions, in 2001, as an act of opposition to the war in Iraq, she sent a box containing “gifts from the river,” children’s shoes and other “talismanic” articles collected during an earlier Great Cleansing, to one of New Mexico’s US Senators. The items referred to the deaths of thousands of children during US bombings.(10) The act of placing objects together in ways that suggest the arrangement itself has power is consonant with Dissanayake’s observations that objects become ritualized when utilized for a particular purpose that is not the objects’ original one.

Fern Shaffer (American, 1944-), Nine Year Ritual (1995-2003), The Swamp, 9th Ritual, September 9, 2003, Cashe River Basin, Illinois © Fern Shaffer. Courtesy of the artist

Another multiyear work in Performative Ecologies, Nine Year Ritual (1995-2003), by performance artist Fern Shaffer, a self-identifying feminist healer, took place on a succession of seriously damaged sites. The artist wore a costume suggestive of an African shaman, and the piece demonstrates several aspects of ritual as described by Dissanayake. Among the more recent works in Performative Ecologies is Mary Mattingly’s Pull (2013), in which the artist, who self-identifies as an ecofeminist, first documented all her possessions, researching every detail about each item’s provenance and manufacture, then gathered and bound the items into several large “boulders” and ritually pulled them, alone, through New York City’s streets. In this way, Mattingly activates ritual processes of temporality and endurance to bring to sharp visibility the weight of human overconsumption and its exponentially expanding impacts on all habitats—clearly an activist intent.

Mary Mattingly (American, 1979-), Pull, 2013 © Mary Mattingly. Courtesy of the artist

continues here

(Top photo: Helène Aylon (American, 1931-2020), The Earth Ambulance, 1982 ©Estate of Helène Aylon)

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ecoartapace ecoartspace is a nonprofit platform providing opportunities for artists who address the human/nature relationship in the visual arts. Since 1999 they have collaborated with over 150 organizations to produce more than 40 exhibitions, 100 programs, working with 400 + artists in 15 states nationally and 8 countries internationally. Currently they are developing a media archive of video interviews with artists and collection of exhibitions ephemera for research purposes. Patricia Watts is founder and west coast curator. Amy Lipton is east coast curator and director of the ecoartspace NYC project room.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

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For Youth, Theatre is Action

By Kristina Watt

Over the past two years, I have had the privilege to invite a group of teenagers in Canada, ages 13-17, to consider theatre as a possible means to fight for climate action. These ten youth, Natasha Knight, Anna Carsley-Jones, Sebastien Cimpaye, Sophie Dean, Quinn Lesaux, Jaya Matiation, Olivia Smith, Ethan Whidden, Kaatje Yates, and Paige Young, are all driven by a concern and love for the planet – and are deeply anxious about a future they feel they have inherited. As Sophie says, “We’re a group of teens with a goal and the passion to achieve it. We’re not all the same; we have different backgrounds and ambitions, but we’re united in our goal for climate action through theatre.” Quinn adds, “I would describe us as a group of teenagers who have a strong opinion on climate change; we’re trying to get our voice out there for older and younger audiences and trying to inform them how they can use their voice to control this problem.”

Together, we created and toured our collective theatre creation, 12 – not just to theatres but to corporations and inside government offices. Olivia describes the project as “…a question. A question in desperate need of an answer. We ask for help, we ask if you knew this, and ask you to think about it. And we hope you’ll take action – that 12 will stay with you.” Jaya adds, “12 doesn’t have a traditional plot or storyline. We use physical movements, words, numbers, and twelve stools to portray the calm and chaos of our world now. Many characters are present only momentarily. They are youth activists from around the world and people from Ottawa. But mostly, they are us: it’s our hope and desire for help and cooperation. We ask adults to confront themselves, to care, to question, and to take action.”

However, when theatres shut down in March 2020, their means of taking action came to a standstill. After deliberation, the youth decided that 12 couldn’t be replicated online; it had to be live. From the isolation of all of our homes, we built a digital theatre creation, While We Wait, as a means to question how to navigate a life-on-hold while still wanting change. “We felt we needed to take action, somehow. We didn’t just want to wait till all this was over. Climate change wasn’t waiting so how could we?” says Natasha. “It’s a new way to share our experience and still ask questions while living during COVID,” Anna adds. In While We Wait, the ten teens tell the audience that the world has now become more motivated to take action and cooperate due to the pandemic crisis, but what is happening with climate crisis action? And why did it take a devastating loss of human life when there has been an ongoing loss of all life?

When I was invited to write this article, I felt that I shouldn’t be the only voice but should include the youth themselvesThe goal of my work with young people is to allow theatre to communicate their truth, fears, and hungers to audiences of all ages. Speaking from isolation this summer, these ten “unstoppable youth” share their thoughts with me.

Do you think that theatre can actually change people?

Jaya: Yes, I think theatre can change people. When we started creating 12, we didn’t want to talk down to our audience or have a one-sided conversation. We wanted them to question themselves and the world in which we live. Theatre can do just that: ask questions. Change, however, requires more than questions; change requires action. In12, different characters deal with action in different ways, from being unsure of what to do to taking on big corporations. Change is nothing without action and change starts with asking questions. Theatre should ask questions. That’s how it creates change.

Anna: I don’t believe theatre can “change people,” but I absolutely believe it can provoke thoughts and feelings that lead to change. Maybe theatre can be thought of as emotional information – it all depends on what you do with the information. Some may watch a production, feel something, then go home and never think about it again. But others – I hope 12’s audience – will watch, feel and think, then go home and reflect. Reflection means they look deeper than their initial reaction, and hopefully that leads to responding, and responding means changing behaviors. If theatre can do that, then our job has been successful – though it is never complete. 

Natasha: Theatre can absolutely change people! When theatre brings up complex topics in an emotional way, the audience starts to think about the topics. Eventually, they’ll think about the world in a different way. I’ve changed since working on 12. Before, I was aware of the climate crisis and doing my best to help, but since I became part of the project, my climate anxiety has gone up because I’m facing the facts. Instead of just trying my best to help (reusing grocery bags, etc.), I now want to spread the message and share the facts far and wide. I think audiences we’ve had so far also felt the need to spread the message. I hope they’ve actually done so.

Is there anything else you would like to say about your work?

Jaya: Yes. 12 is a conversation about climate anxiety and the lack of action from governments and corporations everywhere.

Sophie: But we don’t want to rant. We want theatre to send a wake-up call to all of us, including us actors. Yes, we’re doing what we can, but is it enough? And if it isn’t, what else should we do?

Kaatje: We created 12 out of our fears regarding climate change and the role that it plays in our futures. You know, I always wondered how theatre groups could tour plays for years and never get bored of them or the roles they played. After performing 12 for as long as I have [8 months], I see that it’s constantly changing, improving, and updating with current events. It’s never the same thing. It’s taken so much effort from all of us to become what it is today. I am very proud of it.

Olivia: Our planet is dying, and it’s terrifying to me. It’s easy to get swept up in the panic, but it’s also easy to ignore the problem. We need an answer to our question, a solution to our problem. We want to act, do you?

In March, you were told that you couldn’t perform live anymore due to the global pandemic. What did that mean to you?

Sebastien: The pandemic came at a time when we were productive. We had a lot of shows on our schedule and were rehearsing every weekend. After CID shut us down, we stopped. Then we had the idea to continue spreading our message through a screen. But we didn’t feel the internet was the right medium for 12. In the live show, we use a lot of movement; we have human pyramids and we make formations with our bodies. This is necessary, it adds something to the story. Would the audience react the same watching us on a screen? Probably not.

Paige: We knew an online version of 12 wouldn’t be the same. It wouldn’t have the same impact. Stuck inside little Zoom boxes, unable to move around or even see the people watching us? We lost the connection with each other and the audience. We needed to look them in the eye and ask why they leave the burden of climate change to us. On top of that, even though we actors were together online, it felt like we weren’t together in the same space. Theatre on a screen can be great, but not for 12.

Anna: Theatre is about sharing art live. And 12 is about sharing our perspectives about the climate crisis through theatre. We weren’t sure what to do. How can we share when we can’t be within two meters of each other or have an audience in front of us? It was disappointing and still is. But I’m definitely grateful that we brainstormed and created the digital project While We Wait.  It’s a new way to share our experience and still ask questions while living during COVID. But it’s absolutely not as thrilling as being in the same room with an audience.

Natasha: Digital theatre is very different… We recorded some scenes together on Zoom and others by ourselves around our house. It was odd reacting to others’ boxes after repeating a line instead of just looking directly at the actor or audience!

Sebastien: COVID is a weird thing. I think it might be interesting to address performing 12 with a post-COVID audience. We didn’t know this was coming so we haven’t had time to write about it yet. I think that’s what we should do next.

What’s your biggest climate change concern these days?

Quinn: I’m scared that humans are going to cause more animal species to go extinct – maybe even some that haven’t been discovered yet. Also, humans are going to completely eradicate forests and jungles and those are very, very important for life. What we’re doing right now is exactly what we’re not supposed to do!

Anna: One of my biggest concerns is the animal agriculture industry (e.g., factory farming). Animal agriculture causes more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation added together… yet diet is something that many people (capable of eating sustainably/plant based) aren’t willing to change. 

Ethan: I’m worried about the next generation of humans. If we don’t fix what we’re doing now, me or you might not feel all the effects, but the next generation will have to go through the horrors of climate change. They will go through seeing entire cities go underwater, entire species of animals go extinct. They won’t see what life could have been. They will see the downfall of humanity, and that it’s our fault.

Quinn: So many are clueless about what’s going on in the world! Climate change is a real thing, it’s not something to make jokes about.

Anna: I’m concerned about rising temperatures and lack of water. Many people in the Global South face increased temperatures and therefore a lack of resources (e.g., water and food). Since water dries up in the heat, and lakes and rivers shrink, there’s less water to drink or to grow any food, causing susceptibility to diseases, malnutrition, and death. And the most affected countries are the ones with more poverty and more BIPOC people, and not as much attention and aid is given to them from countries with more resources. So they are more deeply affected by climate change. The climate crisis involves racism, classism, and elitism. Why won’t many acknowledge this?

If you could ask one question to other youth around the world, what would it be? And how would you answer?

Quinn: I would ask them, “How are the challenges you face different from the challenges I face?” Different people face different issues in different parts of the world. If someone asked me this, I’d say some of my challenges are missing the bus, getting to school late, or not knowing what clothes to wear. My challenges are minimal. But kids around the world like in Mexico City or Iran? I’ve heard that they’re scared to go outside, scared to go to school by themselves. That makes me think of how privileged I am compared to them. So what do you struggle with?

If you could ask your parents’ generation one question, what would it be? And, if you were them, how might you answer?

Sebastien: I would ask them, “Was the information we now have on climate change out there at the time? Were others trying to tell you about it?” And if I were one of their generation, I think I’d say that the information was out there but I wasn’t looking into it.

The last line of 12, written by you all, is: “It’s as if I’m a spectator, but it’s real.” What keeps you going?

Olivia: Hope is a tricky thing. The majority of the time, I’m putting all my energy into just getting out of bed. What really gives me hope is 12 and our group. It makes me feel like I’m really doing something. I’m making my voice heard and people are changing as a result.

Kaatje: I often lose hope. I hate to say it but I do. I think it’s hard to stay optimistic when those in charge seem to have “more important” things to do. And as much as people talk about climate change, there’s rarely any real action… at least not where it counts. For example, our government keeps giving the oil industry economic advantages rather than putting money into sustainable energy options. Our prime minister says he plans to ban single use plastics by 2021, but how can I be sure a bill like that will pass?

Sophie: Our powerful generation keeps me going: our refusal to stay silent, and our ability to use the internet for activism. Fear also motivates us – fear of what will happen if we don’t act. The idea that our future is in danger drives us in powerful ways.

Kaatje: It’s easy to blame others. I’m often just as guilty. I contribute to fast fashion… I try not too… I use plastic straws even though I know they end up in the oceans. Let’s just say I don’t have a clean record when it comes to being green. I feel guilty and somewhat hopeless, especially when doom seems to be around the corner. But I know being negative won’t help me. As hard as it is to be positive, I have to have hope. I have to do better. Otherwise, how can I expect others to do the same?

Paige: What gives me hope is the knowledge that, despite it all, there are people out there who are fighting to make a difference. If they can still see a better future for this world, then so can I. 

Courage, all, and thank you.

* * *

I would like to note that there were eleven youth in the ensemble until June 2020 when Saava Boguslavskiy left the group, saying, “I don’t really have hope for the whole situation. From my point of view, it’s all too late. I feel my contribution to the play is only going to deteriorate and I don’t want to have a negative impact.” Saava, age 16, continues to contribute in his own way; he composed the music for While We Wait and for the live version of 12.

(All photos except screenshot by Brigitte Pellerin.)

______________________________

Kristina Watt is an award-winning actor and theatre creator with an unshakeable passion for collaborating with youth on projects that question our relationship with the planet and with each other. She is driven to question where science intersects with the arts, and to create theatre that sits within that fusion. She is the Artistic Director of 100 Watt Productions and since relocating to Ottawa from New York City where she worked in theatre and TV and taught youth in inner city schools, she has performed at theatres including the National Arts Centre, Great Canadian Theatre Company, New Theatre of Ottawa, Third Wall, and St Lawrence Shakespeare Festival.

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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.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

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Seeking a (CO)LEAD EDITOR for CSPA QUARTERLY

The CSPA QUARTERLY is currently seeking a (Co) Lead Editor to work with our current Lead Editor in sustaining the publication and transitioning to eventually become a Lead Editor themselves. 

The CSPA Quarterly is a publication arm of the Centre for Sustainable Arts. It is meant to give a longer format and deeper space for exploration than some online platforms provide, and to reflect the myriad ways in which sustainability in the arts is discussed, approached and practiced. The publication features reviews, interviews, features, artist pages, essays, reflections and photos. It is a snapshot of a moment in time, a look at the many discussions in sustainability and the arts through the lens of a particular theme. It is part of a rigorous dialogue.

Our reach is wide: we want it to be wider.

We have more than 6,000  followers on social media, more than 1,500 subscribers to our email newsletter, our website receives 3,500-6,000 hits per month. Our CSPA Quarterly is accessed by institutions and  artists worldwide via JSTOR and other platforms. We are a crucial resource for artists and art organizations who are researching,  embodying, promoting and re-inventing sustainability. 

This Co-Lead Editor would work with us to:

  • Assist in developing an archival, digital publication of the CSPA Quarterly
  • Assist in developing and sustaining new income streams for the CSPA Quarterly
  • Plan issues for 2024 and beyond, assuming sole Lead Editorship in that year
  • Sustain the Quarterly and its continued relevance. 

This is a volunteer position. We know how that sounds. Currently, the CSPA works within a hybrid academic/commercial context, where the labor of editing and contributing is seen as an extension of academic research, and is therefore unpaid. It currently exists and functions  on systems of privilege, based on the income, time, and access of  its  organizers. That’s a problem we want to change. 

Our current income streams include:

  • Fees from publication access on JSTOR
  • University Grants 
  • Issue purchases on MagCloud
  • Subscriptions on Patreon

Right now, these incomes only cover Quarterly design costs. But we’d like to change that. We’re looking for someone to help us amplify our current efforts at generating revenue and supporting our contributors. We want to pay people. The Lead Editor position at the Quarterly has always been volunteer/unpaid, with contributors and Guest Editors receiving a free subscription for their work.

We’d like to build on our crucial work thus  far, and stand even more firmly at the nexus between academic and popular research in Sustainable Practice in the Arts. We’re seeking someone with resources that would enable them to engage in this work, and who could use those resources to expand our platform to those who do not have  such  access. We need someone who is passionate about our efforts, extending opportunities to others, and amplifying the fantastic work of the many artists engaging with sustainability on a cultural, ecological, social and economic level.  We hope that person is you. 

Please send letters of interest and a website or CV to editor@sustainablepractice.org

Open Call: Environmental Racism is Garbage

The aim of this interactive virtual research-creation and art symposium is to bear modest witness to waste as a symptom of environmental racism. At least one billion people live in over a quarter of a million slums worldwide, often with no formal waste or sanitation infrastructure or services (Davis 2007). And in economically affluent countries, landfills and other waste management systems are most often sited in or close to poor and racialized communities (for example, Amegah and Jaakkola 2016; Furedy 1993; Mothiba, Moja, and Loans 2017; Parizeau 2006) who bear a disproportionate burden of persistent exposure to the risks, hazards and contamination of pollution (Hird in press; Hird and Zahara 2016). 

Environmental Racism is Garbage seeks knowledge production and acts of resistance at the intersection of art, politics, and the relationship between racialized injustice and ecological crisis. We invite contributions and collaborations from visual and performance-based artists, curators, theorists and activists, to create submissions that engage with the interconnections between environmental health, socio-economic conditions, racialized discrimination, social justice. We are interested in new or recent work in any medium that could be displayed in a browser. Transdisciplinary work driven by creative inquiry and lived experience will be forefronted.

This virtual (web-based) symposium will be synchronous and asynchronous and feature artwork displayed in the browser as well as keynote speakers, discussion panels and other additions. The symposium will be archived on a dedicated website.

For more info and to submit


SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

  1. Project description and [technical] requirements for displaying (online), including artist/author statement (2 pages maximum).
  2. Supporting documentation: i.e. maximum 5 images, 1 (3 min or under) video clip or sound recording sample.
  3. Current CV (3 pages maximum) for all team members
  4. Artist/author/activist/curator/theorist biography for all team members (maximum 100 words each)

Please submit your work through this form by November 30, 2020. Submissions will be reviewed by a transdisciplinary panel including members of The Seedbox Consortium, Canada’s Waste Flow, and Queen’s University. 

Priority will be given to applicants who are Indigenous, Black, people of colour, women, LGBTQ2+, people with disabilities, and/or are members of other equity-seeking groups.

Each project selected will receive a payment of $1000 CAD and another $500 CAD per additional artist, for a total of up to $2000 CAD per submission. Project Fees will be paid after completion of the symposium. Details of the post-symposium publication to follow.

Submit

Green Tease Reflections: Community Mapping for Environmental Empowerment

22nd September 2020: This Green Tease event focused on the roles that mapping can have in empowering communities to act on climate change and other environmental issues. The event featured talks from Hannah Clinch (GreenMap) and Danny McKendry (Architecture and Design Scotland) as well as discussion time. 

Attendees of the event included representatives from community groups, environmentally engaged artists and sustainability practitioners, all with a shared interest in making use of mapping to further environmental and social aims.

Presentations

Hannah Clinch’s presentation started with some general issues in mapping:

  • How we present maps affects our understanding: where the centre is, what is included, what is excluded
  • Maps can be a tool of power or control: whoever makes them determines the content, there may be unequal access to the information contained in them
  • Participatory mapping can be a means of reclaiming control or presenting a new way of understanding a place

She then went on to discuss the GreenMap system, an online platform that allows communities to create and share maps of their local area for various purposes, using a wide range of icons. She offered a few examples of how the system had been used, including  a ‘Dear Green Place’ map that collected together information on re-use shops in Glasgow following extensive research by residents.

Hannah recorded her presentation, which is now available to watch here:

Hannah’s presentation was followed by some workshop time explaining how to make use of the open GreenMap system for mapping projects.

Danny McKendry’s presentation focused on a project mapping Edinburgh’s shoreline and the broader issues that this project raised about mapping. The project was organised in connection to the ‘Granton Vision’ for a major new waterfront development. Mapping provided an inviting and unintimidating medium for residents to share their feelings about the local area and engage with plans for its development. Methods included:

  • Asking people to pin labels to a map, showing which buildings and places mattered to them and why
  • Getting people to write on cards the three things that make their area special to them
  • Having people show the ways they usually use to travel around the area, showing the most frequently used routes and the links between places

Danny suggested that in order to build an understanding of a place, good mapping should address three key areas in particular:

  • Mapping the things that people really care about, not just what you expect them to care about
  • Showing a ‘day in the life of local personas’ to gain an understanding of how people move around and inhabit the place
  • Showing a ‘year in the life of the place’ to gain an understanding of how it changes through the seasons

Danny demonstrated this with the example of how a resident’s quality of life had been worsened by the building of a state-of-the-art new school to replace the old one. There was no problem with the building itself, but they were now forced to change from a simple commute to a complex and stressful one; something that had not been foreseen by planners.

You can see the slides from Daniel McKendry’s presentation here

Discussion

These presentations were followed by discussions in small groups, responding to the points raised by the presenters and seeing how they connected to the individual aims of attendees. Some of the main points raised included:

  • Less physical forms of mapping focusing on relationships or power can also be useful for developing understanding and presenting information.
  • The process of mapping is as important as the result, it provides an opportunity for people to interact and share.
  • The ownership and stewardship of maps is important: where they are housed, either online or physically, will affect who is most likely to access and make use of them.
  • During coronavirus online mapping could provide a means of retaining a connection with your local area, providing a means of sharing information with others.
  • Conversely, online mapping can allow us to be ‘digitally close’ to people in parts of the world that are physically distant from us, allowing the development of understanding and empathy.
  • Maps make involvement in decisions accessible to more people through clarity of presentation. One participant talked about how using mapping had allowed young children she worked with to have a voice in the development of their school.
  • Digital and physical mapping processes can be combined. We don’t need to choose one or the other.

(Top photo: Layered images of maps and leaves. Text reads: Community Mapping for Environmental Empowerment: Tools, tips, and tricks.)

The post Green Tease Reflections: Community Mapping for Environmental Empowerment appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

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Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

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Wassaic Project 2021 Summer Exhibition and Publication Open Call

Application Deadline: November 16, 2020

Link to Apply: https://wassaicproject.slideroom.com/#/permalink/program/57671

The Wassaic Project is currently holding our annual Open Call for our 2021 Summer Exhibition and publication for artists of all mediums — including 2D, sculpture, video, new media, site-specific installation, performance, text, poems, essays, publication-specific work. If selected, your work will be showcased alongside a diverse range of pieces and performances in and around historic Maxon Mills, as well as in a printed publication. Ideally, the Wassaic Project’s 2021 Summer Exhibition will be free and open to the public every weekend from May 22 through September 18, 2021. If it is not safe to host a physical exhibition due to COVID-19, the work in the show will still appear online and in print. 

Artists interested in creating a site-specific installation for the 2021 Summer Exhibition are also eligible for an Exhibitions Fellowship to help realize their work. Up to five fellows will be offered a no-fee residency between either April 12–26, 2021 or May 3–31, 2021, and will be considered full participants in our residency program. Artists interested in making site-specific work for the exhibition should still apply regardless of whether or not they are interested in or able to be in residence in April or May. 

The Wassaic Project cultivates and supports community for emerging and professional contemporary artists, writers and other creatives. Housed in historic, landmark buildings, the residency program offers 10 artists each month the opportunity to live and work in the heart of a rural community. The Wassaic Project seeks artists working in a diverse range of media who want to produce, explore, challenge, and expand on their current art-making practices, while participating in a community-based arts organization. 

For more information: https://www.wassaicproject.org/artists/summer-exhibition-faq

NAC – Theatre and Climate Change Green Rooms 2020

As part of its response to the escalating climate crisis – and in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic – NAC English Theatre in partnership with Festival of Live Digital Art (FOLDA), the Canada Council for the Arts, The City of Kingston, HowlRound Theatre Commons, National Theatre School of Canada and York University brought together participants for an extraordinary three-day/three-country digital experiment that reflected on the future of theatre.

The Green Rooms were fueled with spirited conversations with leaders in fields such as climate activism, ecological economy and environmental humanities, as well as with theatre artists and leaders who have found innovative ways to engage with the climate crisis.

A limited number of active participants joined the event on Zoom from eight cities across three countries: Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Kingston, Montreal, and Halifax, as well as London (U.K.) and New York. In addition, a livestream of the event was accessible to spectators everywhere.

Please note: If participants were not in one of those cities, they were still able to participate by joining the city closest or most meaningful to them.

We invite you to view the proceedings recorded and available on this site and read the reports too!

Co-curated by Sarah Garton Stanley and Chantal Bilodeau.

All Green Rooms events are in English only

Summit Report

Green Rooms: Carbon Emissions Report

The Green Rooms Report

To view the event archive videos and more info