Yearly Archives: 2009

Jamie Hewlett pictures climate change

hewlett

“This is the river erosion, showing how the bank has almost been sliced away. You can see the men folk looking at us on our boat – watching us quizzically as to who we are. I liked the idea of putting the paintings on paper and envelopes that were a bit dog-eared, as if they had been dropped in a puddle.”

Jamie Hewlett, creator of Tank Girl and partner in the Gorillaz project, visited Bangladesh with Oxfam to record how climate change is already affecting lives. Prints of his works from the trip are available to buy from Oxfam.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

jakub szczesny: water purification island

jakub szczesny of the collective centrala designed this floating island where visitors can purify water
through exercising. the installation located on the vistula riverside is part of the synchronicity architectural
and arts festival in warsaw.

‘I’ve proposed a systematic approach: a water treatment plant powered by human muscles by
warsaw inhabitants performing fitness exercises and pumping poluted river water via kinetic pumps
integrated in the fitness machines to four filters and four tanks to a fountain basin at the very end
of the cycle. the whole installation is supposed to perform a role of a propaganda tool changing
the consciousness of warsawers by showing the efficiency of human action in the process of
puryfing the waters of their river. what’s meaningful, is the fact, that many poles, even after twenty years
of liberalization, still don’t believe in their own potential as individuals or members of commuities,
in positively changing their life environment.’ –  jakub szczesny

more information and image can be found here.

Rock Stars Rock Climate Change

A new song has been recorded by some of the biggest stars of music and film to support a global climate change campaign.
The project is part of the tck tck tck campaign, which is raising awareness of the need to combat rising carbon emissions levels.
This is particularly vital in the run up to the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this coming December.
‘Beds Are Burning’ is a cover of a 1987 Midnight Oil track – the group’s singer Peter Garret is now Environment Minister in Australia.

Go to Eco-Catalysts

The Young Masters Art Prize

London – Gallerist Cynthia Corbett today announced that her Art Prize will no longer be sponsored by Trafigura, and will instead be renamed the Young Masters Art Prize.

Cynthia explains “Since the prize was conceived 2 years ago we approached various art foundations and corporate organizations to sponsor an art prize.  We feel that the recent events involving Trafigura are detracting from the main purpose of the prize, which is to celebrate emerging and newly established artists.”

The Young Masters Art Prize will be awarded to one of sixteen international artists who have been chosen to exhibit work at the Young Masters exhibition, which opened at The Old Truman Brewery last Thursday night with over 1200 visitors.

The winner of the Young Masters Art Prize will be announced on Tuesday 3 November, and the prize will be continued each year, with funding for the prize money sourced for alternative sponsors. This year the prize will be non-monetary.

The Young Masters Art Prize will be judged by an independent panel of high profile artists, journalists and historians.

For further information please contact The Cynthia Corbett Gallery

T. +44 (0) 208 947 6782  M. +44 (0) 7939 085 076 email info@thecynthiacorbettgallery.com or visit www.thecynthiacorbettgallery.com

For all media enquiries please contact

Alice Parsons or Will Paget, PagetBaker Associates T + 44 (0)207 323 6963

email alice@pagetbaker.com or will@pagetbaker.com

Notes to Editors:

For information on Young Masters please refer to www.young-masters.co.ukwww.thecynthiacorbettgallery.com

Selected work from Young Masters is exhibited at Sphinx Fine Art, 125 Kensington Church Street, W8 until 5 November 2009 (10am – 6pm).

The entire collection of Young Masters is exhibited at The Old Truman Brewery, F Block, T5 from 15 October – 3 November 2009 (11am – 6pm).

Community Supported Theater

A model we’ve been discussing for a while at the CSPA in regards to our producing partnerships, it’s exciting to see the idea of modeling a theater on a community agriculture model. Makes sense to us since we started trying to make it so that community wasn’t a dirty word in theater anymore.

To catch you up on the discussion we picked it up through The Artful Manager this past week:

Is unprofitable theater (or other arts endeavor) a charity, a community resource, an entitlement, a labor of love, or some combination thereof? Whatever we choose as our cluster of definitions, it will be helpful to align our business models and our resource strategies accordingly.

Which led us to Flux Theatre:

I talked a little about this model, and how it might work for Flux, in the post The Metabolism of Theatre. On the surface, this idea could feel like a reframed subscriber relationship for an age that hates subscribing. For the change to be more substantive, several conceptual and practical things need to happen.

and Stolen Chair:

For the past nine months, Stolen Chair and six other artists have been developing models for economic and financial sustainability through The Field’s Economic Revitalization for Performing Artists (ERPA) program, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation’s 2008 New York City Cultural Innovation Fund.

Jon Stancato/Stolen Chair proposed a way to adapt the business plan followed by most Community Supported Agricultures (CSAs). Like the CSA model, Stolen Chair hopes to build a membership community, a “CST”, which would provide ‘seed’ money for the company’s development process and then reap a year’s worth of theatrical harvests.

[display_podcast]

Listen to the CST model presentation for ERPA’s Public Display of Invention at WNYC’s Jerome L. Green Performance Space, Sept. 21, 2009.

ERPA Clip 5 Jon Stancato/Stolen Chair Theatre Company from The Field on Vimeo.

All of this comes out of ERPA….

Economic Revitalization for Performing Artists (ERPA – pronounced ur•pah) tackles tough economic realities on two fronts: inventive public dialogues (AKA Invention Sessions) and an ambitious entrepreneurial lab. Since 2008 ERPA dialogues have engaged more than 500 artists and cultural stakeholders in topics ranging from alternative fundraising tactics, to the romanticization of the starving artist paradigm, to a smackdown exposé on the ‘new’ economy.

The Invention Sessions helped set the stage for a competitive proposal process in November 2008, from which seven projects were selected (out of 116 applicants!) to receive Planning Grants from The Field.  Each ERPA artist received a $5,000 stipend and a variety of professional development resources to support their ideas-in-progress.  After more than a year of entrepreneurial investigations, their unique approaches to financial stability were presented in a Public Display of Invention at WNYC’s The Greene Space – visit the ERPA blog for audio coverage.  View clips from the Public Display on the ERPA vimeo channel.

350.org’s International Day of Climate Action at ecoartspace NYC

On October 24th in conjunction with 350.org’s International Day of Climate Action, ecoartspace NYC will screen 3 films on a rotating schedule between 12 – 6pm.

Eva Bakkeslett‘s Alchemy: The Poetry of Bread
A poetic evocation on the alchemy of b
read brings the act of baking the most basic of staples, into a high art form.

Jacinto Astiazaran & Fritz Haeg

The Sto
ry of Mannahatta and the Lenape Edible Estate: Manhattan
As told by Eric San
derson of the Mannahatta Project.
Ever wondered what New York looked like before it was a city? Welcome to Mannahatta, 1609. Now, after nearly a decade of research, the Mannahatta Project at the Wildlife Conservation Society has un-covered the original ecology of Manhattan.

Lenore Malen & The New Society for Universal Harmony
I Am The Animal That I Am
Narrates the grave threat to the bee population including “colony collapse disorder” from the perspective of 6 Hudson Valley Beekeepers.

Go to EcoArtSpace

APInews: Artists Take Part in Global Day of Climate Action

People and animals at the bank of the Hudson River on the upper west side of Manhattan will gather with artist Aviva Rahmani as part of “350,” the largest global day of climate action ever. On October 24, 2009, Rahmani will alternately walk to the water and sing Puccinis aria “Vissi darte,” a capella, a song “about beauty and betrayal,” and stop at the shore to draw pictures of the waters, reflecting on “how they are rising in some places under the assault of global warming while in other places, fresh clean water is vanishing.” Simultaneously, people worldwide will be taking up to 4,000 similar actions, from climbers with 350 banners high on the melting slopes of Mount Everest to government officials in the Maldive Islands holding an underwater cabinet meeting to demand action on climate change before their nation disappears.

via APInews: Artists Take Part in Global Day of Climate Action .

The 2011 Prague Quadrennial will take place in a new space – the Veletržní Palace

Time and place – these two variables have been set for the next Prague Quadrennial (PQ), the largest international event dedicated to stage design, performance, and space. The 12th PQ will take place in the Veletržní Palace (the building of the Czech National Gallery) from June 16th to June 26th, 2011. The Veletržní Palace is only a few hundred meters away from PQ’s previous location, the Industrial Palace within the Prague Exhibition Grounds. In 2011, the functionalist building of the Veletržní Palace become the center of the PQ as it hosts the two main sections – the Section of Countries and Regions and the Student Section. Aside from the expositions, which will be spread on among several floors of the building, there will be a number of lectures and classes, as well as many other events. In addition, the artists will also visit the city center, as many shows, exhibitions, and performances will take place directly in the streets of Prague, on the piazzetta of the National Theatre, or in the building of the Theatre Academy.

”As for the Prague Quadrennial in 2007, there were almost 30,000 visitors and more than 5,000 professionals and students from all over the world. One of our aims for the upcoming PQ therefore was to look for a new place, which would not only correspond to the growing interest of the public, but would also be an important source of impulse for the PQ itself. The connection with the National Gallery offers new context for the Prague Quadrennial, which presents scenography as an artistic discipline between visual and performing arts,“ says Sodja Lotker, the PQ Artistic Director .

The main objective of the PQ is to draw attention to current works of scenographers and architects to the broader public. Apart from the professional aspect, the PQ’s organizers are planning to introduce a number of events meant for the general public and kids. At this moment there are 57 countries signed up to participate in the next PQ. There are a number of traditional PQ participating countries registered, such as the USA, Germany, and Norway, but also countries like India and Kazakhstan. For more detailed information, please go to www.pq.cz/en.

Preparations for the next Prague Quadrennial are already in full swing. Great attention, however, has turned to the new PQ project, the Intersection. It is a unique project combining workshops, symposia, and last but not least, the artistic event itself. The Intersection is clearly the most extensive project of its kind, connecting various fields and genres of contemporary art, related to performance and performance design – theatre itself, dance, art installations, video art, performance, body art, fashion, new media, architecture, and site-specific pieces, among others. As a result of several years of effort, there will be a performance/installation in the Prague city center, where people will be able to see performances throughout the day, or where one can see installations or video art. The importance of this project is not only marked by the participation of 8 other important institutions as Victoria and Albert Museum or Kretakör Theatre Company, but also the fact that the project was awarded the Culture Grant of the European Union, where it succeeded among 296 applications. The first part of the project – the international theoretical symposia took place in Autumn 2009 in Amsterdam and Zurich.

The quintessential element of the PQ program, however, will traditionally be connected to the Section of Countries and Regions. Individual country’s concepts will represent all current stage design directions: the stage, costume, lighting and sound design, etc. and their mutual connections. As in previous years, plenty of space will be also dedicated to the Student Section. Aside from the expositions of particular art schools from around the world, this section will also host the Scenofest – an educational project based in workshops and site-specific performances. The question, “what is a theatre now?” will be the main topic of the Architecture Section, which will mainly focus on the diversity of forms of theatre space in the 21st century. This section will not only take spectators from the theatre building to site-specific spaces and all the way to virtual space, also it will also create dialog among architecture, scenography, and contemporary performance.

The three main competitive sections of the Prague Quadrennial, where participating countries and artists may win the main prize, the Golden Triga, as well as other awards, will be accompanied by several programs meant to address the broadest international public. There will be a new project concerning costumes, a sound and light project, and the traditional PQ for Children project, which will take place directly in the streets of Prague.

The Veletržní Palace is one of the most important functionalist buildings in Prague. Built by Josef Fuchs and Oldřich Tyl, the building was completed in 1928 and was, in its time, highly praised for its size, modern concept, and unusual façade. The six floors of the building served its original purpose until 1939 when it began to be used for many different purposes. Destroyed by fire in 1974, the building was reconstructed in the early 1990s and today it serves as the home of 20th and 21st century art for the Czech National Gallery.

For more information please contact:

Ondřej Kopička

International PR

Prague Quadrennial

M: +420 608 540 360
E: press@pq.cz

Trafigura, reputation management and the arts

Last week the much-tweeted Trafigura affair collided with the world of art –  with ungainly results. It’s not just Trafigura and Carter Ruck’s reputation that have taken a pasting over the last few days on Twitter.

On Friday, Twitterers claimed victory in a freedom of speech issue surrounding the oil trading company Trafigura. At the heart was a report, commissioned by Trafigura themselves into thedumping of slops in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, which Trafigura did not want the public to see. The toxic chemicals are alleged to have caused the deah of up to 18 people and injury to at least 30,0oo more.

When the existence of the report was raised under the privilege of a parliamentary question, the solicitors Carter-Ruck effectively imposed an injunction on The Guardian reporting what was now parliamentary business. At which point the Twitterverse scented a rat and began publicising not only the injunction and its history, but disclosing the full contents of the damning report. Bingo.  The company’s efforts to keep the report quiet resulted in it being transmitted around the world to millions of internet users. The result was that a whole swathe of those who had been perhaps a little sceptical about the use of Twitter became converts.

While old media were impotent in the face of the injunction, new media simply swept all this  aside. Hurrah for new media.

Well, not quite. It was a little more complicated than that. The Guardian had very cleverly dropped a hint of the injunction on its front page knowing that the unfettered world of new media was likely to pick up and run with it. For all its self-congratulation, it’s not likely that the Twitterverse would have picked up the story on their own. What it should be seen as is an exemplary act of collaboration between old and new.

Anyway, to THE ART BIT.

During Tuesday’s Twitterstorm, an artist called Ivan Pope was amongst those who, googling for stick-like facts to beat Trafigura with, noticed that the company were sponsoring The Trafigura Art art prize as part of the Young Masters exhibition.

As an artist he was quite reasonably shocked to see an arts event associated with a company who were the subject of a damning UN report into the dumping incident. As Pope and others spread news of the prize, the Cynthia Corbett Gallery and exhibition curator Constance Slaughter became the target of the widespread rage against Trafigura. Pope blogged:

OK, so bringing Trafigura and artists together seemed like a good idea.
Except that it is damaging to the artists, the judges, the gallery and the art world generally.
But it is great news for Trafigura, who paid £4,000 for the privilege.
Yes, that’s right. It cost them £4,000 to attach their name to an art world prize.
The prize is run by suckers who think Trafigura are really ‘the good guys’, and that it’s all media lies.
Yes, the organisers of the prize are giving out great PR for Trafigura. If you know how much Pottinger-Bell type PR costs, you’ll see the value in this prize to them.

On Friday, after  four days flak, the Cynthia Corbett Gallery finally announced that they were withdrawing the Trafigura Prize.

OK. Kudos should be given to anyone seeking sponsorship for artists. But.

Sponsorship, as Pope points out, is an exchange. It’s bizarre that no one from the gallery,  nor any the judges who had agreed to take part in the prize, nor or any of the artists in the Young Masters exhibition, had bothered to consider whether it was a Good Idea to be involved with Trafigura until Tuesday’s Twitterstorm.

Though some, like the artist Tom Hunter who was one of the prize’s intended judges, publicly disassociated themselves from the prize following the ruckus, it took until Friday for the gallery itself to pull out. That leaves the impression that they only did so when the PR negatives of the association outweighed the positives, not because of any concern with the wider issues.

As public funding decreases in coming years, sponsorship is going to become increasingly central to the long-term health of the arts. But any sponsorship is an act of partnership – a joining of reputations.

There’s no excuse for not knowing about the controversy surrounding Trafigura. Despite the injunctions, the allegations have been in the public domain since 2006. The Ivory Coast dumping was the subject of a major Newsnight investigation in May this year.

Talk about reputation management. This sort of thing leaves the arts looking unengaged, aloof and frankly a bit dim.

Photo of flash mob protest outside the Carter Ruck offices by lewishamdreamer.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

“Shun the unbeliever”: a climate blog for Blog Action Day

When we talk about climate, we are talking about time. Not simply about time that appears to be running out, but about how we, as a species, are so poor about judging our relationship with the future.

On Monday at the Roundhouse in London six musicans performed a version of the score of Jem Finer’s Longplayer. What they played, on 234 Tibetan bowls, was just a fragment of the complete score. Jem Finer may be a musician better known for his three-minute punk-folk masterpieces as musical lynchpin in The Pogues but  Longplayer, is no three chord wonder. It is designed to play for a thousand years. You can hear a fragment at Trinity Buoy Wharf in London, where the complete score is gradually being played out, note by slow note, by computer.

In America, The Long Now Foundation measures time in millennia. It was founded, as they say, in 01966 by Stewart Brand and a group of friends who included Brian Eno; (it was Eno who gave the organisation its name). They have built a clock [above right] which struck solemnly twice as the new millenium dawned, and will strike next three times at the dawn of New Year’s Day 3000AD.

In 2005 the artist Betinna Furnee set a time lapse camera up on the East Anglian coast. In eight months she filmed the relentless disappearance of land for her artwork Lines of Defense. Only by condensing that event into just under six minutes, by altering our perspective of  time, does the scale of the the erosion become awesome enough to hold our attention.

The paradox of the modern age is that we have been given the power to see for miles and miles, yet most of the time we can only look as far as the end of our nose – or to some apocalyptic future that is beyond our control. For 80,000 human generations we struggled through the Pleistocene era, honing our ability to cope with our immediate needs – food, shelter and sex; in the 500 generations since then we have utterly transformed the planet –  first gradually, then over the last dozen or so at a breakneck speed which now puts our own relationship with earth in danger.

Perhaps not a surprise, then, that we are having trouble with the immensity of the paradigm shift we need to get our head around this new era. Maybe those of us who campaign around climate haven’t quite got that paradigm right ourselves yet, either.

I thought about this when I read Matthew Cain’s recent blog, Climate Change: I don’t care enough:

I don’t care enough about climate change. I’m not proud of that. I believe experts when they say that it is the biggest threat to the future of civilisation. I pity the plight of poor farmers in areas of the world vulnerable to changes in the climate (Maldives, Bangladesh spring to mind). And I would like to live a responsible lifestyle, contributing more to society than I take out. But that’s not enough to make me care about climate change.

It’s a very honest statement. We may worry about denial buffoons like the Tory MP Douglas Carswell who blogged earlier in the week that the idea of “man-made climate change” was merely the product of the “lunatic consensus” but in truth, they are just the clowns. The real problem is the middle ground… the vaguely sympathetic. The IPPR’s recent report reminds us that there are large numbers of people out there who, far from being energised by the noise we all make on days like today – Blog Action Day, instead feel resentful about being made to feel guilty about their lifestyles. The difference with Matthew Cain is he’s big enough to own up.

We accuse them of being selfish. We pile dung on their driveways. [Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for piling dung on Jeremy Clarkson’s driveway, but… ] But all too often our grandstanding produces lethargy, not action.

There doesn’t appear to be much that’s self-centered about Matthew Cain – apart from an over-keen interest in his own web stats, perhaps. He’s as interested in social causes and progressive change as the rest of us – more probably. He shares with the rest of us that altruism that we know is encoded in all of us.

So why isn’t he as engaged with climate change?

It’s time to start asking whether that’s our own fault. When I say “our” I mean, us, the true believers… those who think it’s the most pressing social issue of our time.

Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia, has a new book out, Why We Disagree About Climate Change. Hulme’s career arc has been a fascinating one. He is the scientist responsible for founding the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. If you’re remotely interested in the science of climate, you’ll know what major players they have been. But recently his place in the unfolding story of climate research has made him more interested in the social response to science than the science itself. He has watched with fascination as the news about impending climate change has been translated into panic, anxiety and inaction. He realises he has seen us handing over our ability to think about the future to people like himself.

Much of the rhetoric here at the RSA has been about allowing individuals to take control of their lives, yet Hulme suggests the narrative of climate change has been about surrendering our mastery of the future to numbers, to politicians and to scientists. Yes, I support the campaign to stabalise atmospheric concentrations of CO2 at 350 parts per million, but what does that really mean? I barely understand the science of it, let alone what it means for the way we will live.

Yes, I want to see significant progress at Copenhagen, but most of the political solutions on the table require a stronger state to enforce carbon reductions. In the Politics of Climate Change Anthony Giddens argues that we must return to an old style command economy. Is this really the future we want? Much of the silent middle ground, left and right wing, sees climate as the excuse the state is using for taking back the power they lost in the second half of the 20th century. And who’s to say they haven’t got a point? If activists like Matthew Cain, who have spent their political lives trying to give people power over the machinery of the state, don’t feel engaged in climate, is that really such a big surprise?

We tend to think those who do not share our need to act to make the future safe are short-sighted. They don’t understand the “long now” those artists have all identified.

But maybe it’s time for climate change campaigners to start thinking more seriously about the future themselves. Shouldn’t what we want our society to be like in the future be a lot more connected to what we want it to be like right now?

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology