Yearly Archives: 2017

Why I’m Breaking Up with Aristotle

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

“Why I’m Breaking Up with Aristotle” by Chantal Bilodeau was originally published on HowlRound, a knowledge commons by and for the theatre community, in April 2016.

It’s me, of course, not him. After all, Aristotle and his posse of ancient Greeks gave us many of the elements that have become the foundation of Western Civilization. They gave us human rights, democracy, and the Olympics. They gave us philosophy, significant advances in mathematics, and medicine. And they gave us dramatic structure, the golden principle behind all of Western dramatic literature.

That’s a lot to admire, I know. But I’m still breaking up with him.

The thing is, our relationship has run its course. Given the new challenges brought on by a rapidly changing world and our inability to communicate effectively around them, and given the fact that I feel he doesn’t really see me as a woman, it’s best we go our separate ways. I have no doubt he’ll continue to be influential in my life—we had many good years together and I will forever value the lessons I learned from him—but in the end he’s too controlling and I need to break free.

To be completely honest, I’ve been feeling a growing discomfort for quite some time. It wasn’t exactly boredom and we were not fighting either but we didn’t seem to fit anymore. Round hole, square peg, type of thing. And then not too long ago, I came across Josephine Green’s presentation “The Power of Abundance.” Boom. Suddenly it all became clear.

The idea is this: Though Aristotle and his pals gave us all the good things mentioned above, they also subtly imparted their worldview and its attending values to us. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. That worldview has allowed human civilization to thrive for over twenty-five hundred years. But in the context of a world that is now massively different from ancient Greece—more populated and exponentially more connected—that worldview has become a liability rather than an asset.

On the most basic level, ancient Greeks were ruled by a bunch of unpredictable gods whose whims directly affected every aspect of human affairs. Largely ignorant of the natural forces shaping life on earth, people assigned power and knowledge to these supernatural beings and lived under their capricious rule. Then, as empirical knowledge developed through the study of science, some of the powers previously assigned to gods became better understood and a single Almighty God replaced the jolly bunch. The Almighty God prevailed until the industrial revolution when our increased resources and self-reliance moved us away from the divine and into the arms of mega-corporations.

Pyramid of Capitalist System

Pyramid of Capitalist System (1911 cartoon)

Though these represent big shifts in how we conceive the world and our place in it, the underlying assumption—that power is at the top and everybody below is subservient—has remained unchanged. In fact, it is so deeply embedded in our culture that most of the time we don’t notice it.

The simplest way to illustrate this concept is with a pyramid. Power and wealth live at the top, in the hands of a minority, while the majority exists at the bottom to support the top. This is how religions are organized, how monarchies thrived, and how today’s capitalist system functions. But as Green points out in her presentation, the pyramid model is not an absolute truth. It’s a worldview. Or put another way, it’s a function of the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. It should come as no surprise then that the structure we use to build our societies, and the structure we use to shape our stories, are one and the same. Aristotle’s theory of dramatic writing, later modified by German playwright and novelist Gustav Freytag, is a pyramid. Rising action on one side, climax at the top, and falling action on the other side.

Freytag's Pyramid

Freytag’s Pyramid

This form of storytelling flourished at a time where man needed to conquer in order to survive. Life was hard; nature, a hostile force to be reckoned with; and other nations a constant threat. Subjugating nature was a matter of life or death, while subjugating the masses was a way to secure power and resources, and build a sense of security. As this worldview and the stories used to keep it alive were passed down generations, they were (and still are) used to justify a slew of abusive behaviors such as feudalism, colonialism, slavery, genocide, violence against women and children, economic injustices, the plundering of natural resources, etc. In addition, Aristotle excluded a very important point-of-view from his theory. The festival of Dionysus, where ancient Greek theatre began, was for men only. Aristotle’s “core data” was in fact stories written by men, for men, and about men.

How can a dramatic theory developed in these conditions represent the world we live in today and the world we are striving to create? We’re living through an unprecedented transition in human history where we’re slowly shifting from a hierarchical worldview to a heterarchical worldview. New technologies and social digital media have created a complex world and in the process, flattened the pyramid into what Green calls a pancake, with relationships organized laterally instead of vertically. Given this new paradigm, is it ethical to embrace a dramatic form that was designed to justify inequality and violence? Can we, writers, say something new, something of value, if we don’t break free from that mold? If we don’t find a way to write ourselves out of the pyramid?

My friend Koffi Kwahulé knows this problem intimately. An African playwright born and raised in Côte d’Ivoire, Koffi spoke his tribal language at home and was taught French—a legacy of French colonization—in school. He was also taught playwriting according to the classical French tradition. But like most of his contemporaries, he realized that the experience of colonialism can’t be expressed using the language and forms of the colonizer. Koffi had to find a way to appropriate the French language and make it sing a different song. He had to develop a dramatic form that would express his own unique experience. Over the next thirty years he developed a unique aesthetic, akin to jazz music where, in the words of NYU Professor Judith Miller, “Kwahulé intends his theatre—with its stylistic nods to jazz, through its riffs, refrains, and repetitions, through references to composers and musical numbers—to capture both something of the pain of contemporary existential despair and the exuberant energy of improvisation.” Borrowing from a form developed by African American slaves struggling to maintain their cultural identity, Koffi reconceives jazz music to express the pain of French colonialism and by extension, the pain of oppression.

Sustainable

The idea is not new. Many playwrights—including Beckett, Churchill, Pinter, and Kushner, just to name a few—have played with form. But they did so in isolation and it could be argued that their concern was mainly aesthetic. In contrast, what we need today is a conscious use of dramatic structure in service of societal change. The hierarchical pyramidal worldview is based on values that promote competition, control, and a sense of scarcity—there isn’t enough to go around. And since we have to fight for everything, there will always be winners and losers. The heterarchical worldview, on the other hand, promotes innovation, collaboration, and creativity. It works with the assumption of abundance—there is enough. We just need to learn to look for it and distribute it more equitably.

Moreover writing plays where scenes have a neat cause and effect relationship in the Internet age where ideas emerge through associations, and where biomimicry is replacing old mechanical principles, seems archaic. And with quantum physics telling us that two realities can exist at the same time and that an observed behavior is forever changed by the act of observation, shouldn’t we explore all the possible realms of existence and consciousness rather than stick to a thin sliver of observable reality? Humans are not the center of the universe anymore. Time is no longer linear. Our species could go extinct. These are profound ideas that should inform how we structure our stories.

I’ve seen some exciting plays recently that grapple with these concepts. And these plays have both nothing to do with climate change and everything to do with climate change. None of them addresses the topic directly. But embedded in their structure is an attempt to break down the many pyramids that rob us of power and agency, and to view humanity as part of a vast web of life. O, Earth by Casey Llewellyn, Smokefall by Noah Haidle, and CollaborationTown’s Family Play (1979 to Present) all possess a new sensibility that positions us within a larger and more compassionate frame. These playwrights are seizing the moment, they’re sensing what’s floating in the ether and responding to it. They’re creating the sustainable culture of tomorrow.

So this is it. For better or for worse, I’m breaking up with Aristotle. I don’t harbor any bad feelings towards him; I did love him. For a long time, our relationship was fun, passionate, and intellectually stimulating. But then things changed.

Maybe I grew up and he didn’t. Or maybe it was always meant to end this way, with us going down our separate paths. It’s the end of an era, that’s for sure. But it’s also the dawn of a new age. Though it’s not easy to leave the comfort of the known and knowable, I’m excited at the possibilities that lay ahead, at the chance to craft stories that are in line with my values and my vision of what the world is and can be. I’m excited to do my part and to bring all of me in that effort. I think I’ve earned the right to.

So long, Aristotle. It was swell.

 


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

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Last Call: LABVERDE – Art Immersion Program in the Amazon

Application deadline: January 31st

Program Dates: From 20th to 29th of July 2017 

www.labverde.com

The LABVERDE program is a 10-days Art Immersion Program in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest for art, nature and science lovers.

The program is targeted toward adventurous individuals and nature lovers: visual artists, architects, musicians, writers, dancers and other cultural makers.

PRESENTATION:

LABVERDE is designed for artists and creators who are eager to reflect on nature and landscape. The program will promote an intensive experience in the Amazon rainforest aiming to explore the connection between science, art and the natural environment.

LOCATION:

THE JOURNEY WILL TAKE PLACE IN TWO DIFFERENT LOCATIONS ENABLING A DIVERSE SCALE AND PERSPECTIVE OF THE AMAZON RAINFOREST

APPLICATION:

LIMITED SPOTS AVAILABLE
In order to participate, fill in the form linked below and attach the following documentation:

-250-word bio

-500-word description of a creative

-project idea

-5 to 10 images Portfolio​

APPLICATIONS UP TO JANUARY 31TH

COST FEE: USD 2,900
ACCOMMODATION, MEALS AND TRANSFERS INCLUDED

Flight tickets to Manaus, transfer from and to the Airport and health insurance are not included.

GRANT:

We will select up to three artists to participate in the program free of cost. The condition for all modalities of grant will be discussed with the selected artist by Skype meeting. To apply for a grant, please include a motivation letter in the attached documents. Participants from emerging countries that have been investigating the intersection between art and nature will be prioritized.

Apply Now – DOWNLOAD

CONTACT

LABVERDE was created to strengthen the limits of art through a broad array of experiences, knowledge sets and cultural perspectives involving art, science and nature. The program main goal is to promote artistic creation through a constructive debate about environmental issues generated by both theory and life experiences in the Amazon rainforest.

JANUARY 2017 E-WASTE DRIVE!

This post comes to you from the Broadway Green Alliance

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The Broadway Green Alliance was founded in 2008 in collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council. The Broadway Green Alliance (BGA) is an ad hoc committee of The Broadway League and a fiscal program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. Along with Julie’s Bicycle in the UK, the BGA is a founding member of the International Green Theatre Alliance. The BGA has reached tens of thousands of fans through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other media.

At the BGA, we recognize that it is impossible to be 100% “green” while continuing activity and – as there is no litmus test for green activity – we ask instead that our members commit to being greener and doing better each day. As climate change does not result from one large negative action, but rather from the cumulative effect of billions of small actions, progress comes from millions of us doing a bit better each day. To become a member of the Broadway Green Alliance we ask only that you commit to becoming greener, that you name a point person to be our liaison, and that you will tell us about your green-er journey.

The BGA is co-chaired by Susan Sampliner, Company Manager of the Broadway company of WICKED, and Charlie Deull, Executive Vice President at Clark Transfer

Go to the Broadway Green Alliance

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Hamilton’s Seth Stewart to Announce BGA’s College Green Captain Prize

Seth Stewart, an original cast member of Broadway’s HAMILTON, currently playing Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, has been added to the stellar lineup of participants at the 2017 United States Institute for Theatre Technology, Inc. (USITT) Annual Conference & Stage Expo, March 8-11 in St. Louis, Missouri.

The BGA College Green Captain program is modeled after the successful Broadway version, in which a cast or crew member of every Broadway show volunteers to serve as a BGA liaison of the production for all things environmentally friendly. College Green Captains are self-selected members of a college or university theatre department who are committed to greening one or more of the department’s productions. College Green Captains are encouraged to find a faculty or staff Green Captain to partner in greening efforts.

As the Broadway Green Captain for HAMILTON, Stewart will be speaking on one of the conference’s green panels, “Green Captains – On Broadway & On Campus.” He will also be presenting one college Green Captain with the College Green Captain prize, along with, subject to availability, two tickets to see HAMILTON on Broadway and a backstage tour.

This award recognizes outstanding BGA College Green Captains for introducing environmental changes to their department’s theatre productions. Some examples of greener practices include energy-efficient lighting, rechargeable batteries, educating the cast and crew about better environmental practices, recycling or composting on the set, and more. Information about the prize can be found at http://www.broadwaygreen.com/collegeprize/.

USITT has supported greener theatre and productions through education, and has worked with the BGA on a slate of panels each year. Stewart’s panel is one of five green panels that the BGA is presenting at the conference this spring. The other panels will be: Closing Green, a Greener Model Building Workshop, Evaluating Sustainable Lighting Fixtures, and Green Theatre Around the World. The other panelists include Richard Cadena, Charlie Deull, Ian Garrett, Justin Miller, Ellen Jones, and Tony Award winning designer Donyale Werle.

For more information on the sessions and exhibitors who are already a part of USITT’s 2017 Conference & Stage Expo, visit http://www.usittshow.com/


ABOUT THE BGA
The Broadway Green Alliance (BGA) is an industry-wide initiative that educates, motivates, and inspires the entire theatre community and its patrons to implement environmentally friendlier practices. The BGA, launched in 2008 in collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council, is an ad hoc committee of the Broadway League and a fiscal program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The BGA brings together all segments of the theatre community, including producers, theatres in New York and around the country, theatrical unions and their members, and related businesses. The BGA identifies and disseminates better practices for theatre professionals and reaches out to theatre fans throughout the country. For more information, visit www.broadwaygreen.com.

Another World Is Possible: Displays from the Women’s March

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

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Members of the Back to Work Collective at the Women’s March on Washington. Lady Liberty puppet by Christopher Soprano.

“We are unstoppable, another world is possible.” One of my favorite rally cries from the Women’s March on Washington is carrying me through the first week of this bonkers administration. This phrase, and the experience of being surrounded by thousands of people showing up for similar goals, signified to me the possibility for a sustainable future. The creativity on display, through signs, costumes, and performance, contributed to the impact of the weekend. These displays offered intersectional perspectives – the Women’s March was in no way solely about women, but about the equitable and just world that we want to live in, despite what the people in power have in mind.

Walking out of the D.C. Metro on Friday, January 20 was like entering a ghost town. No cars, very few people, eerie silence. There was the familiarity of red, white, and blue, of a Starbucks on every corner. Familiar, but not comforting. These symbols of nationalism and consumerism are not going to save us. Cue tear gas bombs going off, and riot police storming the intersection. Thus the tone of my Inauguration Day experience was set.

Arriving outside Union Station – where anti-Trump protesters were gathering – initiated a welcome tone. Here, my group and I found other organizations with banners, posters, and energy to resist the main event of the day. Among my favorite displays at this gathering included a large puppet with the phrases: “Look within,” “We are only as healthy as our mother,” “Protect our mother,” “Protect each other,” “End Racism,” from Bread and Puppet Theatre.

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Puppets at an anti-Trump rally from Bread and Puppet Theatre in Washington, D.C.

To me, these are calls to action. Starting with self. Starting with the source of life: Mother Earth. These phrases depicted on a female body signified, to me, the importance of individual agency. I may not be able to directly stop the destructive legislation of the current administration, but I can recognize in myself my capacity for empathy, change, and action. This recognition is a start. The question of what I will do with my self-reflection continued in me throughout the weekend, and as I encountered fellow marchers of diverse backgrounds.

My group also ran into Ethan Abbott, a farmer who brought his animal friends: a llama, two alpaca, and a bird. The revolution will be interspecies, I thought. What started out as an attention-grabber began to resonate more deeply with me. Of course we need our animal friends in the march with us! They are occupants of this planet, too. Farmer Abbott’s marching animals drew on that empathy that I was considering earlier; my empathy starts with myself, includes my fellow humans, and extends to other species.

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Farmer Ethan Abbott and his interspecies marchers.

The next day, Saturday, we stepped off the train into a different city. The D.C. Metro was packed. The streets were even more crowded. The group that I traveled with, the Back to Work Collective, is comprised of politically activated theatre artists. We brought a series of speeches from feminists throughout history to perform at the March, with a Lady Liberty puppet to connect these women as beacons of hope. We encountered press wanting to get context, marchers wanting to get their picture with Lady Liberty herself, and fellow artists speaking in solidarity about our work in varying communities around the country.

Once the March dispersed, Back to Work Collective performed our feminist speeches in front of Trump Hotel and the White House. As theatre artists, we wanted to contribute a performance to the March that strangers could reflect on, and draw upon the strength of women who helped lay the foundation of today’s justice movements. We wanted our fellow marchers to find personal connections with why they were present. The Lady Liberty puppet drew audiences in, and the performance of the speeches kept people gathered. My favorite line in our performance comes from Ursula Le Guin, in her 1986 speech at Bryn Mawr College: “We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.” This image of women as volcanoes spoke to how I felt about the surge of women and gender-non-conforming folk and animals and men and allies into the streets for Marches around the world. These Marches changed the maps, if only for a day. The power that Ursula evokes in her speech – and the resonance of the Marches – is the power of people coming together, speaking out in the face of oppression in any form.

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Amanda Ghosh of Back to Work Collective performing for a gathering near the White House.

The Women’s March brought together a multitude of personal displays of concern and hope, through physical signs and echoing chants. The intersectional voices I heard during the March reignited in me the necessity of intersectional action in addressing issues of justice – social, economic, and environmental. If we are going to combat the unjust decrees to come, those of us that are able must think and act more intersectionality. As public demonstrations like the Women’s March become more important in our current democracy, how can we, as artists, make intersectionality part of our public practice? With beauty, performativity, and intentional spectacle artists have an opportunity to address social, economic, and environmental considerations, through the way in which we use time, bodies, and space. As the sun set on a monumental day, protest signs replaced humans on the streets, forming an alternative display in the space between our nation’s monuments. The variety of art that I witnessed in these signs and throughout the weekend is an example of how we can collectively fight for varying issues. The resulting eclecticism resonates as I recite: “We are unstoppable, another world is possible.”

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Signs from the Women’s March on Washington left on fences surrounding the White House.


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

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Opportunity: Workshops on the ‘Environment Connecting Theme’

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

Workshops on Creative Scotland’s Environment Connecting Theme

Creative Scotland has identified climate change and environmental sustainability as one of its cross cutting themes, in line with its duties under the Climate Change Act. This is reflected in its Environment Connecting Theme. But what is the Environment Connecting Theme, and how can arts, screen and creative industry organisations contribute to it?

In February, we will be holding workshops on the Environment Connecting Theme. Read on for more details.

What is the Environment Connecting Theme?

Creative Scotland have provided the following guidance about the Environment Connecting Theme:

Across the network of organisations that we will fund, the key outcomes in relation to Environment are:

  • Reduce the direct environmental impacts of our work
  • Influence others on issues relating to the environment

What is the criterion for Environment?

How well is Environment embedded across all aspects of your organisation and its work?

How will we assess this?

We will particularly look for:

  • Any systems in place to measure your carbon emissions, any policies or plans for environmental sustainability including reducing your emissions.
  • A Board or staff member who has responsibility for or actively champions environmental issues within the organisation and that there is a clear structure to address any issues.
  • Any opportunities [which you are taking] to influence others with whom you engage

How Creative Carbon Scotland can help

Regarding the direct environmental impacts of your work, Creative Carbon Scotland can help provide support on measuring and monitoring your carbon emissions (whether you’re an individual or an organisation in the arts, screen or creative industries) as well as further explore how you can embed the environment in every aspect of your work.

From April 2015 onwards, Creative Scotland’s Regularly Funded Organisations (RFOs) are required to measure and report their carbon emissions and did so for the first time in September 2016 (see the Carbon Reporting Infographic for an idea of what RFOs voluntary reported on in 2014-15).  We’ll continue to provide support in this area, and any organisation starting out on this journey or wanting further help should contact Fiona MacLennan, our Carbon Reduction Project Manager, to discuss their needs.

Now that carbon measurement and reporting is established in the cultural sector, the development of plans to reduce carbon emissions is the logical next step, and leading organisations will reflect this in their work. We’ll be focusing our technical support on this area in 2017.

Regarding the influencing role identified by Creative Scotland, in February we will run free workshops in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow as well as an online webinar to consider this less developed area:

  • Communicating organisations’ own work on environmental sustainability to audiences, suppliers, staff, freelancers and artists
  • Programming work that touches upon or explores environmental sustainability and climate change, both within and outwith the organisations’ usual programme
  • Engaging staff with climate change and environmental sustainability more widely

We’ll discuss the areas you might think about and provide examples of interesting work from around the world. The workshops will last about 2 hours and refreshments will be provided.

The post Opportunity: Workshops on the ‘Environment Connecting Theme’ 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

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THE AGE OF CONSEQUENCES – NYU/Columbia Special Screening!

Wednesday, February 1st 
Cinema Village – 22 E 12th St, New York, New York 10003
Tickets Available – www.cinemavillage.com

Join us for a special screening of THE AGE OF CONSEQUENCES – a thrilling new documentary that explores how climate change impacts national security and global stability – with NYC University students, faculty, admin and alums.

After the screening stay for a discussion and Q+A with the filmmakers and groups including NYU Divest, NYU Deutsches Haus, Urban Farm Lab, and more!

Student? Simply, select the showtime online – and then select the “AOC Student Discount”, a $8 ticket (regular price, $12). No additional promo code needed. In person at the box office, you can also say you have the “AOC Student Discount” and receive the same special offer. Remember to bring your student ID (but no big deal if you forget it).

Have a group of 10+ (or any group), contact us on Facebookor email sophie@theageofconsequences to receive a special $6 discounted ticket! (same process as above, but you will be an “AOC Filmmaker VIP”

About the Film:

The Hurt Locker meets An Inconvenient Truth, THE AGE OF CONSEQUENCES investigates how climate change impacts resource scarcity, migration, and conflict through the lens of US national security and global stability.

Whether a long-term vulnerability or sudden shock, the film unpacks how water and food shortages, extreme weather, drought, and sea-level rise function as accelerants of instability and catalysts for conflict.

Left unchecked, these threats and risks will continue to grow in scale and frequency, with grave implications for peace and security in the 21st century.

PRESS: 

“The election of climate change denier Donald Trump underscores the urgency of this doc.” – Toronto Star
“Eye-Opening” – The Hollywood Reporter
“A Wake Up Call” – Indiewire
“A Stark Warning” – BBC World News
“Investigates Climate Change in a New Way” – NBC

Performance, Video & Ritual in the Era of Climate Change

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

by Guest Blogger Monet Clark

Given the monumental devastation brought on by global climate change, as an artist I feel the urgency to be vigilant, a warrior and, despite our dystopian present and the probability of a worse dystopian future, courageous enough to hope. Last year I found myself in a state of veritable despair. I wondered,”How can I make an impact on something so much larger than me?” I was in the midst of making my performance/video piece BUNNY GIRL, shooting from the gut, with no script nor understanding of where the piece was going. Towards the end, however, cathartically the piece revealed itself and gave me my answer. I found a new focus in my work, drawing from a side of myself that I used to hide from the art world, the suppression of which has played into the patriarchal structure contributing to this global mess we’re in…

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BUNNY GIRL (video still) performance/video piece, 2016

BUNNY GIRL is driven by the crises state of our biosphere. In it, I play a Playboy Bunny/animal of the same name traversing sweeping landscapes layered with found footage of the current mass species extinctions, as well as recent toxic catastrophes. With wry humor, the piece ties environmental destruction to the vulnerability and suppression of the feminine. In the surprise ending, the title character blossoms and realizes, as have I, that our hope for the future lies within the rising of the feminine.

bunny-girl-poster

Through the making of BUNNY GIRL, I discovered that I had internalized misogyny. I saw parallels between the destruction of our environment, and the marginalization of the feminine and the indigenous perspective. It is a great irony that toxic masculinity patronizes the perspectives needed to save our world. Also ironic is the historical term ‘white man’s burden’ when now what we have is ‘brown man’s burden’! Indigenous people are trying to tell us, as they have all along, that when we destroy our environment we destroys ourselves. Why is it so hard for westerners to understand holistic theory, that parts influence the whole and the whole influences the parts? Even our thoughts and beliefs contribute to the whole, so our fears and negativities have negative impacts. Therefore, internal work is important. I’m a big fan of the present moment. It is from the present that we are building the future. We all have options in the present for positively shifting humanity. Part of that can be by just shifting ourselves. As we clean up our own internal environment, our actions become more effective to remedy the crises of the external one, and our evolution influences those around us and it reverberates from there. My latest pieces incorporate all of these ideas. They work to expose internalized misogyny, and use a combination of technology and ritual to transmute individuals’ negativity.

I grew up in a marginalized subculture. I was immersed in California’s utopian back-to-nature movements of the 1970s. As a small child, I learned from the studies of my mother and her friends, developing skills to cultivate food without toxic pesticides, visiting indigenous peoples whose perspectives influenced us on issues ranging from traditional spiritual forms of healing, to the delicate balance of ecosystems. There were the ongoing studies of healing plants, holistic eastern medical traditions, and how to prepare food nutritiously vs buying processed foods. Meditation techniques revealed the mind/body connection, eastern spirituality exposed the energetic component of our physical bodies. We rallied for no nukes and clean air and water, coming to an understanding that we all share one biosphere.

There was a clairvoyant church that we attended when I was very young, headed by a robust psychic, an older woman with big eyes and a round face. I only remember her as being named Gloria. She predicted many events that have since come to pass, which my mother wrote in notebooks while Gloria spoke: a benevolent Russian leader with a birthmark on his head would lessen cold war tensions with the U.S. ushering in a new era of peace and freedom (Gorbachev); the tearing down of the Berlin wall; wars in the Middle East. There was one prediction that has stuck with me, as a kind of looming backdrop to my life since I was 6. Gloria said that water would become a precious commodity, and she saw visions of people killing for it to survive. In the 1970s, before bottled water was on stores shelves, we took water for granted and her words seemed odd. Now, 40 years later, Gloria’s words make perfect sense.

BUNNY GIRL (video still) performance/video movie 2016

BUNNY GIRL (video still) performance/video movie 2016

As an adult, I expanded on the knowledge-base my upbringing gave me in Bay Area academia and in feminist art-making. I also spent 25 years rigorously training in eastern spiritual practices and in the healing arts, including with my own indigenous relatives, working to recover from a life-threatening neuro-immune illness I developed after a toxic exposure. I began to work with clients, as a clairvoyant, energetic healer, and nutritional coach.

After I made BUNNY GIRL, I used my clairvoyant and energetic healing skills in a live performance called The Intuitive Feminist at Krowswork Gallery in Oakland, acting in defiance of the patriarchal influence which makes these skills taboo in an art world setting. In the performance, I directed each audience member to focus on an issue. Using bibliomancy, I randomly opened pages from classic feminist texts and intuitively expounded on them, with a focus on the individual’s internalized sexism. I administered a vibrational flower essence remedy I had specially prepared for masculine/feminine balance. These are tools that women were once burned at the stake for.

The Intuitive Feminist performance, Krowswork Gallery, Oakland, CA 2016 (photo Jared Johnson)

The Intuitive Feminist performance, Krowswork Gallery, Oakland, CA 2016 (photo Jared Johnson)

I’m currently working on two performance/video ritual pieces. One is an 11-screen collaboration with video art pioneer John Sanborn, called NOW, where we humorously address fatalism. Two opposite female characters, one sarcastic, one optimistic, provide instructions for transmutation using a ring of monitors that envelopes the audience in sacred space. Utilizing technology as a conduit to unlock physiological power in participants, we seek to invoke altered states where beliefs transform into reality. NOW will be unveiled in February 2018 at San Francisco Camerawork. In my other project, I humorously play three female archetypes which are commonly shunned in feminist discourse and critical theory. These point to the patriarchal influence, racism and misogyny within these discourses. They will be projected larger than life. Like NOW, this piece involves a nexus between ritual and technology.

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Monet Clark is a performance/video artist and photographer from California, with a BFA from SFAI. Her works are raw, refined, wickedly humorous, political, feminist and semi-autobiographical. She depicts women in media and subculture, exploring dichotomy, ritual and transmutation. Exhibitions include WP8, Germany; The Kitchen, NYC; SFMOMA; solo at Krowswork Gallery, Oakland; Rapid Pulse, Chicago; and more. She recently completed a residency at Krowswork where she finished BUNNY GIRL, which has since shown in film festivals internationally.


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