Yearly Archives: 2017

Last Call: Assistant Tutor for Our Bright Future project

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

Deadline: 12 noon, Wednesday 17th May

Impact Arts is looking for an Assistant Tutor for the Our Bright Future project in Barrhead.

Creative Pathways Environmental Design is funded through the National Lottery by the Big Lottery Fund as part of Our Bright Future programme, www.ourbrightfuture.co.uk

Creative Pathways Environmental Design will introduce young unemployed people with little or no experience of environmental issues to nature, environmental awareness and green skills through practical, creative and fun projects.

As well as building confidence and developing employability skills, the project will provide a lasting legacy for the local community by creating new urban or green spaces, which will be creatively designed, have environmental issues at their core and educate through innovative interpretive material.

The project aims to provide practical work experience and accredited training for young people in design, environmental interventions, landscape gardening, public art and sculpture. The community will benefit as the work will take place on publicly accessible sites. They will be able to engage with nature on their doorsteps and a project which provides a catalyst for neighbourhood and community development.

Your role is to support the Environmental Artist in the design and delivery of high quality and structured programme, in line with the Creative Pathways objectives. You will support our Lead Tutor to deliver their workshops to a group of up to 20 young people.

A job pack and application form can be downloaded from https://www.impactarts.co.uk/blogs/get-involved-work-with-us/

Completed applications should be sent to jobs@impactarts.co.uk by 12 noon on 17th May 2017



The post Opportunity: Assistant Tutor for Our Bright Future project appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.



 

About Creative Carbon Scotland:

Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

Theatremakers vs the Climate Fools in the White House

This article was originally published on HowlRound, a knowledge commons by and for the theatre community, on April 19, 2017.

At the recent New York University The Reckoning: A Conference on Climate Justice on March 10-11, economist Jeffrey Sachs announced: “This is the end game.” And he was dead serious. Climate scientists predict we have fifteen years to decarbonize the economy if we want to avoid nasty consequences, including the distinct possibility of going the way of the dinosaurs. That’s very little time, and the obstacles are many. Some of them take the shape of rich, oil-stained, patriarchal, white supremacists, like the ones currently wreaking havoc in the White House and beyond. Others manifest as inertia and translate into a lack of social and political will. But what those obstacles are not are a lack of technology. The technology is here.

To be clear, climate change is not just about polar bears, melting glaciers, and acidifying oceans. Nor is it limited to CO2, oil, and pesticides. Our climate is on overdrive because we have an abusive economic system that disregards anything but its own gratification. Social and environmental injustices are a direct consequence of the unfair distribution of wealth and power, and there will be no climate justice until we have eradicated racism, gender inequality, and discrimination of all kinds.

It takes a village to accomplish anything of significance, but in this case, it will take an entire global community. The powers-that-be (Trump, Pruitt, Tillerson, Sessions, etc. and by the way, notice the incredible diversity in race, gender, age, and income bracket) are firmly holding on to their fossil fueled Republican throne. We, scientists, economists, attorneys, politicians, engineers, educators, activists, philanthropist, and yes, theatremakers, cannot afford to wait for them to grow a brain, let alone a moral compass. Time is a luxury we don’t have anymore. But what can a bunch of (mostly impoverished) artists do? I’m offering one idea called Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA).

The first iteration of CCTA took place in 2015 in support of the United Nations Paris Climate Conference (COP21). Following the model pioneered by NoPassport Theatre Alliance, we asked fifty writers from around the world to write short plays that dealt with an aspect of climate change. These plays were then made available to producing collaborators worldwide who, collectively, presented 100 events in twenty-six countries. (In the US alone, we had fifty-three events in thirty-seven cities.) Events ranged from readings in classrooms to fully staged performances, and from screenings of film adaptations to site specific presentations at the foot of glaciers. They took place in theatres, high schools, universities, eco-centers, community centers, people’s living rooms, on radio, and outdoors.

CCTA is coming back this year as a collaboration between the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, NoPassport, The Arctic Cycle, Theatre Without Border, and York University. Events will take place October 1 – November 18, 2017 in support of COP23chaired by Fiji and hosted in Bonn, Germany. A diverse group of writers from fifteen countries and several indigenous nations was commissioned to write short plays about climate change with the following prompt:

Assume your audience knows as much as you do. Assume they are as concerned as you are. But they may not know what to do with this information and those concerns. So how can we turn the challenges of climate change into opportunities?

Sachs was clear: The time for reckoning is over. It’s time for action. And for action to be effective, we need inspiration. Doomsday scenarios won’t galvanize us; we need hope and a capacity to imagine the future we want to create. In short, we need new narratives. And who better to provide those than writers?

This fall, fifty new climate change stories will be released into the world thanks to all the producing collaborators who will join us between now and then. Each event will be uniquefeaturing a combination of local and international artistsand designed for a specific community. And since this is a Climate Change Theatre Action, each event will find its own way of incorporating an educational, social, or political/civic action. We define “action” as something that happens in addition to the theatrical experience, that is meant to connect and/or activate people. Examples of actions include:

  • Talkbacks with experts from the scientific community, other departments within a university, local environmental organizations, etc.
  • Partnerships with social and environmental justice organizations
  • Providing a list of resources (reliable sources for scientific news, local environmental justice organizations, etc.) and inviting people to get involved
  • Signing a petition
  • Writing postcards to local government representatives asking for specific action on climate change
  • Organizing to put pressure on universities/municipal governments/employers/boards of directors/etc. to divest from fossil fuels
  • Creating a buddy system to hold each other accountable for regularly taking action on climate change

In addition to addressing climate change on stage, we are incorporating backstage sustainability thinking into the project. Ten professional designers will be commissioned to provide sustainable design ideas for a selection of plays. These ideas will take the form of sketches or models that can be displayed during the presentations. Producing collaborators will also be encouraged to partner with local designers to generate more ideas. At the end of the project, we will collect all of the design ideas and publish them in a special report from the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts.

Earth Duet by E.M. Lewis performed by the students of Randolph Macon College in Ashland, VA as part of CCTA 2015.



They have money, but we have the arts. They have power, but we have the masses. We do need national and international action on climate change, but a lot can be done at the state and regional level, from community solar initiatives to green roofs to local food systems. And those initiatives always begin with an idea and a collective desire to make a change. So I invite you theatremakersno, I urge youto help us fire up people’s imagination this fall. After all, the Climate Fools in the White House will only succeed if we let them.

More details about the project can be found here. To host a CCTA event in your community, contact us at ClimateChangeTheatreAction@gmail.com. Follow us on Facebook.

(Top image: Still from the Pomona College movie adaptation of The Fisherman & the Rain by Giovanni Ortega, directed by Evan DeLorenzo, as part of CCTA 2015.)

 

Open Call:Climate Change Theatre Action 2017 Edition

Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA) is a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays presented biennially in support of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP meetings).

CCTA 2017 is a collaboration between the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, NoPassport Theatre Alliance, The Arctic Cycle, Theatre Without Borders, and York University.


Climate scientists estimate we have fifteen years to decarbonize the economy if we want to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. The time for action is now. But action requires a hopeful vision of the future. For CCTA 2017, we are asking: “How can we turn the challenges of climate change into opportunities?”



Become Part of CCTA 2017

Join us in hosting a reading or performance of short climate change plays this fall in support of the United Nations COP23 meeting chaired by Fiji and hosted in Bonn, Germany.

WHEN: Anytime between October 1 and November 18, 2017.

WHERE: Wherever you are.

WE PROVIDE: A collection of 50 short plays that address an aspect of climate change; a list of resources to help make your Action effective and unique; organizational and marketing support; and a lot of enthusiasm!

YOUR CONTRIBUTION: You agree to present an event between October 1 and November 18, 2017 using at least one of the plays in the CCTA collection. Your event can be as simple as a classroom or living room reading or it may be presented to a larger audience in a theatre. It may be designed to reflect your own aesthetic and community. (Please note: We cannot provide funding for events.)

Contact CCTA at ClimateChangeTheatreAction [at] gmail [dot] com to register your event, get the full guidelines, and get access to the plays.

When technically possible, CCTA events will be livestreamed on the online platform HowlRound TV.

Read why CCTA is doing this in the online journal HowlRound.

Click here for the American Theatre Magazine article about what CCTA accomplished in 2015.

Follow on CCTA Facebook.


Listen to CCTA 2017’s Song by Greencard Wedding


 

CCTA event at The Box Collective in Brooklyn, NY, 2015.



List of Participating Playwrights

They come from every continent on the globe, represent over 25 cultures, are from industrialized and developing countries, urban and rural areas, and range in age from early 20s to mid 60s. Some are from low-lying island nations threatened by sea level rise, others are from countries facing severe heatwaves, floods, or droughts. Some are recent migrants, some inhabit the country their ancestors chose or were brought to, and many live on and fiercely protect the land where they were born. Together, they create an incredibly diverse and talented group with widely different perspectives. They are:

Hassan Abdulrazzak (UK/Irak)
Keith Josef Adkins (US)
Reneltta Arluk (Canada/Dene/Inuvialuit)
Elaine Ávila (Canada/US)
Catherine Banks (Canada)
Chantal Bilodeau (US/Canada)
Philip Braithwaite (New Zealand)
Jody Christopherson & Ryan McCurdy (US)
Mindi Dickstein (US)
Clare Duffy (UK/Scotland)
Angella Emurwon (Uganda)
Kendra Fanconi (Canada)
David Geary (Canada/New Zealand/Māori)
Mīria George (New Zealand/Māori)
Jordan Hall (Canada)
Vinicius Jatobá (Brazil)
C.A. Johnson (US)
Marcia Johnson (Canada/Jamaica)
Hiro Kanagawa (Canada/Japan)
MaryAnn Karanja (Kenya)
Amahl Khouri (Germany/Jordan)
Catherine Léger (Canada)
Ian Lesā (New Zealand/Samoa)
E.M. Lewis (US)
Jessica Litwak (US)

Kevin Loring (Canada/Nlaka’pamux)
Matthew MacKenzie (Canada)
Abhishek Majumdar (India)
Kasaya Manulevu (Fiji)
Shahid Nadeem (Pakistan)
Sharleen Ndlovu (Australia/Zimbabwe)
Dave Ojay (Kenya)
Achiro P. Olwoch (Uganda)
Giovanni Ortega (US/Philippines/Spain)
David Paquet (Canada)
Sarena Parmar (Canada)
Katie Pearl (US)
Jeremy Pickard & Lanxing Fu (US)
Elyne Quan (Canada)
Lynn Rosen (US)
Ian Rowlands (UK)
Lisa Schlesinger (US/Greece)
Stephen Sewell (Australia)
Saviana Stanescu (US/Romania)
Caridad Svich (US)
Jordan Tannahill (Canada)
Elspeth Tilley (New Zealand)
Meaza Worku (Ethiopia)
Nathan Yungerberg (US)
Maya Zbib (Lebanon)

Open Call: Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award!

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

Each year, this international award celebrates the best and most innovative in sustainability at the world’s largest arts festival.

All productions taking part in the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe are eligible to apply, and application is made through the completion of a free award toolkit, which poses questions about a production’s choices around show design and content!

A show need not contain explicit themes of sustainability to win: rather the award is judged on the considerations made at the design stages, through to the marketing of their show and their time in Edinburgh. Shows can be of any form and genre, but must be listed as participating in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme, and be able to be viewed by our assessors during the Festival.

Apply now for the 2017 Award 

The deadline for applications is midday on Friday 11th August 2017.

Previous recipients include: The Pantry Shelf, produced by Team M&M at Sweet Grassmarket; Allotment by Jules Horne and directed by Kate Nelson, produced by nutshell productions at the Inverleith Allotments in co-production with Assembly; The Man Who Planted Trees adapted from Jean Giono’s story by Ailie Cohen, Richard Medrington, Rick Conte and directed by Ailie Cohen, produced by Puppet State Theatre; How to Occupy an Oil Rig by Daniel Bye; A Comedy of Errors and Macbeth by The HandleBards/Peculius; Lungs by Paines Plough at Roundabout; and Are We Stronger Than Winston? by VOU Fiji Dance.

Have a look through our #GreenFests archive to find out more about the previous winners and shortlisted shows.


If you have any questions about the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award, please contact Catriona on catriona.patterson@creativecarbonscotland.com or call the Creative Carbon Scotland office on 0131 529 7909.

Click here for more information about the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award, previous winners, and about other environmental sustainability initiatives at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The award is run by the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts and Creative Carbon Scotland and is supported PR Print and Design and the New Arts Sponsorship Grants.

 



The post Applications Open for 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award! appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.



 

About Creative Carbon Scotland:

Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

Fish Soup, Mourning, and Hope at the End of the World

This Post Comes From HowlRound

This week on HowlRound, we continue our exploration of Theatre in the Age of Climate Change with more urgency than ever. With the looming eradication of climate science data from US government websites and the appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump has indicated in no uncertain terms that the health of the planet and its inhabitants are of no concern to him. As theatre artists, how do we respond? Dramaturg Walter Bilderback reflects on the production of When the Rain Stops Falling at the Wilma Theater in 2016, and on the difficulties in engaging audiences with an issue that manifests itself so slowly and incrementally.—Chantal Bilodeau

What does it mean to make theatre for the Anthropocene? (Leaving aside the question of when the Anthropocene started, or whether there’s a better name for it.) Outside of Republicans in Congress and the current administration, there’s wide consensus that changes in the earth’s climate and many of its chemical processes are now driven primarily by human activity.

There’s a growing body of writing about fiction for the Anthropocene: there’s even a catchphrase, “cli-fi,” although it’s possible that “all fiction is Anthropocene fiction now, some of it just hasn’t realized it yet,” to paraphrase a Facebook quip by McKenzie Wark. I’m not sure if the same thing can be said for playwriting and theatremaking. For playwriting, a challenge may be that our traditional, Aristotelian narrative structure doesn’t allow us to deal with the problem. Climate change reveals itself over long time scales, often longer than an individual’s lifespan. Its impact is sometimes dramatic and catastrophic, but often incremental, and it is ultimately a collective, rather than individual, problem.

 

At the Wilma Theater, we spent several years looking for a play dealing with the Anthropocene that addressed these challenges and still found a way to deeply engage an audience iemotionally. To open our 2016-17 season, Artistic Director Blanka Zizka chose Andrew Bovell’s When the Rain Stops Falling. Rain is a sprawling epic of a play, a sleek, stark, emotionally raw meditation on the Anthropocene and extinction disguised as a family saga stretching from 1959 in London to 2039 in Alice Springs, Australia. The story unfolds in non-chronological order, and begins with a scene of magic realism: a crowd of people on the street in relentless rain. A man stops and screams, a woman falls to her feet, and a fish lands at the man’s feet. We later learn that the man and woman are in different eras, and that fish in 2039 are thought to be extinct. This layering of time characterizes the play: a scene from one era will bleed into another scene; two characters are portrayed by a younger and an older actress, who are sometimes onstage together. The play ends with a father trying to reconcile with a son he abandoned as a child, sharing family relics whose meaning is a mystery to him but not to the audience. Between them is a line of dead ancestors who bequeathed the relics to him.

We had looked at Rain a few times since I first read it in the summer of 2009. The main reason we had passed on the play in the past was that its emotional rawness and fatalism scared us: a readthrough ended with the entire cast in tears. Roy Scranton’s book Learning to Die in the Anthropocene gave us a new insight on the play. Scranton is convinced that it’s too late to avoid breaking the two degree Celsius rise in global temperature. He writes:

The greatest challenge we face is…understanding that this civilization is already dead. The sooner we confront our situation and realize that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves, the sooner we can get down to the difficult task of adapting, with mortal humility, to our new reality.

Scranton’s notion of mourning our losses allowed us to see the sadness in When the Rain Stops Falling in a different light. It was only after this that we became aware that When the Rain Stops Falling had originated in a workshop called “The Extinction Project” and that Andrew Bovell’s attendance at a Paris museum exhibit on Melancholia had given him the key to putting his story together; he believes we are in a melancholic age. Bovell found the motif of Saturn that repeats in the play, including the metaphor of “eating the future,” in the same exhibit. Mourning and melancholy are not the same thing, psychoanalytically, but were close enough to allow us to start working.

Another concept that proved useful for Blanka and the design team in conceptualizing the production was “slow violence,” a term coined by Rob Nixon. Nixon defines “slow violence” as “a violence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all,” and sees it as a challenge for literature in depicting climate change in emotionally resonant fashion. Bovell doesn’t use the term, but his layering of scene upon scene creates a presence of deep time onstage. The family becomes a collective protagonist, and the impact of slow violence on the family and on the climate is made physically present for the audience.

Understanding the play’s melancholy also allowed us to see a ray of hope. In an email exchange with me, Bovell wrote: “In the final scene of the play there is hope that the damage of the past can be undone or at least understood and there is a suggestion that we have the capacity with this understanding to move on in a different way.” The final moments of Blanka Zizka’s production, with a line of ancestors seated on simple chairs and passing the relics from father to son, radiated a quiet beauty that was simultaneously heart-breaking and hopeful, reminiscent of a Donna Haraway remark on a resilient, post-Anthropocene community, whose members “knew they could not deceive themselves that they could start from scratch. Precisely the opposite insight moved them; they asked and responded to the question of how to live in the ruins that were still inhabited, with ghosts and with the living too.”

Lindsay Smiling as Gabriel York in When the Rain Stops Falling. Photo by Matt Saunders.

The Wilma attempts, as often as possible, to surround our productions with ancillary material. In this case, we had a lobby installation and two panels.

For the lobby display, Austin Arrington, from the local company Plant Group, and I coordinated with several local organizations to create an installation that incorporated both small things individuals can do now to address problems of contemporary Philadelphia (e.g., rain barrels to reduce run-off problems) and a vision for a sustainable Philadelphia in 2039, the year in which Rain begins and ends. Blanka came up with the idea for a local focus that was more optimistic on the future than the play. I found a wealth of reports by local agencies, including the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability in Philadelphia, examining a range of local climate futures for the 21st century and suggesting strategies for meeting them. Incorporating some of these ideas, and extrapolating on existing projects, I sketched a future that is far from paradise but a step toward Scranton’s idea of “adapting, with mortal humility, to our new reality.” George Marshall’s book Don’t Even Think About It proved useful here: I particularly tried to heed his recommendations to “build a narrative of cooperation, relate solutions to climate change to the sources of happiness, and frame climate change as an informed choice.”

We held two panels following Saturday matinees. The first, “Art in the Anthropocene,” featured E. Ann Kaplan, author of Climate Trauma; Philadelphia poet and Pew Fellow Brian Teare; and playwright/translator Chantal Bilodeau. The second, “What’s Next?” focused on “what we can do as individuals and as citizens to meet the challenges of a changing climate.” This panel featured Ashley Dawson, author of the forthcoming Extreme Cities: Climate Change and the Urban Future; Christine Knapp, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability; Ron Whyte, founder of the Deep Green Philly blog; and Judy Wicks, a Philadelphia activist and sustainability entrepreneur.

Did the panels make a difference? I find myself a little pessimistic. The discussions onstage were stimulating and provocative. But they were attended by a handful of audience members, less than our usual turnout, despite publicizing them in print and through social media, which may reflect a continuing head-in-the-sand attitude of many Americans toward global warming.

When the Rain Stops Falling closed on November 6. Two days later, most of us found our sense of what this country was shaken. In the play, Andrew Bovell has the 2039 character Gabriel York refer to the current book he’s reading: The Decline and Fall of the American Empire, 1975-2015. When Bovell wrote the play in 2007, the end date lay in the future. 1975 aligns easily the US defeat in Vietnam; for the actor glossary, I created a description of the book’s thesis (I attributed authorship to my Australian friend Van Badham, a playwright and Guardian columnist). I wrote, “According to Badham, Donald Trump’s candidacy, announced June 20, 2015, provides a useful endpoint for American power and prestige.” We’ll see.

The Post Fish Soup, Mourning, and Hope at the End of the World Appeared First on HowRound. Visit Their Website Here. 

A Search for a Brave New World Aesthetic

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

On Saturday, 22nd April, on Earth Day, there was a March for Science throughout the world; a protest by scientists and individuals who care about the erosion of an empirical truth that Science represents. On this day too, in response to the what is arguably now known as The Anthropocene Era in geological terms, there began a global project to reverse another kind of erosion; one of trees. Both approaches present a slightly different perspective on a common problem, but by finding the language and metaphors through which both can align, we can create a resonant harmonic of thought that can truly transform things. As individuals, existential change – the most pressing of which currently is climate change – would be overwhelming, but en masse, humans can achieve almost anything and our achievements throughout history have been recorded through the visual arts. Art, both comforting and challenging, is society’s litmus paper. After all, we had cave paintings long before we had language.

Icarus. A Quantum Sculpture in Light and Plastics, 35 x 25 x 30cm, made from hands and feathers, 2017.



And so, I write this not only from the perspective of the scientist I once was, but also as an artist seeking a common visual language – a Brave New World Aesthetic, I call it – a parity between so many subjects, some of which are truly objective and yet others, like our connections to each other and our world, highly subjective. Superficially, art and science appear quite different and yet both are governed by Nature, our connections to each other, and the physical laws of the universe.

From books like Huxley’s Brave New World written over 80 years ago to films such as The Matrix, we, as a species, have had a fascination with the ideal of the hero or heroine overcoming all that is Dystopian to create what was once envisioned by Plato over 2000 years ago in The Republic: a fair Utopian, green world in which everyone is taken care of by each other and their natural environment. Once, this future vision might have eluded us, but we are now in possession of the technology to make it happen and it is this that informs my work and gives me so much hope for the future. Some would argue that it is precisely because of our scientific advancements that we are in a situation when species are dying off; trees are disappearing and the very air we breathe is smothering us as we hurtle towards an Anthropocene Age. But perhaps by simply changing our perspective, we can see this as a wonderful opportunity rather than an existential threat.

I have experienced the power of a changing perspective in the last few years as my work moved from purely “sciart” – academically manipulating the physical laws and the materiality of paint to represent scientific ideas – to an entirely new process that was inspired by my environment and my connection to people and ideas. One moment of insight involved re-framing a classic physics experiment as literally “painting with light,” and another came from a walk one day amongst the trees when the leaves appeared so bright that I could literally touch where the edges met the sky. As a “city girl,” it felt quite overwhelming but once embraced, it taught me that intuition is one of the most creative tools we have. If we can only listen to it. My vision now is one in which not only art and science collide, but also technology, philosophy, spirituality, and society.

Gaia. A Quantum Sculpture in Light and Plastics, 60 x 65 x 30cm, 2016. Collection of Mrs. Anna Fowler, London.



My search in this brave new world is currently focused on growing an installation made of thousands of plastic leaves to recreate a forest floor. It is interactive not only because of the colors but also because we want people to add their own leaves, which I am looking to make purely from recycled plastics.

By taking the throwaway and transforming it, I am hoping to raise awareness of the fact that 95% of all plastic is only used once, and that the continued waste is devastating our planet. I am also working on a series inspired by people and evolution; ours and that of the innovations on the horizon, as well as on the future thinkers that are changing the world. I trained as a painter; so much of my work was based on “life” that this continues to be an inspiration, but in terms of processes, I am forever an experimentalist.

Plastic Planet. Made from plastic and light, 60 x 65 x 35cm, 2016. Photo: Maria Katsika.



A dear friend named my work “Quantum Sculptures” as they are so dependent on the relationship between the observed and the observer, changing in color with a tilt of the head. The same metaphor applies to our planet and fellow inhabitants, whose wellbeing we need to remember is inextricably linked to our own.

This is an age of reinvention and change. I believe artists and creative thinkers can help us find new metaphors and reframe our perspectives. Through a new aesthetic, we can reach the top-most rung of Maslow’s Pyramid from which we have a chance of understanding our position and responsibilities in the Brave New World we are creating. Because no matter how clever our ideas or innovative our processes, we all possess the same frailties and need for compassion and empathy; as does our home planet.

To borrow from something seen on Instagram: The Earth without Art is just Eh.

It’s all about perspective.

(Top image: Detail of Resonance in Leaves, a growing interactive floor installation of thousands of leaves made from plastic and light. Photo: Maria Katsika.)

______________________________

Jasmine Pradissitto’s Quantum Sculptures in light embrace the dual world of the Physicist and Artist. Described as “holograms you can touch,” forms inspired by nature, the human condition, and scientific breakthroughs are melted and reshaped from plastics into sculptures as a commentary on an Anthropocene world. Currently represented by Marine Tanguy, and with continued technical support from LSBU, Jasmine has a PhD from UCL on the quantum behavior of silicon and has studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths College and Sir John Cass. She has had solo shows in London and Venice, been shortlisted for various prizes including the Threadneedle and Celeste, and has work in various collections.


About Artists and Climate Change:

Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

Requiem for a River: Operatic Reflections on the Euphrates

This Post Comes from HowlRound:

This week on HowlRound, we continue our exploration of Theatre in the Age of Climate Change with more urgency than ever. With the looming eradication of climate science data from US government websites and the appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump has indicated in no uncertain terms that the health of the planet and its inhabitants are of no concern to him. As theatre artists, how do we respond? Dutch opera director Miranda Lakerveld reflects on the prominence of water imagery in traditional music dramas from the Middle East and on the connection between conflict and ecology. —Chantal Bilodeau

I am writing this article the day before the Dutch elections. Far-right populist Geert Wilders has been leading the polls, and Turkish-Dutch youngsters are marching the streets waving dramatically large Turkish flags. For the first time in my life, I see military police trucks (and water-tanks) drive past my window. CNN and Al Jazeera discuss the “situation” in the Netherlands. Unimaginable things are happening to my country.

I create operas as a platform for dialogue in a multicultural society. My artistic work stems from research on music dramas from around the globe. I was fortunate to be able to do research on a wide range of music- drama practices, for example Tibetan Opera at the Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts; passion play Ta’ziyeh in Iran; and the ancient Maya dance-drama Rabìnal Achi in Guatemala.

Ironically, I found the richest traditions in places where cultural identity is under pressure, especially after a history of violence. For example, one of the first official actions the Dalai Lama took when he arrived in India after fleeing persecution in Tibet, was to establish the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts to preserve Tibetan Opera. We might conclude that these music dramas can be extremely important in times of uncertainty and conflict.

jh Samira Dainan in Why Yemen Matters. Photo by Jan Boeve/De Balie


“Why does cultural identity create such conflict? And, how does the environment influence the dynamics between cultures?”


 

While I was doing my research, tensions between communities kept rising at home. Since 2014, my company World Opera Lab has been working mostly in the diverse neighborhoods of Amsterdam-West, applying the aesthetics of music dramas from Iran, India, Tibet, and Middle America to opera. The aim is to create a form of opera that reaches across cultures and artistic traditions.

In these creative dialogues between cultures, I have often wondered: what “makes” a culture? Even in the diaspora, what makes people attached to it? Why does cultural identity create such conflict? And, how does the environment influence the dynamics between cultures?

A series of debate operas on conflict in the Middle East, presented in collaboration with the Debate Center De Balie, has shone a new light on these questions. Why Yemen Matters, created in 2016, deals with the ongoing conflicts in Yemen and why the violence received so little attention in the West. The opera revolves around the story of the Queen of Sheba, who was originally from Yemen. Music from Händel’s oratorium Solomon, played on the Arabic ud and viola da gamba, was countered with traditional songs from Sana’a. The staging was created in dialogue with the work of Yemeni photographer Amira Al-Sharif, who also helped with finding appropriate traditional music. Interestingly, the traditional songs that “floated up” during the work had extensive references to water and its sources:

The leaf of the grape appeared
To collect water, she comes to source: Wadi Bamaa
Passing by me
Passing by me

I, oh my father, I
Glory, oh people, glory to the source, Wadi Amaan

“Ghuzan Al Qina” (Traditional song from Sana’a, Yemen)

Through these songs, I understood the importance of water sources in the region and how they affect conflicts. The songs also taught me how cultures are very much influenced by the environment. The environment shapes the culture, and consequently it shapes cultural identities.

Samira Dainan and Mireille Bittar in Why Yemen Matters. Photo by Jan Boeve/De Balie.


“The environment shapes the culture, and consequently it shapes cultural identities.”


 

A River Runs Through It
Requiem for a River picks up where Sheba left off. It is a new debate opera that will be presented in the spring of 2018, as part of the on-going collaboration between World Opera Lab and The Middle East Report in the Debate Center De Balie.

The Euphrates River is the main character in this opera, where religious stories about the iconic river are the point of departure. Currently the Tigris and Euphrates, the two main arteries in the Middle East, are rapidly drying up. According to a 2015 article published in Foreign Affairs, the mighty rivers that feed Syria and Iraq may no longer reach the sea by 2040.

The Euphrates, an important “figure” in religious texts, is featured in central stories on conflict in the region as well as in classical operas. After the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, Israelites are brought into exile in Babylonia and sing, mourning their lost homeland at the bank of the river. Psalm 137, in which this scene is depicted, inspired Verdi to write Va pensiero, the famous chorus from Nabucco. According to the Islamic hadith, the Euphrates will dry up and uncover a mountain of gold that will incite bloody conflicts.

In the Ta’ziyeh of Abbas, a Shiite passion play, the Euphrates River is occupied by the Sunni army, while the Shiites are on the losing side. General Abbas goes to the river to get water for the dying children in the camp. After gathering the water, Abbas is attacked and both his arms are amputated. Abbas continues to carry the water bag in his mouth. One arrow hits the bag and water pours out of it. This image of Abbas without arms, and the water sack in his mouth is iconic in the Shiite culture.

According to Iranian scholar Hamid Dabashi, the characters in Ta’ziyeh are metamorphic: “The metamorphic aspect of Ta’ziyeh characters makes them at once extremely potent allegories of cosmic significance, and yet instantaneously accessible to contemporary re-modulations.” In this way, Abbas becomes a potent symbol of the conflicts in the Middle East, drawing our attention to those who are suffering the consequences, and to major underlying themes such as water scarcity and ecological problems. Today in Karbala, Iraq, where this story takes place, farmers are in despair about water shortages.

We learn that water shortages have shaped our civilizations. The very first civilization emerged only when governments where able to provide access to water. Already in ancient times, city-states were cutting off each other’s water supply. And this still goes on today.

In Ta’ziyeh performances, the Euphrates is represented by a large bowl, in which the audience is invited to empty their water bottles. Stagehands then fill up the bottles with water from the bowl, and give them back to the audience. This water is now considered sacred and wholesome. This scene has an important lesson for us: it connects religious conflicts and cultural identity to ecology.

Ta’ziyeh of Abbas in Ziaran, Iran 2012. Photo by Miranda Lakerveld.

The River Reaches the Sea
I am editing this article a few weeks after the elections. For now, The Netherlands seems to have dodged the populist bullet and the eyes of the world are now on France’s elections. Spring has started, and the country is relieved. At the same time, the conflicts in the Middle East are erupting with renewed violence.

I am reading poetry from Iraq, and I am reminded again of how many water sources are shared across cultures. The Euphrates is the river that shaped the first civilizations. She runs through all of us. Or in the words of the Iraqi poet Badr Shakir al-Sayyab:

…The echo replies
As if lamenting:
‘O Gulf,
Giver of shells and death.
And across the sands from among its lavish gifts
The Gulf scatters fuming froth and shells
And the skeletons of miserable drowned emigrants
Who drank death forever
From the depths of the Gulf, from the ground of its silence,
And in Iraq a thousand serpents drink the nectar
From a flower the Euphrates has nourished with dew…

—from “Rainsong” (1960)

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