Monthly Archives: April 2021

Envisioning a Green New Deal on Stage

By Thomas Peterson

Last Earth Day, I wrote about the evolving iconography and visual culture of the day, lamenting its gradual cooption by corporate greenwashing – protest art replaced by bee-themed Google Doodles. I ended the essay with a call to action, encouraging a return to the radical artistic visions that accompanied the first Earth Day in 1970: 

This Earth Day, and for all the Earth Days to come, we must find a way to strike that balance again. The stakes are too high for cute utopianism. Earth Day may have devolved into a corporatized greenwashing opiate, animated flora and fauna masking collaboration in ecocide, but it can become revolutionary again if we pair an unblinkered exposition of the extremity of the crisis with a reaffirmation of our love for life on earth. We must make images that tell the devastating truth about what is happening to our planet and the life that inhabits it, images so powerful they cannot be sanitized into endless cute bee oblivion. These images must radicalize us, radicalize us with love.

In the past year, I have attempted to answer this call in my own work. In just a few months, communities around the world will begin to perform the short plays commissioned for Climate Change Theatre Action 2021: Envisioning A Global Green New Deal, a project I co-organize with Chantal BilodeauJulia Levine, and Ian Garrett, and to which I contributed a play for the first time this year. We commissioned fifty playwrights from around the world to reckon seriously with the intensifying climate crisis and then respond to it with visions of a world worth fighting for, visions of beautiful, sustainable futures for the people and communities we all know and love. 

Still from the Climate Change Theatre Action 2021 trailer, directed and animated by Kalia Firester.

This fall’s Climate Change Theatre Action, beginning on September 19th and concluding on December 18th to coincide with the 2021 United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow, will be the fourth iteration of the global distributed festival. Founded in 2015, Climate Change Theatre Action is a biennial series of readings and performances of short plays about the climate crisis, and a project of The Arctic Cycle in partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Practice in the ArtsClimate Change Theatre Action 2015encompassed 80 performances, reaching several thousand people around the world. In the fall of 2019, over 220 presenting collaborators in 28 countries produced events, engaging over 3,000 artists and reaching an audience of roughly 26,000 people. In the United States, collaborators presented over 150 events, reaching all 50 states for the first time. As we prepare for this fourth edition, we anticipate even greater global participation – these plays will soon grace stages, Zoom screens, classrooms, parks, perhaps even mountains, deserts, lakes, and seas.

Coming into this year, 150 short plays had already been written for Climate Change Theatre Action, 50 for each edition. If a through-line can be identified in this formally diverse and multi-faceted collection, the common theme is courage in the face of crisis. The 2017 plays search for kernels of optimism, provoked by the question “Where Is the Hope?”, while the 2019 plays portray climate heroes who are “Lighting the Way” to a just and sustainable future. As we considered guiding themes for CCTA 2021, straining for hope in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was clear that the necessity for positive visions had never been less urgent, nor had the need for rapid, dramatic action to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and redress environmental injustice. So we asked playwrights to envision the societies and communities they hope to see on the other side of the unprecedented societal transformation that we must achieve if we are to mitigate the worst effects of a warming climate.

Facing the intersecting, compounding crises of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, racist violence, and skyrocketing economic inequality, people around the world are turning to a common framework for solutions: a Green New Deal. Just as policymakers worldwide are considering massive investments in clean energy, care jobs, and a regenerative economy, we asked the CCTA 2021 playwrights to consider what an equitable, sustainable, decarbonized, and just society might look like, in their communities or beyond. What would it look like if Green New Deals were adopted around the world, and these plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while addressing interwoven social inequalities became realities?

Climate Change Theatre Action 2021 trailer, directed and animated by Kalia Firester, voiceover by GiGi Buddie.

Fifty-one playwrights took on the challenge, hailing from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Uganda, the UK, and the US, and representing seven Indigenous Nations. 

The call for 2021 producing collaborators is now live, and the 50+ plays are available for perusal. Individuals and organizations are invited to host an event in their communities this fall – anything from an intimate reading to a fully staged show, and from a podcast to a site specific performance. I invite each and every one of you to explore the plays in the collection and to take action by envisioning a Green New Deal on stage.

I sincerely hope that as artists and activists around the world gather to enact these visions on stage this fall, the performances will radicalize us with love and catalyze the societal transformations we so desperately need.

(Top Image: “Climate Change Theatre Action 2021: Envisioning A Global Green New Deal” by Alex Lee)

______________________________

Thomas Peterson is an organizer, writer, and director whose work focuses on the climate crisis. He is an Artistic Associate with The Arctic Cycle, with whom he co-organizes Climate Change Theatre Action, and a field organizer with Green Corps. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College and was a Williams-Lodge Scholar in Paris. He has written about theatre and locality, climate propaganda, the aesthetic of the sublime in climate theatre, and about the cultural history of the infamous lawyer Roy Cohn. He is currently developing The Woods Avenge Themselves, an original adaptation of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck.

———-

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

Powered by WPeMatico

The Job of Complicating: An interview with Javaad Alipoor, Part II

By Biborka Beres

This is the second part of a two-part interview with UK-based theatre-maker and political performance artist, Javaad Alipoor. You can read Part I here.

I too have a critical philosophy background and only recently made practicing art my official thing, so the idea of approaching theory as an artist and art as a theorist to transgress the boundaries of each is appealing to me. To circle back to hyper-objectivity – Timothy Morton’s concept of the crisis of the Anthropocene, where we as humans are to deal with definite but huge objects, such as the consequences of climate change – are you creating a space of refuge or shelter, a sense of solidarity in the face of these great challenges?

In some ways I’m doing the opposite of that, though opposites can often be quite similar… The internet is a hyper-object in the sense that it’s an unimaginably large, but definite thing that is very difficult to take responsibility over or manage. In the show Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran, we get you to go on and into the internet. Rather than giving a space of refuge away from that, we’re making a space in which you feel that you are complicit and understand your level of complicity. Then, at the end, we delete the Instagram account used for the show. Part of this exercise is understanding how you are already actively and creatively shaping something. It is complex, in that it is complicated to take agency.

What drives you to engage with these subject matters? Is it anger? 

Funnily enough, it’s often not anger about the subject itself, but rather anger about the stupid way it’s talked about.

The show Believers plays this dramaturgical game: ostensibly I, as a British mixed race and Muslim, am going to talk about Muslims being radical. I start off going, “What’s the problem with young Muslim men?” But we end up asking, “What’s the problem with young men?” Halfway through the show, you realize that actually one of the main characters is this white racist, a sort of incel school shooter. It’s about masculinity and technology, about wealth and consumerism. There, I was really angry about the racist, Islamophobic discussion, and that motivated me to create the piece. But to be honest, my real motivations have to do with the fact that I have been lucky to find theatre and a little section of the global theatre community who is interested in my work.

You mentioned complicity. Do you see an optimal way to face the climate crisis in some sort of collective complicity?

I’m not a climate policy specialist, but I am convinced that one of the tragedies at the moment is that the greatest challenges that human beings are facing are challenges that need a collective global solution. For instance, COVID-19 – and let’s be clear, COVID-19 is related to climate change – anthropogenic climate change, the global refugee crisis… These issues are not entirely reducible to each other, but they are linked. They require collective global action but there isn’t a collective global subject capable of delivering that action. The tragedy lies in that the grand political projects of the 20th century were all built on the idea of one collective subject that would somehow come together, and shape the world for the better. If you’re a Marxist, that’s the international working class, the global peasantry in Africa and Asia. If you’re a feminist, it’s probably women. Everyone had a subject that was going to redeem things.

And of course, that never happened. 

So you are calling for an understanding of the material diversity in this global society project, and then holding people accountable more as individuals.

Somehow there has to be action together. The problem is: we live in a world which is more and more nationalistic, more and more intensely market-driven, both of which optimize individuals and atomize countries.

What’s the third part of your trilogy?

It is going to look at the relationship between violence and theatre and the internet. There’s an Iranian pop star from the 70s named Fereydoun Farrokhzad, whose story I’m interested in. He was a huge star, then he escaped and went to Germany where he got mobbed by people. Then he became a man with no money who lived in a small flat over a shopping mall. He was murdered incredibly brutally in 1990: he was stabbed more than 70 times, his tongue was cut out, and his genitals cut off… The German police never solved the case. 

Now, one thing that’s really interesting about the internet is the way it promises an equality of access to other human beings. I’m talking to you, you’re talking to me, but of course there are great divides in the world. If I think about my own family background, there is this fundamental divide between refugees and people who aren’t refugees. Certain things can happen in the refugee world and they don’t even matter. You know, a lot of the refugees who get to Europe are better off as refugees, because if you’ve got no money and you’re not European… The irony about people not wanting refugees is that the ones who get here are incredibly ambitious, incredibly educated, and incredibly driven. I’m interested in looking at the humanist promise of the internet, which says that everyone can be equal before the screen. In India, for example, more people have access to smartphones than to running water. 

We also got a podcast starting in about two months and we’re working on an installation project called Pop Icons. We’re going to Australia and England and maybe a couple of other countries to work with minority communities. If you’re an immigrant from the Global South, you probably have a box of tapes that your dad or your mom or their auntie brought from back home. With this project, we’re asking people to play those tapes from that great period of migration, the 70s, when everyone came. The 70s is also the great period of pop music: genres like Ethiopian jazz, garage rock, Turkish psychedelia, Iranian farming, and Afrobeat emerged then. Basically we are going to collect loads of these tapes and find a way to share them. 

Thank you, Javaad. I am excited to see and hear these upcoming pieces.

(Top image: Production of Rich Kids: The History of Shopping Malls in Tehran. Photo by Peter Dibdin.)

______________________________

Biborka Beres is a senior student at Bennington College in Vermont, USA, studying dance, drama and philosophy. Her interests and works lie at the intersection of socio-political change and the performing arts. In her interviews for the Artists & Climate Change blog, she is continuing her process of exploring how the arts can create models, practices and imaginary worlds which allow humans to coexist peacefully with nature and with each other.

———-

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

Powered by WPeMatico

Announcing the CSPA Quarterly’s New Rising Co-Editors

The CSPA QUARTERLY is proud to announce our rising Co-Lead Editors, who will be sustaining the publication and transitioning to eventually become Lead Editors.

Jamie Morra is an art historian living and working between the United States, Scotland, and Spain. Her interests include the aesthetics of ecology, human-animal relations, and ways in which technology has come to mitigate the formal qualities of everyday life. Her background in theories of art and the environment inform her work with artists as a facilitator, producer, project manager, researcher and writer. In 2014 Morra co-founded Residency 108 to invite artists to share her deep connection to the natural world and abiding concern for the issues facing our planet. The program aims to underscore the connections, both formally and conceptually, between art and nature. Morra holds a B.A. from the Gallatin School of Individualized Studies at New York University, an M.A. and a Curatorial Certificate from Hunter College.

Evelyn O’Malley is a Senior Lecturer in Drama at the University of Exeter, where she teaches, researches and writes about environmental theatre and performance. Published work includes the monograph Weathering Shakespeare: Audiences and Open Air Performance(2020), in addition to articles and book chapters on theatre, performance, sea and mountain-scapes, weather, climate change and reproductive rights. She has also written short pieces for Waymaking: an anthology women’s adventure writing, poetry and artAn Ecotopian Lexicon and Tree Tales.

Her collaborative research in the field has included working with scientists and meteorologists from the UK Met Office and University on a Natural Environment Research Council Climate Stories project, in addition to a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council project on Atmospheric Theatre: Open Air Performance and the Environment, with Chloe Preedy. She is also a collaborator on a global SSHRC practice-research collaboration Cymbeline in the Anthropocene, led by Randall Martin.

She is from a mostly grey place called Baile an Bhóthair (the town on the road) in Dublin, Ireland, and now lives and works in another mostly grey place called Exeter, England, where she can be found struggling up hills on her bike, never dressed for the weather and still surprised, heartstopped by the city’s occasionally-magnificent light.

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.

Jamie and Evelyn will be working together to:

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

They will be working with the guidance and support of current Lead Editor Meghan Moe Beitiks, whose final issue will be Q40.

We are incredibly grateful to be bringing on these prolific, skilled, insightful and talented writers and administrators, and look forward to their vision for the Quarterly as it changes and adapts over time!

Questions? Please email editor@sustainablepractice.org

Opportunity: Nature-Based Enterprise Accelerator pilot

A fully-funded 10-week programme to support nature-based business and social enterprise ideas

Have you founded a nature-based enterprise*, or are you at an early-stage of your development and need support to take your idea to the next level? Or, do you know someone who has?

Glasgow City Council’s H2020 Connecting Nature project, in partnership with The Melting Pot’s Good Ideas and Glasgow Caledonian University, has launched the Nature-Based Accelerator, a pilot programme to support early-stage impactful nature-based businesses and social enterprises that are or could be making positive environmental, social, and economic change in Glasgow.

The pilot programme, which is fully funded for 10 weeks, aims to find ways to encourage more local and resilient nature-based economies, create more green jobs, and help us to achieve our net-zero targets. One of the main focuses of the pilot is on how we can use innovative enterprise ideas to help improve and maintain Glasgow’s open spaces.

Spaces are limited and applications should be received no later than 21st May 2021.

*A nature-based enterprise has a broader definition than you might initially think. It can include many different types of organisation such as social enterprises, a collective, charities or even a for-profit business. The key criteria is that nature is used either directly or indirectly as a fundamental part of their product, service or process whilst also supporting climate change, health and wellbeing and biodiversity policy agendas. Examples can include food or other community growing; beekeeping; nature-focused landscape architecture; eco-tourism; urban forestry; biomaterials; carbon off-setting; vocational and skills training, plus lots more. You can find more examples and more information about nature-based enterprises by checking out Connecting Nature’s simple guidebook (PDF).

More details and the application form can be found at: https://good-ideas.org/nature-based-accelerator.

The post Opportunity: Nature-Based Enterprise Accelerator pilot appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

———-

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

Powered by WPeMatico

Ecoart in Action

I am excited to share the forthcoming publication (2022) Ecoart in Action Activities, Case Studies, and Provocations for Classrooms and Communities!


Edited by
Amara Geffen
Ann Rosenthal
Chris Fremantle
Aviva Rahmani 

How do we educate those who feel an urgency to address our environmental and social challenges? What ethical concerns do art-makers face who are committed to a deep green agenda? How can we refocus education to emphasize integrative thinking and inspire hope? What role might art play in actualizing environmental resilience? Compiled from 67 members of the Ecoart Network, a group of more than 200 internationally established practitioners, EcoArt in Action stands as a field guide that offers practical solutions to critical environmental challenges. Organized into three sections—Activities, Case Studies, and Provocations—each contribution provides models for ecoart practice that are adaptable for use within a variety of classrooms, communities, and contexts. It will come out fall 2021, published by New Village Press working with New York University Press for marketing and distribution. Educators developing project and place-based learning curricula, citizens, policymakers, scientists, land managers, and those who work with communities (human and other) will find inspiration for integrating art, science, and community-engaged practices into on-the-ground environmental projects. If you share a concern for the environmental crisis and believe art can provide new options, this book is for you!

For more information or to purchase a copy click here!

CSPA Supports: Climate Change Theatre Action 2021 Micro-Grants to Canadian Artists

Application deadline: July 2, 2021 @ 11:59 pm Eastern Time
Winners notified: July 23, 2021

Thanks to support from the Canada Council for the Arts and through the Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts’ CSPA Supports Program, we are pleased to offer 5-10 micro-grants of $500 to $1,000 to individuals or groups based in Canada interested in organizing an event for Climate Change Theatre Action 2021. 

Eligibility:
  • Open to individuals or groups based in Canada only who are not associated with an institution. (Small theatres without operational funding and students who don’t have access to university funding are eligible.)
  • Priority will be given to BIPOC applicants and applicants from provinces and territories that have not been represented in CCTA so far: New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Yukon.
  • You must follow the CCTA guidelines and present an event in your community, using at least one of the plays from the CCTA 2021 collection, between September 19 – December 18, 2021.
  • You will need to document your event through photos and/or videos and share the documentation with us afterwards.
  • Only one submission per person. If you are part of a group (i.e., small theatre or student group), only one member in your group should apply. 
How to Apply:
  • Familiarize yourself with Climate Change Theatre Action and what is expected of a producing collaborator.
  • Contact us at ccta@thearcticcycle.org to get access to the plays.
  • Once you have read the plays and the detailed guidelines, and have a clear idea of what kind of event you would like to organize, fill out the application form. 
  • You need to submit a budget as part of your application. You can download a budget template below. 

APPLY HERE

MICRO GRANT BUDGET TEMPLATE

Evaluation Process:

All applications will be evaluated by the Climate Change Theatre Action organizing team (members of Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts and The Arctic Cycle) based on the following criteria.

Artistic Merit: Do you have a clear vision for your event? Well-defined goals? Are you creating something that is unique to you and your community?

Experience/Capacity: Do you have the resources, knowledge, and/or prior experience to organize and present this event? Do you have access to colleagues and partners who can help you realize your vision? 

Community Engagement/Impact: Is your community well defined? Are you engaging people in a meaningful way? Is there a potential for impact that goes beyond the theatrical presentation?

Need: Do you make a case for funding, and can you articulate the impact that this award will have on your plans?

If you have any questions or issues, please email ccta@thearcticcycle.org and a member of the team will get back to you.

Dana Michele Hemes: Connection/Collaboration 1

An Interview about interspecies experiences with Dana Michele Hemes
by Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein 

Dana Michele Hemes collaborates with humans, insects, microbiomes and bees (to name just a few) in her interspecies experiences. Converging the artistic with the scientific, her work is all about accentuating already existing (but often unnoticeable) interactions in the world around us. Often her work involves highly perceptive technologies that create incredible interactions and sensory spaces. Dana speaks about the importance of connectedness with the environment and between people, her collaborative mindset (with all sizes and beings) and the limits of perception in this interview.  

It’s so great to speak with you, Dana! Let’s jump right in. Your work often involves interactive sculptures to encourage interspecies communication. Where did your inspiration for this work come from?

I’m interested in the entanglements or connections in the world around us, so I set up scenarios to explore this connectedness. One way I do this is by creating interactive spaces where humans and nonhumans can share a sensory experience. I’m curious as to what we can learn by being present and aware of our shared, intersecting existences… For me, exploring these interspecies relationships is a way to better understand my place in the world.

I think a lot about the limits of our perception of our environments.

(Homo/Homo 2 Phase 2)


That’s beautiful! You seem to highlight these small, often unseen interactions. How do you decide what to magnify?

When designing interactive spaces, I try to organize them in ways where both species (human and nonhuman) can affect and be affected. In doing so, I think a lot about the limits of our perception of our environments. I start by researching the nonhuman species to learn about how they sense the world; and oftentimes, I build the workaround senses that we share. For example, Ariadna/Homo 1 (which is about corolla spiders) and Pogonomyrmex/Homo 8 (harvester ants) are installations that explore methods of hearing. Humans, corolla spiders, and harvester ants detect and respond to sound in their environments.

Sometimes the sensory stimuli are imperceptible to humans– like sounds that are too small or high-pitched for our ears, or light beyond the visible spectrum. In these cases, I use tools to amplify or adapt the stimuli so we are better able to perceive and engage with one another. I also find magnification and shifting scales useful when working with small or microscopic creatures, as a way to bring the human and nonhuman together.

Exploring these interspecies relationships is a way to better understand my own place in the world.

(Ariadna/Homo 1)

By magnifying aspects of foraging behavior or listening strategies, you seem to be helping insects, microbiomes, spiders etc., express their voices. What are the results of these conversations?

That’s a great question– and one of the drivers behind the work itself. I’m particularly interested in what emerges as these interspecies conversations take place… and it varies. I don’t have a specific message that I want people to take away from the work; instead, I’m aiming to invite people to try a new or different way of seeing or listening or feeling or being.

I don’t have a specific message that I want people to take away from the work; instead, I’m aiming to invite people to try a new or different way of seeing or listening or feeling or being.

(Apis/Homo 1)

For example, Apis/Homo 1 is a simple, wearable device that creates an opportunity for humans and bees to share an intimate space. Bees can enter and exit the headpiece freely, but the partially closed helmet contains and concentrates the buzzing sounds and flower smells, etc. Here I’m not aiming to make a statement about bees; instead, I’m building a scenario that encourages bee/human conversation and focused observation. The result or takeaway of that shared experience is left for the bees and humans to explore if they want.

I hope that people take away a greater sense of connectedness to the world, and/or a willingness or interest in trying to think beyond themselves or the human. Perhaps it’s a new lens to have in your back pocket that invites a broadened perspective, empathy, or flexibility of the self.

It seems like your work process is also part of the exploration. Do you consider your subjects interspecies collaborators or actors in your vision?

I think it’s important to note that the subject of the work is the whole experience– the interaction that takes place between humans, nonhumans, and the constructed space. The ants, bacteria, humans, tech, corn, birds, sunlight, air, etc. are all components that shape the interaction. For example, Homo[+]/Homo 2, Phase 2 is a work that connects humans to their bacterial microbiomes through vegetable fiber candies.  It was first shown at a one-night event in an indoor gallery at Pioneer Works. I used the feedback on candy flavors to tweak recipes and addressed questions by reorganizing the components of the work. Homo[+]/Homo 2, Phase 3 is the updated version, which was then activated at an outdoor festival at the Wassaic Project. 

With this in mind, I consider all of the active participant’s collaborators– living and nonliving. But this collaborative connectedness doesn’t only occur in my built environments; it happens all the time. I’m using art as a method to illuminate these connections and to facilitate broader perspectives beyond the human.

I consider all of the active participant’s collaborators… this collaborative connectedness doesn’t only occur in my built environments; it happens all the time.

(Homo/Homo 2 Phase 2)

It all seems very scientific and you name your works in the Latin or in traditional scientific classifications. What role do the traditions of science play in your work?

My work is interdisciplinary– integrating science, philosophy, and art into the making and thinking. So science is an essential part of my practice. I love that curiosity is baked into its core, and that scientists ask big questions and have specific methods and tools for searching for answers. I’m also fascinated by taxonomy or the systems we use to order and categorize information– particularly the limitations of these systems, like when we discover something that doesn’t quite fit into any of our categories. Scientific classification changes, which highlights the fluid nature of our knowledge about the world. Originally, Linnaeus’ taxonomy only had 2 kingdoms– plants and animals. For a while, there were 8 kingdoms, which were later reduced to 6, and as of 2015 there are 7… and there is still plenty of room for debate around outliers– like viruses.

For something that seems so neat and orderly, it’s actually a messy, malleable, slippery and sometimes contentious process. I think that’s why I’m drawn to using them in my titles… Plus, naming things feels like a very human thing to do.

Collaboration is an important part of my process– whether it’s working with scientists, programmers, the public, or other species– it helps the work grow into something bigger and more interesting.

(Homo/Homo 3 Phase 2)

And you often include human technologies to create your works including specialized engineering and sensorial technology. How do you approach scientific and engineering problems as an artist?

I’d say that I approach engineering problems with naive enthusiasm. There is so much I don’t know about computer science and electrical engineering; so, I blindly assume that if I have a specific question or tech need, there must be an answer in a forum in some corner of the internet.

Also, I ask for help from people who know more than me. Collaboration is an important part of my process– whether it’s working with scientists, programmers, the public, or other species– it helps the work grow into something bigger and more interesting.

My work is about shifting perspectives and revealing a thing that’s already there…

(Pogo/Homo)

There was this lovely description in your artist statement, where you write “Each moment is an event: an active, participatory state where all parts of a system affect and are affected”, how can art accentuate or add to this participation? Do you consider your work a form of performance art?

Art is a medium that can set a framework that intentionally requests an open mind. It’s stuff that’s about other stuff. It sets people up for looking deeply and feeling their way through an unknown. My work is about shifting perspectives and revealing a thing that’s already there– so while people are always active participants in the world, I think it might be easier to engage meaningfully when the environment requests and directs focus.

I consider my work interactive rather than performance, only because I don’t want to risk implying that there’s a distinction between the actor(s) and the audience. I think that the term “interactive” helps to frame the experience as one where you cause change and can be changed… all parts affect and are affected.

And lastly, how have your projects adapted to Covid-19 times given that there is now less possibility for live experiences?

The lack of physical interactions with people has definitely been a challenge. That said, I’ve been able to continue collaborating with artists and scientists through virtual means. I’m currently working on a project that is exploring our connection to the octopus, which is supported by the Ocean Memory Project. The Ocean Memory community is a cross-disciplinary, far-reaching network of people who come from different backgrounds and areas of expertise (and geographic locations). With video-based virtual meeting technologies becoming so commonplace, it has made these long-distance conversations easier. One thing that this pandemic has illustrated is the connectedness of the world; and how these connections shape our lives and behaviors in real and sometimes painful ways.

But things are starting to reopen; and I’m excited to be starting a studio residency at Cornerstone STUDIOS. I optimistically look forward to future gatherings… humans, nonhumans, and all.

danamichelehemes.com

———-

ecoartapace was conceived in 1997 by Patricia Watts in Los Angeles. In 1999, Watts partnered with east coast curator Amy Lipton, operating as a nonprofit under the umbrella of SEE, the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in California. 2019 marked twenty years that Watts and Lipton have curated art and ecology programs, participating on panels and giving lectures internationally. Combined, they have curated over sixty art and ecology exhibitions, many outdoors in collaboration with artists creating site-specific works. They have worked with over one thousand artists from across the United States, and some internationally. Starting 2020, ecoartspace became an LLC membership organization based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

Powered by WPeMatico

The Job of Complicating: An interview with Javaad Alipoor, Part I

By Biborka Beres

The Javaad Alipoor Company is a UK-based theatre company led by artistic director Javaad Alipoor, who has been envisioning and creating extraordinary virtual theatre performances since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. His work has not only adapted to the challenge of transitioning theatrical performance from physical spaces to the virtual environment, but it has made extraordinary use of new tools and means, creating, for example, Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran. The show is a deep, historical exploration of a car crash involving the children of the Iranian elite as well as the present-day climate crisis, using Instagram Live.

I asked Javaad how his unique, politically-loaded storytelling informs his vision for the future, and how it helps him to engage with wide-scale, systemic issues such as consumerism and the climate crisis.

Can you tell me a little bit about how the idea for the performance came to you? This performance connects some seemingly disparate dots – how did you manage to do this in one virtual piece? 

This is the second part of a series of plays that I have been developing about contemporary technology and its relationship to contemporary politics. The first part was a play called The Believers Are But Brothers, which opened at Edinburgh a couple years ago and went to a few places in Australia, the U.S., and Europe. One of the things that interest me about the contemporary world is this seeming contradiction, where so-called technological progress gets quicker and quicker (although if you’ve seen Rich Kids, it probably doesn’t surprise you that I don’t necessarily think of it as progress), but at the same time, it seems to unleash a very ancient part of human beings. On the one hand, social media helps people connect; it gives shape to, for example, the #MeToo movement, and it helps Egyptian Democrats overthrow a dictator. On the other hand, it helps the far right all across the world: Bolsonaro, Orban, Germany, Brexit… The first part of the trilogy was about three young men who get involved with violent extremism through the internet, using an app called WhatsApp and its secret messaging feature. Two of them were young Muslims in the UK, then there was a white boy who supported Donald Trump. It looked at the radicalization of people who feel like losers.

Production of Rich Kids: The History of Shopping Malls in Tehran. Photo by Peter Dibdin. 
On the left: Javaad Alipoor.

I’m of mixed background myself; my mom’s English and my father’s from Iran. I speak Persian and I follow the news from the country. The rich kids of Tehran have actually become a real issue. It’s not just Iran, but a lot of developing countries: Zimbabwe, China. The people running these countries want to seem anti-imperialist, so in Iran, if you’re powerful, no matter how much money you’ve got, you don’t show off. Your whole justification is: you only care about Iran and Islam and standing up to the Americans. The problem is these guys have kids who don’t have those responsibilities, but have Instagram. That’s what I wanted to make a show about. I consider myself to be a bit of an anthropologist, so what I find interesting about the internet is the way it gives you an insight into super niche people’s lives. I can, within a few clicks, go on the websites that ISIS used to recruit people. Or I can see the Instagram accounts of people who are the children of dictators in the Middle East. 

Where that intersects with climate change is that I am not only an anthropologist, but a political artist, too. And a political artist has a very specific job to do.

How did you decide to explore climate change in this context, moving from political critique to locating it within a greater context, and talking about consumerism, for example? 

I would say that this is the job of a political artist. Then there is the job of a political intellectual or a political activist. I’m lucky I get to do all of these things. I write occasionally for The Guardian or The Independent about cultural politics or Middle Eastern politics. I’m a very political person and I’m immersed in lots of different campaigning groups. I was part of a movement in the UK, which started after Brexit. I don’t know if you’ve been to the UK much, but there has been a lot of very intense racism, not only against Polish people but against Blacks and Asians as well. Yes, a lot of these people are guest workers, but many of them have been here for three or more generations. The movement I was part of was about showing solidarity with them. There, I knew what the answer was. If I know what I think should happen, I write an article about it, or I might come and knock on your door and ask you to sign a petition, or say, “I think you should vote this way at this election.” However, there are deeper questions that are fundamentally about our relationship to history. Now, I don’t know what the answer to those are. This is where the tools of a theatermaker or filmmaker come in, since we have ways of developing an argument that can keep contradictions in our art. People ask me, especially regarding the show about radicalism, “What do you think we should do?” And I’d say, “Well, what I think is the thing you just watched.”

Yes, that speaks to complexity, but there’s also a high level of specificity in it. 

That’s what I mean when I say that a political artist has a specific job. It’s the job of complicating. I mean, I reckon our politics aren’t a million miles away from each other. So when I make a show like that, I’m not teaching you anything. We share a lot already. My hope as a political artist is to be able to complicate issues and to make people feel complicit and implicated in something greater than them. And also to give people provocations and things to think about. 

I found that a lot of artists believe performance is not about proving anything that’s already been proven scientifically, but about creating an intimate relationship between people and facts. What is the relationship between your work and scientific facts about the climate? 

I used to be a community worker until I was about 27. My academic background is in philosophy and religious studies; I wrote my Master’s thesis about psychoanalysis and Sufism – mystical Islam. I don’t necessarily trust the idea of scientific facts. That doesn’t mean climate change is just an opinion to me; I just think science is not what most people think it is. It’s certainly not the only domain of truth. 

I consider this question more in terms of commitment. I am more committed to critical theory and to philosophy than, say, scientific facts. In this show, I’m trying to explore how the fundamental political and moral challenge of climate change is to understand it as what a lot of philosophers of science say it is: the great challenge of the Anthropocene.

There’s a great post-Deleuzian philosopher called Timothy Morton, who wrote the book Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the WorldHe makes the point that the great political and moral challenge we face around climate change is reckoning with non-infinite, definite but huge objects. This laptop I’m talking to you on now is going to take 25,000 years to break down. So I should take responsibility for something for 25,000 years – see, this idea is huge, but definite. And it is challenging the tradition of political and moral thinking about how we should act. Because if we think about human beings, as I say in the show, we are used to thinking in two kinds of timescales: we either think about me, my children, my parents, or we think about the infinite, God, Mohammad, or Moses.

That’s really difficult. What does that even mean? So, my relationship is to that kind of critical philosophy and critical thought rather than to scientific facts. I’m very pessimistic about the state of the world, as I think a lot of us are. I’m pessimistic about the possibility of truth coming from any of the specific and very mutilated categories of, let’s call it late capitalism. One has to be kind of radical about it. We might look at theatre and think most of it doesn’t really have anything to say about the world, but in the same way, most philosophy that happens in universities doesn’t have anything to say about the world either. These are mutilated, alienated, little forms of stuff. A friend of mine once told me to always approach these issues from the other direction. If you’re doing critical thought, engage with it like an artist, and if you’re doing art, engage with it like a critical theorist. I try to do that in my work. 

Thank you, Javaad.

In the second part of this interview, we discuss Javaad’s motivations to make work in theatre, tactics to engage with the climate crisis during COVID, as well as his plans for upcoming productions. 

(Top image: Production of The Believers Are But Brothers. Photo by The Other Richard.)

______________________________

Biborka Beres is a senior student at Bennington College in Vermont, USA, studying dance, drama and philosophy. Her interests and works lie at the intersection of socio-political change and the performing arts. In her interviews for the Artists & Climate Change blog, she is continuing her process of exploring how the arts can create models, practices and imaginary worlds which allow humans to coexist peacefully with nature and with each other.

———-

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

Powered by WPeMatico

New publication: culture/SHIFT methodology

We’re excited to share with you Creative Carbon Scotland’s methodology for supporting collaborations between arts and sustainability practitioners to address the climate emergency. In this blog, our culture/SHIFT Manager, Gemma Lawrence, gives us an insight into the theory and practice behind CCS’s culture/SHIFT programme.

In 2017 Creative Carbon Scotland formally launched its culture/SHIFT programme focused on harnessing the role of creativity and culture to tackle the climate emergency. Inspired by the work of civic artist Frances Whitehead and the embedded artist project, it sought to do this by supporting collaborations between artists and climate change organisations which mixed the skills and competencies of artistic and non-arts partners to address urgent climate and sustainability related issues.

Contributing to diverse projects

Four years on, we have had the privilege of contributing to a wide range of projects from creatively exploring the role of Marine Protected Areas for people and nature in the Outer Hebrides, to developing a transformational approach to catalyse Glasgow City Region’s adaptation to climate change, and embedding four artists in climate-related projects across Northern Europe through Cultural Adaptations. Our online Library of Creative Sustainability also curates case studies on past projects from around the world, demonstrating the precedent for this way of working locally and internationally.culture/SHIFT methodology published

Diagram describing the different stages of culture/SHIFT projects including initiation, artist recruitment, project delivery, and learning and evaluation.

Sharing what we’ve learnt

From these experiences, we’ve seen first hand what works when you bring practitioners from different backgrounds and perspectives together to address complex environmental issues and the new approaches, outcomes and insights that result from doing soon. We’ve also witnessed the challenges involved in collaborating across sectors and have identified ways of helping to overcome these, as well as common values that should be jointly desired and held for the project to work.

This culture/SHIFT methodology gathers the knowledge and insights gained from such experiences with the aim of sharing our learning with a wide audience and hopefully inspiring others to embed creative and cultural approaches into their own sustainability work.

What’s in this methodology?

The methodology highlights the value of embedding artists in projects as strategic thinkers and change-makers as well as producers of art, and recognises the importance of involving artists at an early stage to help shape the questions being asked, issues addressed and approaches taken.

It provides a conceptual background as to why culture has a vital role to play in our approach to the climate emergency, including the benefits and opportunities for both arts and climate partners. It also offers as a practical step-by-step description of the typical project stages, learning from Swedish arts agency TILLT‘s experience as process managers of creative collaborations. 

We describe CCS’s role in supporting the process, including project initiation, defining project aims and scope, developing the artist’s brief and recruitment, as well as supporting project delivery, learning and evaluation. Over time we will update the methodology to reflect our learning and experience from new initiatives.

We hope that you enjoy reading it and find it a useful and inspiring resource for creative, cross-sectoral collaboration to help build a more environmentally sustainable, resilient and socially just society.

Get in touch!

We would love to hear from you if you are interested in working directly with CCS, have any feedback on the methodology or if you’re seeking advice on how to get your own arts and sustainability collaboration started. For enquiries please contact Gemma Lawrence, culture/SHIFT Manager, Creative Carbon Scotland.

The post New publication: culture/SHIFT methodology appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

———-

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

Powered by WPeMatico

Art / Switch: [re]Thinking Art Logistics

Art / Switch virtual conference series is returning with its third edition on Thursday, April 29 from 4-7:30pm CET, creating conversations between cutting edge voices on environmental sustainability in the arts. In this specially curated session we are narrowing our perspective on Art Logistics, including Transportation, Packaging and Climate Control, with a uniquely future oriented lens envisioning scenarios and potential practices of the near and far future. 

Topics include: How models of circular economy can find implementation inside art institutions and be adopted by artist studios; innovation in the design of biodegradable frames and packaging, what art shipping and transport might look like in 2041; how the plus/minus dilemma has altered sector-wide and site-specific action; and how relatively simple control adjustments can save substantial amounts of energy and carbon in museum and gallery HVAC systems. 

This conference is part of a virtual conference series [re]Framing the Arts: A Sustainable Shift organized in collaboration with the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture at the University of Amsterdam and Nyenrode Business University.

Third Edition of [re]Framing the Arts: A Sustainable Shift

The conference will take place on Thursday, April 29, 2021 from 4 – 7:30PM CET on zoom.

Tickets are donation-based, click here.

For more details, visit https://www.artswitch.org/

For questions, contact us at

info@artswitch.org

A publication will follow the conference series [re]Framing the Arts: A Sustainable Shift.

PROGRAM

16:00 – 16:05 Welcome by Art / Switch
16:05 – 16:30 Michael Wang — Opening Presentation (with Q&A)
16:30 – 17:10 Panel Discussion — The Future of Art Transportation (with Q&A) Imogen Prus (Convelio) in conversation with Bernadine Bröcker Wieder (Vastari), Jason Losh (Dietl) & Andrew Stramentov (Rokbox)
17:10 – 17:20 Break
17:20 – 17:50 Melissa Lewis — Making a Frame for Paper Artworks: In situ Utilization and the Principles of The Circular Economy (with Q&A)
17:50 – 18:20 Kim Kraczon — The Unique Challenge of Implementing Sustainable Packing Systems Within a Working Artist’s Studio (with Q&A)
18:20 – 18:35 Break or Breakout Room (Select your Breakout Room before conference)
18:35 – 19:05 Sam Anderson & Keith Esarey —Wider Temperature/RH Set Points & Ranges: How Much Energy Can Actually Be Saved? (with Q&A)
19:05 – 19:25 Sarah Sutton & Stephanie Shapiro — “A Min/Max Reboot”: From Where Are We Now to Where Are We Going?
19:25 – 19:30 Closing Notes by Art / Switch