Flesh And Blood

ashdenizen: wanted: a portrait of the climate scientist as a real person

In his preface to The Coast of Utopia, Tom Stoppard makes the point that writers can have real political influence. His example is Turgenev’sSportsman’s Sketches, which Stoppard writes,

“were plausibly said to have done more than anything else to turn the ‘Reforming Tsar’ Alexander 11 towards abolishing serfdom.”

But the writing has to be precise and observant. Earlier in the preface, when discussing Alexander Herzen, Stoppard writes,

“What he detested above all was the conceit that theoretical future bliss justified actual present sacrifice.”

Twentieth-century history was on Herzen’s side. It’s easy to imagine, today, that many playwrights’ resistance to climate change as a political subject comes from this idea that it deals with a “theoretical future” and that it is being used to justify “actual present sacrifice”. Playwrights like to write about real situations, flesh and blood characters, the here and now. And they like jokes.

In some ways, then, the most interesting characters to put on stage right now are climate scientists: not a climate sceptic disguised as a climate scientist (as happens in The Heretic), but the climate scientists who are simultaneously appalled and fascinated by what they are discovering.

At last year’s TippingPoint conference in Oxford, climate scientists spoke candidly and wittily about how their work had altered their lives and their world views. If caught accurately, that kind of portrait might have real political influence.

via ashdenizen: wanted: a portrait of the climate scientist as a real person.

Earth Matters On Stage: Blood and Bodies

That’s a shark signing his chummy painting above, proving once and for all that eco-art is not for the faint of heart.

It’s an image used by Una Chaudhuri in her keynote address  “Animal (and) Planet: Zooesis and Ecological Extremity”  at this year’s EMOS. Chaudhuri is responsible for major contributions to the written EcoDrama field, and so wields terms like “gynesis,” and “anthropological machine” expertly (even while folks like Mike Lawler and I are squinting to catch up).

It was a look at performance and animals– or performance and non-human animals, if you prefer.  The bookends of the speech were a piece called “Helena”, in which artist Marco Evaristti  gave the public the option of pulverizing live goldfish in blenders–  and the work of Olly and Suzi, who go out into the wilderness and make collaborative paintings with animals ( not just your alley cat or field mouse: see above).

So here I am, at a conference intended to examine the relationship between our planet and our performance art, and I have to confess that I feel silly using the term “non-human animal.” But that’s the essence of what Una Chaudhuri is addressing: at what point do we stop looking at “the others” as something we manipulate and use, and start acknowledging them as collaborators in our community– ecologically, and in this case, artistically?

These same themes come up again and powerfully in EMOS during a panel on Rachel Rosenthal’s work, and in the context of the artist’s own flesh and blood. There’s also much more: green theater practices, Boal, space, giraffes, rituals and rollings on the grass– I’ll be posting more frequently in the next week as the eco-nerddery swells my brain . . .

Go to the Green Museum