Thatâ€™s a shark signing his chummy painting above, proving once and for all that eco-art is not for the faint of heart.
Itâ€™s an image used by Una Chaudhuri in her keynote addressÂ â€œAnimal (and) Planet: Zooesis and Ecological Extremityâ€Â at this yearâ€™s EMOS. Chaudhuri is responsible for major contributions to the written EcoDrama field, and so wields terms like â€œgynesis,â€ and â€œanthropological machineâ€ expertly (even while folks like Mike Lawler and I are squinting to catch up).
It was a look at performance and animalsâ€“ or performance and non-human animals, if you prefer.Â The bookends of the speech were a piece called â€œHelenaâ€, in which artist Marco EvaristtiÂ gave the public the option of pulverizing live goldfish in blendersâ€“Â 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 â€œnon-human animal.â€ But thatâ€™s the essence of what Una Chaudhuri is addressing: at what point do we stop looking at â€œthe othersâ€ as something we manipulate and use, and start acknowledging them as collaborators in our communityâ€“ ecologically, and in this case, artistically?
These same themes come up again and powerfully in EMOS during a panel on Rachel Rosenthalâ€™s work, and in the context of the artistâ€™s own flesh and blood. Thereâ€™s also much more: green theater practices, Boal, space, giraffes, rituals and rollings on the grassâ€“ Iâ€™ll be posting more frequently in the next week as the eco-nerddery swells my brain . . .
Go to the Green Museum