Yearly Archives: 2012

The tide could turn with ‘Ten Billion’

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory
Wallace Heim writes:

Theatre critic Kate Abbott in today’s Guardian joins Michael Billington in reporting a life-changing experience watching Ten Billion at the Royal Court.

Like the facts that Stephen Emmott presented, Abbott can recite the well-polished instructions to “help us out of this hole”:

“Never buying a car, iPod, or cotton T-shirt again … stopping our addiction to fossil fuels, starting a mass-desalination programme, building green energy power points on every strip of land, harnessing every scrap of wind, and every turn of the tide …”

But one change is missing. What about demanding that theatre itself changes? What about demanding that mainstream theatre no longer turns away from the compelling emotional, moral and intellectual questions of how humans can continue to live in a time of climate instability? Theatre is more than science, more than facts, more than an instruction manual. What about demanding that theatre takes on its full life-changing role, somewhere between fiction and fact, and becomes the place where audiences wrestle with their future?

See ‘Ten Billion’ from another side.

“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)

ashdenizen is edited by Robert Butler, and is the blog associated with the Ashden Directory, a website focusing on environment and performance.
The Ashden Directory is edited by Robert Butler and Wallace Heim, with associate editor Kellie Gutman. The Directory includes features, interviews, news, a timeline and a database of ecologically – themed productions since 1893 in the United Kingdom. Our own projects include ‘New Metaphors for Sustainability’, ‘Flowers Onstage’ and ‘Six ways to look at climate change and theatre’.

The Directory has been live since 2000.

Go to The Ashden Directory

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New Red Stables Art & Ecology Summer School publication

This post comes to you from An Arts and Ecology Notebook

Image: A meeting of the Belfast Naturalists’ Field Club at the Giant’s Causeway, 11 June, 1868. Photograph © National Museums Northern Ireland Collection Ulster Museum

Image: A meeting of the Belfast Naturalists’ Field Club at the Giant’s Causeway, 11 June, 1868. Photograph © National Museums Northern Ireland Collection Ulster Museum

I gave a presentation of my theory and practice research, and my video experiments to date (see video at top of my homepage), the Hollywood Diaries: screen reel 2008-12. There were contributions from many other diverse fields that were part of significant projects undertaken by Seoidín O’Sullivan and Geraldine O’Reilly. My video was shown along with films and videos by Seoidín O’Sullivan, Grace Weir, David Nash, Andy Goldsworthy, Christine Mackey, Toon.ie animations.A great legacy of the Dublin Red Stables Art & Ecology summer school, in which I took part in August, has now been produced. The series of events and projects have been reviewed and collated into a new publication created by the Dublin City Arts Office, edited by  Seán O Sullivan with an essay by invited curator and cultural geographer, Dr Karen E. Till.

All are welcome to attend the book launch, details below. I will putting a copy of the book into the National College of Art & Design for those that are interested. My thanks to Denise and the staff at Red Stables for creating such a important project and to Karen Till for reviewing what is becoming an important new area in fine art/visual culture and cultural geography.

The book  launch was this Saturday 15 December 2012.

The Red Stables Summer School: Jul – Aug 2012
St. Anne’s Park, Dublin 3

Edited by Seán O Sullivan

This Saturday, Dublin City Council Arts Office will launch a book entitled The Red Stables Summer School: Jul – Aug 2012, which details two major projects, Seoidín O’Sullivan’s Field Work and Geraldine O’Reilly’s Weeds Are Plants Too!. This year’s summer school included a rolling series of talks and field trips with invited artists, geographers, botanists and architects and an art & ecology summer school.

Alongside more than sixty full-colour illustrations, the book includes essays by Seán O Sullivan, Dr. Karen E. Till [Cultural Geographer, NUI Maynooth], and Dr. Declan Doogue, [Botanist, Dublin Naturalists’ Field Club]. It is printed lithographically on high quality book paper in an edition of 250 copies, and it is available free of charge.

This book which highlights art and ecology projects that took place in St. Anne’s Park will be launched by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Naoise Ó Muirí, who will also switch on the Christmas tree lights.

Following on from The Red Stables Summer School and the theme of art and nature, there will be a ‘Winter Walk’ in the park with Botanist, Dr. Declan Doogue.

This project is supported by Dublin City Council Arts Office and the Arts Council of Ireland.

  Screen Shot 2012-12-12 at 21.33.02

Related links:

My talk online and video works at Red Stables Art & Ecology summer school,  17 July 2012

Art and Ecology at the Red Stables Summer School Dublin

Stories from the Field and Forest seminar at Red Stables Dublin

Please note:

Due to time demands, I am now posting a lot more regularly on my new phd website www.ecoartfilm.com which you are also welcome to follow. Just add your email to bottom of homepage. Here you will find info on experimental ecocinema practice and theory, my work and others in this small field.

An Arts & Ecology Notebook, by Cathy Fitzgerald, whose work exists as ongoing research and is continually inspired to create short films, photographic documentation, and writings. While she interacts with foresters, scientists, and communities, she aims to create a sense of a personal possibility, responsibility and engagement in her local environment that also connects to global environmental concerns.
Go to An Arts and Ecology Notebook

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To Life! eco art in pursuit of a sustainable planet

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Linda Weintraub has produced an excellent series of books on arts and ecology – they are toolkits and learning resources suitable for people who want to know more or engage groups in arts and ecology.

The most recent just published by the University of California Press is To Life!  The blurb is here Linda Weintraub: To Life! and you can purchase it here University of California Press.  Other titles are here.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.
It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
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Call for Papers – Crisis, Critique and Change

This post comes to you from Cultura21

esa-150x150The European Sociological Association (ESA) is calling for papers for their 11th conference, taking place in Turin, Italy from the 28-31 August 2013. The topic of the conference is “Crisis, Critique and Change“.

There are multiple calls by all the different Research Network and Research Streams, ranging from Environment and Society or Quantitative Research to Social Theory, as well as a Call for Paper for a pre-conference PhD Workshop at the end of August.

One particular Research Network is the Sociology of the Arts RN chaired by Tasos Zembylas:

Art’s position within society and politics has always been complex and ambivalent. Artists may raise a critical voice or offer ideological legitimation for a dominant, hegemonic image of society. They may display a strong commitment or keep a distance from others’ fate. The attitude of the arts towards contemporary issues such as the ecological crisis, the debt crisis, violence against minorities and opponents, economic exploitation, and deprivation of people’s rights has never lost any relevance. Therefore, we would like to create special sessions and invite papers on this topic with the expectation that they may include a broad nexus of sub-issues around the relation and commitment of arts in society.

More information on this specific call, is available here.

The deadline for submissions is the 1st February 2013. For further information on the Conference, all the Calls for Papers and the submission procedure please visit:http://www.esa11thconference.eu/home/

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

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‘Ten Billion’ from another side

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

Wallace Heim writes:

Michael Billington, in his nomination of Ten Billion as the best theatre event of 2012, claims that all the people he knows who saw the production found it life-changing. From my unscientific poll of the dozen people I know who saw the production, including myself, it’s possible we were in a different theatre. The lecture was well-crafted, the production tight, but the event was neither moving, informative or motivating. It was ‘old news’, a ‘first-year introductory lecture’, ‘Al Gore without the cherry picker’.

Billington’s lauding of the production is encouraging. That he, and others, were deeply affected is even more so, although one wonders what he has avoided reading or seeing for the past 20 years if the information presented was shocking. But Billington finds that it is not merely the accumulation of statistics, but the presence – the performance – of Stephen Emmott, the verifiable scientist, the speaker with a creditable reputation outside the theatre, that gave the production its urgency.

For this audience, the fluid realm of belief and disbelief that makes theatre work had to break down for the shock of climate instability to be heard. At the same time, the very theatrical occasion of sitting in that darkened room redolent of emotions of past productions, listening to another human speak, heightened any effect.

Asking again of those who found the production lacking, I found in each person’s experience at least one, if not many moments when the numbers add up, when the terror hits, when someone trusted speaks about a future irreconcilable with what one could bear. These events can be motivating and if Ten Billion provided that for some, then theatre’s role as educator has been met.

But if you’ve already had that experience, theatre is where you want to go to understand it, and a collocation of facts will not do that. This is a far more confused territory, requiring human imagination and many avenues of intelligence, deliberation, conflict and consent. It requires doing something like the processes of science, itself – its questioning and cross-questioning, experimentation, doubt and informed agreement.

Theatre may not be the place to present firm courses of action; Emmott’s advice to get a gun falls especially short. Conventional forms of theatre may, or may not, be adequate to the combination of reality and fiction that understanding climate change demands. But theatre, or something like it, continues to be a place where collectively, humans find a way through. There will continue to be many kinds of productions for many kinds of audiences. The hunger for a theatre by the audience that gets the facts but wants more continues to be strong.

“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)

ashdenizen is edited by Robert Butler, and is the blog associated with the Ashden Directory, a website focusing on environment and performance.

The Ashden Directory is edited by Robert Butler and Wallace Heim, with associate editor Kellie Gutman. The Directory includes features, interviews, news, a timeline and a database of ecologically – themed productions since 1893 in the United Kingdom. Our own projects include ‘New Metaphors for Sustainability’, ‘Flowers Onstage’ and ‘Six ways to look at climate change and theatre’.

The Directory has been live since 2000.

Go to The Ashden Directory

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‘Ten Billion’ changes Billington

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

Stephen Emmott in Ten Billion

Wallace Heim writes:

Michael Billington in today’s Guardian nominates Ten Billion as the ‘most momentous theatrical performance’ of 2012. The show was a lecture by Stephen Emmott, at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, on the consequences of human overpopulation and climate change.

Billington writes: ‘I came out shaking with fear, but also moved by theatre’s capacity to confront the emergency facing our planet.

‘This was theatre doing what it does best: confronting us with unpalatable facts about our very existence. This doesn’t mean that there is no room for invented stories or that King Lear and The Lion King have suddenly become redundant. But Ten Billion, directed by Katie Mitchell, shocked us into a new awareness of the future, and even the existing present, with ecosystems being destroyed, the atmosphere polluted, temperatures rising and a billion people facing water shortages.

‘I don’t know a single person who saw it who didn’t feel it was a life-changing experience. If enough people, especially those in positions of power, could see Emmott’s lecture, it might, just might, help to save our planet from destruction’.

“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)

ashdenizen is edited by Robert Butler, and is the blog associated with the Ashden Directory, a website focusing on environment and performance.
The Ashden Directory is edited by Robert Butler and Wallace Heim, with associate editor Kellie Gutman. The Directory includes features, interviews, news, a timeline and a database of ecologically – themed productions since 1893 in the United Kingdom. Our own projects include ‘New Metaphors for Sustainability’, ‘Flowers Onstage’ and ‘Six ways to look at climate change and theatre’.

The Directory has been live since 2000.

Go to The Ashden Directory

Powered by WPeMatico

A Climate Change in the Art World?

This post comes to you from Cultura21

An interesting article on www.artnews.com, written by Robin Cembalast, gives insight about the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the art community in New York and shows that Sandy could have been the wake-up call for the community to realize that action against climate change is required on their part.

Barry Bergdoll, MoMA’s Chief Curator of Architecture and Design is thinking about reshaping New York in a collective movement of architects, designer, officials and others:

“I don’t want to have yet another panel discussion, I want something that takes it to yet another level of effectiveness. I’m trying to figure out what that is.”

A more radical art project concerned with Global Warming is the Greenhouse Britain by theHarrisons, as it addresses resettlement as the final consequence of climate change and shows how artists can work with architects and urban planners to redesign cities and neighborhoods. Of course this proposes a more drastic approach to the reaction to climate change and arts’s role in it, as it asumes that rising water levels are inevitable and that the then displaced population will need a differently designed civilization. But maybe adaption to climate change will require this kind of transformation?

For the whole article at artnews.com, click here.

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

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Adam Cvijanovic’s Post-Natural History at Postmasters Gallery

DiscoveryOfAmericaDETAIL

Discovery of America(installation detail ) 2012
flash acrylic on Tyvek, 15 x 65 feet

This post comes to you from EcoArtSpace

Gallery Review by Leila Nadir for ecoartspace

There’s no such thing as nature.

For some, this fact is commonplace: there is virtually no place on earth untouched by human beings, especially if climate change is considered. For others, this fact inspires deep anxiety: What exactly do nature skeptics think trees and glaciers are if not natural? These dichotomous responses to the current environmental condition of our planet usually causes conversation to stalemate. It is rare when a piece of writing or a work of art breaks through this divisive questioning to initiate a genuine dialogue about the complicated relationship of the human species to its physical environment—ecologically, historically, and perceptually.

Adam Cvijanovic’s recent solo exhibition, Natural History, at Postmasters Gallery, which ran from September 8–October 13, exposes the elaborate artifice behind what we call “Nature.” However, his paintings do not adopt a simple, “nothing-is-natural” stance. Rather, they suggest that nature may in fact exist but that humanity’s access to it is filtered by the accumulation of cultural data settled into our minds, shaping how we think, see, and imagine. Whether through advanced communications media or the seemingly isolated movement of a painting brush, anytime we reference or depict “nature,” Cvijanovic suggests, we are circling it, containing it, trying to capture it with our net of compulsive human misunderstanding.

The centerpiece of the show is the sixty-five-foot Discovery of America, which Cvijanovic painted on Tyvek and adhered directly to the gallery walls. The painting involves a collision of three scenes. An artist who has vacated her/his studio is in the process of creating a landscape painting of the western North American coast during the Pleistocene era. The pristine nature in the painting is inspired by dioramas at the Museum of Natural History. Armadillos, saber-tooth tigers, mammoths, and many other prehistoric species roam the mountains and the plains, most of whom disappeared quickly after the arrival of homo sapiens on the continent. Shop lights, 2x4s, a ladder, and a pizza delivery box are scattered about a grey floor, a floor that merges with Postmasters’ own concrete floor, melding artwork and gallery, creating for a feeling of displacement for the viewer—as if we can’t trust our own senses, as if any perception of nature is framed by unstable categories.

Crashing into the pristine nature of Discovery of America’s Pleistocene landscape is a scene of men dashing through the plains on horses, based on a photograph of the Oklahoma Land Rush in 1889. Rendered in black-and-white, the cowboys appear to be riding through an old Hollywood Western film, and they cause the canvas to shred and tear, smashing its frame into smithereens. The destroyed continuity of the painting suggests the inability to depict what exactly happened when humanity arrived in North America, or when European settlers pushed aside indigenous inhabitants—as if there were a chronological or geographical gap in our representational abilities. How do we cognitively imagine what life on earth was like before the destruction wrought by our species? The painting’s wooden structure spills out onto the studio floor, where the artist has left quite a few empty bottles of beer. The painting shows that this rupture is momentous, cinematic, but also mundane, the aftermath of which we are all living in today, in a human-dominated planet earth. What more can we do than go have a drink?

White Tailed Deer 2012flash acrylic on Tyvek 99 x 144 inches (8.25 x 12 ft)

White Tailed Deer 2012
flash acrylic on Tyvek
99 x 144 inches (8.25 x 12 ft)

Cvijanovic’s other paintings cite far-ranging sources of our contemporary visions of nature, including the romantic Hudson River School painters Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstadt, the mythical fantasy of unicorns, and perhaps most relevant to our times, media culture. White Tailed Deer offers a colorful, fall-time forest with an elegant lake in the background. The trees and leaves are nearly realistic, but they contain a hint of the high-contrast colors associated with animated film and video games. Standing in the foreground and framed by bright red leaves is a truly animated character, Bambi, surrounded by his skunk and rabbit friends from the 1942 Walt Disney film. The animals have huge, wide, glowing eyes—the sort that make humans say “Ah, how cute” before bending down to pet the wild animals who, in a real forest, would have no interest in them. Although White Tailed Deer’s collision of traditional landscape painting with a film animation of wildlife is not as stark or as violent as that in Discovery of America, we are reminded of the vast distance between nature and the ways in which our culture and media shape the way we see understand this concept. How many of us have had a friendly, fun Bambi (or Dumbo, Simba, Thumper, or Sebastian) lurking in our unconscious?

In Osborne Caribou, a caribou stands tall and proud atop a pile of bloody, skinned carcasses. That the caribou are gutted with the clean lines of a knife indicates a hunters’ work, suggesting yet another way in which humans relate to the natural world, as food to be eaten. The standing caribou looks hyperreal; the outline of his body is too vivid and smooth, as if Cvijanovic were adopting a photoshop aesthetic in his painting. The caribou looks as though it might move at any moment. The painting raises the question as to whether our encounters with animals have become so dominated by media representations that we expect animals to act like animations.

Osborne Caribou  2012flash acrylic on Tyvek 99 x 144 inches (8.25 x 12 ft)

Osborne Caribou 2012
flash acrylic on Tyvek
99 x 144 inches (8.25 x 12 ft)

Natural History is not a clever riff on the American Museum of Natural History nor a nonstop vortex of signifiers nor a self-referential painting about painting, as previous critics have claimed. Those elements may be present, but Natural History goes beyond them to initiate an artistic meditation on the labor and subjectivity behind what we call science and nature, behind the supposed objectivity of the museum. Nature is not a perfect origin or an untouched state in Cvijanovic’s work. It loses that aura of timelessness. Instead, the viewer becomes aware of nature as an elusive quality that is always in a state of becoming and unbecoming, subject to whims, to moods, to the media we have consumed or the beers we have imbibed. Does Discovery of America really depict what the Late Pleistocene Era looked like? Does the Museum of Natural History do better? Or are our understandings of natural history the product of a painter who just ate too much pizza? Cvijanovic’s work asks, are we, as human beings, imprisoned by our own natural concepts, illusions, and designs? Nature might exist but it can only be understood through out limited and malleable human imagination.

ecoartapace ecoartspace is a nonprofit platform providing opportunities for artists who address the human/nature relationship in the visual arts. Since 1999 they have collaborated with over 150 organizations to produce more than 40 exhibitions, 100 programs, working with 400 + artists in 15 states nationally and 8 countries internationally. Currently they are developing a media archive of video interviews with artists and collection of exhibitions ephemera for research purposes. Patricia Watts is founder and west coast curator. Amy Lipton is east coast curator and director of the ecoartspace NYC project room.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

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