Yearly Archives: 2020

Intergenerational Environmental Responsibility: Reflections during The Great Pause

An Interview with Sarah Kanouse
By Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein 

My practice is totally affected by being quarantined. I’m working on the dining room table on a failing laptop that I couldn’t get fixed before all of the computer repair places shut down as nonessential businesses. sk

Sarah Kanouse was preparing to tour her original work My Electric Genealogy throughout Southern California when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. She helplessly watched as five years of work and preparation was put on hold. The work explores the social justice impacts of her family inheritance and intergenerational environmental responsibility.

OH: I understand you’ve had to make some difficult decisions as a result of the pandemic, including leaving your residency locality in Munchen.
 
SK: Yes, I had to leave Germany abruptly last week for fear of getting stuck there for another six months, well beyond my housing contract and income. I’ve been under house quarantine in Boston for 8 days, so it’s mostly been my community here supporting me. I’ve figured out how to make some masks and plan to help deliver meals when I get out of quarantine next week.

OH: What response have you had to the ecological changes resulting from the global quarantines and how has this affected your practice?

SK: We’re getting a crash course in degrowth–the radical contraction of our economies that is needed to mitigate climate change, but that would have to be carefully planned not to make far, far worse the violent inequities of contemporary capitalism. I hope that the mutual aid networks we’ve seen spring up in neighborhoods everywhere and the ways that once-radical ideas like UBI and free health care suddenly seem eminently sensible is a preview of a beautiful eco-social future. But, unfortunately, the right-wing governments are using the shock of the pandemic to further gut environmental regulations, trample privacy, and curtail dissent. Keystone XL just a fresh infusion of money and is full speed ahead, and it barely registered in the news.

OH: You describe that the show “My Electric Genealogy” traces your relationship to the environmental and social justice impacts of (your) family inheritance.

SK: Well, my grandfather worked for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power from the 1930s to the 1970s—a 40-year period in which the city’s population more than doubled and the Great Acceleration of energy consumption really took off. His entire career was devoted to ensuring that the city had enough power to support rapid population growth that was concentrated in hot, arid places that required ever-increasing amounts of energy to make comfortable according to white, middle class standards.”

OH: What are some of these environmental and social justice impacts?

SK: Several power plants were built in this era in the Four Corners area hundreds of miles away either on or encircling the Navajo and Hopi reservations. Indigenous people and the animals and plants they mutually depend on experienced all the adverse health and environmental impacts of these plants and their associated coal mines but did not benefit from any of the electricity.

OH: Can you please share a specific story from the show?

SK: In the performance, I contrast this story with my grandfather’s plan to build a nuclear power plant in Malibu. This privileged beachfront community was able to successfully mobilize to defeat the DWP’s planned Corral Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, which my grandfather envisioned as the first in string of 30 nuclear power plants along the California coast. In addition to the environmental injustices involved in electrical generation in the twentieth century, the transmission infrastructure both reflects and contributes to economic and racial segregation in the built environment in the present.

OH: In the description of the solo show “Electric Genealogy” you question what role you and your identity play in the destructive infrastructures that are involved in colonization and industrialization. Tell me more.

SK: I’m strongly influenced by the environmental philosopher Kyle Powys Wyte (Potawatomi) who has called on white environmentalists to take responsibility for the ways that their (which is to say my) environmental consciousness has been shaped by white, settler colonial values and how “we” benefited intergenerationally from the very planet-imperiling practices that we now decry.

OH: For those of us who may not get the chance to see your show, have you come to any personal conclusions on the topic?

SK: The project is very personal. My grandfather was a complicated and difficult man—scornful of the burgeoning environmental movement; critical of the educated wife who gave up her own career to support his; politically conservative and deeply religious; harsh and even violent with his children. But he is also part of me. As an artist, I identify with his ambition and almost megalomaniacal focus on his life’s work. He loved photography and took hundreds of images of electrical transmission and generation systems. But what do we do about ancestors whose actions were the ones being rightfully resisted? I think of the project as a reparative project—critical of my grandfather’s legacy, of course, but also one that tries to build something out of the fragments, ruins, and traces that he and his generation left.

OH: Is the mid-century men’s suit that you wear during the performance meant to emphasize this?

SK: Wearing a suit that could have been my grandfather’s and adding and subtracting different costume elements over the course of the performance is one of the ways that I work through my connection to him and his time. It’s also a way of playing with and multiplying the possibilities for gender expression to resist the normative hetero-patriarchy which much of US infrastructure assumed: private, domestic, feminized spaces of consumption and rugged, masculine, high-tech spaces of production.

I hope that the performance prompts the audience to consider their own co-subjectivity with modern infrastructures, since we are at a moment in which they must fundamentally be reworked and rethought. sk

OH: You embody multiple generations in the show in order to ask what intergenerational environmental responsibility might look like. How might it look in your perspective?

SK: Because the environmentally unjust present was not merely what Whyte calls the environmental fantasies of my ancestors but also my grandfather’s actual life’s work that is actively imperiling the future that my child will inhabit. The performance is in some ways a counterfactual dialogue with the political and cultural legacies of my grandfather’s life’s work—one that’s needed if we are to work through the legacies of modernism, technocracy, and growth-at-all-costs that continue to animate green capitalist approaches to climate adaptation. 

OH: Much of your early work was in film. When did you decide to work in live performance? How has the medium informed the process?

SK: I started this project thinking I was making a film. Like I often do, I wrote a lot, shot a lot of material, and did some talks, which steadily became more and more performative. At one point, the script was 80 pages (a lot to memorize!), and I had done absolutely no acting since junior high. So, it slowed the creative process down immeasurably, but also in really exciting and fun ways. I audited a university acting class, joined a contact improv circle, consulted with performance artists as I reworked and finished the script, and worked with a choreographer friend to think about how my movements can convey the idea of being embodied by and related to something as big  and diffuse as the electrical grid. It took me awhile, but the project couldn’t go back to being a film—it’s just too much of hybrid creature—movement, sound, storytelling, projected moving images, sculptural set design, videoclips—to flatten on a screen.

OH: What are your next steps?

SK: Good question – and I wish I had an answer! I was just starting to set up dates for fall on the east coast, where I’m based, when the pandemic began heating up. Those were all in the early stages and are just impacted by the pandemic as the postponed spring shows, since the canceled/postponed events of the spring should be rescheduled if at all possible. It also feels incredibly icky to be worrying about the impact on this project when people are sick and dying or losing their jobs.

So, I’m taking this moment to take stock not just about this project but how I live—the ways that my creative ambitions unwittingly replicate some of my grandfather’s worldview, for example—and knowing that there cannot be business as usual after this. 

Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein is a Cambridge, MA based artist/writer and ecoartspace member.

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

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

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Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘As long as she is there I cannot touch her’

By Iliana RamonMurray ReissNicole SchafenackerUmmi Tasfia 

Reader-submitted stories of the COVID-19 pandemic, in no more than 100 words. Read past stories hereSubmit your own here.

POEM IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

Houses are always in motion, an endless balancing of foundation. Cold seeps in and stirs something like frost heaves to rock bones, or a prickle of sunlight sends shivers – sounds like a crack of ice seeking the quickest line of expression. I used to think my childhood house with everyone inside and sleeping, the dog too, was the most secure place to be. Unbreakable. A sealed container holding family, night, and restful breathing. I see cracks and stirrings more clearly now, hear the spindrift of snow gathering itself against my wall, appreciate more now the many small dances of togetherness.

— Nicole Schafenacker (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

Housebound.

* * *

THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO BE SAFE

Content Warning: abuse, domestic violence.

When mandatory home quarantine ends, they will be released in hordes,
scars covered in make-up,
plump lips excused as a side effect
of eating too many quarantine snacks,
swollen eyes from days of Netflix on end.

They will speak in metaphors;
hoping some poet somewhere
understands
too much of what
is being covered up.

There will be the invisible
who never needed excuses.

Some scars don’t exist
if they don’t need camouflaging.

The ICUs will still be full
but heaven will be fuller.

Too many died a martyr’s death. Isolation was supposed to keep them safe.

 Ummi Tasfia (Singapore)

For the first time, it’s unsafe both outdoors and in.

* * *

FOLLOWING MY BREATH

I sometimes describe myself as a “lapsed Buddhist.” I haven’t sat a retreat or meditated for a couple decades (I’m 74). And even though as a poet and editor I’m used to spending a lot of time alone at home, this time is different. I’ve joined my wife – much less lapsed – in a daily sitting practice: online guided meditations, following my breath, being in my body, attending to sounds, staying in the moment, returning to my breath. Some of which stays with me through the rest of the day, the next day, and the next.

— Murray Reiss (Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada)

(Top photo: Opening to the moment.)

* * *

TWENTY-FIVE DAYS

Twenty-five days. It has been twenty-five days since I came home. Twenty-five days ago I came home to my mother, but I cannot hug her. She works in the hospital, the ER in fact. And as long as she is there I cannot touch her. She comes home in tears, exhausted, and fearful that she may infect us… and I cannot console her. I can only hope for the day I can hold her and she will know that it will be alright. Twenty-five more days and I may be able to hug her. But we must stay home.

— Iliana Ramon (Fairmont, Minnesota)

Mama and I.

______________________________

This series is edited by Thomas Peterson. One of the editors of Artists & Climate Change, he is also a theatre director and researcher whose work focuses on the climate crisis.

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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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Wassaic Project 2020 Haunted Mill Open Call

Applications are run through our Slideroom portal: https://wassaicproject.slideroom.com/#/Login

Applications deadline: May 26, 2020, midnight EST 

The Wassaic Project seeks artists to participate in the Haunted Mill on October 31, 2020, our annual, one-night-only Halloween event in the hamlet of Wassaic. Artists transform the floors of Maxon Mills into a PG-13 haunted house, and throughout the event we host family-friendly hayrides, games, and performances.

We accept three types of proposals for the Haunted Mill: site-specific installations in Maxon Mills, outdoor installations, and performances. 

For site-specific installations in Maxon Mills and outdoor installations:
Artists will have complete creative control over their installation, as long as they keep their work PG-13. We want artists who are excited to participate and get weird, as well as artists who are self-directed and independent with their projects and vision. Wassaic Project offers housing in one of our residency houses for 1 – 4 weeks between October 2 and November 2, 2020, private studio space in Maxon Mills, additional studio space in Luther Barn, and full access to our wood shop and print shop. Artists interested in marking site-specific work for the exhibition should apply regardless of whether or not they are interested or able to be in residence in October. We will offer a modest honorarium to participating artists and artistic teams.

For performances:
Please explain how the piece will look or function. If your work is time-based or or has video documentation, you may also link to media from YouTube, Vimeo and SoundCloud.

Application Requirements:
Contact information
Installation proposal
1 – 10 work samples 
CV 
$25 application fee

ECOLOGICAL CITY – Art & Climate Solutions VIRTUAL PAGEANT – SATURDAY MAY 9

Due to COVID-19 and this period of social distancing, ECOLOGICAL CITY: Procession for Climate Solutions has transitioned to ECOLOGICAL CITY: Art & Climate Solutions VIRTUAL PAGEANT

Saturday, May 9 2020 
LIVE EVENT – EARTH CELEBRATIONS FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/EarthCelebrations/

Over 100 PARTICIPANTS – artists, performers and garden and partner organizations videos contributions of gardens and performers are shared from remote locations on Earth Celebrations Facebook page  – 11am – 4pm

BECOME A CLIMATE SOLUTION – SIGN-UP & PARTICIPATE
PARADE-in-PLACE from HOME 1-1:30pm — 
JOIN – CLIMATE COSTUMEZOOM VIDEO

Create a nature-inspired homemade costume celebrating the natural world, gardens, rivers and climate solutions and share a selfie video PARADING-in-PLACE from HOME!

TKTS – Free – REGISTER https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ecological-city-art-climate-solutions-virtual-pageant-tickets-92293487305
(request to receive ZOOM LINK)

Create a nature-inspired homemade costume celebrating the natural world, gardens, rivers and climate solutions and share a selfie video PARADING-in-PLACE from HOME!

PARTICIPATE – #VOLUNTEER – CONTACT
Earth Celebrations-Ecological and Social Change through the Arts or https://earthcelebrations.com/volunteer-ecological-city-sign/

Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘The third narrator is practicing her lines’

By Claude SchryerElaine NussbaumKaren EliasSigne Jeremiason 

Reader-submitted stories of the COVID-19 pandemic, in no more than 100 words. Read past stories hereSubmit your own here.

HOLLOWNESS

I feel hollowed out. This isn’t the kind of solidarity that fills me with meaning, like feminism…. This is survival solidarity. It’s a hollowness of memories robbed from me, of health and life robbed from others. I feel lost without my community. I miss my people. I feel disconnected… isolated. I feel angry and sad when I read the news. I see the death toll and think about what those people might have meant to their loved ones. I read what the administration says and my blood boils. Our people deserve better. Our planet deserves better. Yet I am stuck.

 Signe Jeremiason (Saint Peter, Minnesota)

Feeling hollow while sitting in bed. The figure is bald because I have alopecia.

* * *

BLUE JAY

Plum blossoms fall like snow, and a Steller’s jay, with its charcoal-colored topknot and sapphire tail feathers, collects dead grass to build a nest in the alder tree, where he and his mate will squawk and squawk. I don’t know until I turn on my TV that in New York City, 1,900 people have died in the last 72 hours, doubling the number in the previous 72. Outside hospitals, bodies are loaded into refrigerated morgue trucks by gurney and forklift. The first infant has died, and one million people worldwide have contracted COVID-19, doubling the number in one week.

— Elaine Nussbaum (Scappoose, Oregon)

Plum tree.

* * *

COVID-NINETEENING

covid-nineteening
part fear, part hope
unpassing time

connected solitudes
part heart, part mind
uncharting paths

involuntary prescience
part science, part art
unseen cultures

Unpassing time is about how being in a ‘connected solitude’ bubble is liberating, and tackling the COVID crisis is a test run for the climate crisis.
Uncharting paths refers to our need to unlearn, quickly, deeply.
Unseen cultures is about imagining a sustainable world we have not yet seen but already know.

— Claude Schryer (Ottawa, Canada)

The Rideau River near my home in Ottawa, where I went for walk while thinking about this story.

* * *

THE PLAY THAT IS OUR LIFE UNDER COVID-19, OR SELF TALK

The narrator of my life insisted on saying, “And from that point on, everything went quickly down hill.”

She was replaced.

The second narrator insisted on saying, “One day and then the next, in dismal succession.”

She was replaced.

These narrators think they know everything! The third narrator is practicing her lines. She is learning to say, “We are staying at home. We are washing our hands. We are playing our part.”

— Karen Elias (Lock Haven, Pennsylvania)

(Top photo: Sheltered, unsheltered.)

______________________________

This series is edited by Thomas Peterson. One of the editors of Artists & Climate Change, he is also a theatre director and researcher whose work focuses on the climate crisis.

———-

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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How Creative Carbon Scotland can support our cultural sector

We know that the last few weeks have been very challenging for our cultural sector. In this continually changing situation, we want to reassure you that we are still here to support you in your green work in any way we can.

At Creative Carbon Scotland, we remain focused on supporting the sector in their environmental ambitions. Climate change will continue to impact cultural organisations, artists, audiences and our wider world in the months and years to come. During this difficult time, we want to make the most of the Scottish Green Arts community by developing help, support and connections for all those finding new ways of working for a different future.

How we can support the sector

There are numerous continuing and new ways in which we can support you:

  • Connecting you with other Green Champions in cultural organisations across Scotland
  • Sharing case studies of successful green initiatives to inspire and inform your own efforts
  • Opening up our archive of free tools and resources to help you address climate change in your work
  • Helping you to understand your carbon footprint, and providing 1:1 advice on how to manage your emissions, preparing you for any reporting requirements
  • Advising on how you can adapt to the impacts of climate change – including changing temperatures, rainfall, sea level rise and extreme weather.
Upcoming digital events and opportunities 

We have a range of ways to get involved in the coming months:

  • If you are a member of the Green Arts Initiative, join our new Green Arts Facebook Group, where you can connect with other Green Champions and share questions, experiences and source ideas.
  • Members can also join our new Green Arts monthly meetups, which will explore key green topics for the sector. Our first one will take place on 22 April 2-3pm and will focus on how to communicate about climate change. Check our events calendar to find out what else is coming up.
  • If you are a Regularly Funded Organisation, review our guidance on how to report your emissions (we’ll be updating this soon for 2019/20 reporting) and get in touch with Caro to discuss how your carbon management plans are changing.

Like many, the Creative Carbon Scotland team are working from home, but we can all be contacted through email:

The post How Creative Carbon Scotland can support our cultural sector appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

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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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Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘I cry for humanity’

By Emily StearneyJana BlombergMadison KerstenPatrick Meadows

Reader-submitted stories of the COVID-19 pandemic, in no more than 100 words. Read past stories hereSubmit your own here.

TO THE FUTURE ME

The world has changed. Will it ever be the same? This is such a different life from the one we knew. But then again, maybe this different won’t be so scary or bad. Just new. Sending love, courage, wisdom, and strength to the students, the parents, the workers, the grandparents, the scared and the weary, the calm and those finding rest. To the older generations who I hope are staying safe and to the younger generations who I have faith will still find a way to pursue everything they want to be. To the future you. To the future me.

— Madison Kersten (Shepherdstown, West Virginia)

Twenty and quarantined.

* * *

APRIL 7TH

We’ve hardly ever needed a reason to go out to eat. Birthdays and anniversaries, of course, but I’ve always preferred the smaller occasions – going for curry because just the two of us are home (none of my siblings like Indian food), or visiting the deli when his job takes him to my neighborhood. The experience is more than the food; a turmeric-yellow wall with mesmerizing Bollywood scenes on the TVs. Sandwiches passed over the counter, checkered floors and aisles of pastas and sauces.

My dad turned 54 today. Eating from Styrofoam boxes is dull in comparison, but we dare not abandon tradition.

— Emily Stearney (Chicago, Illinois)

Happier times; a vacation dinner in Mexico.

* * *

SENIOR YEAR

Final semester lost. Forced to leave campus. No more late nights living with my best friend. No last beautiful spring on campus. Graduation and senior art show are in question. No more passing friends on campus every day. No goodbyes to favorite professors. Had lasts without even knowing it. Senior year over. Classrooms now through a computer screen. Dining room becomes my art studio. Extracurricular activities consist of taking my dog for a walk. Only 2000 steps a day. No schedule or concept of time. My world has been turned upside down. Not how I pictured my last semester of college.

— Jana Blomberg (Plymouth, Minnesota)

My “school” turned upside down.

* * *

LAMENTING

I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a crier. I get sad and happy at movies, books, and things a lot of people wouldn’t think someone would cry for. But I haven’t cried for this. I refuse. I cry for the friends and home I’ve been sent away from and I shall cry for those who have experienced the same. I will weep for the parents who are having difficulty feeding their children and the kids who won’t get to see their best friends for months. I don’t cry for COVID-19, I cry for humanity.

— Patrick Meadows (Franklin, Tennessee)

(Top photo: Writing in my sketchbook.)

———-

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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