Yearly Archives: 2017

Open Call: Carbon Management Tool Trial

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

More arts organisations than ever are measuring their carbon footprint and many Green Champions are keen to find ways to make reductions in emissions. With so much data available we are developing a better understanding of how the creative sector produces emissions. We are now working on ways to support organisations to develop Carbon Management Plans to proactively avoid emissions on their next projects.

As part of this support we are developing a customised tool which will allow cultural organisations to track their current carbon footprint and to examine opportunities to reduce it. We want to make the tool useful and easy to use so we are asking for help to trial the tool during this development phase.

We will be holding a session for around 5 potential users to come along and provide feedback and suggestions for improvement. The session will take place during August in at our office in Waverley Court in Edinburgh.

If you are interested in helping us with the project, please contact

Deadline July 27 2017.


The post Participants Sought for Carbon Management Tool Trial 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

We Are the Climate

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

The task here is to look at theatre and climate change within the context of the current administration. Yep, that administration. The one that is attempting to eliminate climate consciousness from the national narrative by removing the climate page from the White House website, threatening to slash the EPA by one-third, and green-lighting the Keystone Pipeline project in the face of enormous coordinated dissent. Yep, the one that favors entertainment—heck, the one that is entertainment—but is not at all interested in artworks activating complex, nuanced conversation around current issues, and proposed to eradicate the NEA and the NEH completely from the federal budget. Yep, that administration.

Well, shall we start the way we often do? Theatre is a storytelling, community-based phenomenon that manages to survive, if not thrive, on next to nothing and is the perfect means to effectively counter the current administration’s “alternative facts” and erasure, especially in these divisive times…blah, blah climate blah f*cking Trump blah Pruitt EPA zzz blah NEA slashed z zzzz Betsy DeVos zz zzz education zzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzz.

I’m sorry, I fell asleep.

It’s not the argument that’s wrong. It’s just exhausting. Theatre may be the perfect vehicle to keep necessary counter-narratives alive, but has never, under any administration I’ve ever known, been well-positioned to do so. Embedded in the familiar argument about theatre’s potential is the deeper argument about theatre’s worth. I’m tired of endlessly justifying on grant applications, in marketing campaigns, and in fundraising letters the relevance of what we do. On a federal level, our country just doesn’t believe in theatre’s worth. This feels especially true now under Trump, but even under administrations more friendly to liberal creative causes, theatre is rarely considered necessary to our national well-being. For a time, the NEA’s tagline was “Because a great country deserves great art”—an assertion I find problematic because it makes art seem like dessert, rather than something with actual value, like grains, meat, and vegetables.

The conversation amongst the theatre community about ways to keep (or make) our theatre relevant, equitable, and inclusive is ongoing. There is rigorous debate and concrete action, including the way so many of us—regional theatres, and independent artists, and companies—are putting more resources towards building relationships with the communities we work with and for. I’m also thinking of nation-wide actions like The JubileeThe Ghostlight Project, and the wave of support for projects in Creative Placemaking, and other socially engaged work. But in light of the ongoing global climate crisis and the Trump administration’s policies, the conversation is ready to take another giant step, brought to a head, like it or not, by the sheer, audacious rebuttal of things that we artists and citizens know to be true and important.

Let’s talk about climate.

At the end of eight hours, the build team for HOW TO BUILD A FOREST (PearlDamour + Shawn Hall) extracts the last bit of breath from their forest ecosystem. Photo by Paula Court.

New Allies: Theatre and Climate 

Imagine this: Theatre and Climate as allies, thrown together by the Trump administration as being two things it discredits, discounts, and largely disregards. Well of course! Both have power beyond the control of a single man or administration. Interestingly enough, both have that power because they’re situated outside the administration’s market-based lexicon. Environmental issues don’t sit easily within a profit-based model. Creativity—like theatremaking—doesn’t either. When the environment is forced to bend in order to “produce,” the effect can be similar to when theatre artists are pressured to produce—and when humans are seen only in terms of their use. The soul gets squished. Language gets co-opted and compressed.

When my company  PearlDamour was researching our piece HOW TO BUILD A FOREST,we met with people in the timber industry. They spoke to us of “product” instead of “trees.” On our tours, we often saw a field of trees planted around the same time in regular, mathematical rows just to be cut down for profit as soon as they matured, therefore, “product.” But calling trees product shifted both my perception ofthem and my relationship to them. It severed our connection as fellow living things. Words matter. What changes in our country when, as Toni Morrison notes, we go from being called “citizens” to being called “taxpayers”? When the new administration took down Obama’s climate policy page on the White House site and replaced it with the America First Energy Plan, a friend posted on Facebook: “Since when does ‘Energy’ mean ‘Fossil Fuel’?”

That word is being shut down, actually enervated, by being forced into a one-to-one relationship with oil. What does “Energy” really mean? So much more than solar versus petroleum. If we look at the word through a Theatre Lens, energy means: connections, interactions, and reactions. It’s powerful to remember that the only meaningful way to really understand climate and environmental systems is this way as well, via connection, interactions, and reactions. Energy in both the theatre and the climate is its dynamism, its process, its transformation. Energy is story.


I watch Trump as a storyteller and for the first time, I really understand storytelling’s power as a market-driving medium. Trump is a professional entertainer and racketeer, a storyteller who knows his audience and knows how to play to them. Where the climate is concerned, his stories affect the entire planet. He boils complex issues down to sound bites that sway mass markets, sell tickets, cement opinions, erase experiences, and win elections. And they have the advantage of being carried by every media outlet into living rooms, kitchens, car stereos, and ear buds across the country—an advantage our plays and performance works don’t have.

Can we compete? Our storytelling offers a different kind of narrative, driven by a different kind of energy—one that deepens thinking, expands empathy, introduces new worlds, explores imaginative possibilities, and rebuts current conditions. We could take it as our responsibility, our mandate, to keep using our storytelling to keep the realities of our climate in front of audiences, even as Trump’s cabinet is doing everything it can to make those same audiences believe those stories don’t matter.

Sure. We could do that. But the focus can no longer be on impactful storytelling. We can’t stop there because those stories aren’t reaching enough people. We can’t stop there because our current metrics of success, including getting reviewed in major publications, keep us from heading towards different kinds of performance work that might have a different kind of impact, and affect more change. We can’t stop there because as theatre artists, our power doesn’t merely exist in the plays we create and the stories we tell. It also exists in our creativity itself. It also exists in the way we move through and think about the world, as people, as artists, and as citizens.

In Lost in the Meadow (PearlDamour + Mimi Lien), climbers get ready to hoist a giant megaphone up a 60-foot tower so the meadow can speak directly to the audience. Photo by Katie Pearl.

The Artist Citizen is also a Citizen Artist

For years, I’ve responded to current events by making theatre about it. It made sense that as a theatre artist, I would do that: “Oh, I’ll do a performance about Hurricane Katrina…” or “I’ll write a play about the Dakota Pipeline, or building a wall, or the BP Oil Spill…” It was how I brought my citizenry into my artistry, and it led to some good work that many people saw and were affected by. But lately I’ve been thinking about those two words “artist” and “citizen” and wondering if I haven’t been giving myself—ourselves—enough credit. We spend so much time arguing about the power of theatre, and the importance of our product, that we’ve neglected the fact that we as theatre artists have power too. My provocation here is: how can we bring our artistry into our citizenry, rather than the other way around? How can our creative minds, our ability to make imaginative leaps, envision futures, and empathize and connect with others serve the communities that live outside of our theatremaking?

Perhaps we need to start showing up not only as people who make plays and performances about issues, but also as people who think deeply and have smart things to say and know how to say them well. We know how to tell a good story—do we only need to tell it on a stage? What about in board rooms? In Town Halls? At the Parent Teacher Association?

Inviting versus Welcoming

I’ve spent the past four years working in small towns named Milton across the US. One thing The Milton Project has taught me is the difference between “inviting” and “welcoming.” Over and over I hear, particularly from one racial community regarding another, “we invited them, but they didn’t come.” The lesson is this: inviting is very different than welcoming. Ironically, to welcome someone into a relationship with you, you often have to invite yourself to where they are. To their space. As theatre artists, a quality many of us share is a sense of adventure. We can use this quality to propel us not just towards new projects but towards new people. Towards new issues, new places. As this administration seeks to divide us both from one another and from our relationship to the natural world, we cannot wait to be invited to connect. Let’s welcome ourselves into civic, policy-making conversations about the climate and otherwise. Let’s welcome ourselves into conversations with political leaders, neighbors, disenfranchised communities, small town conservative communities, and business executives. And then, bam! Suddenly, our expansive, imaginative, and creative thinking is right in there, opening up possibility, creating connection, and making space.


At the Women’s March in Washington, DC, California Senator Kamela Harris described a time when she arrived at a meeting and someone said, “Oh good, you’re here, we’d like to talk about women’s issues.” Kamela responded, “Oh good. Let’s talk about immigration. Oh good, let’s talk about climate. Oh good, let’s talk about race relations, about civil rights, about education, about health care, about poverty. These are all women’s issues because they are all issues.”

The Women’s Marches empowered us by shifting the idea of multiplicity from being something that diffused power to intersectionality—something that increases it. I started this essay proposing the alliance between theatre and climate, but as I finish, I want to widen our gaze. Alongside theatre and climate, there is an extensive network of phenomena sharing a debased status under the Trump administration. Rather than feeling drained by the fight to assert our relevance and importance, let’s feel empowered and energized by the new collaborations and cross-currents of our intersectionality! Here’s a partial list:

The dangers of climate change
The importance of theatre
The systems of racism
The realities of classism
The saturation of white privilege
The pervasiveness of xenophobia
The prevalence of misogyny

These phenomena aren’t just aligned by being maligned by the Trump administration. More interestingly, in terms of storytelling, they are deeply, dramatically linked. Issues of climate cannot be extracted from economics; economics cannot be separated from race and class; issues of race and class cannot be untied from white privilege, xenophobia, and misogyny. Can you tell a story about any one of these issues without involving the rest? Sure you could—many of us have. But the final provocation is: let’s not. Let’s welcome this intersectionality into our stories, performance structures, collaborative models, and visions of where we make work and who we work with. Let’s keep the climate foregrounded in both our artistic and our civic lives (and perhaps there will be less and less of a difference between them) by seeking out and acknowledging its connection to, and influence on every story we tell.

There is no us versus them when it comes to our climate because we aren’t just in relationship to the climate, we are the climate. And if that’s the case, then every story is about climate—no matter how loudly the administration argues otherwise.


Katie Pearl is a director and writer of new plays and performance for both traditional and alternative spaces.  As co-Artistic Director of PearlDamour, the interdisciplinary company she shares with playwright Lisa D’Amour, she has received an OBIE Award and grants from Creative Capital, Map Fund, and the NEA. Current work includes: the multi-year project Milton in five small towns named Milton around the country, and a new performance about climate and the deep ocean co-commissioned by the ART and the Harvard University Center for the Environment.  Katie is currently an Anschutz Fellow at Princeton, where her teaching and research focus on the concept of the Artist-Citizen.

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

The Garden as Exhibition Space

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

Museums and others cultural agents are key interfaces between the government and the public. As a centerpiece of the Age of Enlightenment, public institutions were founded to advance ideas, knowledge exchange, and to offer new perspectives on all forms of scientific research and humanistic endeavors. However, by the 19th century many art museums in Europe had become instruments of power for colonial regimes, classifying and “exoticizing” nature and its species. Many of today’s art institutions and artists are expressing awareness and concern about prevailing power structures and critiquing their inherent impact on our cultural discussions and commercial interests. A genuine quest for new forms of art production, interpretation, and dissemination is spreading across the globe. Central to this attitude is a new consciousness based on an awareness of one’s own contributions, resources, and relation to audience as well as nature.

Cornucopia, 2017. Climbing holds, plastic drainage tiles, metal screws. Orti Ghiglio produce garden, Parco delle Cave, Milan. Photo Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti.

The work of Italian artist Mirko Canesi fits right in with this movement; his work bypasses traditional art spaces and power structures, and is activated directly by audiences. Canesi’s work Cornucopia proposes a community garden as an exhibition space. The selected cultivated vegetable garden is located in Milan’s Parco delle Cave, a park that used to be home ground to the mafia. In recent years, this previously rather dodgy place has been through a process of regeneration and is being revamped as an ecological area where people can recreate and fish. The Municipality of Milan, who is leading the project, has given the park back to the people through a “bando public” (an open call). It triggered Canesi’s interest as he has been working on the idea of the garden as exhibition space in Milan for a few years.

Though Canesi is an artist working on vegetable plots, he is not focusing on production of art or production of vegetables. Rather, his work is about process and observing the use of space. Canesi explains his fascination: “I like it how people use the land as an expression of the self; some plots are very wild, some very orderly, some build with wood and some use cables, the latter one actually being cultivated by an electrician.”

Pls… 2017. Apartment plant, plasticine, variable dimensions. Photo Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti.

Canesi’s subtle art interventions are like treasures amidst the veggies, in some cases only spotted by the diligent observer. For instance, some leaves might be carved using artisan skills, have plasticine coatings, or be carefully laser-cut. His key not-to-be-missed intervention, however, is located between the zucchini, spinach, and tomatoes in the middle of the garden, and between the peppers, zucchini, and salads on the left of the garden. This work is as philosophical as it is practical. He changed the existing paths in the garden with alternative ones made of stones that only loosely remind us of what nature looks like: the paths are made of rock-climbing handles. The quality of the material is odd in this environment and the handles are only vaguely reminiscent of that which was once natural. These simulated stones, shaped to pleasantly fit around the human hand, are nature in its most extreme artificial version: these rocks are produced by humans, for pleasant and safe use by them. Canesi, however, proposes a reversed use for them; instead of helping you climb your wall, the handles form a climbing path that is horizontal, on the ground. Canesi is interested in questions such as “What if the gardens were an exhibition space?” Can artworks exist like an agricultural cycle that never stops? Can artmaking be a seasonal process?” Though I’m not sure pumpkin sculptures or ice-art are particularly good ideas, I find the thought of an artistic practice being in line with natural cycles interesting. I agree that the garden as exhibition space can be much more than land-art or sculpture parks. It can be an alternative to the system, a place for un-planning and process, for unexpected and non-art related encounters and conversations, a place to Touch instead of Not-Touch, and a place with inhabitants rather than viewers.

Laser cut, 2017. Laser cut pvc with wooden effect, variable dimensions.

Infamous artist Vito Acconci, known from his groundbreaking and pioneering performance art and for first introducing “Body Art” in New York knew it all along: “What I never wanted in art, is that I never wanted viewers. I think the basic condition of art is the viewer: The viewer is here, the art is there. So the viewer is in a position of desire and frustration. There were those Do Not Touch signs in a museum that are saying that the art is more expensive than the people. But I wanted users and a habitat. I don’t know if I would have used those words then, but I wanted inhabitants, participants. I wanted an interaction.”

(Top image: Cornucopia detail, 2017. Climbing holds, plastic drainage tiles, metal screws. Orti Ghiglio produce garden, Parco delle Cave, Milan. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappe.)

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

Bibliography on critical approaches to toxics and toxicity

This post comes to you from Discard Studies:

Thanks to the excellent Discard Studies for this important bibliography

Critical approaches are those that question premises, assumptions, and ways that things become normal or stable. Toxicity, toxins, and toxicants are areas of critical concern because controversies over what they mean, how they act, how they come into being and where, and what counts as evidence have high stake ramifications. Contrary to popular adage, the meanings and methods of toxicity weren’t decided by Paracelsus in the moment he declared, “the danger is in the dose.” Rather,as a description of chemical harm, toxicity is constantly being upset, resettled, and contested. These texts offer critical insights into these processes.

·       Aftalion, F. (2001). A history of the international chemical industry. Chemical Heritage Foundation.

·       Ah-King, M., & Hayward, E. (2013). Toxic sexes—Perverting pollution and queering hormone disruption. O-Zone: A Journal of Object Oriented Studies1.

·       Allen, B. L. (2003). Uneasy alchemy: citizens and experts in Louisiana’s chemical corridor disputes

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On Expanded Scenography

This post comes from Ecoscenography

Expanded scenography is everywhere. On the streets, in hospitals, at airports, parks and shopping malls and most recently, in the form of knitted pink beanies and protest banners at political rallies. Space ‘performs’ in the everyday, quotidian, and the mundane, providing much inspiration for scenographers both in and beyond conventional theatre. While it could be argued that ‘expanded scenography’ has existed since the beginning of human culture, performance design’s focus on the ‘expanded’ over the last decade has opened up new approaches and artistic insights. Gone are the days when being a stage designer was restricted to ‘working on other people’s shows’ in traditional theatre spaces. Instead, scenography now represents an exciting pathway for imagining and inspiring new realities beyond the confines of the theatrebuilding and its (often elite) audiences (Beer, 2017).

I recently had the pleasure of editing the newest edition of the CSPA Quarterly on ‘Expanded Scenography’ with fellow ecological artists Ian Garrett and Meghan Moe Beticks. Expanded Scenography is an emerging area in the field of stage design that is being increasingly embraced.  But what is it? ‘Scenography’ is already a contested term, with multiple definitions, but essentially one that describes the art of creating performance environments. Since the last half of the 20th Century, the term ‘scenography’ has rapidly replaced ‘stage design’, ‘theatre design’ or ‘set design’ in contemporary performance scholarship, and now represents a progressive field that is moving far beyond traditional scenic illustration and naturalistic representation.

Publication previewI use the term ‘expanded scenography’ to acknowledge an increasing number of performance designers working outside of traditional theatre, and whose passion for socio-ecological issues is at the core of their practice. Expanded scenography uses scenographic strategies (i.e. spatial, narrative, dramaturgical, performative and multi-sensory) as a way of engaging with the world beyond the theatre. I like to think of expanded scenography as stage design that ‘has left the building’ to intersect with daily life. The idea of scenography ‘leaving the building’ can be both literal and metaphoical, but the central premise is one of questioning normative practices and re-imagining what scenography is and what it can become. It is not bound to the schackles of theatre buildings, disciplinary rhetoric and formal expectations. Here, the scenographer is seen as both a designer and artist in their own right (as well as a producer, facilitator and instigator of creative work).

Ecoscenography works across both in expanded scenography and ecoscenography, but it is in the ‘expanded’ realm that I am finding myself the most these days. Perhaps, it is because the ‘expanded’ allows me to be free to explore the possibilities of ecoscenography — to create new ways of working that integrate ecological thinking without the constraints of unsustainable conventions of the mainstream. For example, projects like The Living Stage and This is not Rubbish could be described as ecoscenography within the realm of expanded scenography.


I hope that one day I can also create ecoscenographic designs in more traditional settings. I want to demonstrate that ecological projects can also take place in the beautiful theatres that first inspired me as a young artist. Regardless of whether designers want to work across conventional or more expanded contexts, one thing is clear: opportunities for performance designers have never been more diverse and inspiring. I look forward to seeing more scenographers using their theatre training to explore the potential to expand their practice outside of traditional contexts in the coming years.

Our special issue on ‘Expanded Scenography’ features artists who have ventured outside of the more traditional boundaries of theatre-making and performance design to find their own way of responding to the complex problems that haunt us in today. While incredibly diverse, it is our collaborative desire for contributing to the wider world and being part of the political debate as artists in our own right that unites us in this issue. We hope that this publication opens up discussions that reframe traditional perceptions of scenography and introduces new audiences to its potential. The full journal edition can be accessed here.

More information about Expanded Scenography can be found here.

The post, On Expanded Scenography, appeared first on Ecoscenography.


About EthnoScenography: has been instigated by designer Tanja Beer – a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, Australia, investigating the application of ecological design principles to theatre.

Tanja Beer is a researcher and practitioner in ecological design for performance and the creator of The Living Stage – an ecoscenographic work that combines stage design, permaculture and community engagement to create recyclable, biodegradable and edible performance spaces. Tanja has more than 15 years professional experience, including creating over 50 designs for a variety of theatre companies and festivals in Australia (Sydney Opera House, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Queensland Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Arts Centre) and overseas (including projects in Vienna, London, Cardiff and Tokyo).

Since 2011, Tanja has been investigating sustainable practices in the theatre. International projects have included a 2011 Asialink Residency (Australia Council for the Arts) with the Tokyo Institute of Technology and a residency with the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (London) funded by a Norman Macgeorge Scholarship from the University of Melbourne. In 2013, Tanja worked as “activist-in-residence” at Julie’s Bicycle (London), and featured her work at the 2013 World Stage Design Congress (Cardiff)

Tanja has a Masters in Stage Design (KUG, Austria), a Graduate Diploma in Performance Making (VCA, Australia) and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne where she also teaches subjects in Design Research, Scenography and Climate Change. A passionate teacher and facilitator, Tanja has been invited as a guest lecturer and speaker at performing arts schools and events in Australia, Canada, the USA and UK. Her design work has been featured in The Age and The Guardian and can be viewed at

Go to EcoScenography

On the SAARI/ISLAND Exhibition

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

My exhibition SAARI/ISLAND was on display March 15-June 15, 2017 at the Nordic Northwest in Portland, Oregon. SAARI/ISLAND takes a nostalgic look at my childhood experience growing up in Finland, where nature is all encompassing and gives life its rhythm through the passage of the seasons.

SAARI/ISLAND started with the idea of water. The concepts of melting and flooding have a special resonance for me. I grew up an urban kid in the winter, enjoying snow play, and lived an island life in the summer, planting, harvesting, picking berries, and fishing. Reading the signs of Northern nature and memorizing the names of plants, berries, and flowers, along with their seasonal patterns, was part of my life.

Much later, I studied at the University of Hawaii in Manoa. I discovered many different climate zones on the islands of Hawaii. In addition, life next to the Pacific Ocean left me with a sense of existential vulnerability. I became fascinated with the contrasts in our existence. The vast scales of the Global North and Global South needed attention. From a climate change perspective, the distance and gap between the two was overwhelming.

With climate change, everything might be different. How will the changing temperatures affect growth in the Arctic region? Seasons are a necessity in the North. What will happen in the Southern hemisphere, which is so sharply different from the Northern hemisphere? These questions left me with many more questions. I moved to New York City, and from there, traveled to the California coast, visiting national parks and trying to reconnect with the Pacific Ocean. During these trips, I collected photographs of each place I visited. I started doing this while living in Hawaii. I felt that the contrast between different places called for a documentary lens, and created much of the artistic work by itself.

All the photographs in SAARI/ISLAND come from a close investigation of California’s Big Sur, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks. Burned forests and the Pacific Ocean became images of beauty. However, experiencing these things first-hand was shocking and humbling.

Burnt Tree, Big Sur, 2014.

The images included in the exhibition were a selection from my nature portfolio. I chose to juxtapose photographic and painted works to reflect my experience of coastal forests, showing how nature shifts between beautiful and horrible. The Pacific coastal region struck me as barren and isolated. The scale of nature there creates a sense of prehistoric time. I wanted to trace back and re-imagine prehistoric and early times in our human existence. My paintings offer a glimpse of changes over time – metaphoric landscapes inspired by the Finnish Kalevala, Viking symbols, animals such as swans, lizards and insects – thus hinting at possible futures.

Island of Pearl, 2016.

Artist as Expert
Global warming is changing life’s balance. Artistic works contribute to this global conversation. Making art is an act of sharing, and this sharing becomes a contribution to our knowledge bank. Art can support climate science. Through the scientific method, science looks for evidence to validate a hypothesis. Art is also a research method that explore hypotheses, or questions. The artistic process includes multiple layers of adding, revealing, going back, and correcting. Artists can acquire knowledge from direct experience. They have the advantage of being able to dive deeper, and go beyond the normative process of science questioning. Some of the knowledge gained from artistic practice is tacit, hard to express or re-tell. When it comes to climate change, a deep interest in the subject is crucial.


1-button Rainjacket, 2016.

SAARI/ISLAND included an installation titled 1-button Rainjacket. It was inspired by Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast of the United States in 2012. The rain jacket used in the piece dates back to 20 years ago, and is labeled “Landsend unisex apparel.” It was used in New York City during Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Then it became an installation piece.

How can we give tribute to one person’s experience, and at the same time, make it a shared experience? One way to look at this is from the point of view of phenomenology. Phenomenology is a philosophical, first-person methodology used to explore the structures of experience and consciousness. It stresses the importance of our perceptions, and states that we are in the world ultimately as bodies. What is great is that phenomenological philosophy already has lots of ideas about art and artists.

In 1945, French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty wrote Phenomenology of Perception(Phénoménologie de la perception). In this book, he builds upon the idea of phenomenon as simplistic being-in-the-world structure, and develops further the role of perception in our actions. We are primarily here as intentional bodies; the body is not a separate entity from our consciousness.

Artists can use phenomenology – in other words, they can use personal experience to access knowledge from within. From this perspective, an artist can only directly address her own perception. Again, from this perspective, there is no one single idea or experience of climate change.

SAARI/ISLAND reflects a personal connection to nature, yet the bigger theme of climate change is a shared one. I was curious about environmental changes, and ways to portray them through the artistic process. The timespan between the different works was only few years. But rather than emphasize the years between the works, I planted the idea of change as affecting us in the future. If there had been a narration as backdrop for this exhibition, it would have started with stories from my childhood island environment and expanded to the current events. For sure, the stepping back and correcting would be partial. This artistic process requires more going-back, and adding to the current state.

An art show can contribute in a number of ways. SAARI/ISLAND added to the conversation about how changes in our environment affect our ways of being with and experiencing nature. This particular show looked at water and coastal forests, bringing forth the oppositional concepts of energy, conservation, and degradation. These ecosystems need our attention.

(Top image: Water Spirit, 2017.)


Inka Juslin is a dancer, visual artist, and writer from Finland, currently living in New York City.  She holds a PhD from social sciences/cultural studies, and artistic research. She was a visiting scholar in the Performance Studies Department at New York University in 2007-2010, and in the Department of Germanic Languages at Columbia University (2011-2014). She has created works in collaboration with artists and scholars, using dance, performance, video, photography, architecture, fashion, and other means of visual storytelling to create intersectional, interactive, and live performances as well as installations. Her recent exhibition SAARI/ISLAND was on display until June 15, 2017, at the Nordic Northwest in Portland, Oregon.

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

Open Call: “Science Inspires Art: OCEAN”


“Science Inspires Art: OCEAN”
19th annual, international, art-sci juried exhibition
organized by Art & Science Collaborations, Inc. (ASCI)
at the New York Hall of Science
September 16, 2017 – February 25, 2018

OCEAN… She has sparked our imaginations for eons and current science reveals she is the “sustainer of all life” on our beautiful blue planet. This 19th annual, international, juried exhibition seeks 2D images of original artwork in any media for a 6-month exhibition at the New York Hall of Science, plus permanent online exhibition, and all entrants receive free ASCI Membership ($40 value).


DEADLINE: July 23, 2017