Sarah Moon’s new play Tauris will be performed as a staged reading at the Wild Project in New York March 16th and 17th.
She’s fundraising with Kickstarter to help cover the costs of production, rehearsal and publicity. This reading is an important step in the development of the play and I feel grateful to have the opportunity to workshop it with a great cast, director and music director before another revision and full production — Tauris has been accepted into the Planet Connections festival in June.
This play adapts the Greek drama Iphegenia at Tauris, mashing it up with sci-fi elements, contemporary issues and music to create a story that is adventurous, dramatic and sometimes funny. The play aims to address the challenges we face as a society and as individuals regarding a shift away from a one-way relationship with nature to real sustainability. The goal is not to preach or “teach the world to sing.” We’re well past the shaming phase of environmentalism, we’re well past believing in a utopian back-to-land fantasy. Where does that put us? This play explores where we’re at now relative to re-shaping our relationship to the earth and each other and the personal issues we face in coming to terms with the fact that no one of us can make the journey alone.
We’re raising $2,500 to cover the costs of production. Whether you can contribute $3 or $30 or more, it means a lot. And if you don’t have a cent to spare, but know some people who would be interested in supporting this project, please pass this along.
Amsterdam-based artist and grad student Sander Veenhof has come up with an interactive and innovative way to spread the word on his name: A plant where the light only switches on when someone blogs, twitters or does a google search for his name. The project is an attempt to grow a “graduation bouquet” of flowers for Sander’s July 1 graduation.
Here’s what the flowers looked like a few minutes ago when I did a google search to turn the light on:
These plants look like they need a little love…why not help this guy out by doing some google searches? As a fellow graduate student in art, I can understand the need and desire to get your name out there. Guess that’s why I’m enjoying playing right into his project by making a blog post about his project.
Since this is grad student work, I’ll also jump right in with my critique: I need more transparency. What kinds of flowers are there? How long does the light switch on when his name is searched or blogged? Do different searches/posts/etc result in more or less time? Won’t the plants be all fucked up if they are not controlled for some semblance of normal daylight hours? (However, I do like the immediacy of turning the lights on immediatly….)
At a conference on Friday I met a woman called Paivi Seppala who had been involved in an arts project in North Kent called Hei People. I hadn’t heard the story she told, but it was a great one. Hei People was originaly created by Finnish artist Reijo Kela. The idea is simple; a crowd of scarecrows suddenly appear in a field somewhere, dressed in off-cast clothes, all seeming to stare in one direction. Their heads are made of clods of earth from which sprout grass. There is no pre-publicity, or explanation for their existence; they simply appear – a throng of figures, all seemingly staring in the same direction, clothes flapping in the breeze.
Having previously installed the Hei People in two locations, Seppala moved them to a third location in the summer of 2007 on the Isle of Sheppey. It’s a deprived area; a bleak piece of bog sticking out into the Thames Estuary. Locals call themselves “Swampies”. It houses three prisons. London Mayor Boris Johnson recently proposed turning it into an airport.
In other locations, the Hei People had suffered small-scale vandalism, but when they reached Sheppey, catastrophe struck. The Friday night after they were errectd, the entire installation of 400 figures was destroyed. Not a single figure remained upright. Seppala was distraught. The installation was supposed to be there for weeks. It had been wrecked within a couple of days. She felt she had no option but to reinstall it, though funds were limited, and replacing 400 figures would be a labour-intensive task.
And then, on the following Sunday morning, just as she was about to make the journey back there to Sheppey to start the work she got a phone call from the farmer who had donated the land for the installation: “Well done for getting them back up so quickly,” he said.
Seppala was baffled. What? She travelled up there and indeed all 400 figures were standing again – a little broken and muddied, maybe, but standing nonetheless. Over the next few days the story emerged in dribs and drabs. The people of Sheppey are tired of their reputation as ne’er do wells. When they heard that the Hei People had been trashed, they were distraught. This act of vandalism would only confirm outsiders’ assumptions that the people of Sheppey were no good.
People started to put one or two back upright. Seeing them, others joined in in the task of rebuilding the Hei People. Within a day, all the figures, which had originally taken days to install, were back up again in an odd act of spontaneous, anonymous barn-raising. It’s an extraordinary example of the potentially potent relationship between art and community.
Like any other activity which drains the public purse, art must be expected to justify its existence. This is a case of how difficult that can be for the arts. On the one hand this is an exemplary project, a relatively cheap piece of work which drew in a community, took on a meaning for it and left it with something to be extremely proud of. On the other hand none of what happened to the Hei People on Sheppey was either predictable or even remotely planned for. It happened simply because it was a good piece of work that Seppala and others had faith in.