Crises

No Longer the Miner’s Canary

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

We need to learn to adapt to the environmental crises we have created.

Zoltán Grossman’s article No Longer the Miner’s Canary: Indigenous Nations’ Response to Climate Change published on Terrain.org argues that there are significant lessons to learn from indigenous peoples.  These lessons focus on community building and sharing knowledge amongst communities, thus empowering people.  Experts are responsible to inform and engage with communities.  The article focuses on the value of work at the scale between the disempowered individual and the ineffective federal government – that is the scale of towns and cities, bioregions and tribal landscapes.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
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Ploughshares from Swords – Social Sculpture and Cultural Agency

This post comes to you from Cultura21

November 07th, 2011 MIT (USA)

“How does creative activism contribute to society? How do we moderate crises through individual and collective art practice? How do we reconcile the arts, activism, and pedagogy? Stella McGregor, Founder and Director of Urbano Project, will share her experience of working with inner city youth and introduce projects such as Violence Transformed, and Pedro Reyes’ Palas por Pistolas. Stella McGregor has been an artist and a cultural worker for over 25 years, working on projects in Boston, New Orleans, Macedonia, and Taiwan.”

Urbano Project:  http://urbanoproject.org

The “Zones of Emergency: Artistic Interventions – Creative Responses to Conflict & Crisis” Fall 2011 lecture series investigates initiatives and modes of intervention in contested spaces, zones of conflict, or areas affected by environmental disasters. The intention is to explore whether artistic interventions can transform, disrupt or subvert current environmental, urban, political, and social conditions in critical ways. A crucial question is how can such interventions propose ideas, while at the same time respecting the local history and culture.

More information at the Zones of Emergency Blog: http://zonesofemergency.mit.edu/

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

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Paul Kingsnorth’s new millenarian literary movement

Paul Kingsnorth, poet, environmentalist, journalist and author of Real England, attempts to kick off a ground-breaking new literary movement this month, The Dark Mountain Projectwith social-web frontiersman Dougald Hine. Its premise is a radical one;  if I represent it right, it’s that we are on the brink of catastrophe and it’s art’s reponsibility to face that, and to reflect it in its output. We have been telling the wrong stories. It is time to start telling the right ones:

We don’t believe that anyone – not politicians, not economists, not environmentalists, not writers – is really facing up to the scale of this. As a society, we are all still hooked on a vision of the future as an upgraded version of the present. Somehow, technology or political agreements or ethical shopping or mass protest are meant to save our civilisation from self-destruction. Well, we don’t buy it.

Kingsnorth and Hine have written a remarkable manifesto that’s well worth reading; it’s erudite, lyrical and, most of all,  apolcalyptic in an almost William Blake-ish kind of way, seeing civilisation treading on a “thin crust of lava” as the environmental catastrophe looms. Its eight principles of “Uncivilisation” include the following:

3. We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths.
4. We will reassert the role of story-telling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality.

There is a growing debate here at the RSA Arts & Ecology Centre about the role of apocalyptic art in changing minds. We are fond of quoting Raymond Williams here, “that to be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing”. If you want people to change, you have to offer them a way to a future that inspires them, rather than terrifies them. Pessimism convinces nobody.

But what if that act of making hope possible only bluntens the urgency of the situation, dissipates the urge to action?

Kingsnorth and Hine are looking for people to rally to the flag.

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