Yearly Archives: 2020

Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘I tend to the pieces’

By Carolyn SandovalChloe CassidyDonna HokeJeffrey K. Johnson

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

FRACTURED

It’s been nearly four years since we’ve felt such extremes. Anxiety. Stupidity. Complacency. Fear. Death. Anxiety. Complacency. Fear. Death. This should have been different. This should not have created divides between “this is really inconvenient” and “I just lost a son and husband,” between sold out shallots and sold out sympathy cards. We’re beyond fractured. There is gnawing fear of exposure but clawing fear of what has been exposed. And staying inside becomes not just sheltering in place, but also sheltering from the divide, sheltering in the only stillness.

— Donna Hoke (East Amherst, New York)

Sheltering in stillness.

* * *

NO HEROES HERE

Shelter in place, I’m told. COVID-19 is here. I button up my stiff white dress shirt and throw on a muted-color suit. I’m one of the privileged few that get to leave the house every day. I’m one of the people they don’t talk about on the news. In a footnote maybe, they mention the number of deaths. They never mention me. I am on the frontlines but don’t qualify for hero status. I’m called. I respond. I am always responding. At least I have N95 masks now. I may have been exposed. I could be next.

— Jeffrey K. Johnson (Pineville, Louisiana)

A local cemetery.

* * *

INSPIRATION

“Have a good day,” I tell my partner as I kiss her goodbye and head to work in the makeshift office in the dining room downstairs. I am grateful that it’s my day to Zoom all day where the comfortable office chair is located. Achy from weeks of staring at my computer screen, filled with my colleagues’ faces (and their pets and kids in the background on good days), I settle in and breathe a sigh of gratitude for the privilege of working alongside inspiring people, and within reach of hummingbirds and blooms that hang out on the patio.

— Carolyn Sandoval (Solana Beach, California)

Patio pals.

* * *

ODE TO GAIA

She is healing, but she needs our help. Her body has been ravaged by bushfires so furious they left her hollow. Floods of emotion swept through her outer edges, and afterwards burnt remnants of the fires washed up onto the shores. I discovered these fragile pieces left to slowly weather away, as the passers-by are now kept at a distance. I tend to the pieces as if I can mend and heal each through repair and reverie. The pieces are renewed. They awaken the senses once more. Gaia is beginning again. We are all in stages of healing.

— Chloe Cassidy (Sydney, NSW, Australia)

(Top photo: Healing and reverie.)

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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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Guest Blog: Here. Now. The world changes.

This guest blog by writer and artist Wallace Heim was originally given as an introductory talk at a Green Tease online meetup discussing how arts and culture can adjust and continue our planning for COP26 in light of COVID-19 and the postponement of the conference. She reflects on the role of the arts in crises, the impact of social distancing, and what we can learn from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

I’d like to offer some thoughts about the arts and climate instability – and this confluence of COP26 and COVID-19.

Back in 2015, alongside COP21 in Paris, Creative Carbon Scotland devised a new kind of ArtsCOP festival –  happening in the places where people make art. It was dispersed over time and locations. The festival worked from home. The animating force was to encourage artists and practitioners to initiate, develop, extend their projects to engage with climate change as it was then understood.

ArtsCOP Scotland showed how an organisation can grasp the fundamentals of a problem – which was how to be part of COP21 without travelling – and, within its resources, create the potential for new work. This new kind of festival, in many ways, simply dissolved the problem.

Many of the performance works that were made then brought out views of an imagined, troubled, future world – distant enough to hold and turn in your hand and contemplate.

Now, a human pandemic conjoins with and expresses the climate crisis, and the present urgency holds at once a terrifying uncertainty and the potential for a more ecologically just world.

COVID-19 is forcing humans to look deep within the chasms of our social and economic and environmental habits and assumptions, the insanities and injustices and invisible conveniences that make up everyday life. It is there, in the red hot recesses and fault-lines where the patterns of connections with climate instability can be made.

The arts may be not only about delving into the fractures. But – and more positively – they may show the deep-rooted possibilities of how to live, and how to live well and equitably with the other-than-human.

I need to say that artists do what they do, and that is not activism or public information in another guise. I’m not suggesting a directive – but am supporting the exchanges of capabilities and knowledge and privileges that can happen, and are being suggested here, whether COP comes to Glasgow or not.

I want to mention two things that are immediately in mind about making and experiencing art right now.

First, how will artists and others find ways of researching their work and ways of making relations with their human audience under physical distancing. Too, how do we negotiate the emotional and psychological effects when we do return to being near each other again.

This human distancing affects, as well, how people can relate with their environments, with the more-than or other-than-human. How will those relations be made and be changed –  maybe with more sensitivity and need?

How will those changes come through into the experiences of art.

Second, these smooth-screened technological supports that we rely on now and are adapting to – won’t fit every kind of artistic experience. Ideas for different kinds of relations between works of art and the public will need to be explored – that live pulse needs to continue somehow.

But here we are.

I’m finding that COVID is both depleting my attention, at the same time as leading me to think on some of the big societal concepts and ideas and whether they  – like tectonic plates – are shifting, and how might they shift to more ecologically wise formulations. This shifting is a raw material for performance, theatre and art.

For example, in relation to COP26, I’m thinking about sovereignty – a very big concept… The states that have gathered for all the COPs have had to negotiate how climate instability blurs, if not erases the assumptions of state sovereignty. Closer in, the virus has upturned many ideas about the extensions, limits and responsibilities of the state.

How can an ecological contract be found and agreed that defends and builds back the historical achievements of the austerity-depleted social contract?

More intimately, what is a ‘border’, when the arbitrary border between states may be expressed in the soft human tissues of my lungs?

And last, keeping to this intimate, sensual and material level –  what does it mean to care – to care for the other-than-human – the living beings, the elements, the forces. Who does it? What does it look like? Feel like? Over what timescales? What parts of the world get cared for or abandoned? What is the relation between care and justice? How can artistic practices show tenderness and care? Should they?

COP is a punctuation. It is a global moment of exceedingly slow advance. Things can move much faster and deeper on the ground, at home, setting a context for and even counter-forces to – the gathered institutional powers. The arts sector is integral to this.

I look forward to how the people and groups here – artists and activists – will perceive a problem over the next months – maybe a conceptual problem about how one pursues meaning, or maybe a logistical one like over distancing  – and then find a way of working that dissolves the problem.

And I look forward to breathing again – taking my breath again –  with a room full of strangers.


Wallace Heim has written on ecology and the arts – on performed arts and social and environmental practices – for many years – and mostly from philosophical perspectives. Most recently, she has gone back to working as an artist –  writing for and producing performed works and making sculptures – these have been about the Solway Firth, the release of nuclear waste, about caring for contaminated land, about how to make decisions over the next hundred and more years.

You can read a blog about the online event Wallace spoke at on the ecoartscotland website.

If you are interested in getting further involved with planning for COP26, why not join the #arts4cop26 Facebook group.

The post Guest Blog: Here. Now. The world changes. 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: ‘Like Sisyphus, I’ve got nothing but time’

By Brooke St. GeorgeDavid CaudleMichelle Kuen Suet FungSarah Fisk

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

MORNING MOURNING

I wake to the sound of chainsaws. Outside my window, on the street behind our house, is a man in a tree, trimming it, but what is that in the street? Peeking over my back fence I see an old oak, illegally felled by our new neighbors, and burst into tears.

Nothing will bring the oak back. Nothing will bring back the lives we’ve lost, or my 95-year-old grandmother, who died alone because we couldn’t visit the nursing home.

I stand alone in my backyard, in my pajamas and the bright morning sun, and mourn for the world.

— Brooke St. George (Tempe, Arizona)

RIP, Lovely Oak.

* * *

IS IT TIME?

Not too long ago, when this last guy first became President, my favorite (and only) sister called me. “Don’t laugh and don’t tell anyone I asked you this,” she said, “but do you think it’s time to move to Canada?” I said I didn’t think so. The idea scared me. It scared me to hear it come from her. Today I want to call her. My work is almost gone. The economy is crumbling. I want to ask her, “Is it time now? Australia, maybe?” But I know what she’ll say, “No, Sweetpea, we can’t. We can’t go anywhere.”

— Sarah Fisk (Berkeley, California)

My sister teaching me how to stick out my tongue, 1959.

* * *

QUARANTINE ARTIST RESIDENCY

In 2020, I lose gigs and gain more time. I make less money and more art. Instead of battling crowds on trains and buses, I sink in my couch of clouds and hungrily glean through books that weigh like rocks, neglected previously not by choice but by lack of time. Instead of making do with constant disruptions of life by necessity, I relish these long days where I indulge in nothing but my own art and research. I no longer remember what day of the week it is. This silky creative thread unbroken by errands and money. A quarantine artist residency.

— Michelle Kuen Suet Fung (Hong Kong)

(Top photo: Working from home is great.)

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SELF-ISOLATING, WITH TREES

My cottage north of town borders wetlands protected by law (so far), and woods I love to walk. But Nature’s debris can trip you up. Especially if you focus on the canopies. (No crown shyness here. These trees don’t social distance.) Spent six days of quarantine clearing fallen branches. On the seventh, a storm threw down new ones. Like Sisyphus, I’ve got nothing but time. But hospitals are the new Hades. Health workers roll out one patient, Rona delivers two more. Me, I’m unemployed and high risk. All I can do is wander these woods. Five, six, pick up sticks.

— David Caudle (Putnam Valley, New York)

Sun through the pines with deer.

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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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Survivor Generations 2165: An Original Radio Drama by the Climate Stew Players

By Peterson Toscano

The Climate Stew Players present Survivor Generations 2165, an original radio drama. Turns out television programs of the future will be obsessed with the past. Hear the story of Yuri Ivanovich Petrov. As a boy, he survived the infamous 900-day siege of Leningradduring World War II. Though he experienced unimaginable hardships, he also developed inventive ways to survive. The lessons he learned during the greatest crisis of his generation can help give us hope and guidance for our own.

That winter siege nearly destroyed the city and its emaciated inhabitants. But, miraculously, many survived. Speaking of that desperate first winter of the 900-day siege, poet Olga Bergholz wrote:

That winter death looked straight into our eyes and stared long, without faltering. It wanted to hypnotize us, like a boa constrictor hypnotizes its intended victim, stripping him of his will and subjugating him. But those who sent us so much death miscalculated. They underestimated our voracious hunger for life.

Based on archival interviews from actual survivors of the siege, the Climate Stew Players weave true stories into the life of young Yuri. Learn about the resiliency and the determination of the women, children, and elderly who had to find ways to survive in spite of all the odds against them.

The Climate Stew Players use storytelling, comedy, and character-driven short radio dramas to explore climate change and human rights.

Segment music by Skaj Da Waidah, Sean Pope Domeneko, Raúl Díaz Palomar, and J. Buckner.

Next month, creative non-fiction writer, Elizabeth Rush reveals how seeing a stage adaptation to her award winning book, Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, helped her see her own climate grief in a whole new light.

If you like what you hear, you can listen to full episodes of Citizens’ Climate Radio on iTunesStitcher Radio, Spotify, SoundCloudPodbeanNorthern Spirit RadioGoogle PlayPlayerFM, and TuneIn Radio. Also, feel free to connect with other listeners, suggest program ideas, and respond to programs in the Citizens’ Climate Radio Facebook group or on Twitter at @CitizensCRadio.

This article is part of The Art House series.

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As host of Citizens’ Climate Radio, Peterson Toscano regularly features artists who address climate change in their work. The Art House section of his program includes singer/songwriters, visual artists, comics, creative writers, and playwrights. Through a collaboration with Artists and Climate Change and Citizens’ Climate Education, each month Peterson reissues The Art House for this blog. If you have an idea for The Art House, contact Peterson: radio @ citizensclimatelobby.org

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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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Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘Unfamiliar scenes of sadness and joy’

By Chloe LunnDenise KenneyMichael SilverWanda Kolomyjec

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

HOGANS AND HANDKERCHIEFS

I cut 9″ x 12″ cotton first. 6″ x 9″ mesh next. 7″ elastic for the ear-loops. I press the interfacing onto marginally-precise rectangles Sarah will sew into masks on her late grandmother’s Singer. To the Navajo Nation today, we mail twenty masks of nineteenth-century design. We’ll send more tomorrow, and in two days, and on for however long, heartened and determined yet dejected and guilt-ridden too. Our family’s needs and wants are easily obtainable nearby, immeasurably more accessible than the patchwork roadside convenience store/gas station/trading posts that sustain most Reservation towns. It’s clear: hogans and handkerchiefs present little resistance to viruses, obduracy, and neglect.

— Michael Silver (Phoenix, Arizona)

The current US supply chain for PPE.

* * *

DRIVE-BY PUPPET SHOW

My family created a drive-by puppet show, lip syncing to the song “I Will Survive.” We hung red curtains over the side windows of our car, drove around to friends’ houses, texted them to come out onto their porches, cranked up the music, and let the puppets do their thing! Then we had a short visit. There is something about seeing people in person, even in a driveway and at a distance, that’s thrilling.

— Denise Kenney (Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada)

(Top photo: Drive-by puppet shows)

* * *

I’M NOT FLOATING

These days the litter seems braver than me. The way it floats outdoors, boasting of its freedom, whilst I sit on the other side of a glass window and watch with fear. There’s been more of it lately. Litter. Gloves, crisp packets, masks, bottles. I wonder where it all came from? From brave souls working on the frontlines terrified, or from the rule-breakers? Either way, part of me is jealous. Jealous that even with a daily exercise allowance there are days I can’t make my feet step out of the front door, and the litter floats on.

— Chloe Lunn (Wales, United Kingdom)

An abandoned can dropped by a tree I pass when I brave a walk.

* * *

SADNESS AND JOY

I wander through the neighborhood park. As I wind down the path, I come across a picnic table wrapped in yellow tape looking like the remnant of a forgotten crime scene. Further down the way, a playground is similarly treated with a homicide-like barrier, warning children to stay away. Grim reminders of our current situation assault my sensibility. I wander down a bit further and I begin to hear the soft murmur of music. As I approach, I see a young man playing a clarinet in the park. Lovely. The pandemic brings unfamiliar scenes of sadness and joy.

— Wanda Kolomyjec (Phoenix, Arizona)

Sunday morning at the children’s playground.

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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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Wild Authors: Wu Ming-Yi’

By Mary Woodbury

I recently re-read Wu Ming-Yi’s The Man with Compound Eyes (Goodreads), which takes place in Taiwan, and was thrilled to connect with the author. This chat has been partially translated, so I thank Zheng (East) Wang, from the University of British Columbia, a native Chinese language speaker who received a BA in English and a minor in Chinese Language and Culture.

On the island of Wayo Wayo, every second son must leave on the day he turns fifteen as a sacrifice to the Sea God. Atile’i is one such boy, but as the strongest swimmer and best sailor, he is determined to defy destiny and become the first to survive.

Alice Shih, who has lost her husband and son in a climbing accident, is quietly preparing to commit suicide in her house by the sea. But her plan is interrupted when a vast trash vortex comes crashing onto the shore of Taiwan, bringing Atile’i with it.

In the aftermath of the catastrophe, Atile’i and Alice retrace her late husband’s footsteps into the mountains, hoping to solve the mystery of her son’s disappearance. On their journey, memories will be challenged, an unusual bond formed, and a dark secret uncovered that will force Alice to question everything she thought she knew. 

The story is humorous and sorrowful, and evokes all of the emotions in between. It reminds me that fiction might allow us a wider perspective and “gaze beyond” the facts of climate change, which we remain somewhat blinded to. The compound eye metaphor also alludes to multiple perspectives of the nature around us. Ming-Yi is one of the many authors I’ve spoken with who didn’t wholly intend to write a novel about climate change, but these issues seem to come to the story naturally.

We haven’t read anything like this novel. Ever. South America gave us magical realism – what is Taiwan giving us? A new way of telling our new reality, beautiful, entertaining, frightening, preposterous, true…. Wu Ming-Yi treats human vulnerability and the world’s vulnerability with fearless tenderness.” — Ursula K. Le Guin

Taiwan is suffering warmer temperatures, similar to many places around the world, and is predicted to continue experiencing rising sea levels and extreme storms. With the wave of young climate activists, we’ve also seen the rise of youth like Kaisanan Ahuan from Puli City, Taiwan – from the Central Taiwan Plains Indigenous People – who stated in The Guardian:

As the indigenous people of Taiwan, we have a particular vulnerability to climate change. Our traditional culture is deeply rooted in the harmony we have with the spirit of nature. We face heartbreaking loss due to increasingly extreme weather events.

CHAT WITH THE AUTHOR

The Man with Compound Eyes follows two stories, one mythical and one contemporary, about people being affected by global warming and their own personal dilemmas. It’s a very refreshing and uniquely told story. What led you to write it?

Many years ago, I read about trash vortexes in the North Pacific Ocean. Even without photos of it, a sequence of imaginary scenes kept hunting me, night and day. As time passed, those scenes became interconnected and turned into a holistic whole in my mind. They reminded me of the place where I had lived, Hualian. Hualian is a small city facing the Pacific. I have stood there and watched birds fly. Then the idea came to me that maybe one day, all the garbage would fly to the shore to meet its creators – us. In addition, my understanding of climate change and my passion for the sea led me to write the story’s first chapter.

I like the story of Atile’i and the Wayo Wayo. Is this similar to a real legend in Taiwan?

For the story, I read many books from the field of ethnography, and, of course, about a beautiful island named Lanyu and its inhabitants, Tao. Wayo Wayo is very much an ethnic group defined by the ocean, aiming to communicate with other civilizations defined by land. I also hoped to depict the complexity of the colorful Taiwanese races and ethnicities. As a result, I added the Bunun tribe onto the story.

The story of Alice is also interesting. Her home is literally becoming submerged by rising seas, and she is dealing with extreme loss and grief. What influenced your creation of this character?

I live between Taipei and HualianThe former is a big city where people try to ignore the fact that they are living in nature; the latter is a small city located at the crossroads of a 3,000-foot mountain and the great Pacific Ocean. People who live near nature can witness the changes, and be more impacted by the fact that the environment has changed dramatically. Personal despair becomes intertwined with the further despair of comprehending the total destruction of nature. I wanted to express this feeling.

The novel addresses several environmental issues like climate change, trash vortexes, whaling, construction, and seal hunting. It’s amazing that you built these issues into a novel while just telling a great story. How do you think fiction can be a tool for exploring environmental issues?

These issues came into the story naturally. I was not adding them with intention. In the process of creating the characters, these issues simply entered their lives, so I forced myself to look into what was underneath them. I have been a part of some environmental groups, so while some topics might be unfamiliar to the general public, I knew them very well and wanted to introduce them to a wider audience.

How have you seen Taiwan change in the modern era as far as pollution, global warming, and so on?

Taiwan has been a victim of environmental degradation, due to Western companies setting up their high-pollution industries here. Of course, Taiwan also has itself to blame since its government does not protect the environment. At the moment, Taiwan is facing a choice: whether to become an environmental example for South East Asia, or to become an abandoned world craving for economic growth. Some might say that both could be achieved simultaneously, but as a country with limited resources and a declining population, as well as being under the shadow of the People’s Republic of China, this might be merely wishful thinking. Taiwan must recognize the value of its precious human culture, and at the same time, pay more attention to its natural beauty. Taiwan should fight against pollution to make a positive impact against global warming.

Thank you for the great story as well as your time with this interview. I look forward to more from you in the future!

(Top image: Wu Ming-Yi in Slovakia, courtesy of Chen Meng-Ping.)

This article is part of our Wild Authors series. It was originally published on Dragonfly.eco.

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Mary Woodbury, a graduate of Purdue University, runs Dragonfly.eco, a site that explores ecology in literature, including works about climate change. She writes fiction under pen name Clara Hume. Her novel Back to the Garden has been discussed in Dissent Magazine, Ethnobiology for the Future: Linking Cultural and Ecological Diversity (University of Arizona Press), and Uncertainty and the Philosophy of Climate Change(Routledge). Mary lives in Nova Scotia and enjoys hiking, writing, and reading.

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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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I’m writing a book!

By Tanja Beer

I have some news! I’m writing a book! Yes! A book on ecoscenography!

CALL OUT for cool sustainable design projects!

I am looking for examples of people doing great stuff  in the world of sustainability and the performing arts that I can feature in my book. So, I’d love to hear about any projects people are doing around the world that are worth a mention. I really want to celebrate the exciting range of work that people are doing — everything from tiny theatre projects to massive spectacles, in both conventional and expanded practice. Especially projects that are not always celebrated the way they should be or from different parts of the world often not recognised in the Global North or English speaking context (note: this is not the time to be shy about spruiking your own work). Looking for examples across the whole spectrum of set, costume, props, lighting and sound.

Ecoscenography: an introduction of ecological design for performance

Sustainability in theatre production is the topic of my forthcoming book entitled, Ecoscenography: an introduction of ecological design for performance (Palgrave Macmillan 2021) based on my PhD research at the University of Melbourne which I completed in 2016. The monograph examines the emerging concept of ‘ecoscenography’; a neologism that I use to bring performance design into an increased awareness of broader ecologies and global issues. In the book, I argue that the current ecological crisis calls for a new philosophy for theatre production that promotes more ecological (holistic, interconnected and symbiotic) ways of doing things. Related industries, such as architecture, product design and fashion have already shown us how a sustainable ethic can create exciting new processes and aesthetics. However, we are yet to fully grasp what a socially and environmentally conscious approach entails for the performing arts.

The ephemeral and specific nature of theatrical work means that most set and costume designs are only of valued for the duration of the performance season – often a matter of days or weeks – before they are discarded. Designers are trained to work towards Opening Night. How we ‘get there’ or what happens to our sets and costumes after the production ends is often neither a priority nor a consideration. Our focus as scenographers has typically been to create ‘experiences of impermanence’ – often extravagant spectacles with little regard for the prevailing permanence of unwanted remains (seen and unseen) which persist long after the event. Unlike typical theatre productions where the performance season is precedent, ecoscenography is comprised of three stages that are considered equally fundamental to the aesthetic consideration of the work – co-creation (preproduction), celebration (production) and circulation (post-production). Drawing upon literature across the ecological worldview (Hes & du Plessis 2015), systems thinking (Meadows 2008), biomimicry (Benyus 2002), ecomaterialism (Cohena and Duckert 2013; Alaimo 2010), regenerative development (Reed 2007) and others, the book provides an introduction to ecoscenography’s theoretical and practical framework, opening up new processes and aesthetics of theatrical design that enhance the social and environmental advocacy of our field.

(Top photo: The Living Stage, Castlemaine Sate Festival 2013. Scene from Produce, created and performed by Creatability and Born in a Taxi)

The post, I’m writing a book!, appeared first on Ecoscenography.
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Ecoscenography.com 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 www.tanjabeer.com

Go to EcoScenography

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