Co Editor

Review: Encounter with Giovanni Impastato

This post comes to you from Cultura21

On the 2nd of November 2011 the Sicilian Giovanni Impastato, who fights against the mafia, was invited in Düsseldorf and Cologne, in order to present his book Resistere a Mafiopoli (Resist Mafiopolis) at the Heinrich-Heine-University and at the Filmhaus Cologne. In this book Giovanni Impastato tells the story of his brother Peppino Impastato to the music journalist Franco Vassia (co-editor). Peppino Impastato was an activist in the fight against the mafia and was murdered by the Cosa nostra in 1978. After the death of his older brother Giovanni Impastato went on fighting against the mafia together with his friends and family.

The encounter with Giovanni Impastato, his touching story and his plea for a nonviolent and democratic society have moved the students at the University Düsseldorf as well as the mainly italian audience at the Fimhaus Cologne. After the book presentation of two hours, Giovanni Impastato and his guests continued their conversation with a glass of wine.

The presentation was organised by Prof. Vittoria Borsò and Aurora Rodonò of the Institute for Romance studies at the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf in cooperation with Cultura21 (Davide Brocchi) and the Filmhaus Cologne.

Links: http://www.peppinoimpastato.com/index.asp and http://www.centroimpastato.it/

This post is also available in: German

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

New metaphors for sustainability: a stranger’s compass

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

Our co-editor Wallace Heim continues our series of new metaphors for sustainability with a guidance system that changes hands. 

Walking an unfamiliar Cumbrian fell with a compass, often without a map, links me to the land in a special way. The invisible, magnetic north that spins into place on the device is often perplexing and counter-intuitive. However reassuring it is to know there are vast forces of geology beyond any I can see, forces that co-ordinate my safe passage, I still have to negotiate the land right in front of me: that granite face, that swamped mire, that fast river. There is no picture in which to find myself, only wit, the land and the pull of a distant polar force.

A few times, I’ve come across a dropped compass. There’s a moment when clearing the mud from its face when I wonder whether it was left behind because it was broken, or not believed. Is the north that was found in a stranger’s hand the same as in mine?

I don’t think sustainability can be likened directly to a compass, as if there was a pole of certainty to it. There are orientations that guide, but they fluctuate with a landscape that is continually shifting. The incremental decisions made in response to immediate conditions themselves change the situation, alter what is possible to do. I see sustainability as a response to change, one that keeps alive the capacity to respond to further change. What kind of compass would show this light-footed improvisation that makes sure those in the future can navigate their own way?

Walking with a stranger’s compass comes closer as a metaphor. The compass is given, handed over, and it connects me to those I will never know, while helping me cross the land that I am in. The instruction is not reliable; maybe not safe. Or maybe it is, and the coordinates are sharper than on my own compass, signalling a clearer route. Is it pulling me in a direction I couldn’t have imagined? This uncertain magnetism invigorates the walk. One day, I’ll leave my compass behind.

“ashdenizen blog and twitter are consistently among the best sources for information and reflection on developments in the field of arts and climate change in the UK” (2020 Network)

ashdenizen is edited by Robert Butler, and is the blog associated with the Ashden Directory, a website focusing on environment and performance.
The Ashden Directory is edited by Robert Butler and Wallace Heim, with associate editor Kellie Gutman. The Directory includes features, interviews, news, a timeline and a database of ecologically – themed productions since 1893 in the United Kingdom. Our own projects include ‘New Metaphors for Sustainability’, ‘Flowers Onstage’ and ‘Six ways to look at climate change and theatre’.

The Directory has been live since 2000.

Go to The Ashden Directory

New metaphors for sustainability: my sweet pea

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

In a recent series of seminars on site-based performance and environmental change, our Ashden Directory co-editor Wallace Heim met Alison Parfitt, of the Wildland Research Institute, and writer on conservation. Here, Alison considers her sweet pea as a metaphor in our series New metaphors for sustainability.

Sustainability. After the Rio Earth Summit 1992, I was impassioned about this challenging aspiration, with head and heart. Many of us struggled over complicated diagrams, wanting to encompass everything. We talked about ecological systems and the need for the sacred and spiritual, the connectedness of all. We explored social and environmental justice and quality and equality – with diversity. Models and metaphors came and went, bees in a beehive.

Now I see this challenge of understanding the potential and power of sustainability in a more intimate way. And I suspect that the full and inspiring notion of sustainability (sometimes understood but often not) is showing a way, a direction for the human species to evolve, if we can.

As I write this there is a sweet pea, picked this morning, beside me. A soft fresh fragrance. This flower is creamy pale with a purple, or even nearing indigo, fine edging on the petals. It looks and feels precise, very clear yet fragile. It moves in the air coming through the door. The flower is here today but gone tomorrow, the plant goes on and I shall gather seed. It is everyday and uniquely precious.

I accept that my sweet pea is not really a helpful metaphor for sustainability but for today, now, it enlightens me and reminds me of my relationship within all else. And how I could be more human. And that’s where my quest to understand has got to. I suspect it will move on again, soon.

 

“ashdenizen blog and twitter are consistently among the best sources for information and reflection on developments in the field of arts and climate change in the UK” (2020 Network)

The editors are Robert Butler and Wallace Heim. The associate editor is Kellie Gutman. The editorial adviser is Patricia Morison.

Robert Butler’s most recent publication is The Alchemist Exposed (Oberon 2006). From 1995-2000 he was drama critic of the Independent on Sunday. See www.robertbutler.info

Wallace Heim has written on social practice art and the work of PLATFORM, Basia Irland and Shelley Sacks. Her doctorate in philosophy investigated nature and performance. Her previous career was as a set designer for theatre and television/film.

Kellie Gutman worked with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for twenty years, producing video programmes and slide presentations for both the Aga Khan Foundation and the Award for Architecture.

Patricia Morison is an executive officer of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, a group of grant-making trusts of which the Ashden Trust is one.

Go to The Ashden Directory

ashdenizen: tipping point launches first of four discussions

At this weekend’s Tipping Point conference, there’ll be a panel discussion on the first morning at the Examination Schools, Oxford (pic), which will examine ‘A History of Cultural Responses to Climate Change’.

The discussion is chaired by Quentin Cooper (presenter of Radio 4’sMaterial World) and the panel includes Diana LivermanNigel Clark,Siobhan Davies and Wallace Heim, the Ashden Directory co-editor, and guest blogger here.

This is the first of four discussions on culture and climate change, organised by Joe Smith and myself. The discussions will be recorded and made available on the Open University iTunesU.

This blog will be reporting on the panel discussion and, more widely, on the two days of the Tipping Point conference.

via ashdenizen: tipping point launches first of four discussions.

ashdenizen: two views across the mersey

In this guest post on the Ashden Directory’s Blog, Wallace Heim, co-editor of the Ashden Directory, spends a day in Liverpool – first with philosophers, then with artists.

Two weeks ago, in sight of the Mersey, and within a 100 yards of one another, you could find two very different ways of looking at human relations with nature. At Liverpool University's Philosophy Department, a dozen professors and lecturers exchanged ideas on alienation and the environment. Across the street, High Tide’s latest exhibition of work by 11 artists opened at the Art & Design Academy.

The philosophers talked in a plain room around a table. We dived into meticulous explorations of how the human relates to the natural, and whether our perceived loss of touch from the natural world is justifiably the grounds for our current situation, or whether there is something in that estrangement which is vital, productive, even necessary.

A grappling with how to describe the experience and feeling of alienation moved alongside the historical and analytical exploration of it, through the Romantics, Marx, environmental ethics and new views on the built environment as ‘natural’.

Seeing the gallery with those ideas still swimming in my mind made me look for a similar prodding of that sore zone between human and nature, wanting to see more than a rush to represent the effects of the estrangement, or to show a better or more ecological connection, as valuable as those are. I wanted to be taken, through art, into that suspension where not everything is known and already given, a place of sideways, even dangerous, questions.

This wasn’t the theme of Mersey Basin, which was an exploration of rising sea levels, flooding and the ebb and flow of that shoreline. Works were composed of driftwood, mud, string, plastic detritus and woven wool. Some were juxtapositions of waste and beauty (Robyn Woolston, Gordon MacLellan), some had provocational intent (Àgata Alcañiz). Many artworks represented past conversations or performances, or long periods of attending to an environment, or of collaborations with scientists (Scott Thurston & Elizabeth Willow, James Brady & Stuart Carter).

Maps represented not only the present, but the ancient fluctuations of changing shorelines melding into projections of an uncertain future (Tim Pugh), and the visual pleasure of proposals forward for the Mersey Basin as a forested refuge for migrating species (David Haley).

The walking, marking and storytelling of the exhibition brought the materiality of the changing edge between sea and land into view. But the littoral could also describe the continually changing gap between the ‘human’ and ‘nature’, and it was the philosophers who excited this most sharply, almost painfully, and pushed against the shortcomings of current knowledge as our environments change.

Pic: 'Trees of Grace: Draughting Change': David Haley shows our blogger a map of the Mersey Basin and Pennines that illustrates how it would look with a changed shoreline and re-forestation. (Yvonne Haley)

Reposted from: ashdenizen: two views across the mersey.

Una Chaudhuri’s Keynote at Earth Matters on Stage

una-wspark1Una Chaudhuri is Collegiate Professor and Professor of English and Drama at New York University. She is the author of No Man’s Stage: A Semiotic Study of Jean Genet’s Plays, and Staging Place: The Geography of Modern Drama, editor of Rachel’s Brain and Other Storms: The Performance Scripts of Rachel Rosenthal, and co-editor, with Elinor Fuchs, of Land/Scape/Theater. She is Guest Editor of a special issue of Yale’s Theater journal on “Ecology and Performance,” and of TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies on “Animals and Performance.” Her current research and publications explore “zooësis,” the representation of animals in contemporary media, culture and performance.