Sydneysiders and visitors to the Harbour City can explore the impact of climate change on island communities through this large-scale performance installation by Tongan Islander, Latai Taumoepeau. Large blocks of ice, suspended using traditional Tongan architectural lashing techniques for binding, will draw connections between melting ice glaciers and rising sea levels. Lanai says that she attended the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali in 2007, and thereafter decided to “extend the voice of our invisible pacific people through my artistic practice.”
In her own words… “My name is Latai Taumoepeau, I am a performance artist with a new performance installation campaign called i-Land X-isle. It is about the impact of climate change on vulnerable indigenous communities from the arctic to coastal low lying islands. My body will be bound by rope to a 2 tonne block of ice to parallel the experience of already impacted people of human induced climate change to a form of water torture, that is imposed by developing countries. It will be live and a durational performance over 2 days.
I humbly invite you… to use my public art spectacle as a platform to raise wider awareness of communities already impacted by human induced climate change and instructions of how ordinary citizens can change to minimise and cease harm to Australia’s nearest coastal neighbours all the way to the Arctic.”
Faka’apa’apa Atu (with respect), Latai Taumoepeau
When: 26 & 27th May 2012
Time: 10am – 12noon & 2pm – 4pm
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art – Circular Quay Sydney.
Cape Farewell known for its seafaring expeditions to the Arctic to study climate change, with scientists and artists aboard, is taking a journey closer to home.Kellie Gutman reports on Cape Farewell’s latest voyage.
For four weeks starting July 15, a rotating crew of thirty-two artists and nine scientists will sail around Scotland’s coastal islands to investigate the effects of climate change on the island cultures and ecologies. A recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warns about the ‘severe impact’ rising sea levels are likely to have on the coastline of the UK, and the Outer and Inner Hebrides are the ‘bellwethers’ for the coast. Each week will have a theme: Gaelic language; island musical tradition and story-telling; marine and environmental science; local resources and the built environment.
Cape Farewell associate director Ruth Little comments:
‘One of the aims of the project is to challenge the widespread assumption that climate change impacts are only relevant to coastal communities in the global south. The environmental, social and economic situation in Scotland’s island communities resonates strongly with that of other island and coastal cultures worldwide… [We] will seek to develop new forms of communication for the human experience of climate change, and new forums for collaboration and bold imaginative response to the profound changes we all face.’
The islands have a wide range of sustainability projects ongoing, and Cape Farewell will use these as a starting point for a four-year plan of artist residencies to document, disseminate and bring together
islanders around the issues of sustainability.
The expedition blog can be followed on the Ashdenizen blogroll in our left-hand column.
“ashdenizen blog and twitter are consistently among the best sources for information and reflection on developments in the field of arts and climate change in the UK” (2020 Network)
The editors are Robert Butler and Wallace Heim. The associate editor is Kellie Gutman. The editorial adviser is Patricia Morison.
Robert Butler’s most recent publication is The Alchemist Exposed (Oberon 2006). From 1995-2000 he was drama critic of the Independent on Sunday. See www.robertbutler.info
Wallace Heim has written on social practice art and the work of PLATFORM, Basia Irland and Shelley Sacks. Her doctorate in philosophy investigated nature and performance. Her previous career was as a set designer for theatre and television/film.
Kellie Gutman worked with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for twenty years, producing video programmes and slide presentations for both the Aga Khan Foundation and the Award for Architecture.
Patricia Morison is an executive officer of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, a group of grant-making trusts of which the Ashden Trust is one.
We are now accepting submissions for our next two issues: The last of 2010 focusing on International Action, with a special section dedicated to COP16 Cancun, and the first issue of 2011 on art that makes the invisible visible.
Please share with us any work that creatively addresses global issues in sustainability. We are particularly interested in projects happening outside of the United States that pay attention to global dilemmas including global warming, rising sea levels, disappearing cultures, and economic divides. A special section will be dedicated to work at the UN’s Conference of the Parties, summit on climate change in Cancun in December.
International Action Deadline for Submission: January 10, 2011
For this issue, we are interested in art projects, installations, and performances that visualize invisible threats to our environmental, economic, or cultural sustainability. How can our creative industries call public attention to major issues that are easy to ignore because they are ‘out of sight, out of mind?’
Invisible Visibility Deadline for Submission: February 1, 2011.
The CSPA Quarterly explores sustainable arts practices in all genres, and views sustainability in the arts through environmentalism, economic stability, and cultural infrastructure. The periodical provides a formal terrain for discussion, and seeks to elevate diverse points of view.
Javier Velasco, La Isla Hundida, Performance, 2010
November 29-December 10, 2010
New York-Valencia-Zurich, November 9, 2010—ARTPORT_making waves, an international arts and sustainability organization, and CINEMA PLANETA, a Mexico-based environmental film festival with international reach, present Cancun: 2 Degrees of Separation, a comprehensive arts program aimed at bringing a breath of fresh air to a sapless United Nations Climate Conference, COP16, in Cancun, from November 29-December 10, 2010.
As part of 2 Degrees,Artist Javier Velasco, who has exhibited at the Venice Biennial, will make a statement about rising sea levels with a live arts performance involving hundreds of local children in a public space in Cancun—right at the heart of the conference. The performance will be accompanied by a rich program of a cell phone video contest, art video screenings, panel discussions on the role of art in the climate debate, and an exhibition on gender and climate change.
Anne-Marie Melster, Corinne Erni, and Oliver Orest Tschirky from ARTPORT_making waves are behind the innovative concept of bringing art to the heart of where it matters. They explain: “Art can inspire change, and that’s why we bring this program to the very people who will be making crucial decisions about the future of our planet.”
2 Degrees will take place in public spaces, at CINEMEX movie theaters, on large outdoor screens, and conference locations in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum, Mexico.
A detailed program, schedule, and locationswill be announced at the end of November.
About Cancun: 2 Degrees of Separation
La Isla Hundida (The Drowned Island) is an interactive art performance with hundreds of children by the internationally renowned artist Javier Velasco. In collaboration with the International American School of Cancun, Velasco will work with local children to build little islands and drown them in a large container filled with water in a public space in Cancun. This symbolic, playful and educational act is intended to create awareness about rising sea levels among the next generation. Prior to the performance, Velasco will work with the school to teach the children about climate change. Velasco represented Spain at the Venice Biennale in 2001, and has exhibited at MoMA P.S.1 in New York and the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville in 2004 under the direction of Harald Szeemann. The message of La Isla Hundida will be spread beyond Cancun. We will invite children, schools, and educators around the world to participate in the project and share photos, videos, and comments from their own performances on the website www.laislahundida.org.
20 Seconds for the Planet is a cell phone video contest by Cinema Planeta in collaboration with Green Film Network and Environmental Film Festivals Network. People from all over the world are invited to produce a video with a cell phone. Each festival from the networks selects 10 winning videos—based on content, message, and creativity. All winning videos will be shown as a “video wall” in Cancun. www.my20sec.org
Cool Stories For When The Planet Gets Hot II is a compilation of 17 short videos and animations by international artists who won the second short video and animation contest on Global Warming by ARTPORT_making waves in 2009. It was first shown in conjunction with Art 40 Basel 2009, Switzerland.
ARTPORT_making waves and CINEMA PLANETA will jointly host a panel discussion bringing forward ideas of how art can have an impact in political decision-making, especially in the climate debate. We will invite artists and participants of the Conference—scientists, politicians, and economists—to participate.
Leading up to the events in Cancun, ARTPORT_making waves presents (Re-) Cycles of Paradise, an exhibition on gender and climate change, to open on November 11, 2010 and running through January 9, 2011, at the Spanish Cultural Center in Mexico City. The exhibition explores both the vulnerability and ingenuity of women faced with climate change. The exhibition was launched in conjunction with COP15 in Copenhagen last December.
Partners: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); International American School of Cancun, Mexico; Summit of Environmental Cinema, Mexico; Government of the Maldives; Maldivian Youth Climate Network; Bluepeace Maldives; Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AECID); IPADE Foundation Spain.
About ARTPORT_making waves and CINEMA PLANETA
ARTPORT_making waves is an international curator’s collective that raises awareness about current social and political issues worldwide through theme-oriented exhibitions, residency programs, and artists collaborations. ARTPORT_making waves aims at creating sustainable networks of artists, curators, galleries, and art collectors to promote a true globalization of the artistic discourse, giving a voice to promising artists from all over the world. At the same time, ARTPORT_making waves encourages the cross-fertilization of art, science, and politics. ARTPORT_making waves is a fiscally sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, and incorporated as non-profit associations in Spain and Switzerland. www.artport-project.org
CINEMA PLANETA is an international film festival and non-profit organization based in Mexico. The festival is committed to creating spaces of consciousness and to raising awareness through images that promote the conservation of the planet through film, art, and science. The program includes exhibitions of photojournalism and contemporary art, conferences, and open air cinema. It takes place every spring in Cuernavaca, Morelos, and is a unique initiative in Mexico. CINEMA PLANETA has presented more than 100 contemporary films in various sections in its first two editions. The films have previously been shown at festivals like Sundance, Cannes, and at the Oscar’s. CINEMA PLANETA is a member of the Green Film Network and Environmental Film Festivals Network. www.cinemaplaneta.org
Corinne Erni, Co-Founder and Co-Director of ARTPORT_maing waves New York
In this guest post on the Ashden Directory’s Blog, Wallace Heim, co-editor of the Ashden Directory, spends a day in Liverpool – first with philosophers, then with artists.
Two weeks ago, in sight of the Mersey, and within a 100 yards of one another, you could find two very different ways of looking at human relations with nature. At Liverpool University's Philosophy Department, a dozen professors and lecturers exchanged ideas on alienation and the environment. Across the street, High Tide’s latest exhibition of work by 11 artists opened at the Art & Design Academy.
The philosophers talked in a plain room around a table. We dived into meticulous explorations of how the human relates to the natural, and whether our perceived loss of touch from the natural world is justifiably the grounds for our current situation, or whether there is something in that estrangement which is vital, productive, even necessary.
A grappling with how to describe the experience and feeling of alienation moved alongside the historical and analytical exploration of it, through the Romantics, Marx, environmental ethics and new views on the built environment as ‘natural’.
Seeing the gallery with those ideas still swimming in my mind made me look for a similar prodding of that sore zone between human and nature, wanting to see more than a rush to represent the effects of the estrangement, or to show a better or more ecological connection, as valuable as those are. I wanted to be taken, through art, into that suspension where not everything is known and already given, a place of sideways, even dangerous, questions.
This wasn’t the theme of Mersey Basin, which was an exploration of rising sea levels, flooding and the ebb and flow of that shoreline. Works were composed of driftwood, mud, string, plastic detritus and woven wool. Some were juxtapositions of waste and beauty (Robyn Woolston, Gordon MacLellan), some had provocational intent (Àgata Alcañiz). Many artworks represented past conversations or performances, or long periods of attending to an environment, or of collaborations with scientists (Scott Thurston & Elizabeth Willow, James Brady & Stuart Carter).
Maps represented not only the present, but the ancient fluctuations of changing shorelines melding into projections of an uncertain future (Tim Pugh), and the visual pleasure of proposals forward for the Mersey Basin as a forested refuge for migrating species (David Haley).
The walking, marking and storytelling of the exhibition brought the materiality of the changing edge between sea and land into view. But the littoral could also describe the continually changing gap between the ‘human’ and ‘nature’, and it was the philosophers who excited this most sharply, almost painfully, and pushed against the shortcomings of current knowledge as our environments change.
Pic: 'Trees of Grace: Draughting Change': David Haley shows our blogger a map of the Mersey Basin and Pennines that illustrates how it would look with a changed shoreline and re-forestation. (Yvonne Haley)
Theatre and the Environment Panel (And an excerpt of a work in progress) Martin E. Segal Theatre Center The CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10016-4309 April 23rd, 2009, 6:30 pm
Join us on the evening after Earth Day to explore what theatre artists and production staff are doing to meet the extraordinary challenges of climate change. At a time when local, state and federal governments are setting goals for reductions in carbon emissions, holding public meetings to solicit public recommendations for adapting to rising sea levels; when businesses are beginning to talk about renewable energy, closed-loop waste streams, and innovative mobility systems; what are we doing in the theatre?
This event will explore theatre and the environment from two perspectives: the process of making theatre, and the theatre we make. On the process side, we will explore building performance and renewable energy, facilities management, closed loop set design and construction and intelligent recycling. On the content side we will see an excerpt of a new play by Shelia Callaghan. Directed by Daniella Topol, we will learn from her how this multimedia theatre piece about water has been shaped through her consultations with scientists at the Department of Environmental Conservation. We will also reflect on Bill McKibben’s lament that the theatre lags behind other art forms in grasping – and mining – the full artistic potential of this issue
Last year I read a report published by the IPPR that made me think. It was called Warm Words, and analysed the language and discourses used in the media and campaigns to talk about climate change.
The authors identified several discourses at the time of publication (August 2006 – so it’s a bit out of date now) that fell into three main groups; alarmism (we’re doomed), “settlerdom” and “British comic nihilism” (climate change is just too fantastic to be true), and “small actions” (messages that encourage people to beat climate change by doing little actions like turning off lights). I thought this was all fascinating, coming at the same time I was getting slightly power crazy after being exposed to the sort of sneaky public engagement strategy that campaigning organisations use, and the ideas behind social marketing and population segmentation models.
The report suggests most of these discourses are pretty ineffective, and among its recommendations are to improve the way the media uses the small actions discourse:
As mentioned earlier, populist climate change discourse (for example, in magazines) tends to put together alarmist and small-action repertoires, through features such as ‘20 ways to save the planet from destruction’. In bringing together these two repertoires without reconciling them, these articles feed a notion of asymmetry in human agency with regards to climate change.
This, the report says, is pretty disastrous, and makes people think that while their actions are responsible for climate change, they are also powerless to do anything about it. How can turning off my telly make any difference to rising sea levels and ecosystem collapse?
Their conclusion is to create a new discourse which they call “ordinary heroism”, an attempt to create a (very British by the way) language about climate change (more about heroism in another post soon). Their explanation of what makes this unique isn’t entirely clear from the report to be honest, but the examples they quote of early uses of this discourse in the media all have in common that little changes from lots of people add up to be significant.
This is absolutely one of the reasons that technology and the internet is so crucial to helping us change our behaviour. My own energy saving rituals (nothing odd, I promise) seem negligible until I’m connected to everyone else, when I realise that the cumulative effect of my and our small actions are beginning to bring about significant change. This, as well as the competitive and social proofing reasons, is why it’s great that socially-networked energy displays/smart meters are beginning to find their way on to the market.
But what else can we come up with?
Ps. Here’s a couple of other things that do this too: