Monthly Archives: May 2021

Luciana Abait: Underwater in downtown LA

Environmentally Inspiring Painterly Photographs and Mixed Media

Written by Genie Davis for art and cake

Luciana Abait recently focuses on photography and video creating her painterly images, but using these mediums is relatively new for her. In fact, her first photo-based work began in the 2000s after incorporating elements of mixed media into her painted works.

Since her initial series, Underwater she’s explored the different elements that make up our environment: water, vegetation, air (and clouds) and now icebergs, water in its frozen state.

Abait has always been intrigued by the way human civilization invades and tries to contain nature. “That was the origin of Underwater Series, exploring how mankind contains water with the architectural constructions of swimming pools. All the other series that have followed share the same fascination and questions of who is adapting to whom. Is the natural world adapting to the built environment or is human civilization adapting to nature?” she asks.

Her commitment to the environment and awareness of climate change presently inspires her work, arising in part from a move to Los Angeles in 2005. “This city’s commitment to environmental issues made me extremely aware of the danger that the future of mankind is going through, and the responsibility I have as an artist who is already working with climate change issues, to transmit this message to the public,” she attests.

Her current work is photo-based, two- and three- dimensional in both photo-sculptures and installations. “This year I have had the opportunity to expand my work and present time-based pieces as well. One of my main aspirations is to create magical and surreal experiences in which spectators are transported into a different world or reality. I use all different media in order to achieve this.”

Most recently, Abait did just this as an exhibiting artist DTLA’s evening LUMINEX installations, where she created a dazzling blue, immersive image of a waterfall. It was the most interactive of the jubilant video art on display, and one of the most magical of the exhibition. Viewers came to “stand under” the waterfall and snap selfies there, as if they were playing in a cascade of water. Abait came to be a part of the exhibition after an introduction to NowArt LA Foundation – the creators of LUMINEX – by the curator and director of Building Bridges Art Exchange Marisa Caichiolo, also a board member of NowArtLA.

She has been working with the theme of water for 20 years. “Agua,” her LUMINEX project is the natural evolution of years of research, documentation, creation, artwork production and hard work, the artist explains. “For the last few years, I have been focusing on creating public art projects that the whole community can experience…last year, when all cultural institutions closed during the California lockdown, I felt that it was so important to be part of projects where I could share my work with an audience in the outdoors and help them experience a moment of relief and wonder.”

Her vision met this goal evocatively. “Art is so powerful, and it can change people’s minds and hearts,” she says. “‘Agua’ is based on the flood myth, and it deals with the concepts of healing and rebirth. After a year of global loss and mourning, LUMINEX founder and curator Carmen Zella and myself felt that this was exactly what ‘Agua’ could convey to the community.”

And then the magic of the evening’s video projection happened. “People were surprised by the monumentality and illusion of water falling over the wall of a real building. Everybody was laughing, dancing, twirling. There was so much love and joy. Many people who visited the installation told me ‘We needed this so much.’ I am so thankful and honored that I was able to create an immersive experience, at such a grand scale, in the city of Los Angeles, free for all the community to enjoy, and that it brought so much needed happiness. It has been a dream come true.”

Along with this recent experiential triumph, Abeit is currently exhibiting her Iceberg Series A Letter to the Future at LAX Terminal 7. In it, she uses surreal, photo-based manipulated landscapes. These “stem from my own experience as an immigrant and represent myself as a wanderer – shifting between oceans and continents. I created the frosty landscapes of imaginary icebergs by combining photographs I had taken of California mountain ranges with found images from encyclopedia and textbooks,” she says.

Abeit then added another element to these layered works. “Within these inhospitable terrains, I inserted manmade objects, such as a Ferris wheel or a billboard, producing an eerie atmosphere. The presence of these out-of-place objects suggests issues of adaptation, assimilation, isolation and displacement, and serves as a reflection on the aggressive intrusion of humans on the natural world and how the effects are far reaching, impacting the most vulnerable in particular.”

While the images were installed just prior to the lockdown, visiting them in 2021, they “represent every single human on the planet earth who has gone through isolation and confinement. The vast oceans and dark skies can easily symbolize our homes or rooms in the last year, while the colorful surreal skies talk about a world that we no longer know,” Abeit explains. “A Letter to the Future presents a vast universe where all humans are immigrants in an unknown new world still challenged by the precarious state of our beautiful environment.”

Continue reading at art and cake

(Top image: Luciana Abait, Agua, video projection, part of LUMINEX, DTLA, 2021; Photo credit @drozafilms)

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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

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Three Questions for Rulan Tangen, Part II

By Biborka Beres

CLIMATE VISION

This is the second part of a three-part interview with Rulan Tangen, founder of Dancing Earth. You can read Part I here.

Do you have a climate vision? Is there an overall message you would like to convey with your dances?

I started with a creative, intercultural vision. Now I listen for what wants and needs to be spoken at this time. Right now, we’re understanding this through the lens of the climate crisis. People of color across the globe, most particularly Indigenous Peoples, have already seen the destruction of their way of life and suffered cultural devastation. 1492 is a pretty good starting date for that. Since then, we’ve been doing our best to adapt and be resilient. That includes people of the Pacific archipelago, the archipelago known colonially as the Pacific Islands – my mother’s people and ancestors. 

People who are surrounded by water are incredibly vulnerable. On my father’s side, the lineage goes to Norway and Ireland. One could say that in Europe, oppression – in the form of witch trials that silenced women and crushed their intuition – started  even before 1492. What is now the climate crisis comes from these attacks on all these different ways of knowing and being in relation to the natural world. 

Photo by AMT Productions

So, when you ask about my vision, it’s a huge question. What is the overall message? It is pluralistic, adaptive, resilient, and I can see three principles that have come through since we began working.

These principles will continue to move us, even though Dancing Earth is transforming right now due to COVID and the recent calls for social justice that ask who gets to use the term “Indigenous.” We’re transforming to meet these questions in the most responsible way, while honoring the gifts that we all have to give, including my own. Certain things might fall away, but what I believe will continue is the origins of me laying in a hospital bed, hoping there would be three principles.

One of these principles is that all of life is connected. We’re all part of this life force, this ecosystem. We can see it in the first 10 years of our dances, when we were dancing more often in the form of plants or the four elements than in the form of  human beings. This was to deepen our understanding of the life force that is in all. We often get caught in our human stories and our personal stories, which are important, but I was drawn to how we can embody the wind as a force of change, for example, and how that manifests in a human way. I thought I understood that all forms of art and life are connected when I was 20 – and then a year later, 10 years later, 15 years later, that understanding gets deeper and deeper. What you do and why, who’s involved, how you’re involving them…. Understanding that is a life’s journey.

The second principle for making our work is that beauty should be created out of whatever we have. I went into dancing looking for what I had experienced in my career being a full-time, paid dancer, in a grid studio, touring the world. I wanted these opportunities for everyone. With Dancing Earth, it was more like: okay, we don’t have a dance studio, we’re dancing in the parking lot. Or: we don’t have money for costumes, so I’m going to cut up little t-shirts and we’re going to look at forms and designs that come from the dancers, from pre-colonial, pre-Colombian ancestors, and cut up these little t-shirts and paint them in those forms, reclaiming those designs. 

The idea that what we have is enough is huge. It means thinking, “Oh, if only we could have real costumes”, and then starting to understand this lack as being eco-conscious. It was through the water theme, which was initially given to me by Oddish Navi grandmothers, that I found out about the toxicity of the fashion world. I’d been wearing secondhand clothes all my life. I love beauty. I love lines. I love colors. Yet, I aspired for something better. Then I realized that there was nothing better than not producing waste and not being greedy.

The interesting thing about dance is that it’s the one thing you can always do; I was dancing in the hospital bed with just my fingers. Because it’s with your body, it is the most basic, but also the most collaborative art form. It can involve music and poetry, costuming and architecture in the form of set design and lighting. Our dances can include food offerings and interactivity: people make little balls out of clay filled with wildflower seeds that get thrown. These seeds grow into wildflowers that attract butterflies and bees, which bring pollen the next season to create food.

The third very important principle, which is related to the first two, is that diversity is how we can thrive. Diversity and inclusion. They’re big buzzwords right now, and that’s good. Many creatives working at the grassroots level, who were under-recognized before, have now received some recognition. But for years, we didn’t even have food or funds to pay dancers. We met farmers who gave us food and showed us how plants grow together, and these became choreographies we honored the farmers with. The ways that marginalized artist groups create and adapt might become models. I’m interested in what brings us together, what the rhythm is. Whether it’s the rhythm of the moon or the heartbeat. And I am just as interested in what makes us different. The version that I as a choreographer often enjoy of what’s called unison movement is very different from what it is in my trained dance background, which, at its peak, is people of the same height, with the same body type moving at the same moment in the same gesture. That’s incredible and wonderful to see on a big scale. But I’m also interested in seeing the way grass moves with the wind, where it’s a little different with each blade of grass. Sometimes that might look a little messy to someone who is looking for something very precise. 

In fact, we’ll be shifting how we describe Dancing Earth to call it intercultural. This is to include native, global Indigenous, and mixed cultures that aren’t recognized as Indigenous by any federal institution. It is to acknowledge self-definition of peoples with relationships and creation stories connected to land and waters, whether they’re called Indigenous or not, and people who are disconnected from those stories. 

Photo by Paulo T. Photography

You mentioned life force and that everything is life. Is climate change, in that sense, this life force turning on itself? Since there is so much destruction…

Some of it is overproduction. That’s greed-based. How we counter greed is by understanding that what we have is enough. How do we counter overproduction? That’s at the expense of diversity. We want a certain kind of thing. We get rid of all of these trees because we want that thing only. How can we do that if we respect each form of life? There’s scarcity and suffering from some because others have too much. That is a basic imbalance. 

I think there’s power in telling the truths of what has happened to our communities. I remember hearing about fracking, but then a Canadian dancer came in to say, this is what’s happened in our community because of it. Wealth comes, but suddenly people are sick and we don’t have water from the tap anymore. To hear that  moves us from the intellectual sphere, from knowing that this seems wrong, to the heart and the spirit and the body, towards a visceral response. 

Interestingly, that’s not the part Elders want me to share through dance. They’re like, yeah, if the young people need to tell that. But we know that part. We’re living it, we’re suffering from it. What is needed is hope and remembering the beauty, the balance, the way of diversity and respect, the way of kindness and welcoming. We have so much energy for what we are against. But when it’s time to articulate what we are for, it’s harder. That’s where dance can be very, very powerful. 

Photo by Paulo T. Photography

There are so many different strategies of artistic creation, whether or not we use words. And if we do, what languages are they in? I actually love dance because of what it says in our minds. We work in imagery and feeling and sensation. Abstractions and approximations. The minute you use words, it all becomes very precise. In a way, dance is the transmission of energy in everything that’s missing. When you receive through certain kinds of witnessing of dance, it’s like an energy wave goes through you. You search for words. It’s beautiful. 

Then, there’s the power of visual imagery. It sticks with me. I dream about it. It’s imprinting. And when you need something specific, when a very specific theme has been given to you, then you have to use words to translate it. And if you’re with a primarily English speaking audience, you might choose English. Or, with our Southwest group, there were multiple languages. Those languages were integrated into the soundscape, and our bodies became interpreters. We were literally a large embodied sign language moving those images into specific forms for a more focused message.

That resonates a lot with me, with how I found dance. I’ve been moving a lot from words and theory to embodiment, and it’s an ongoing process for sure. I don’t think it’s about losing either words or body, but about their coexistence and incorporating them into each other.

I seem to always think in binary: “I’m in the head too much”, “I’m only in the body, I don’t do this intellectually”… We can pull all those together. This integration, this weaving together is actually a really potent area for new ways of understanding the world.

Even then I feel like I’m only understanding the theory I learned in the beginning of my studies through embodiment. 

There are times when the overall message you want to convey comes from the vision, intellectual concept, or stories that have been shared. Then, there’s this other entity that is hard to describe because it’s beyond words. It is a way of knowing and understanding that actually comes in through the physical process. Sometimes we don’t know what to do with that. We ask ourselves, “How is this even relevant?” What I keep saying is to trust our intuition and to trust our bodies, and we’ll find ways to bring it forth. It often finds its way into a ritual. And a week later in a dream, or a month later, or 10 years later, we find out what that thing was.

Many people around the world have origin stories that trace back to the stars. In recent years, science has caught up to this way of knowing that has been transmitted through beautiful stories – stories that were easy to remember because they were so compelling. All of life on earth comes from the heart of dying stars. We’re literally made from the carbon of stars. That’s another manifestation of how we are all related – through stardust. So, the stories, right? The stories were actually true; they were not mythology. They’re a way of knowing. Now we can say: here’s the science behind them. The stories do not just have to do with the past, but with allowing our bodies and imaginations to be conduits for intuition. Because they may be a way of conveying knowledge that we can’t get from any other source.

In the third part of this interview, we discuss the relationship between dance and science. 

(Top image: Rulan Tangen, Photo by Joe McNally.)

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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.

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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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Between the Suns | Rachel Miller interview

Between the Suns | Rachel Miller interview 

Contributed by Abigail Doan

In her latest site-specific, window installation at FENTSTER exhibition space in Toronto, artist, design researcher, and educator, Rachel Miller continues her investigation into timely themes related to environmental fragility, complex pattern as metaphor, and material resilience. 

Miller’s sculptural projects and performance-based works have consistently explored the ways that body and landscape overlap to create frameworks for growth, regeneration, and narratives of co-existence. Cycles of nature and ancient traditions have always been touchstones for the artist. Her investigations into historic rituals/texts, archaeology, architecture, and ecological principles have consistently yielded artifact-like garments, soil embedded tapestries, and organic structures rooted in identity and place.

For Between the Suns, the artist expanded her research to the realms of Jewish art and craft traditions as paradigms for community-based and ecological healing. Her current installation at FENTSTER, which opened this past January and remains on view through June 1, 2021, is a multi-dimensional window installation for curious passersby. The textured, wax-cast tapestry forms reference delicate, traditional paper cut borders and speak to the fragility and endurance of heritage, the immigrant experience, and self preservation.

FENTSTER’s curator, Evelyn Tauben, writes that the exhibition’s title, Between the Suns is derived from “a Hebrew phrase in Jewish tradition referring to the transitional time of twilight. This exhibition harkens to our present-day limbo – between environmental degradation and the possibility for repair, between life during a pandemic and a new reality on the horizon, between the uncertainty of dusk and the rise of a promising day.”

Having followed the studio practice and artistic journey of Rachel Miller for close to a decade now, I initiated this interview to better understand the new terrain that Miller has ventured into with a community-based social practice and threads of her own family memories. The description of the ‘uncertainty of dusk’ and ‘the rise of a promising day’ also lured me in as possible strategies for how to prevail during these challenging times

AD: Your most recent exhibitionis in many ways a continuation of past projects but also ventures into new terrain in terms of materials, process, and historical research. Tell us more about how this site-specific project was conceived and the unique timing of its January 2021 opening.

RM: An exhibition venue like FENTSTER, which means “window” in Yiddish, was ideal for Between the Suns, as the community opening on January 25, 2021, coincided with the Jewish Holiday of Tu Bishvat, also known as the ‘New Year of the Trees’, which for many, has become an engagement opportunity for conscientious care of the environment. 

FENTSTER’s curator, Evelyn Tauben and I agreed that having the opening during the week of Tu Bishvat worked well with the project’s theme and commitment to sustainable methods. The gallery installation and sculpture display surface featured environmentally-sensitive materials that were natural, repurposed, and totally reusable. For the cast-wax panels, Shabbat candle drippings were collected from members of Toronto’s Jewish community. The back wall that the work is displayed on was also created with a zero-waste  design approach, that is, built from a pre-owned table, discarded wood, and surplus paint. Between the Suns was definitely a community effort in terms of the donation of candles and wax materials, particularly with generous doorstep pick-ups and deliveries made during a pandemic.

AD: What role does pattern and textile research play in your studio projects? How have these ideas been translated into the materiality and presentation of Between the Suns?

RM: I have always approached my environmental and site-specific sculpture projects with an interest in pattern(s), specifically patterns of breathing, life cycles, and cyclical transitions. I view the elements as being collaborators of sorts, and see pattern as a woven continuum and visual evidence of the universality that we all experience. 

When I initiate a project, I spend a lot of time researching ancient motifs, historical textiles/documents, and often archaeological references. I typically look across cultures and time periods, but for Between the Suns, I was particularly drawn to Jewish paper cuts that had resonance with the journey and traditions of my own family. I wanted to honor their ability to adapt and create hope during darker times. I fused these memories into the materiality of the cast-wax patterns of my sculptural installation and also accepted that the wax itself might change (melt) or be impacted by sunlight/heat throughout the course of the exhibition. 

I think that ultimately I was trying to look beyond the chosen pattern itself towards a possible sensation of circularity, hope, light, and inhalation/exhalation expressions of the community overall. The call and response between the materials and changing atmospheric conditions, as well as the soil beneath, is very much an ongoing theme in my studio practice and one that intends to highlight resilience and the need for restoration.

Rachel Miller, Passing 1

AD: Why is soil an important material in your installation projects? What universal qualities does this material have for a sculptor?

RM: Soil connects to history and memory. Soil is both a sturdy and loose, diggable threshold between what memory lies beneath, and what exists upon. Natural occurrences such as weathering, time, erosion, and communication methods such as passing on knowledge, can help to keep alive those memories that might otherwise be buried forever. Soil allows us to stay fed and nourished throughout our lifetime and offers a place to rest when we pass.  

Artist unknown, Galicia. Watercolor, paper. (Slovak National Museum Museum of Jewish Culture)

AD: Tell us more about your research into Jewish art forms, traditions, (family) heritage and the intricate paper cut forms that were the inspiration behind the cast-wax sculpture installation? How was the community involved and what sort of participation has resulted from the presentation of your work?

RM: The cast wax forms were inspired by Jewish paper cuts, a traditional form of Jewish ritual and folk art that dates back for hundreds of years. The paper cut patterns that inspired my installation dated back to 1910, when my grandfather fled as a young child with his family from Galicia to New York.  Despite the fragility and delicate nature of these detailed paper cuts, the pieces that survived over a century after they were made, resonated with me.

To a great extent, the materials I have used in my artwork are just as significant and interconnected with the concept, design, and the story behind my work. For instance, wax is malleable, flexible, adaptable, molding to a setting that it may be placed in. Although it is fragile and can break easily, it still has the ability to remold itself over and over. When I reflect on my family’s immigration experience, the reflection spans beyond their experience alone. They had to leave their homes, adapt to a new country, a new set of customs, a new everything. The very physical nature of wax is a metaphor for adaptation: it is malleable, has the ability to take on the form and shape of its environment, adjusts, settles, radiates lights. And when under strife, it may break and/ or shatter, but once the pieces are picked up, one can remold, readapt, and continue.

Feedback that has inspired and surprised me– about a night after I completed the installation of Between the Suns, I noticed that an image of my work was shared on an Instagram story page that said something along the lines of, “This is what we are here for”, “To be creative”, from a kind stranger who I had never even met. Curious to know more about who he was, I sent him a direct message, thanking him for sharing my work. He messaged back, and told me that on the night when he discovered my work, he was doing late evening deliveries for Uber (on foot). It meant a lot to me that someone from within my local community, was moved by the installation, documented it, and felt compelled to share his experience in this way. 

AD: As an educator/researcher and community member, how do you feel your work speaks to potential solutions for or examinations of environmental and/or social injustice? Do you see Between the Suns taking root in new contexts?

RM: My work is truly a distillation of so many experiences in my life, past, present, as well as daily current events and the myriad ways that I process this information. I try to be an advocate for adaptability, flexibility and resilience in my dialogues with students and members of my community. Like the cast-wax forms in Between the Suns, I believe that we have to be open to re-casting and re-molding under adversity, and often fracturing conditions. This is true in the face of uncertainty and rootlessness as well. What prevails ultimately is the ability to keep reshaping what we have or have salvaged/preserved into something even more hopeful and everlasting. With this in mind, I feel this project will take root in another context with perhaps even more resonance and impact.

As Between the Suns approaches its conclusion on June 1, 2021, the wax-cast forms have re-molded a bit due to the sun’s heat and warming spring temperatures in the window installation. This demonstration of adaptability and resilience with the passage of time is very much in line with the artist’s message of uncertainty translated into promise and regeneration.

Between the Suns, is on view at FENTSTER in Toronto thru June 1, 2021.

There will be an online conversation between curator, Evelyn Tauben, and artist, Rachel Miller, on May 26 from 12:30-1:00pm EST. Details are on the FENTSTER event page.

A special congratulations to artist Rachel Miller, for her receipt of the 2021 People’s Choice Award from the DesignTo Festival 2021 in Toronto.

Learn more about Rachel Miller’s work here.
Follow her on Instagram here.

All photos courtesy of the artist and FENTSTER.

Installation photos/credit: Morris Lum.

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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

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Conscient Podcast: e33 toscano

It’s artists who not only can craft a good story, but also we can tell the story that’s the hardest to tell and that is the story about the impacts of climate solutions. So it’s really not too hard to talk about the impacts of climate change, and I see people when they speak. They go through the laundry list of all the horrors that are upon us and they don’t realize it, but they’re actually closing people’s minds, closing people down because they’re getting overwhelmed. It’s not that we shouldn’t talk about the impacts, but it’s so helpful to talk about a single impact, maybe how it affects people locally, but then talk about how the world will be different when we enact these changes. And how do you tell a story that gets to that? Because that gets people engaged and excited because you’re then telling this story about what we’re fighting for, not what we’re fighting against. And that is where the energy is in a story.

peterson toscano, conscient podcast, april 13, 2021, south africa

Peterson Toscano describes himself as a quirky queer quaker performance artist and scholar. I know him as an excellent communicator about art and climate change through his https://citizensclimatelobby.org/category/citizens-climate-radio/ podcasts (including the insightful ArtHousesegment – keep an ear out for an episode featuring me during summer of 2021), which I listen to regularly. His work humorously explores a wide range of serious topics including LGBTQ+ issues, sexism, racism, privilege, gender, and climate change. Peterson is also a recognized scholar who has highlighted gender variance in the Bible among others. Interesting, Peterson does not consider himself to be an environmentalist, rather he states that is concerned about climate change as a human rights issue. I think he’s a gifted communicator who has a lot to say. 

As I am doing with all episodes in season 2, I integrated excerpts from e19 reality into this episode as interludes.

I would like to thank Peterson for his deep commitment to intelligent and sensitive art and climate change advocacy, his wicked sense of humour and generosity of spirit.  

For more information on Peterson’s work, see https://petersontoscano.com/ and YouTube videos 

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(traduction)

Ce sont les artistes qui peuvent non seulement élaborer une bonne histoire, mais aussi raconter l’histoire la plus difficile à raconter, à savoir l’histoire des impacts des solutions climatiques. Il n’est donc pas très difficile de parler des impacts du changement climatique, et je vois des gens qui, lorsqu’ils prennent la parole, dressent la liste de toutes les horreurs qui nous attendent, sans s’en rendre compte, mais ils ferment en fait l’esprit des gens, ils les rejettent parce qu’ils sont dépassés. Et ce n’est pas que nous ne devrions pas parler des impacts, mais il est tellement utile de parler d’un seul impact, peut-être de la façon dont il affecte les gens localement, mais ensuite de parler de la façon dont le monde sera différent lorsque nous mettrons en œuvre ces changements. Et comment raconter une histoire qui va dans ce sens ? Parce que cela suscite l’engagement et l’enthousiasme des gens, car vous racontez alors cette histoire sur ce pour quoi nous nous battons, et non sur ce contre quoi nous nous battons. Et c’est là que se trouve l’énergie dans une histoire.

peterson toscano, balado conscient, 13 avril 2021, afrique du sud

Peterson Toscano se décrit comme un artiste de performance et un universitaire quaker excentrique. Je le connais comme un excellent communicateur sur l’art et le changement climatique grace à ses balados sur https://citizensclimatelobby.org/category/citizens-climate-radio/  (dont le segment ArtHouse, très perspicace – restez à l’affût d’un épisode dans lequel je serai présent durant l’été 2021), que j’écoute régulièrement. Son travail explore avec humour un large éventail de sujets sérieux, notamment les questions LGBTQ+, le sexisme, le racisme, les privilèges, le genre et le changement climatique. Peterson est également un érudit reconnu qui a mis en évidence la variance du genre dans la Bible, entre autres. Il est intéressant de noter que Peterson ne se considère pas comme un environnementaliste, mais qu’il se dit plutôt préoccupé par le changement climatique en tant que question de droits de l’homme. Je pense que c’est un communicateur doué qui a beaucoup à dire. 

Comme je le fais pour tous les épisodes de la saison 2, j’ai intégré des extraits de e19 reality dans cet épisode comme interludes.

Je tiens à remercier Peterson pour son engagement profond en faveur d’un art intelligent et sensible et de la défense du changement climatique, pour son sens de l’humour piquant et pour sa générosité d’esprit.  

Pour plus d’informations sur le travail de Peterson, voir https://petersontoscano.com/ et les vidéos YouTube

The post e33 toscano appeared first on conscient podcast / balado conscient. conscient is a bilingual blog and podcast (French or English) by audio artist Claude Schryer that explores how arts and culture contribute to environmental awareness and action.

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About the Concient Podcast from Claude Schryer

The conscient podcast / balado conscient is a series of conversations about art, conscience and the ecological crisis. This podcast is bilingual (in either English or French). The language of the guest determines the language of the podcast. Episode notes are translated but not individual interviews.

I started the conscient project in 2020 as a personal learning journey and knowledge sharing exercise. It has been rewarding, and sometimes surprising.

The term ‘conscient’ is defined as ‘being aware of one’s surroundings, thoughts and motivations’. My touchstone for the podcast is episode 1, e01 terrified, based on an essay I wrote in May 2019, where I share my anxiety about the climate crisis and my belief that arts and culture can play a critical role in raising public awareness about environmental issues. The conscient podcast / balado conscient follows up on my http://simplesoundscapes.ca (2016–2019) project: 175, 3-minute audio and video field recordings that explore mindful listening.

Season 1 (May to October 2020) explored how the arts contribute to environmental awareness and action. I produced 3 episodes in French and 15 in English. The episodes cover a wide range of content, including activism, impact measurement, gaming, arts funding, cross-sectoral collaborations, social justice, artistic practices, etc. Episodes 8 to 17 were recorded while I was at the Creative Climate Leadership USA course in Arizona in March 2020 (led by Julie’s Bicycle). Episode 18 is a compilation of highlights from these conversations.

Season 2 (March 2021 – ) explores the concept of reality and is about accepting reality, working through ecological grief and charting a path forward. The first episode of season 2 (e19 reality) mixes quotations from 28 authors with field recordings from simplesoundscapes and from my 1998 soundscape composition, Au dernier vivant les biens. One of my findings from this episode is that ‘I now see, and more importantly, I now feel in my bones, ‘the state of things as they actually exist’, without social filters or unsustainable stories blocking the way’. e19 reality touches upon 7 topics: our perception of reality, the possibility of human extinction, ecological anxiety and ecological grief, hope, arts, storytelling and the wisdom of indigenous cultures. The rest of season 2 features interviews with thought leaders about their responses and reactions to e19 reality.

my professional services

I’ve been retired from the Canada Council for the Arts since September 15, 2020 where I served as a senior strategic advisor in arts granting (2016-2020) and manager of the Inter-Arts Office (1999-2015). My focus in (quasi) retirement is environmental issues within my area of expertise in arts and culture, in particular in acoustic ecology. I’m open to become involved in projects that align with my values and that move forward environmental concerns. Feel free to email me for a conversation : claude@conscient.ca

acknowledgement of eco-responsibility

I acknowledge that the production of the conscient podcast / balado conscient produces carbon. I try to minimize this carbon footprint by being as efficient as possible, including using GreenGeeks as my web server and acquiring carbon offsets for my equipment and travel activities from BullFrog Power and Less.

a word about privilege and bias

While recording episode 19 ‘reality’, I heard elements of ‘privilege’ in my voice that I had not noticed before. It sounded a bit like ‘ecological mansplaining’. I realize that, in spite of good intentions, I need to work my way through issues of privilege (of all kinds) and unconscious bias the way I did through ecological anxiety and grief during the fall of 2020. My re-education is ongoing.

Go to conscient.ca

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Three Questions for Rulan Tangen, Part I

By Biborka Beres

RITUAL

Rulan Tangen is the founding artistic director of Dancing Earth, a company that creates contemporary dance and related arts through Indigenous and intra-cultural relationships centered in ecological and cultural diversity. Dancing Earth collaborates with artists, farmers, cultural advisors, and activists. They create eco-dance productions under the guidance of Elders who suggest appropriate themes – such as diversity or sacred land and water – that support the health and wellness of all people and the planet.

This is Part I or a three-part interview.

The word ritual came up a lot when I was discovering your work. Are rituals important to you? How do they relate to the mission of protecting the climate and the Earth?

I want to thank you for the opportunity to bring another texture to the story of myself and Dancing Earth. The origin story does have a lot to do with ritual. Any roots and seeds lead to a particular moment in time.

You can say that the origins of dancing go back to when I was born, or before that. At a fairly young age, I went through a stage 4 battle with cancer. It was quite likely due to living in poor environmental conditions, which are part of the legacy for marginalized people of color. I wasn’t aware of all of that; I was just trying to live. In a sense, Dancing Earth was a vision of a ritual of everyday gratitude for my life.

Who I wanted to have as the first circle of beneficiaries were people who had incredible talent and vision and ways of knowing, but who did not have opportunity or access to the performing arts. These were people I had met in my career dancing and teaching in many places, including in rural reservations. They were Native Americans and global Indigenous people, including mixed people with these heritages. The performing arts can be a conduit for visibility, but I hadn’t stepped forward to do that fully because of so many protections around what can be shared. 

A few years before the cancer journey, a woman from the Lakota Nation who had adopted me – my adopted grandmother – gave me permission to move forward with certain things. We had conversations about what would be relevant to share, so it’s almost like the cancer journey became an incubation period. Then, some of the young kids who had been students were ready to make this their full-time vocation. 

As far as ritual goes, what I was bringing in was the idea of taking responsibility as contemporary, modern-day people, to create rituals relevant to this moment. There have always been ceremonial songs and dances, visual imagery and oratory that would come together to form rituals of transformation – these are the origins of theatre in all cultures. Some of the participants in the group were part of cultures that had retained this direct connection, and others were revitalizing it. But when we come together as an inter-tribal or intercultural group, there are many ceremonies which are not appropriate to share; they are made for a particular group that share a language and a geography or season.

Walking at the Edge of Water, 2012-13. Photo by Paulo T. Photography.

For example, one of the first dancers in the company is also an accomplished violinist. We had to think about evolving a form that didn’t necessarily have a European influence, since that had been so heavily prioritized. I myself was blessed to have a career in ballet and modern dance, but I wanted to consider whether it was these forms that needed to be on stage. Should they be in a circle? With a violin, we were looking at references to ancient string instruments and found that they represent the wind. The violinist first portrayed a whirlwind, which was circular, and it brought out his Capoeira proficiency; his mother comes from a line of Brazilian Indigenous people from the Amazons. Capoeira is part of his cultural and creative heritage. The sound of the violin was considered a representation of this whirlwind, which is a conduit for change. Like this, we went deeper into why and how we were bringing certain things into the creative process.

In every dance I ever made, where artists come together, is what I call sacred space. That space of creation and visioning brings in something that doesn’t exist yet, even if it’s a known art form or a story being retold. It also brings in a plurality of perspectives where everybody is valued and respected. 

I want to be conscious of the fact that there are ceremonies which still exist and have existed for thousands of years – and often what they need is protection. On the other hand, things come up that need a statement. We brought our water dances to various protests. Very different thinkers and performance artists have applied the word ritual to things like brushing your teeth every day. It carries a sense of openness towards the idea of a ritual, but we certainly invest in our rituals with the intention of transformation, including of the people who witness or participate. 

Photo by Paulo T. Photography.

The word ritual is quite open-ended, and could be considered an invitation.

Yes, invitation and openness are very centered in my work. I wanted Dancing Earth to be respectful, cautious, and protective – waiting for permissions or taking gentle steps. I was a successful dancer working in New York and around the world. I was happy being a conduit for other’s visions. If anything, I was too intimidated to create choreography or to be a director. Then, when I went through that life-changing battle, I couldn’t dance. I could barely move. I was no longer able to be a conduit, but I definitely had dreams. When I share those with others, they become choreography and direction. Yet, I am still being a conduit for something greater than myself – there’s definitely something coming through me. It is shaped by me because it’s choosing my body to flow through. When we come in the circle, we always have a sense of what is in the middle and wants to be birthed through our process.

Is this a different source than someone else? Maybe a collective thing, or something non-human?

That’s a great question. We’ve been creating for 17 years, so there are many variations to this.

For me, it was coming through an intangible way of relating to the tangible. It’s about understanding life on Earth. It’s not about some other realm, but about the spirit and force that is in all of life. Variations – particular images or glimpses of that – would come through me and I’d bring them into the circle for other people to respond. 

When we started, we didn’t have a shared movement language. No school told us, here’s how to move. I had received 10,000 hours of training with a particular group to get to that perfect, refined choreographic language. There was a bit of an urgency – I had been given life for who knows how long. 

Seeds Regeneration, 2019. Photo by Paulo T. Photography.

After a few years, there were a surprising and continued number of instances when Native Elders, specifically grandmothers from the Anishinaabe nation,  or a man who had a group from inter-tribal Southwestern nations, would come to us and say, “What you’re doing is important because it’s a way to transmit messages. Here’s a message we have. It is really important. Could you take that and make dances?” In one case, it was about water; in another, about seeds and plants, and how we make food. Each one of those dances has lasted and continues to impact our work. These aren’t projects that are ever done. It feels very different when someone gifts me with a story. They are not always stories that I need to tell, but themes that are given for which I hold respect. Often, they are given because they need to reach far and wide. In other cases I am asked to present them there, in the community, with the youth and Elders, with a particular language group. Afterwards, I can let them go to other places and each of those places and peoples can receive those themes and respond in their own ways. At Dancing Earth, we have a responsibility when we’ve been trusted to carry these stories. 

Seeds Regeneration, 2019. Photo by Paulo T. Photography.

What you’re saying reminds me of movement, not only movement itself as a dance in some form, but also how the form moves, shifts, and changes.

You have just scratched upon a theme that came out of our work, which I call MOMB, like womb: the movement of movement building. Our first workshops when we recognized this notion were in the Bay area. Sometimes you do things for years and then you realize there’s a pattern and you give the pattern a name. We got the movement of movement building from the different practices and processes that we as artists, humans, and humanists come up with: ways to bring our message forward and adapt that message so it is relevant to every place, time, and people. It shifts like water. Our choreographic motifs come from very specific stories or socio-political intentions. There’s a relationship between what we present on stage in full ritual, and the qualities of light and timing and music. Then we take some of that same material and it morphs and changes for an action against pipelines on the steps of the Capitol, for example. They’re all different tactics towards an energy shift.

Thank you, Rulan.

In the second part of this interview, we discuss Rulan’s climate vision.

(Top image: Rulan Tangen, founder of Dancing Earth.)

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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.

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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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Brandon Ballengée on his Art, Research and Activism

Creating Fertile Soil In the Face of Loss:
Brandon Ballengée on his Art, Research and Activism

Interviewed by Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

Brandon Ballengée is an incredible artist, scientist and activist whose work has consistently revolved around endangered species awareness and habitat rehabilitation. His work spans from interactive sculpture to educational environments to community and environmental activism, as well as collage, photography and painting alongside his research. He has recently been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for his work in the Gulf of Mexico where communities meet to create, learn and strategize solutions to one of the USA’s largest natural disasters.

(Collapse. Installed at National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, 2014. Mixed-media installation including 26,162 preserved specimens representing 370 species. Glass, Preffer and Carosafe preservative solutions. 12 x 15 x 15 feet. In collaboration with Todd Gardner, Jack Rudloe, Brian Schiering and Peter Warny. Photo by J.D. Talasek.)

Hi Brandon, thank you so much for your time!

Endangered species has been a theme of your work throughout your career. You create awareness for 10s of thousands of species that are disappearing using an array of methods, both creative and scientific. How do you balance and respond to this theme using these different perspectives?
 
We are in the middle of a mass extinction event, referred to as the Anthropocene or Sixth great extinction. Here, many familiar species, like frogs, turtles, butterflies, and bumblebees are disappearing… and rapidly. We have lost over forty percent of amphibians and more than half the planet’s overall wildlife since I have been alive. The renowned scientist and environmental philosopher Edward O. Wilson has even described this era as the Eremozoic (eremo coming from the Greek for lonely or bereft) or the ‘Age of Loneliness.’
 
My work responds to the extinction crisis through diverse media and actions. As an artist, I have continued to develop an aesthetic of ‘loss,’ giving a visual form to the growing absence of life on our rapidly degrading planet. As a scientist, I find it increasingly important to share research findings about such losses with the public. Through art, I am able to speculate future outcomes, question our current behaviors, express my concerns as well as mourn. As a biologist, I must remain analytical and report unbiased information on species found within or missing from ecosystems.
 
Combined, art and science are complementary ways of trying to understand our world and ourselves, as well as a means to address the complex socio-ecological challenges we and other species currently face.

(Styx: Variation Vl. 2010. Parco Arte Vivente (PAV), Centro D’Arte Contemporanea, Torino, Italy. Mixed media installation with 9 cleared and stained Pacific treefrogs on sculptural light-box. In scientific collaboration with Stanley K. Sessions. Photograph by Valentina Bonomonte.)

This is my way of being an activist, an Ecosystem-Activist. I work to activate communities, perform participatory science, encourage artistic expression and infect with ideas,  and to concretely push back against habitat degradation, protect the remaining biodiversity and give means for it to regenerate.

Your statement of intent is a call for collaboration between disciplines especially in the arts and sciences. Have your experiences of interdisciplinary collaboration been fruitful? And what are some important things for collaborators between the artistic and scientific disciplines to keep in mind? What is are the important differences between multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary in your opinion?
 
No single discipline can ‘fix’ the milieu of challenges we currently face. My work with Louisiana communities over the past decade has taught me that art can be an important icebreaker for meeting residents and act as an olive branch with fisherfolk and oil workers, many of whom remain resistant to the concept of human caused environmental impact. At the same time, they are among those facing the greatest threat to their culture and livelihoods from climate change. Through pop-up exhibitions and participatory citizen science, I have been able to meet and recruit potential project participants, communicate my environmental concerns and learn about their perspectives, while brainstorming creative ideas towards survival.
 
This way of working involves both the utilization of artistic and scientific techniques. The art is often an expression derived from scientific research experiences with animals in natural or artificial conditions and often inspires new ideas for scientific studies. While conducting primary biological research, scientific methods and standards are rigorously followed, however new ideas for art often happens. All inspire and inform further conservation actions.

(Still from North Troy Eco-Action with Brandon Ballengée, 2014)

Through public programs, my Eco-Actions, I share both science and art methods with participants. This is my way of being an activist, an Ecosystem-Activist. I work to activate communities, perform participatory science, encourage artistic expression and infect with ideas,  and to concretely push back against habitat degradation, protect the remaining biodiversity and give means for it to regenerate. This mixed method begins as interdisciplinary, becomes multidisciplinary and perhaps moves towards transdisciplinarity where art, science and activism grow with a community into something else.
 
I think many people can relate to the Age of Loss and Loneliness. Perhaps the last year can lead to more awareness and respect for other species. What can the audience do to stop so many species from being endangered or does the issue lie in necessary changes to big industry?
 
We are the change. The actions we take every day shape the environments around us, the ecosystems around us, the species around us. What we’re choosing to consume, how we’re transporting ourselves to different places, what we’re doing in our back yard or on our rooftop, or not doing – all of these actions have an impact, and they can be very positive. By using the creative side of art, science, and just being individual human beings working together, we have this remarkable ability to restore environments and help them and other species. Life wants to persist if we let it. Which in turn helps us, too.
 
Following this concept, my family (my wife Aurore Ballengée and our children Victor and Lilith) and I began the Atelier de la Nature. In 2016, we purchased heavily farmed land in rural south Louisiana and have worked to regenerate the ecosystems from a GMO monoculture into a nature reserve and outdoor education center.
 
Through sculpting the lands with specialized native species (helping to break-down pesticide residue and deter erosion), we are working to reestablish ‘Cajun’ prairie (ecosystems found here prior to modernity), planted over 1300 regional native trees (to regrow a forest), created wetlands (habitats for declining amphibians and rare fishes), created pollinator habitats from native hibiscus, swamp milkweed, and many more regional plants (to aid declining butterflies, like the Monarch which is in on the verge of endangered, native bees and others) and traditionally grow food without pesticides using permaculture, Creole and other indigenous methods.

Atelier de la Nature is also a community space, whereby we offer combined environmental education, sustainable food and art events open to all ages. We hold nature summer camp for youth, art and nature festivals for families and have started an artist, and/ or scientist residency program.
 
Atelier de la Nature project has already yielded results in the ecological sense with many dozens of species of birds and mammals returning (and breeding), amphibians and reptiles currently occupying the property, countless insects, all coming back to once barren land. In the human communal sense, hundreds of youth have helped with restoration of the lands youth or participated in our programs, a thousands have attended our festivals!

I am interested in honoring, remembering, creating an emotional connection with lost species to inspire actions that help to restore ecosystems and save species.

(Love Motel for Insects: Anax Junius Variation. Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington DC, USA. Summer 2012. Outdoor installation and Eco-Actions (public field-trips) with: Black Ultra-violet lights, steel, fabric, native plants, invited insects. Overall dimensions 5.5 by 9 meter. Photographs by Lindsay Wallace and Brandon Ballengée.)

That’s beautiful! So many species are affected by human-made constructions (like monocultures in agriculture), and, as you rightfully say, the potential for change lies in our hands. In much of your work you document species passing, and you seem to give voice and representation to the lost species. How much of your goal is to create a “haunting” awareness of the destruction, and how much of your goal is honoring and preserving the evidence of human-caused environmental effects?
 
The work is not about preserving or documenting destruction. Instead, I am interested in honoring, remembering, creating an emotional connection with lost species to inspire actions that help to restore ecosystems and save species. I just see myself as a human being existing in a time of dire socio-environmental crisis, who tries to do something about it, by any means available to me. In ecosystem terms, we are all hearing Nero’s fiddle as our planetary home burns and species diversity rapidly dwindles. I navigate and try to make sense of this enigmatic traumatic terrain utilizing the analytical methods of a scientist while also trying to understand and express this reality in visual terms as an artist.

(RIP Hare-Indian Dog: After John Woodhouse Audubon. 1949/2014. Artist cut and burnt print hand-colored stone lithograph, etched glass urn, and ashes. 13 5/8 x 16 inches. Species last observed 1800s. Photo by Casey Dorobek.)

That makes sense and I think it is working. Let’s talk about your practice. Do you have any rituals you perform honor the lost species during your process?
 
Ritual is at the core of my series, Frameworks of Absence. With the Frameworks, I acquire original historic prints picturing now vanished animals and printed at the period when the depicted species became extinct (ranging from the 16th to 21st Century). These original artifacts are then altered by physically cutting the image of the animal from the print. For example, in RIP Labrador Duck: After John James Audubon (1856/2007), the image of the birds was removed from an original Audubon 1856 Royal Octavo (hand-colored by one of Audubon’s sons) printed at the same point in history as the actual species disappeared.
 
Another, recently completed work RIP Antioquia Beaked Frog: After Paula Andrea (2011/2014), responded to the loss of this amphibian over the past decade and was cut from a signed artist proof published in Columbia in 2011 (cut with the artists consent). Such altered prints are then framed with a glass backing, so that the wall is seen through the absence of the depicted animal, which gives form to the void left by these lost species. The process of researching the extinct animals, finding and acquiring historic depictions in an ongoing ritual for me. 

For this second component of the project, the cut animals from the prints are burned and placed in glass vessels etched with the species name. Participants are then asked to scatter these “remains” through their own private cremation ceremonies- a personal ritual of sorts, what I call Actions of Mourning. My intention here is to create an embodied transformative event, like the loss of a loved one and the scattering of their ashes, changes an individual for the duration of their life. In the case of these actions, my hope is to connect individuals to a lost species in the hope that this grief inspires them to help protect the biodiversity that remains.

(RIP Parrot Fish. 2014. Giclée print on handmade Japanese rice paper in an edition of 13. 18 by 24 inches each.)

Much of my work attempts to connect viewers with loss, and over the past two decades, through numerous trials using varied media.

These are such touching themes that have really come to the forefront this past year. Due to the pandemic, the human species has been confronted with death like it has not for generations. In your work, “Dying Tree” you amplify the sound of an ill tree dying for a museum audience. What do you think is a healthy relationship with death? And how can the empathy that death creates become a bridge between species?
 
The death of our friends, family, and ourselves is very hard for us to comprehend. Even further, the permanent loss of a group of organisms is an almost abstract idea. At a larger scale, occidental culture increasingly attempts to “buy” death away. I mean this in two ways, firstly through the preternatural extension of life for those that can afford such “medicine”. Secondly, under postwar capitalism we have been relentlessly trained to consume and accumulate to material goods. The idea that such possessions provide us with happier lives is a widely accepted illusion. Recent studies have shown evidence that individuals thinking about death often respond by going shopping. The COVID over-buying of last year is further evidence. However, if we do not think about loss, how do we grieve, accept or learn from it?

Dying Tree. Domaine de Chamarande, France. Summer 2012.

Much of my work attempts to connect viewers with loss, and over the past two decades, through numerous trials using varied media (such as empty specimen jars to represent changes in marine food-webs, drawn silhouettes of vanished animals, amplifying the sounds coming from a slowly dying tree, and others). I found that the cut artifacts in the Frameworks has a visceral quality that invokes an emotive response in viewers, sometimes anger but most often confusion followed by grief, it has been my successful attempt in translating species loss to others, translate the with the message of species loss. At another level the works question what we value and protect, our beloved depictions of nature or actual species and ecosystems. As conservationist Aldo Leopold once said, “We stand guard over works of art, but species representing the work of aeons are stolen from under our noses.”

From endangered sea turtles, to marine mammals, to plankton, deep-water alga, corals to birds to us- the spill reached the many tiers of the complex Gulf web and way of life.

(MIA Highfin Blenny. 2020. 22.5 by 32 inches. Mixed media with Deepwater Horizon source crude oil, Taylor/ MC20 source crude, contaminated marshland sediment with oil, anaerobic bacteria and iron oxide, and COREXIT 9500A (dispersant) on Arches hot press watercolor paper. Depicting United States National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) at the Smithsonian specimen USNM 164017 Highfin Blenny (male), Lupinoblennius nicholsi. *Species last reported in 2000.)


And, last but definitely on least, congratulations on your recent Guggenheim Fellowship! How does it feel and what do you have in store for the fellowship?
 
Thank you. I am very grateful. The Guggenheim Fellowship will support my continued project Searching for Ghosts of the Gulf, which responds to missing Gulf of Mexico species through visual artworks and actions with coastal Louisiana communities that are themselves culturally endangered.
 
For many of us, and over ten thousand other species, the Gulf of Mexico is a special place, our sanctuary, our home, our mother, provider and sometimes destroyer. As an artist I find her to be an inspirational source of color, form, intrigue, tranquility and fear. From the science side, the Gulf is among the most important and biologically diverse marine environments in the world. She is resilient, powerful, seductive but also dangerous, damaged and suffocating in her own sang noir (a regional term describing crude oil).
Land in coastal Louisiana is being lost at the fastest rate on Earth and, in recent decades, several Gulf species have gone missing. As habitats and biodiversity disappear, so do the cultures that rely on them. The fate of the Gulf’s children remains precarious.

Since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, much of my work has focused on the perilous environmental state of the Gulf of Mexico. So much so that my family and I moved to south Louisiana from NYC in 2015, to be at the front lines so to speak.
 
DWH was the largest industrial petrochemical accident in modern history and its long-term impact on fishes, other biota and Gulf ecosystems is still not well understood. Additionally, there have been 2000+ smaller spills since DWH and, before then, the Taylor or MC20 oil spill began in 2004 and continues uninterrupted today. Through my installations, photographs, crude paintings and programs, I want to give visual form to loss from these environmental insults and inspire individual actions towards systemic change.

The Nature of Art (PBS) 2019

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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

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Conscient Podcast: é32 tsou

L’engagement des citoyens est nécessaire pour le changement culturel autour des actions climatiques. C’est vraiment un changement culturel dans n’importe quel milieu. Quand on veut faire des grands changements systémiques, il faut changer la culture, et les arts et la culture sont des bons outils pour changer la culture.

shuni tsou, balado conscient, 24 avril, 2021, Ottawa

Shuni Tsou est une fonctionnaire passionnée, spécialisée dans le domaine de la culture, qui trouve la magie des arts dans la nature et les moments ordinaires de la vie. Élevée à Taïwan, Shuni a commencé son voyage à travers le monde en tant que musicienne itinérante à l’âge de 14 ans, s’est plongée dans l’étude des collaborations artistiques interculturelles au Royaume-Uni et aux États-Unis, et a consacré la dernière décennie à la promotion et à la démocratisation des arts au Canada et ailleurs.

J’ai rencontré Shuni lorsqu’elle travaillait au Conseil des arts du Canada en tant qu’agente des politiques et de la planification et agente de programme au Bureau de l’équité. Elle travaille maintenant comme conseillère en diplomatie culturelle à Affaires mondiales Canada. Shuni a un esprit vif et un cœur tendre. Je suis heureux qu’elle ait accepté mon invitation à partager ses réflexions sur notre intérêt commun pour les arts, l’environnement et la justice sociale.

Le samedi 24 avril 2021, dans le parc Richelieu Vanier à Ottawa, Shuni et moi avons échangé sur l’engagement des citoyens, l’action culturelle, la crise écologique, l’éducation artistique, la justice sociale, les changements systémiques, l’équité, etc. 

Je remercie Shuni pour sa générosité, sa sensibilité et son engagement indéfectible envers la culture et l’environnement. 

Vous trouverez de plus amples informations sur Shuni à https://www.linkedin.com/in/shuni-tsou-1b0a9416a/

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é32 tsou (translation)

Citizen engagement is what is needed for cultural change around climate action. It’s really a cultural shift in any setting. When you want to make big systemic changes, you have to change the culture and arts and culture are good tools to change the culture.

shuni tsou, conscient podcast, april 24, 2021, ottawa

Shuni Tsou is a passionate civil servant specialized in the field of culture who finds the magic of arts in nature and life’s ordinary moments. Brought up in Taiwan, Shuni started her globe hopping journey as a touring musician at age 14, delved into the studies of intercultural arts collaborations in the UK and US, and dedicated the past decade in promoting and democratizing the arts in Canada and beyond. 

I met Shuni while she was at Canada Council for the Arts as Policy and Planning Officer and Program Officer in the Equity Office. She now works as Cultural Diplomacy Advisor at Global Affairs Canada. Shuni has a sharp mind and a kind heart. I was pleased that she accepted my invitation to share her insights about our shared interest for arts, environment, and social justice.

On Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Ottawa’s Richelieu Vanier Park, Shuni and I discussed citizen engagement, cultural action, the ecological crisis, arts education, social justice, systemic change, equity, and more. 

I thank Shuni for her generosity, sensitivity and unwavering commitment to culture and the environment. 

More information about Shuni can be found at https://www.linkedin.com/in/shuni-tsou-1b0a9416a/

The post é32 tsou appeared first on conscient podcast / balado conscient. conscient is a bilingual blog and podcast (French or English) by audio artist Claude Schryer that explores how arts and culture contribute to environmental awareness and action.

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About the Concient Podcast from Claude Schryer

The conscient podcast / balado conscient is a series of conversations about art, conscience and the ecological crisis. This podcast is bilingual (in either English or French). The language of the guest determines the language of the podcast. Episode notes are translated but not individual interviews.

I started the conscient project in 2020 as a personal learning journey and knowledge sharing exercise. It has been rewarding, and sometimes surprising.

The term ‘conscient’ is defined as ‘being aware of one’s surroundings, thoughts and motivations’. My touchstone for the podcast is episode 1, e01 terrified, based on an essay I wrote in May 2019, where I share my anxiety about the climate crisis and my belief that arts and culture can play a critical role in raising public awareness about environmental issues. The conscient podcast / balado conscient follows up on my http://simplesoundscapes.ca (2016–2019) project: 175, 3-minute audio and video field recordings that explore mindful listening.

Season 1 (May to October 2020) explored how the arts contribute to environmental awareness and action. I produced 3 episodes in French and 15 in English. The episodes cover a wide range of content, including activism, impact measurement, gaming, arts funding, cross-sectoral collaborations, social justice, artistic practices, etc. Episodes 8 to 17 were recorded while I was at the Creative Climate Leadership USA course in Arizona in March 2020 (led by Julie’s Bicycle). Episode 18 is a compilation of highlights from these conversations.

Season 2 (March 2021 – ) explores the concept of reality and is about accepting reality, working through ecological grief and charting a path forward. The first episode of season 2 (e19 reality) mixes quotations from 28 authors with field recordings from simplesoundscapes and from my 1998 soundscape composition, Au dernier vivant les biens. One of my findings from this episode is that ‘I now see, and more importantly, I now feel in my bones, ‘the state of things as they actually exist’, without social filters or unsustainable stories blocking the way’. e19 reality touches upon 7 topics: our perception of reality, the possibility of human extinction, ecological anxiety and ecological grief, hope, arts, storytelling and the wisdom of indigenous cultures. The rest of season 2 features interviews with thought leaders about their responses and reactions to e19 reality.

my professional services

I’ve been retired from the Canada Council for the Arts since September 15, 2020 where I served as a senior strategic advisor in arts granting (2016-2020) and manager of the Inter-Arts Office (1999-2015). My focus in (quasi) retirement is environmental issues within my area of expertise in arts and culture, in particular in acoustic ecology. I’m open to become involved in projects that align with my values and that move forward environmental concerns. Feel free to email me for a conversation : claude@conscient.ca

acknowledgement of eco-responsibility

I acknowledge that the production of the conscient podcast / balado conscient produces carbon. I try to minimize this carbon footprint by being as efficient as possible, including using GreenGeeks as my web server and acquiring carbon offsets for my equipment and travel activities from BullFrog Power and Less.

a word about privilege and bias

While recording episode 19 ‘reality’, I heard elements of ‘privilege’ in my voice that I had not noticed before. It sounded a bit like ‘ecological mansplaining’. I realize that, in spite of good intentions, I need to work my way through issues of privilege (of all kinds) and unconscious bias the way I did through ecological anxiety and grief during the fall of 2020. My re-education is ongoing.

Go to conscient.ca

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Centre for Sustainable Curating Launch Event

We would like to invite you to join us on May 27, from 1-5pm EST for the launch of the Centre for Sustainable Curating.

The Centre for Sustainable Curating is located in the Department of Visual Arts at Western University. The CSC encourages research into waste, pollution, and climate crisis, and the development of exhibitions and artworks with low carbon footprints.

Over the next year, the CSC will engage in a year-long visioning exercise to imagine, collaborate, and discuss the ways we can take seriously the goal of the Centre to be sustainable in all ways: that is, sustainable in teaching about best ecological practices for exhibition making, sustainable in how we might engage with the world around us, and sustainable in the outcomes built through our efforts.

At the launch event, we will introduce the Centre, including the work of the two inaugural postdocs. A panel will consider Radical Pedagogy and Curation, focusing on the expansive forms of teaching and learning that can take place in museum and exhibition spaces. And we will conclude with a second launch, that of the Synthetic Collective’s catalogue Plastic Heart: A DIY Fieldguide For Reducing the Environmental Impact of Art Exhibitions.

REGISTER HERE

Schedule
1-1:45pm — Intro to the CSC by Kirsty Robertson and Kelly Wood with presentations by CSC postdocs Zoë Heyn-Jones and Amanda White
1:45-2pm – Break
2-3:45pm — Curating and Radical Pedagogy (Christiana Abraham, Christina Battle, Eugenia Kisin, Gabby Moser, Ryan Rice), hosted by Sarah E.K. Smith
3:45-4pm – Break
4-5pm — Launch of Plastic Heart: A DIY Fieldguide For Reducing the Environmental Impact of Art Exhibitions, Synthetic Collective with artists Christina Battle and Lan Tuazon

Learn more about the CSC here: www.sustainablecurating.ca

CAA 2021: 89 Panels Focused on the Climate Crisis

Submitted by Sue Spaid

According to the official conference schedule, CAA 2021 hosted 89 panels over 4 days that featured nearly 325 presenters addressing issues “including but going beyond eco-art and eco-criticism, with a special focus on climate justice and intersectional thinking as priorities.” I have attended conferences where it was imperative to read presenters’ papers in advance, but this was my first conference where I was expected to watch three to four 15-20 minute videotaped presentations in advance of each 30-minute panel discussion in order to intelligently discuss presenters’ talks. Crazier still, pre-recorded presentations came online less than a week before the first day, leaving those attendees particularly interested in the climate crisis just 168 hours to watch 108 hours of pre-recorded content to prepare for 89 half-hour sessions. For good, several climate crisis panels were booked simultaneously, so one need only prepare for the favored theme. Luckily, the pre-recorded talks and recorded discussions remained available through March 15, which meant that if one devoted five hours a day for the remaining 30 days, one could still catch 153 hours of recorded content. I did my best to view as much content as possible. According to CAA’s post-conference survey, the average attendee checked out the recorded talks associated with two panels.

Elsewhere I’ve characterized how centuries of colonialism aggravated species extinction, vulnerable essential workers, and the negligence that spurred the Black Lives Movement. Not only did numerous panels tie climate justice to the legacy of colonialism, in particular the violence harnessed to sustain environmentally-insensitive extractive industries; while others credit climate change with instigating radical pedagogies, cultural sustainability, multispecies co-authorship, intersectional approaches to ecology, geo-trauma, and mourning as a means of coping with ecological grief. Given the role played by place in shaping local cultures, beliefs, and values, it’s imperative that societies recognize how degraded environments destabilize cultural identities. Such a diverse range of panels painted climate justice as both product and a cause of widespread social ills.

Land acknowledgment statements typically honor indigenous peoples’ territories related to the in-person conference’s location. The first CAA 2021 panel I attended encouraged listeners to post the names of Indian tribes whose unceded lands they occupied, which truthfully inspired me for the first time in my life to investigate the Native Americans inhabiting Houston, my parental home since 1977. I eagerly typed in “Akokisa, a tribe associated with the Atakapa Indians,” known as the Atakapa-Ishak Nation. This was the first indication that a zoom meeting could prompt locals to discover local lore.

This conference provided an opportunity to explore the wealth of contemporary art being created by artists of Native American descent, such as David Boxley’s Tsimshian imagery, Dyani White Hawk’s paintings and beadwork inspired by Lakota quillwork, Oscar Howe’s dynamic casein and tempera paintings, James Johnson’s Tlingit carvings and dynamic skateboards, Courtney Leonard’s ongoing Breach project inspired by the Shinnecock Nation’s ancestral lands near Montauk, and Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie’s digital art. Participating art historians/curators researching indigenous artistic practices included Yve Chavez, Eva Mayhabal Davis, Kendra Greendeer, Frances Holmes, Madison Treece, and Stephanie Sparling Williams. Participants in Aram Han Sifuentes’ workshops have created over 2500 banners that she routinely lends to protesters marching to protect Native American ancestral lands.

Of special interest was a panel entitled “Artworks of the Future/Artworks for Jellyfish,” during which artists Ted Hiebert and Ryuta Nakijima, artist/ornithologist Silas Fischer, and art historian Amanda Boetzkes discussed bird wellbeing, songbird “consent,” planetary flesh-relations, co-embodiment, the loss of the other vs. extinction, and artworks created by cephalopods (cuttlefish, octopuses, and squids), whose “adaptive coloration” capacities enable them to blend in with computer-generated images of artworks. Another artist who mixes science and art is Xiaojing Yan, who uses a diverse range of natural materials, including pine needles, freshwater pearls, lingzhi mushrooms, and cicada exoskeletons. To create her living sculptures, she puts wood chips and lingzhi spore mixtures into a mold and then removes the mold so the mushrooms can continue growing in a greenhouse.

One of the sessions whose artworks especially addressed climate change was “During the “From Wheatfields to Ecosophy: A Consideration of Women Artists in the History of Climate Change” session, which Cynthia Veloric who invited me to be the discussant organized. Diane Burko surveyed her paintings that characterize climate change’s effects over a century. Christina Cataneseintroduced “The Tempestry Project” for which dozens of knitters registered daily temperature fluctuations in colored yarn, while Bonnie Peterson presented her elaborate embroideries that depict environmental data. Jenny Kendler discussed Birds Watching(2018-2019), which captures the eyes of 100 U.S. climate-threatened species, while Daniela Naomi Molnar shared her watercolor paintings that map climate change reshaping our planet.      

The panel “Aviva Rahmani: From Ecofeminism to Climate Justice” highlighted Rahmani’s oeuvre beginning with her carrying/caring for an object for a week as an undergraduate up through The Blued Tree Symphony (2015-present). MOCA Los Angeles curator Rebecca Skafsgaard Lowery highlighted her early performances, such as The Pocket Book Piece (1969), during which participants described their association to purse items; Smelling (1972), for which blindfolded Cal Arts students sniffed one another to try to identify each other by scent, and the collaborative activist performance Ablutions (1972), which took place in Laddie John Dill’s studio. For this feminist artwork, Judy Chicago, Suzanne Lacy, Sandy Orgel, and Rahmani choreographed performers seated in metal bathtubs, filled with eggs, animal blood, and clay; while the audience heard various speakers personal accounts of rape. Curator Monika Fabijanska remarked that Rahmani was among the first to connect the rape/assault of women to routine violations/abuses of nature. Chava Maeve Krivchenia discussed the results of Rahmani’s having painted boulders alongside a public causeway blue to draw attention to the stagnant water below. Despite having been officially invited by a curator to create this public artwork, an islander subpoenaed her to wash off the paint. With help from the local Garden Club, her “wash-in” became a “teach-in” for passersby. Thanks to her actions, the causeway was opened enough to allow for tidal flushing, thus restoring 27 acres of coastal wetlands. Finally, copyright lawyer Gale Elston explained the significance of Rahmani’s exploration of the limits of VARA, the law protecting artists against artwork damage/removal. To protect forests from fossil fuel development, she painted blue sine waves on trees and copyrighted hundreds of “tree-notes” in an aerial score in the paths of natural gas pipelines as art.

The rare speaker focused on surface water, Omar Olivares Sandoval’s “Critical Geologies: Contemporary Geoaesthetic Research of Mexico City Lakes” addressed the idealization of Mexico City as a lake. TFAP Ecofeminisms 4, one of several affiliated panels, featured a “Waterways” session, during which Gina McDaniel Tarver discussed Alicia Barney Caldas’ installation Río Cauca (1981-1982), which featured 3 transparent tanks of river water embedded with 15 test tube samples. During the “Art and Ecology in the Middle East and West Asia” panel, Nat Muller discussed Jumana Manna’s Wild Relatives (2018). This “sci-fi” documentary captures the efforts of farmers inhabiting Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley to replicate Aleppo’s seed bank, which had closed in 2012 as a result of the Syrian Civil War, with heirloom seeds acquired from Svalbard’s Global Seed Vault.

No discussion of climate justice would be complete without remarking on ways to overhaul the capitalocene, which many consider the underlying source of all our ecological ills. Keynote speaker Salah Hassan spoke persuasively of the need for art history to reposition the global south to the center to shift the very paradigms that sustain inequalities stemming from capitalism’s history of racism and slavery. Acting as the discussant for “Art and Ecology in the Middle East and West Asia,” T. J. Demos noted the transition from “petro-affectivity,” such that petrodollars that once greased the Iranian art world, affording artists distinct advantages; now exhibit “necro-affectivity.” For Demos, Muller’s paper muses on “interrogations of precarity and terminal endings visited upon refugee seeds as much as refugee people as investigated in Manna’s slow cinema of slow violence with its somber meditations on the sepulchral afterlife of a culture’s biogenetic heritage as it sits in the seed vault that is itself threatened by the catastrophic climate breakdown and melting permafrost resulting from that earlier fossil capital modernity.” 

Note: ecoartspace members noted in bold

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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

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Opportunity: Alchemy Film & Arts seeks new trustees

Alchemy Film & Arts are seeking energetic and engaged individuals to join our Board as trustees.

We are looking for up to three trustees, including a new chair, who can bring new perspectives to our organisation. We are particularly (but not exclusively) looking for candidates with experience in:

  • Cultural management
  • Fundraising (especially in the cultural sector)
  • Artistic/filmmaking practice
  • Higher education (especially in applied learning contexts)
  • Accountancy
  • Law

We welcome applications from candidates who have no previous experience at the Board level and recognise that many representatives of our wider community have been excluded from such opportunities in the past. We are hoping to find a new chair amongst applicants, so if you do have experience of chairing in previous organisations and are interested in being considered for the chair position, then please highlight this in your application.

We are actively looking to improve representation within our organisation. Our current Board is overwhelmingly white and cis-gendered and represents a limited range of experience. We want our organisation to reflect the diversity of society at all levels, and for that reason, we would particularly welcome applicants with experience of living with a disability, lived experiences of LGBTQ+ issues, applicants who have experienced racism, individuals from a low-income socio-economic background, and individuals across a variety of age ranges.

What does it mean to be a trustee?

Trustees are responsible for overseeing the management of a charity. Trustees offer expertise, strategic guidance and legal oversight. They support the organisation’s core team, ensure that financial reporting requirements are met, support fundraising and serve as public advocates.

The role of the trustee is voluntary and unpaid, but reasonable expenses can be claimed (to cover travel costs to attend a meeting for example).

Our trustees attend between four and six meetings a year. While we expect at least some of these meetings to take place in person, we are open to recruiting trustees living outside of Scotland and expect to continue offering virtual participation in meetings beyond current COVID-19 restrictions. We also aim to offer additional adaptations (such as live captioning or BSL) if required to enable participation in meetings.

How to apply

Please submit:

  • A CV
  • A brief cover letter (maximum one page A4) or a short video recording (maximum five minutes) outlining the reasons why you are interested and what you would bring to the role.

Please send applications (and/or any questions) to Karen Gateson, chair of Alchemy Film & Arts. For further information please visit Alchemy Film & Arts website.

Application deadline: 30th May 2021

The post Opportunity: Alchemy Film & Arts seeks new trustees 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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