Following up on Louis Helbig‘s presentation at Edinburgh College of Art comes Suzaan Boettger’s review in Brooklyn Rail of three books of photography of oil landscapes, Burtynsky’s Oil, J. Henry Fair’s The Day After Tomorrow: Images of our Earth in Crisis, and Richard Misrach and Kate Orff’s Petrochemical America.
The review addresses the approaches of the three photographers and comments on their aesthetic and art historical context. There is a larger piece of work which would encompass, for instance, the also important books by James Marriott/PLATFORM including Next Gulf: London, Washington and the Oil Conflict in Nigeria and The Oil Road: Journeys from the Caspian Sea to the City of London.
These books provide a counterpoint because rather than focusing on the visual in the context of the industrial, they narrate the relationship between the impact on the lives of people living with the oil industry and our lives in London, or Scotland, or wherever and how we are complicit through financial investments, whether that’s JP Morgan Chase or Royal Bank of Scotland.
Arup Associates have just won the Beyond the Hive Competition, sponsored by the City of London, to design a Bug Hotel for its parks. This one encourages the presence of stag beetles, solitary bees, butterflies, moths, spiders, lacewings and ladybirds by combining all these species’ required environments into one.
The ‘hotel’ consists of a vertical wall with cells divided into a voronoi pattern, where detritus and materials can be stuffed to creaqte the perfect environments for a wide variety of insects. The sides of the hotel are accessible to moths, and the top can absorb rain water through planting.
It is now the morning of the final day of COP15. Obama is in town. We are, of course, meeting for coffee.
No we aren’t, I’m technically closer to Obama right now than I ever am in the States, but I’m sure he’s busy anyway. That was the most common question I had before coming, “Are you going to be there when Obama is in town?”
Regardless of our Head of State, it’s been a very busy and exciting few days since the last marathon check-in. Hopefully you’ve been following as we highlight the arts happening around Copenhagen as they respond to COP15. I also hope you’ve been following the progress of the demonstrations around Copenhagen and the extreme tension that has built up between those inside the Bella Center and those forceful kept out.
As we left it in our last re-cap, Christiania had been raided and evacuated by Danish police. Miranda and I left the following morning for London and had to watch from afar for 24 hours. Miranda continued on home to Los Angeles, but I was in London to take care of some business.
My first goal was to get a copy of the the catalogue from the Central School of Speech and Drama’s Theatre Material/Material Theatre conference. This was the first time we had appeared anywhere using the name of the Center to talk about what we were working on. It’s a beautiful little volume with great material.
That evening was really what I had come for though, the launch event for Arcola’s new space in Dalston. The event was held in London’s Living room on the 9th floor of the London City Hall. Ben Todd appeared, introducing all of he partners in bringing together support behind the project. We’ve got the city of London, ARUP, Hackney, BOC and so on. We celebrated with a couple of drinks and a fantastic view of the tower bridge.
The next day was truly the highlight though, I’m only a bit sad that it’s not the right time to got into great detail about what happened. What I can say is that myslef, Ben Todd, and both Peter McKinnon and Liz Asselstine from York University got together in the morning to discuss an ambitious international coalition for sustainability in the performing arts. We followed this meeting by crashing Ben’s next at his invitation. We met with Alison Tickell and Catherine Bottrill of Julie’s Bicycle to discuss both their efforts to green the music industry and how we can all work together. Before heading back to Copenhagen I met, for the first time in person, William Shaw of the RSA for coffee in their London offices.
I returned to Copenhagen to a city near lock down. Police are now milling about everwhere. As I’m sure you are likely to know, the demonstrations advancing on the Bella Center on wednesday turned ugly. I hesitate to say violent, but it’s hard not to since police were using force to literally beat back demonstrations. The metro station at the Bella Center is shut down, as are the next in either direction. NGOs have been shut out from the talks, credentials removed and there are a whole lot of angry people as the temperature and snow began to fall.
Moving about Thursday brought with it a sense of tension. We’re in the home stretch and at that time we hadn’t had many world leaders appear yet. There is so much work to be done for the climate talks, and so little time, and it’s very cold. Today was my first trip to the Klima Forum, the concurrent meeting for mainly NGOs. Here I was able to interview Aviva Rahmini about her workshop, which I was sad to miss while in London. We were also there for the candle light vigil that evening and a few performances at Øsknehallen.
Sara, my host here, and myself met back up and went to the RE:Think – Kakotopia exhibition at the Nikolia Copenhagen Center for Contemporary Art. It’s a good exhibit, one of three locations with a variety of interesting work. You may have seen more about it here before. The work ranges from the witty Safety Gear for Small Animals, to the generative Most Blue Skies, to the strangely fascinating Link.
It was in watching Link that we found ourselves sitting next to police that seemed to be taking shifts in from the cold. They were checking their email on iphones and chatting. Wandering around the galleries and looking at the installations. It is very cold outside and we’re right next to the central shopping district and a few steps from the center of the government. But, it’s one thing to walk by police as they patrol, even in heightened numbers. It’s another thing to sit with them in full uniform in a gallery watching this short Finnish film.
We walked home, having dinner along the way. We passed a digital sign post recording the number of bicycles had past that day and since June 15th. There were fireworks, but we don’t know from where. It was hard to tell if it was a dud from the fireworks or something intentional, but we crossed the street at some point after a small explosion went off in front of us. With the about of anger in the air, my mind went to it being something nefarious, but I doubt there is much to that.
Today, Friday, the final day, I’m going to meet up with the Wooloo.org guys at their office. I’m going to try and see the final day, and likely the largest and more active of the demonstrations. There is a Yes Men event this evening at the Tck Tck Tck Fresh Air center which I hope to get into.
C.R.A.S.H is part of “2 degrees” Artadmin’s festival of art and climate change.
C.R.A.S.H contains two parts:
1) C.R.A.S.H Course is free, intensive training by LABOFII, combining permaculture design, art activist tactics and skills for building ecological and democratic communities, from 1 – 14 June.
2) C.R.A.S.H Culture is a week of commissioned actions, street art, skill-share, performance lectures and interventions across the City of London and a nightly promenade performance in an abandoned office block, from 17 – 21 June.
There are also commissions for internventions of £500 being offered, deadline 3 April.