"This Is My Neighborhood!" - Community Identity, Ecology and Performance
Presenter: Theresa May
Introduced by Elizabeth Asselstine
In the theatre, stories take place, conjured before us by living performers, audience and materials of the art. Theatre is a demonstration that our existence – no matter how abstracted, destabilized or virtualized – is an existence in situ. Places inform our identities as individuals and communities in specific and diverse ways. Sustainability then necessarily includes social and environmental justice and recognition of the central importance of cultural (as well as biological) diversity.
Using two indigenous performances as examples, May explores how local identities and economies are linked to global challenges, and how global ecological issues are etched in the lives of people and the land they call home. In Salmon Is Everything, a community-based docudrama about the salmon crisis in the Pacific Northwest, a young Anglo biologist has a sudden realization about what the river means to her Native friends: “This is their hood! This is the place they grew up, met boys, danced all night…” In Marie Clements’ Burning Vision, the story of uranium mined on Dene land in Bear Lake, an Anglo “test dummy” has a sudden realization about the global web of relationships formed by the atomic bomb: “This is my neighborhood!” In both plays the idea of “neighborhood” carries implications for what environmentalists mean by “sustainability” and what community activists mean by “community.” If we are to have the former, we must be centrally concerned with the latter. In Burning Vision, Clements has conjured a transnational neighborhood. In Salmon Is Everything, local experience speaks out of its specific time and place to endangered watersheds around the world. On stage, neighborhood is a web of interdependent, reciprocal, local-yet-global relationships – both ecological and cultural – that fuse the concerns of justice and cultural identity with those of ecological sustainability. [return to top]
This textual/choreographic conversation/dance takes aim at assumed understandings of the (human) body in popular and policy discourses of “sustainability”. Generally conceived as object-subjects of environmental management, so-called sustainable bodies are largely produced and organized by disciplinary discourses that emphasize the enclosure and protection of the individual body against the onslaught of environmental threats/others, having the effect of reifying, cauterizing and increasingly surveilling corporeal experiences of/in the world, and especially of forms deemed unruly and unsustainable such as queer and gender-transgressive bodies. We deploy queer theories of bodily materialization and corporeal-ecological abjection toward a more genuinely embodied and politicized account of bodies as subjects of/for creative transgression, as opposed to the increasingly hysterical bodily managerial ideals emphasized in mainstream understandings of sustainability. In conversation with spoken texts, the work performs, through the skin-presences and world-generative body-states emphasized in dance experiences from Japanese Butoh practice, the kind of body awareness we understand as a necessary intervention into sustainability: an imaginative-performative “taking in and taking on” of the other, as opposed to a version of sustainability built on corporeal closure and defense. return to top]
Artists, Scientists and the Environment
Presenter: David Buckland
Introduced by Claire Hopkinson
The worldwide scientific community has and continues to alert us to the real and profound challenge of climate change. It is now clear that anthropogenic activity is causing our planet to warm to what will become alarming levels, and as yet no singular solution to this worldwide challenge has been established. Our addiction to fossil fuels as a source of energy to drive our worldwide economies is now recognized as the source of the problem, and the solution will require us all to engage on a social, economic, technological and scientific platform. Nothing short of a cultural shift will engage on the scale required: we need creative thinking and practice as never before, and all within an ever-decreasing time scale. Buckland illuminates, through the work of the Cape Farewell project, how scientists and the creative community have joined forces to envision and work towards delivering a sustainable future for all of us and for our grandchildren.
Cape Farewell was the first organized cultural initiative to recognize that the stories that we tell about climate change and ourselves can unlock human potentials in ways that science, politics and economics cannot. Over nearly a decade of exposing human creative genius to the material winds, currents and flows of environmental change, Cape Farewell has made a big impact. It has been in the vanguard of the gathering impetus to re-think climate change as an opportunity for cultural reorientation – and it has done so in ways that scientists, engineers and linear thinkers find hard to do. [return to top]
What does it mean to live on the edge of the country, but at the heart of art? At her oceanfront farm in Newfoundland, Canada, artist Colette Urban becomes a half woman-half bear, dances a tango while strapped into bungee cords, wheels nonsensical record contraptions and turns herself into a parody of consumer goods. Resilient, determined, self aware and funny, Urban embraces the transformative power of art and place.
Pretend Not to See Me is a film about following a dream, embracing risk and sustaining courage through acts of the imagination. It’s an astonishing representation of Colette Urban's enigmatic art performances set against the rugged beauty of rural Newfoundland.
Katherine Knight’s commitment to this film began when Urban created an artwork that compared the island of Newfoundland to an elephant and her heritage house to a headdress. Knight wanted to make an immersive film that captured belief in art and place.
Colette Urban will introduce Knight’s film with a short performance work called “Hoot”. The screening will be followed by an interactive performance piece titled “Thirst”.
“Thirst” involves the exchange of a story for water. Audience members will be invited to participate in the performance by making a paper cup that will be used as a container for drinking water. As participants are engaged in making their cups they are asked to tell a story about water. The stories will be recorded as documentation of the exchange.
“Thirst” employs the construction of a simple tool - a cup, a basic origami form. While instructions are given on the paper cup, it can be a challenge to construct while telling a story. The gesture of constructing a form for our immediate use - to drink water - can allude to the gravity to our present environmental concerns. Storytelling is our unique way of sharing a personal narrative and can be prompted by an assortment of things that affect our day-to-day experience. The “Thirst” video juxtaposes the audio text collection of stories while the visual images concentrate on each individual’s response to material construction. [return to top]
The Performing Arts and their Carbon Footprint
Presenter: Ian Garrett
Introduced by James McKernan
Theatrical production is an inherently unsustainable process. Shows can live long lives: The Phantom of the Opera became the longest-running Broadway musical at its 7,486th performance in 2006. But of 14,000 non-profit productions in the US that year, the average ran for less than 13 performances. Rapid creation and disposal is at odds with sustainability. There are many products to construct buildings sustainably. But those are built to last; A Doll’s House isn’t.
However, this cycle is not just a wasteful necessity, but also an opportunity to reinvent the process and redefine theatrical production. The Los Angeles-based Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts and its partners provide a network of resources with tools, best practices and other initiatives to enable more conscious choices while maintaining artistic excellence. In this presentation, Garrett explores available resources, how they are and can be used, and the next steps in sustainable production. [return to top]
Cirque du Soleil: Creator, Performer and Citizen
Presenter: Gil Favreau
Introduced by Barbara Sellers-Young
Cirque du Soleil is a Quebec company internationally recognized for its high quality artistic entertainment. Since its inception in 1984, Cirque du Soleil has always sought to fuel the imagination, stimulate the senses and stir emotion in audiences around the world. Behind the scenes, Cirque du Soleil's deployment is singular and must adapt to the different shapes and forms of its shows various formats. As it does on stage, the company must show high levels of creativity and rigor to orchestrate business decisions that are in concordance with its values and its vision. The challenges and opportunities are great. From the simplest equipment shipment to the necessary finesse and respect of cultural differences, Cirque du Soleil finds the art of being a proponent of change. [return to top]
Environmental Management in the Theatre – A Look behind the Scenes
Besides theatre productions that directly deal with the topic of sustainability, there is a lot that can be done behind the scenes in order to make theatres themselves more sustainable in their operations. While there is still a lack of a structured and organized approach, several theatres in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have already implemented a variety of tools and processes to enable “greener” productions. From phasing out hazardous substances to energy management measures and negotiations with directors in order to lessen the environmental impact of a theatre production, a wide range of measures have been taken. Baumast draws conclusions from established environmental management approaches for small and medium-sized companies and the specificities of a theatre with regard to organization and the “primacy of art”, providing insight into what instruments and measures may prove of use in a theatrical environment in considering a case study of the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg, Germany’s largest theatre. [return to top]
A Case for Wood: Wood as our most sustainable scenic material
Theatre was considerably more sustainable 30 and 40 years ago. Flats and drops were used, reused and used again. These theatrical practices stem from a tradition rooted in financial necessity and dramaturgical fashion, and continue to varying degrees today for the same fundamental financial reason: the use of stock platforms has been and continues to be widespread. This suggests we can acknowledge what we already do well while improving our already responsible use of wood. Wood is the most sustainable and “green” material available to the performing arts. Wood stands alone. No other construction material is 100% renewable and no other material uses less energy to process into useable construction products than wood. If our industry continues to use raw materials for custom-built stage scenery, then research suggests that using more wood (not less, not alternatives) is an important first step towards more sustainable scenery construction. [return to top]
A Practice of Interdependence: Materials, stories, visual art
As a visual artist Love works with materials and processes that consider our relationship with the environment and our resources and balance within the inner and outer eco system. She is interested in the tension between beauty and decay, growth, sustainability and entropy. In this session, Love presents the idea of interdependence as it relates to her practice. This includes her approach to sourcing low-impact materials along with the stories, meaning and content behind the choice of materials. She also reflects on the subject and process which evolve in response to the environment where the work is created. Her daily practice has led her to consider wild spaces and the aesthetic program for the world we create, how this affects our social and psychological spaces and its impact on the natural environment. [return to top]
The Secret Life of Ruins
Mary Elizabeth Anderson
While the reading of ruins in the city of Detroit does not invite an uncomplicated transition into the aesthetic sublime, the presence of ruins factors strongly into the imaginative life of the place. Political leaders organize their platforms in direct relationship to the city’s ruins – to glamorize, to glorify, to commodify, to bulldoze.... Local artists, too, feel compelled to take a position with regard to the ruins. This presentation explores the tension between the Romantic impulse to ruin-gaze and the politics of ruin engagement among artists and community members in Detroit. Examining a range of political, commercial and community art practices, Anderson investigates the extent to which ruin works are both sustaining acts, which have the potential to nourish the visitor, the artist, the historian and the critic, while at the same time operating as parasitic acts, with just as much potential to jeopardize the integrity and even the longevity of the site itself. [return to top]
Things Fall Apart
Many of the great treasures of archaeology represent cultural abandonment during times of past climate change. Environmentally inspired (or required) social change engendered an acceptance of drastically different paradigms for surviving generations. Artifacts ground us in history, but we have to be able to articulate their relevance to society in order to bring them along during times of upheaval. Considering how to adapt to a future with uncertain institutional structures will likely require us to think carefully about the relevance of ruins and residue.
The concept of sustainability on one hand is core to historic and cultural preservation. By actively intervening against development and decay, we sustain the integrity of cultural objects, buildings and landscapes. On the other hand, our interventions, requiring natural resources and institutional oversight, may themselves be unsustainable. How can we preserve cultural resources in a manner that supports their cultural context and environmental integrity? [return to top]
Making Sense and Nonsense at Batty Cave
Gast's video installation Batty Cave (2009) documents an encounter with ruins: a remote series of caves on the side of a desert mountain where two men - expecting a flood of Biblical proportions - built an ark. The narrative of ecological doom, escapism and partnership begins with an unseen event: the damming of the Colorado River in Glen Canyon, itself a container of prehistory. In a central sequence, the artist’s hands form pictograms with scraps of rusty metal, broken glass and chipped rock. A densely layered tableau of imagery and sound tease a narrative from the barren landscape and monuments to folly.
Gast's projects explore the cultural history of land use through sculpture, video, music and performative actions, all tactics for interrogation and mimicry of the vernacular as associated with specific places. Localized histories point to these often-overlooked spaces where history and identity politics intersect as metaphors on the body or the landscape. [return to top]
Within Arms' Reach Kept at Arms' Distance
The fires that ravage abandoned structures in Detroit transform houses into heaps of charcoal. Often, in the absence of insurance money to bulldoze derelict and disaster-stricken homes, bits and pieces of charred wood carry on, in place, for years. Being a sculptor, Haley was curious about how he might act within this environment, constructing with material born out of ruin. He decided to organize a drawing show. Charcoal is a common tool for drawing. At sites throughout the city were masses of perceived refuse that held great recyclable potential. As a way to begin to try to understand the complexities of Detroit-as-place, Haley visited various domestic sites of ruin and collected wood that had been transformed into charcoal. He packaged the charcoal in USPS shipping boxes and sent the material to other artists across the country. In this session, he presents on the results. [return to top]
Deeper Shades of Green: Integrating the Visual Arts with Environmental Education
This presentation focuses on an innovative curriculum development research project into environmental art education in Canadian elementary schools. Also known as eco-art education, this emerging field develops awareness of, and engagement with, environmental concepts and issues through artistic and aesthetic means. Inwood shares the results of a year-long study involving a team of school and university-based educators who worked together to create new models for art-based environmental learning. In her presentation she summarizes the results of the team’s work - the first multi-case study of its kind - and discusses the successful use of a collaborative approach in developing generalist teachers’ environmental literacy and their growing confidence as environmental and art educators. [return to top]
"Green arts" are playing a big role at Evergreen Brickworks’ exciting new environmental education centre. Evergreen, a national non-profit organization, has been transforming a heritage site in Toronto’s Don Valley into an international showcase for urban sustainability and green design. Through an artist-in-residency model, an innovative approach to green arts programming has been developed and delivered to a wide range of the public including street-involved youth, school groups, summer camps and the general public. These playful, place-based arts, food and garden projects are intended to inspire the public to actively participate in the collective creation of a more livable and sustainable city. This session looks at how these strategies, models and innovations are applied to cross-curricular school and community programming. Key features of Evergreen Brickworks' environmental education centre will be shared, as will the successes and challenges of its green arts programs and its plans for moving forward. [return to top]
With personal narrative and interdisciplinary art approaches, this session presents the stories of visual artists who have experienced illness from occupational exposure to toxic chemicals in their arts practice. How have illness, chemical sensitivities or an increased awareness of toxic materials and their health impacts motivated them to change their arts practice? Chronicling a participatory action research project-in-progress, the presentation features conversations and questions posed by participants that explore the complex phenomenon of environmental health and the social, political, economic and cultural forces which drive and shape relationships to art and art production, the natural world, and our own bodies. The multi-media format – employing drawings, collage and audio and video footage – provides an accessible conduit for a dialectic on aesthetics and environmental ethics to surface. The presentation includes a brief overview of arts hazards in various visual arts disciplines. [return to top]
Spotting Cultures Underneath - Methods to create Human Sustainability
Every year the European Union designates one or more cities as cultural capital(s) for a specific year in the future. Often they are mid-sized cities that have invested considerable time preparing an application six to eight years in advance in order to win the competition, with the winner announced four or five years prior to the actual year. Since 2009 Aarhus, the second-largest town in Denmark (approx. 280,000 inhabitants) has been preparing itself for a potential title in 2017, working in cooperation with the larger region.
Many methods have been used to investigate the local and regional potential, and the knowledge, commitment and vision of many individuals and institutions have been incorporated into the 2011 application. Andreason presents some of these inclusive methods for further inspiration, exchange and discussion, including interactive methods for physical and mental mappings of local communities as well as a larger region. [return to top]
Drama and Ecological Understanding
The use of drama to heighten ecological understanding enables dramatic encounters to be understood in systemic terms. Work of this kind promotes self-reflection in the broad context of considerations of our place in the complex web of emerging systems, patterns and relationships. For those working in this way, drama must be seen as more than drama/theatre about ecology or ecological systems or ecological problems. The more substantial approach enables the realization that drama, which is a study of relationships, learning and systems of communication, facilitates ecological insight which in turn facilitates ecological literacy: Bateson’s ‘pattern that connects’. This realization constructs a deepened appreciation of the social dimensions of ecological systems and ecological understanding as a consequence of the realization that ecology, society and epistemology are inextricable. An educational process that draws attention to these relationships also, when successful, brings us together in social understanding. It initiates mutuality and belonging. Beyond the yearning for belonging, which attracts so many students to drama, it looks towards the deeply connected and respectful relationships that are the basis of sustainable communities and resilient futures. [return to top]
This presentation focuses on the Goggles Project, a Canada-wide tour which took place in fall 2010. The tour employed a troupe of professional actors under the direction of two scholarly producers who travelled to campuses across the country. The goal was to engage university community stakeholders in discussions regarding the role universities can and/or should play in achieving a sustainable future. The troupe used street theatre techniques in various venues on campus to engage and empower individuals to conceptualize the role universities can play in achieving a sustainable future. This presentation includes video footage from campus theatre events, an overview of the interactive website designed to support the events, and a discussion of the social marketing campaign that was launched simultaneously with the troupe’s first appearance on the sustainability stage. [return to top]
In 2010 the University of Minnesota, Morris produced Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It. Beginning with the play selection, director Ray Schultz, along with studio art professor and costume designer Jess Larson, devised a “green production”. The production was largely conceived as the UMM theatre discipline’s desire was to contribute to the dialogue of this rural liberal arts college’s sustainability mission as much as those disciplines, such as the sciences, that are more typically identified as the locus for sustainable practice and inquiry. In its design elements, the production featured primarily reused, recycled or repurposed materials. Items included costumes made from zippers and teabags, and sets incorporating recycled cardboard and a salvaged car seat. The presentation offers a production casebook, focusing on the aesthetics of sustainable theatre practices and the production's interconnectivity to the cultural context within which it was created, as well as how the adoption of sustainable materials impacted the unconventional artistic process and outcome. [return to top]
This panel brings together a number of designers, curators, and architects working in Canada on a range of environmental issues through active engagement and collaboration with local communities. Working from the production of small-scale objects to large-scale community-based projects and buildings, each of the groups represented addresses a range of important questions that we need to ask ourselves about the impact of creative work as a catalyst for change in our shared relationship with the environment. Some of the questions that will be explored by panelists include: How do we reconcile tensions between ethical imperatives and a need to create? Do we need more 'creation'? Are there strategies that can be unburdened from the artifact? i.e. de-materialization as an end goal, with a focus on services rather than products and events rather than objects. This panel focuses on the performative aspects within the design process and community engagement extended through the artifacts, installation, and the built environment. [return to top]
Freaks on Nature: Performing stigma in the ecological paradigm
What risks and opportunities does the emerging ‘ecological’ paradigm present to sustaining a critically diverse performance ecology? As ecology becomes the ‘after-postmodernism’ desire line it is important to critique bio-centric and pathologic environmental discourses, which threaten non-normative bodies of nature.
With particular reference to feminist and disability performance practices, Grace explores this question by sharing poetics and images of her place-based persona improvisations, which include a harlequin dancing in a nuclear bunker and an anchoress dancing on a building development. Her presentation profiles research and practice, engaging the relationship between stigmatized body and place. Harnessing Joan Retallack’s notion of poethics and Joseph Meeker’s play ethic, her work stages body and place as a social ecology – one that avoids tragic, pathologic and dominatory practices. In this session, she references feminist perspectives on Romantic heroism, contrasted with her use of comic persona and improvisation, which attempts to create a performance ecology not as a “heroic undertaking but a strategic one” (Meeker 1997 p28). [return to top]
Geoperformativity: A double becoming of performance and the world
The notion of sustainability is predicated on insight into both the genealogy and future of ongoing human participation in the ‘other than human’ world of the environment. New paradigms of participation can provide insight into ways in which more sustainable forms of engagement (more sustainable than those fueling the current ecocide we are witnessing) are privileged and promoted. From an immanentist perspective, creative acts of participation in the world are ontological acts. In creating work, artists engage in a process of becoming that is also the process of the becoming of the world. Deleuze and Guattari describe a world in which art is an ‘abstract machine’ (A Thousand Plateaus, 496/619), one whose function is not mimetic recreation, but the generation of the new. In this presentation Fancy considers a range of what he calls geoperformativities: performances that involve an intimacy between human and other-than-human forms of creativity and becoming. [return to top]
Silence = Use without Owners: John Cage’s chance music and ecological ethics
Is there such a thing as a way to use resources without exhausting them? This presentation examines the music and philosophy of John Cage in the early 1950s, arguing that Cage’s chance-generated music was less about ambient sound than it was a performance of use without ownership. Cage realized that chance music was non-perishable and inexhaustible, and modeled an ethics of letting environments be rather than an approach geared toward purpose and production. We tend today to think of sustainability as finding a way to use resources but not too much; Cage’s early music set out an example of how to think of use without recourse to scarcity or excess. Chance is a process that cannot be appropriated, possessed or controlled. One of the core ecological values – along with recycle and reduce – is refusal of appropriation. “Do not touch” is one declaration that environmentalism has used with success in wilderness zones but without much achievement elsewhere. Cage’s chance music showed how art could perform sound as accessible and sensual but not capable of being held or hoarded. Could this model be extended elsewhere towards a sustainable world? [return to top]
Water remains a chaos until a creative story interprets its seeming equivocation. (Ivan Illich, H2O and the Waters of Forgetfulness (1985:25).
In 2008, four pairs of hiking singers and percussionists performed 64 "Bottled Operas" in waterways throughout the Pacific Northwest. These ‘site-responsive’ operas engage the epic environmental dilemma of the distribution and consumption of bottled water. Water becomes both subject and instrument, demonstrating Au Yong’s blending of the “power and beauty of traditional operatic voices with a musical experience intimately connected to nature.” In this collaborative presentation, Cesare and Au Yong contextualize Kidnapping Water within a trajectory of recent and historical site-specific and nature-inspired works, including those by John Cage, Robert Smithson and Ana Mendieta, situating opera within the broader realm of art-as-political intervention. As well, Au Yong will perform with a bedazzling slideshow.
According to UNICEF, one in six people does not have access to safe water. The Bottled Operas are a playfully urgent call to action about water resources. Kidnapping Water is for future generations to be performed now. [return to top]
Singing of Place in the World: Music, performance and sustainability
Performing music is often linked to senses of place. Investigations of place-bound music-making have elaborated on socially and culturally situated articulations of deeply personal relationships with the local environment through a deliberate engagement with a specific place-based sensorium. Discussions grounded on acoustemology (Feld) and emplacement (Casey) that elaborate on musical-acoustic ways of encountering places and investing them with significance, assume a new relevance within the current discourse of sustainability in light of ongoing environmental degradation, urban redevelopment and cultural loss within global economies. Drawing on ethnographic research from the Tatra Mountain region of southern Poland, where expressive culture is founded on a dynamic relationship with landscape, Wrazen tracks local performance practices through recent processes of migration and mediation to provide an example of an ongoing, place-based experience of the arts, and elaborates on the critical role of such research within broader discussions of sustainability. [return to top]
This presentation explores an integral relationship between art and design, advanced technologies, science, economy, and the environment to realize a logical trajectory for the future of product craft and design. Through an investigation of current literature, Wehrspann and Frankel explore key aspects and critical factors of interdisciplinary collaborative work. By realizing the benefits and obstacles, a framework is suggested in which scientists, engineers, designers and artists can work together successfully to create innovative solutions. The possibilities of material synthesis through the scientific field of biomimetics are discussed, and it is suggested that the designer’s role must evolve into a position of project facilitator and communicator. Technologies currently utilized in this fashion are brought forward and ideas are proposed to further guide this framework. [return to top]
Bikes, Choices, Action! Performances of sustainability by a travelling theatre group
Studies of sustainable behaviours centre almost exclusively on economic and psycho-social motivations for behaviour change, but these approaches do not exhaust our myriad motivations and barriers to action and fail to capture the human embodied experience of sustainable actions. Performance theory re-centres the human body as an expressive site of learning and creating, foregrounds relational knowing, and allows for multiplicity and fluidity of the subject. Arts-based engagement is proving to be a powerful tool for learning about and communicating the need for behaviour change for a sustainable future. This project applies an analytic framework from performance theory to study The Otesha Project, a non-profit activist organization that tours by bicycle and engages communities through a play about sustainable choices. On stage and off, tour members embody multiple ‘performances’ of sustainable behaviours, providing insight into how staged performances of sustainability relate to everyday sustainable behaviours. [return to top]
Utilizing the Natural Environment for the Exhibition of New Media: Widening the perception of technology and human computer interaction in nature through art-based project research
Laura Lee Coles
This presentation seeks to further a dialogue regarding human use and perception of technology in the natural environment through the development of a portable solar-powered performance system. Using a natural landscape, elements such as rock outcroppings, gentle streams, icy caves, forested groves, sand, and water can become a stage for the movement, characterization and storytelling enhanced by digital sound and visuals. Looking at the audience experience as well as the issues and challenges faced by artist-users, Coles comments on the production of a live technology-mediated performance in a natural environment. The intent is that through the use of an ecologically sustainable system, art practitioners can augment natural theatre settings for spectators, widening the cohesion between humans, nature and technology. [return to top]
Green Screens: Shooting austainability and critical evironmental pedagogy
David Benin & Shana Weber
This multimedia presentation examines the theory and production efforts of Communicating Sustainability, an undergraduate fellowship program pioneered by Princeton University’s Office of Sustainability. These programs bring together academic, non-profit organizational and community resources in an effort to train students to produce digital film and audio texts about sustainability efforts and issues in their community and beyond. Benin and Weber explore the insights gleaned from the formation of a program with interdisciplinarity and networked relationships at its foundation: the curriculum strives for rigour in media production and theory, while bringing together and articulating aesthetically diverse (and contesting) perspectives on sustainability from climate scientists, policy scholars, bicyclists, architects, farmers, engineers and an array of social scientists. What emerges is a re-imagining of environments as deeply hybridic and networked spaces where the traces of culture and nature become difficult to extricate from one another, and political work involves highly collaborative and interdisciplinary efforts to develop enduring, ethical, democratic and sustainable relationships between elements and parties. [return to top]
Five professional artists working in various disciplines reveal what drives them to create and how their individual life experience has affected their creativity, opportunity, and success. They present their work and discuss their creative processes and careers in the context of their experiences in working with the Toronto-based arts company Workman Arts and their struggles with mental illness and addiction. Visual Arats Manager at Workman Arts Chris Mitchell gives an overview of the company, its mission, history, programs and current productions.
Workman rts assists aspiring, emerging and established artists with mental illness and addiction issues to develop and refine their art form through its arts training programs, public performance/exhibit opportunities and partnerships with other art organizations. As well, the organization promotes a greater public understanding of mental illness and addiction through the creation, presentation and discussion of artistic media. [return to top]
Restoring Rivers through Art Actions
A green future cannot be mapped without healthy watersheds. The cartography of the next generations must include communities working together to ensure clean, viable river systems. Irland connects communities along the length of rivers and helps to restore riparian zones through her series of unique art actions. Her "Gathering of Waters" projects establish working relationships between people and connect diverse cultures along the entire length of rivers, emphasizing that we all live downstream and it is imperative to work together to face upcoming challenges. In "Ice Receding/Books Reseeding", Irland creates hand-carved ice books embedded with local native riparian seeds, which are released into rivers around the world, emphasizing the necessity for communal effort and scientific knowledge to deal with the complex issues of climate disruption and pollution of watersheds. When the plants regenerate and grow along the bank they help sequester carbon, hold the banks in place, and provide shelter.
Interdisciplinarity: Biodiversity, systemic causes of poverty, the “adaptable concept”, the “interconnected-self”, and new performance rituals
Fournier discusses her interdisciplinary art practice and her art organization InTerreArt. Her presentation features a screening of an excerpt of her conceptual performance “Couvert sur Place” (2009) and images from two other artworks: “Live Dining” (2005) and “Interconnected Performers” (2009). Each addresses the idea of sustainability by bringing together biodiversity, systemic causes of poverty and new art practices that include performance and conceptual art. Fournier explains the 'inerconnected-self' and 'adaptable' concepts she has developed that also define the three artworks, and introduces the inclusion of interspecies interrelationship into the relational performance aesthetic as a representation of the artworks. Reflecting invisible complex interrelationships and the idea of performance ecologies, these new performance rituals are about celebration and critiquing norms. The rituals perform the concepts, which are about interrelationships between members of diverse communities and species, adaptation and interconnectedness to the environment.
Becoming Witness: Ecology, embodied ethics and artistic practice
Bleck presents her research project examining the creative processes and possibilities for change and transformation through becoming witness. Located three hours from downtown Vancouver, Nexw-‘ayantsut (place of transformation) is the Salish name for the area of Sims Creek and Elaho Valley, the site-specific location for the ‘work’ that transpires between multiple interlocutors. This community of dialogue engaged diverse human participants in more than ten years of camping conversations, creating a dialogic flow between arts, First Nations’ land and culture, ceremony, science, ecology and politics by connecting people with non-human worlds, wild spirit places and the biological soup of the temperate rainforest of Coast Salish lands. The questions arise: How is an artist re-positioned as a witness? What counts as credible witnessing in times of long lasting eco-crisis? How is a vision of sustainability sustained and practised cross-culturally and across generations over time? And what happens to boundaries between the art world and 'others' when this happens? This work will be featured in a forthcoming book, Witnessing Ut'sam (working title) to be published by Douglas & McIntyre.
America Ponds: Landscape re-interpretation in the post-natural refuge
“America Ponds” is an artist-produced, unofficial, 45-minute audio tour of Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in southern Illinois. This little-known wildlife refuge is easily overlooked on any map, but it is a place where our most romantic feelings about nature collide with the reality of 60 years of human engineering, industry, agriculture and military contracting on the site. Rather than concealing Crab Orchard’s cultural and political existence, the audio tour highlights it, inviting the listener to reconsider assumptions about nature, culture and the environment; to think through complexity and contradiction; and to come up with a concept more honest and useful than ‘nature’ to describe the ways we exist with and within the non-human world. Kanouse discusses and presents clips from the audio tour project while addressing how the arts might intervene in the process of landscape interpretation to contribute to a more expansive, if unexpected, ecological consciousness. [return to top]
The Future Suspended off a Cliff: Ecological crisis and the temporality of the photograph
This presentation focuses on Chris Jordan's photographic series "Midway: Messages from the Gyre" (2009), created in response to the changing landscape of the Midway Atoll and the effect these changes have had on the island's largest population, the albatross. Shot from above, Jordan’s photographs of decomposing birds are presented as documents, witness to the state of the atoll today. Equally, they function as traces of the past, an emotional response to a historical moment suspended in time. In a larger way, these images speak about the future: the threat to the albatross of its extinction and the ecological threat to all wildlife, to the entire planet. At question is the value of photography to communicate about a larger ethical crisis, one steeped in issues of sustainability, transformation and mortality, and the photograph's ability to engender hope for the future while remaining a distinct representation of a single moment in time. [return to top]
Is Walking Sustainable?
“This is what walking has come to!” were the concluding remarks of a talk given by famed walking artist Hamish Fulton. The accompanying slide showed a pedestrian walk button - the kind you have to press to cross a busy street. Joseph A. Amato, in his pioneering cultural history of walking, On Foot, writes that walking has become an anachronism. Such references suggest that walking has become a marginalized and constrained activity. How has that come about? What can be done about it? At Thompson Rivers University the Walking Lab was created to investigate such questions. Kroeger provides an overview of the subject of walking and art, describes selected activities of the Walking Lab, and attempts to answer the absurd question that is the title of this talk. [return to top]
Transforming Realities: Connective art, integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) and sustainability
An argument for the ICZM multi-stakeholder decision-making process (MSDP) is that through it, stakeholders gain an understanding of the meaning and implications of sustainability, and based on this arrive at sustainable decisions. However, this reasoning underestimates the difficulty of shifting one's worldview from one built on the reductionist legacy of Descartes to one of systems thinking sustainability. Unsurprisingly, unsustainable ICZM decisions can frequently be traced back to the MSDP's failure to effect this very fundamental transformation. Connective art practices, while sharing many of the same principles of MSDP best practice, go further to introduce additional qualities of engagement: unconventional space; experimentation/play; creative framing of issues/questions; attendance to emotions and feelings; imagination; and direct engagement and two-way dialogue between participants and the non-human environment. Incorporating these conditions into the MSDP forum may help generate more transdisciplinary, reflexive and contextualized redefinitions of reality and lead to more sustainable management decisions. [return to top]
Arts, Culture and City Regeneration: towards an alternative approach? Examples from Toronto and Vancouver
This presentation looks at different initiatives of city regeneration in Toronto and Vancouver. It considers the use of arts and culture in flagship redevelopment projects (redevelopment of Toronto's Entertainment District and the redesign of Granville Street in Vancouver) in regard to the objective of ‘place-making’. It also considers more localized initiatives led by community organizations and local associations to generate alternative approaches of city redevelopment. The creative city is first defined a discourse and then analyzed as to how it informs (or does not inform) city regeneration practices. Interviews reveal that this discourse mainly serves an urban elite in the legitimatization of their actions but does not necessarily provide any directives for the resolution of conflicts over the use of public spaces or with respect to the development of bottom-up regeneration processes. [return to top]
Art + Ecology + the City: The potential for a new hybridity
jil p. weaving & Sharon Kallis
In 2006 the winds blew and trees came crashing down. The world cried out and in response, The Stanley Park Environmental Art Project was born. The carefully scribed borders between those called artists, the ones called ecologists and the other, the ‘city workers’, were breached. The collaboration took years and now the forest itself shapes the artworks which were created. The idea that transgressive behaviours are required to engage with the environment in ways that are both metaphorically and phenomenologically meaningful is at the core of this project. This session explores the role of civic workers and highlights the practice of one of the artists. Kallis presents examples of her projects using textile-based techniques with garden maintenance waste and invasive species to re-establish traditional methods of connecting to the land. [return to top]
Earthenwhere: Potters and their Places: A series of preliminary explorations
Inspired by contemporary interest in the “local” and popular environmentalists’ encouragement for research into culture, Read explores ceramic-making in remote places. Her overall project focuses on ceramicists and studios that are strongly connected to their local environments and economies; through the study of life stories of these artists, contemporary models for engagement with place and materials may be re-imagined. In this presentation, she explores these themes with Ontario ceramicists and discusses her plans for the larger project. It is based in Newfoundland and the Southland of New Zealand, because the exploration of ceramicists from these islands - remote places where environmental influences are strong - may provide insights into several important areas: craft-based knowledge transmission, interplays between geography and culture in development, and environmental engagement of local rural communities. [return to top]
An Environmental Perspective on Craft, Craftivism, and the Hand-Made Movement
The arts have remained largely absent from environmental discourse, as environmental disciplines tend to be more strongly rooted in the sciences. Slowly, inroads are being made and the role of the arts in environmental discourse is being increasingly acknowledged by artists, environmental professionals and academics. But while there has been growing discussion around the relevance of art, less attention has been accorded to that of craft. Craft refers to a specific set of practical skills and is often used to refer to traditional activities such as crochet, knitting, needlework, and sewing. There has been a recent resurgence in the craft and the hand-made movement, a resurgence that has both economic and environmental roots and repercussions. Craftivism, a neologism for craft + activism, has taken this new popularity in traditional craft activities into the purview of social consciousness and activism on issues ranging from war to the environment. Craft, craftivism, and the hand-made movement may consequently have explicit links to issues of environment and sustainability.
Arnold examines the changing role of craft and hand-made objects in the context of the environment and sustainability, exploring how such activities may contribute meaningfully to environmental rhetoric, sustainability and the furthering of environmental causes. Craft may in fact help question our place in nature and our responsibility with regard to environmental issues, and help raise awareness on a wide range of environmental issues in an accessible and engaging way. [return to top]
The ‘Dancing’ Creator in Art and Nature
"My actions of sustainable living shape a reality, and art as a sensual aesthetic guides sustainable academic liaisons for life. I avoid sustainability as a held worldview . I use the intellect for a designing that unites with the physical inclusive of the social communication and rhythms of a locale as a co-created public. I create nature as a culturally shaped function within the project of rebuilding this locale. Dancers can abandon performatives, as situated and changing identity and bodily categories, to create restorative engagements. Halprin liaises nature with body and the individual dancer reconstructs a healthy life (Halprin, 1995). Haraway’s metaphor of the dancer introduces a living dynamic within the applied dynamics of animals, humans and technologies (Haraway, 1995). I leave the dancer as metaphor for a kinetic aesthetic that dissolves existent “intellectual mapping” (Cooper-Albright. 2003, pp. 257-266). I render evident “space, time and dynamics” to replace the “intellect with kinesthetic grounding” (Blumenfeld- Jones, in Knowles & Cole, 2008, pp. 179-180). " [return to top]
Healing Water, Performing Sustainability
Dance creation provides an opportunity for community building and education around an issue. Odhiambo presented a dance about “healing water” after exploring the concept over a year-long period on Salt Spring Island. Activists, dancers and non-dancers gathered in several workshops where participants raised questions about cultural attitudes toward waste management. After they created movement about water’s healing properties, their concerns, stories and somatic expressions were distilled into an intergenerational dance performance. Sixty community members attended a lakeside solstice ceremony where dancers’ movement resonated with a live cello. Florence James (Thiyaas), a First Nations-Hwulmuhw, blessed the event by singing “‘imush q’uyatl’un’”. Beside her, a labyrinth of wildflowers created by a local artist expressed a sense of unity with nature as Florence discussed her grandfather’s traditional practice of healing in lake water. This process, recorded on photographs and video, is presented in narrative format along with a movement development workshop/demonstration. [return to top]
At Toronto's Spiral Garden, collective memory is housed in a cycle of song, story, feast and ceremony. Traditional cultures and contemporary civic, social and spiritual best practices act as a rudder for this integrated place-based art/garden/play programI, staffed by artists, gardeners, musicians, child-care workers and volunteers. Since 1984 children aged 6 to 12 with and without disabilities from the community and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital have come together at Spiral Garden. The self-generated culture is one of sustainability of self, site and community through a co-created art process and a thoughtful caring for the land and one another. The participants resource the site, repurpose and recycle the material and immaterial and convert them into meaningful acts and artifacts. Crossman and Vine discuss the development and current practices of the program, and strategies for maintaining sustainability in the hospital setting and implementation of this model in cross-curricular school and community programming. [return to top]
Beyond the Multitude: Psychic daylighting an urban stream
A small urban waterway located in Buffalo’s northern neighborhoods, Scajaquada Creek has a history that is intimately intertwined with that of the city through which it runs. "Beyond the Multitude" – Scajaquada, roughly translated – was an exhibition in September 2010 that focused on the complex ecologies of urban stream and up-and-coming neighborhood, of immigrant and invasive, sediment and sentiment. Combining selected historic photographs and maps with work by contemporary painters, photographers, performers, historians, videographers, experimental geographers and many others, the show sought to encourage a dialogue, both inside and outside the gallery, between art and activism. Coordinated with a watershed cleanup event and supported by regional non-profit organizations, the show potentially yields a promising framework for combining cultural practices with meaningful environmental activism. "Beyond the Multitude" suggests an approach for recovering both an aesthetic and an ecological awareness of urban waterways, a “psychic daylighting” for both streams and memories long buried. [return to top]
The Forest Art Project
The Forest Art Project was initiated three years ago by the owners of the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve in Haliburton, Ontario. The Haliburton Forest, as it is informally known, was the first forestry operation in Canada to be certified for its adherence to sustainable practices. It has also developed a multi-use business strategy, using its 70,000 acres to develop a strong eco-tourism destination, sponsor biological research by international institutions, and maintain a strong focus on wildlife management and public education.
In 2008 The Forest Art Project was initiated to provide a cultural perspective on the experience of forest environments with an emphasis on sustainable practices and the relationship between the cultural and ecological aspects of sustainability. Several artists have worked within the forest each summer since to create site-related projects using the materials of the forest, living and working together, engaging intensely throughout a two-week period of residency and symposium in a retreat-like environment. [return to top]
By Another Name: New metaphors for sustainability
Metaphors are a way of conceptualizing, critiquing and transforming the world. They can make new forms of knowledge possible and can be seen as rooted in bodily experience. There is a surprise to poetic metaphor, and an aesthetic, sensorial pleasure. Metaphors also can act as hidden forms of ideology. A latent metaphor, made invisible by habit or social powers, may close down thought. The conventional metaphors around sustainability, and the social contexts which define their meaning, tend to emphasize management, measurement or normative imperatives; at the same time that the term can be seen as a conundrum, or with its meaning hollowed out. The associated imagery is often limited to calculations or technological objects.
For this conference, the Ashden Directory asked artists and others working in cultural and ecological fields in the UK to create a metaphor for sustainability - one that resonated with their practice or informed their perceptions. This was an experiment to find out whether new metaphors of sustainability could be invented, new imagery, sensibilities and associations created which could be generative and alive, whether verbal, visual, in sound or in movement. The rationale for this experiment was to see whether it was possible to add a different mode of expression to sustainability as it relates to theatre, the arts and to culture more widely, and to enlist artists in starting new images of ecological sustainability moving in the social realm.The DVD in this presentation shows the results.
Heim, who devised and directed the DVD, presents additional response to the project, along with reviews of the discourse analysis of sustainability and of current theories regarding metaphor in context. The focus of her presentation is on the metaphors themselves and on the imaginative provocations that this experiment presented: the challenge of grafting the process of sustainability onto another field of meaning, the navigation of the overly-familiar and the unfamiliar, and the sensorial pleasures that resulted. [return to top]
For decades it has been proposed that what is necessary to achieve a truly sustainable way of living in the world is a shift away from a profoundly reductionist ontology, and the adoption of a radically different, more ethically sound and earth-friendly ontology. Yet it is difficult to arrive someplace radically different while carrying the same perceptual maps. In the words of Marshall MacLuhan: “…the role of art is to create the means of perception by creating counterenvironments that open the door of perception to people otherwise numbed in a nonperceivable situation”. The nonperceivable here is not the scope and nature of the dangers we collectively face as the results of cultural behaviours come home to roost, but rather our entrapment within the artifacts and well-worn paths of the aforementioned reductionist ontology. In this presentation, Carruthers focuses on the role that artists and the arts can play in helping us make the necessary shift to a more world-friendly ontology. By way of three projects, she explores the question of whether artworks and art practices can engage us in such a way as to help transform the human-world relationship for the better, and how they might do this. [return to top]
I Versus All of Us: Connecting theatre for the sustainable revolution to ancient Greece
Bertolt Brecht wrote: “Sometimes it is more important to be human than to have good taste.” When it comes to today’s theatre, one may also want to add: “Sometimes it is more important to be human than to be on trend.” The trends in theatre of musical-izing Hollywood favourites, laughing (or crying) at vicious relationship dynamics and playing with proto-poetic babble can almost make us forget that theatre originated as the province of human struggle within a social context.
Today’s most looming social concern is the shift to sustainability. If theatre today is to tackle this issue, rather than shock, scold or even dazzle, it must find a way to make the issue relevant to the life of the individual. Toward this end, we must look to drama’s roots. Ancient Greek drama served a social function. Well-known plays like Oedipus Rex and Iphegenia at Aulis examine the invisible: the earnest struggle between one’s personal will and the will of society and the gods (whom, today, we may recognize as the golems society itself constructs). Through the struggle, the validity of each is tested and revealed. Thus, drama serves as a compass for the individual’s navigation of his or her social context.
Moon explores the dramatic craft of ancient forebears Sophocles and Euripides in the plays Ajax and Iphegenia at Tauris for clues on how today’s theatre can buck the trend and engage audiences to take on a social responsibility more enormous than any we have yet faced. [return to top]
Engaging Environments: Local productions, global flashes, and “theatre ecologies”
This presentation argues that theatre could be linked to other performance forms to create impacts that are both “glocal” and local. What theorist Baz Kershaw once described as “the slow-burning fuse” of theatre may no longer suffice in the face of rapid climate change. Community-based performances provide local forums and professional productions can argue eloquently before wider (but already play-going) audiences. However, it is media networks that provide the rapid dissemination of ideas and images that the contemporary environmental crisis requires. Building on Baz Kershaw’s Theatre Ecologies, Delmenico questions how simultaneous global flashmobs and other projects might increase the size of the “ecosystems” in which environmental performances operate. She examines " Water Pressures", her Mumbai performance devised with slum-dwelling women about water issues; Steve Waters’ recent play, The Contingency Plan, hailed by London critics as “a massive achievement” in writing about climate change; and the internet work of environmental action groups. How might learning institutions, with their ability to research, archive and disseminate information, create a key link in this effort by helping their environmentally-focused theatre projects team up, reach out, and engage other forms of live performance in theatre spaces and “on the street” — real or virtual? [return to top]
How are emerging media technologies being used to re-imagine the conflicted agendas of land, culture and sustainability? Can the same technologies which wreak such environmental and social havoc be commandeered by artists and scholars to make critical interventions addressing agendas of sustainability? Researchers in York University's Future Cinema Lab present recent projects and proposals which cross-pollinate new screens with critical story-telling methods, to engage current crises in our troubled urban landscapes. Artists, theorists and curators screen excerpts from new digital works and discuss strategies for building civic conversations that demand both historical retrospection and innovative and critical approaches to public culture. [return to top]
A Short History of the Land (SHOL): An exhibition on possible futures
This research creation exhibition, involving several dozen artists, will be staged in a historic village in Markham, Ontario. Working with technologies from the Future Cinema Lab, artists are producing large-scale 3D projections as well as architectural installations and land art. [return to top]
The Paradox of Stereo 3D Cinema in the Age of Sustainability
This innovative stereoscopic 3D short drama, written and directed by Kazimi and produced by 3D FLIC (Film Innovation Consortium), turns the entertainment paradigm of 3D on its head, weaving a complex and troubling urban tale of toxic waste and racial profiling. [return to top]
A 30-minute black comedy inspired by the true story of the 1600 mallard and bufflehead ducks who landed on the Syncrude tailing pond in the Alberta tar sands during their spring migration in 2008 and perished in a mass of toxic bitumen. Weaving an innovative mix of fictionalized enactment, animation, documentary footage and a gorgeous orchestral score, Dead Ducks explores the complex collision of oil culture with the natural world. [return to top]
TTC Murder Mystery
A serial narrative for commuters told in 40 half-minute episodes, with one episode per day screening on the Toronto Transit Commission's network of 500 subway platform monitors. The violent death of a cyclist throws a dystopian future city into crisis, shining a spotlight on the politics on transportation and the environment. [return to top]
An introduction to software developed by York University's Augmented Reality Lab that enables easy content creation of a film-based mobile media experience for iPhone. Viewers access film on the handheld device based on their GPS coordinates and movement through the environment, a process that offers many interesting opportunities for understanding and leveraging the co-constitutive nature of environment and story. [return to top]
An interactive process-driven work that records and edits a sound-walk, which is then manipulated by real-time movement in an interactive space. [return to top]
90 km/h Economy Drive
The 90 km/h Economy Drive promotes a more sustainable community among motor-vehicle users. It proposes a ‘multiple’ motif - a green maple leaf decal with white ‘90’ numeral, affixed to the rear of one’s motor vehicle - to demonstrate a commitment to reduced highway driving speed, 90 km/h, and with it, reduced fuel consumption and pollution. Services approved by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office include organizing community events in performance art; promoting public awareness of psycho-geography, specifically the effects of the geographical environment in the field of emotions and behavior of individuals; promoting public awareness of the need for ethnography, namely describing people through their usage of motor vehicles; and promoting public awareness of the need for auto-ethnography in motor vehicles, whereby users describe their own behaviour. These enactments confront one of humankind’s greatest challenges: how to creatively reduce consumption/pollution in a community minded-manner. [return to top]
Mejor Vida/Better Life and Day-to-Day Exchanges:
Models of sustainable lifestyles in contemporary public arts practice
Joy Angela Anderson
Environmental sustainability depends on a transformation from an ecologically destructive economic system to one that embraces the participation and inclusion of indigenous communities, their worldviews and knowledge of living sustainably in harmony with nature. With a tone of optimism, sustained by the strong rhythm of contemporary creative practices that challenge the global economic system, the root cause of our social and environmental crisis, socially-engaged art practices propose significant solutions to this situation by exploring systems of non-monetary exchange. Focusing on the art practices of artists Minerva Cuevas and Carolina Caycedo, Anderson explores the possibility for social and participatory art to invoke, inspire and even mobilize action toward a reconsideration of systems of economic exchange. She reveals how their art projects perform creative models towards a paradigmatic shift while positioning social and participatory public art practice as models towards sustainable lifestyles. [return to top]
Work with What You Have at Hand: Green waste and invasive species re-purposed creatively
By linking traditional handcraft techniques, community engagement and a “one mile diet” approach to material harvesting and invasive species control measures, Kallis works to re-establish traditional rural methods of connecting to the land within an urban landscape. Using unwanted invasive species and city garden waste piles, she involves community to create sculpture installations that participate as ecological interventions. She presents three recent projects in Vancouver as examples of various engagement models. An erosion control slope stabilization experiment with crocheted invasive vines, increasing urban bird habitat with community weaving projects, and a community garden that grows artist materials are examples of how to ignite compassion of the environment for urban dwellers while building community. These projects demonstrate how collaborations of nonprofits, artists and community working creatively together can be an empowering way of stabilizing and healing both our own urban communities and invasive compromised eco-systems. [return to top]
“Greening the Curricula”: Debating sustainability in Canadian schools of architecture
Canadian schools of architecture demonstrated a strong desire to participate in the dialogue surrounding the creation of environmentally sustainable practices when they undertook the project “Greening the Curricula” in 2002 . This initiative consists of a series of Q&As between the eleven institutions about the ways in which problems of sustainability might be addressed in their respective programs. Answers are published on a shared website, creating a national database concerning one of the most prominent challenges in architectural education today. The debate officially started in 2008 and is projected to conclude around 2015. This presentation brings attention to this long-term project, which is ultimately expected to both contribute to the clarification of the theoretical frameworks supporting current green architectural practice and raise the awareness for global concerns among Canada's next generation of designers. [return to top]
Why Sustainability Needs Art to Survive
Justin King Rademaekers
This presentation aims to identify the contributions art can make to sustainability by first identifying those forces in culture that resist sustainability: namely, the externalization of nature in contemporary thought. It demonstrates that the perception of nature as an external force separate from the human experience leads to cultural disillusionment and dichotomization. The dichotomized relationship between nature and humankind is a key factor in the cultural resistance to sustainability.
Rademaekers emphasizes the importance of art as a catalyst for cultural change, and explains the role of the humanities in preparing citizens to fulfill this social duty. By understanding the important social role art plays as a force for cultural change, artists will be better prepared to meet the cultural challenge of sustainability. Artists are therefore encouraged to create work that aims to break down the barrier between the “natural” and “unnatural”, between “wild” and “un-wild”. [return to top]
Staging the Risk Community in Marie Clements’ Burning Vision
Wallace reads Marie Clements’ play, Burning Vision (2003), in the context of Ulrich Beck’s “staging” of “risk society.” As the contemporary “nuclear renaissance” brings a renewed interest in mining uranium to northern Canada, Burning Vision reminds its audience of the perils associated with an earlier Canadian uranium rush - one that provided fuel for the first US atomic bombs. In order to stage a community coming-to-consciousness, Clements telescopes both space and time, placing on the same stage characters from diverse global locations (Canada, the U.S and Japan) and diverse historical moments (from the 1880s to the 1950s and beyond). Though the characters are themselves only dimly aware of each other — and of the larger “theatre” in which they all operate — the audience is privy to a “global” view. As such, Burning Vision stages relationships among risk, expertise and authority, offering a conceptual mapping of the atomic risk community, past and present. [return to top]
Horizontal Engagements: Roots of participatory culture
Engaging in acts of creation makes us participants in a shift away from a paradigm of consumption. It’s not the work we do, but the way we work. Ecology is a study of relationships; an ecological approach (to art, to community) is a studied approach of relationships. The art-garden-play program of Cosmic Bird Feeder attempted to create a workspace that embodied the values of the program: “We live in the garden as if the whole universe was contained within the limits of Cosmic. It is an ideal environment that needs no more than what it has.” (Daniela Pulido, staff, 2005). Scale, materiality, ritual and the breakdown of dualisms (able, disabled, living, dead, future, past) are subject to experimentation and play by children and staff.
Donovan suggests participation as a model and looks to the DIY movements of urban agriculture, hacking, making, and appropriate technologies as inspiration. Making puts us in touch with minute forces and community needs while addressing larger shared and global concerns. [return to top]
The Medium is the Message: USM’s Inook and the Sun by Ottawa playwright Henry Beissel
Kent speaks on the 2010 production of Inook and the Sun by the Department of Theatre, University of Southern Maine: "Using chant, masks, puppetry and aerial dance, we made a memorable emotional appeal to break the spiral of consumption and dumping of non-biodegradable goods. Our production foregrounded the latent ecological messages in this Inuit tale: age-old beliefs about the appropriate interaction of humans and nature in a challenged and challenging environment. We designed with beach trash and other recyclables, used Facebook to reduce transportation and copying for the large team of student/staff designers, and stopped selling bottled water. The medium sometimes became the message: the Sea Goddess’ snarled hair was entangled with plastic flotsam: the Sea Monster was made from garbage gleaned from nearby beaches. The dramaturgy displays (also made of sea wrack) documented and modeled the gleaning, re-design, and eventual recycling of materials. We hoped to model practical ways to counteract the pervasive sense that sustainability problems are too great for any one person or group to effect meaningful change." [return to top]
Drink, Collect, Break, Create, Share, Drink
Sandra Lee Gönye
Waste is the world’s most under-developed resource. Renewal illuminates our imaginations and rejuvenates our environment. Extending the life cycles of the products we create increases the necessity for local artisans, craftspeople and those with diverse trade skills. Interestingly, we are at a point where there are more products than ever before and, thus, a continuous stream of waste – wasted.
Wine and beer bottles are presently both recycled and sent to landfills. Such glass is readily accessible for re-purpose and function. Therefore, a free dish rental, with plates, bowls, cups, glasses and serving plates of artist quality, created from wine and beer glass, has multi-environmental, economical and communal purposes. Being accessible to all, the program not only reduces and recovers bottle glass waste, but also reduces purchased disposable plates and cutlery needs and waste for all one-time occasions. [return to top]
Workshop 1: The Critic’s Fuel
In this workshop, Ashperger disseminates theoretical and practical components related to her findings in researching the process of The Critic’s Fuel Exercise. This psycho-physical exploration is based on the premise that each creative block is essentially trapped energy which, once released, can fuel the creative process. The process is designed to guide the performer towards the wisdom of nature in order to gain insight into problems of concentration and imagination, involuntary expression and debilitating self-criticism. Participants in the workshop will have an opportunity to explore a way out of a creative block through The Critic’s Fuel Exercise.
In developing the steps of The Critic’s Fuel, Ashperger relied on the elements of Chekhov’s acting technique in order to adapt it to a theatrical setting and best combine psycho-physical acting with the Earth Spot exercises which are the current focus of Process Work practice. This was done in order to foster the interconnectedness between a performers’ body-mind imagination and the natural forms and phenomena. Consequently and perhaps as a side-effect this type of process of embodying nature does develop a deeper ecological consciousness and helps bring it from a daily practice within a rehearsal hall to the community at large. [return to top]
This workshop explores the possibility of increasing human empathetic response by removing barriers that separate the art from the audience. The end goal of the project is the creation of an interdisciplinary theatre-based piece designed to fully immerse the audience into a fantastical, post-mammal world of insects. In the piece, the insects examine the pathology of how the human species, defined by its capacity to empathize, and fully aware of how its actions destroy the very biosphere it depends on for survival, continued its ever-increasing consumer/technology binge, to the point of extinction.
The main question both the developmental process and the creative world of Bugzzz will attempt to answer is this: Given that the goal of certain types of art is to create an empathetic response in which one not only feels for the plight of another, but feels it strongly enough to take action, and given that the expressive form of the art determines the effectiveness of creating that empathetic response, then the objective of Bugzzz is to discover a form of artistic expression that creates the strongest ‘actionable’ empathetic response. Hopefully, but not necessarily, it will be a form of artistic expression that uses the highest standards of sustainable theatre practice. [return to top]
Workshop 3: Sustainable Costume and Dye and Paint Techniques
Traditional costume breakdown and dyeing techniques utilize both synthetic and “natural” dyes that can have longterm adverse effects on our bodies and environment. In costume dyeing and painting practice, misconceptions exist with regard to the safety of consumer products and the non-toxicity of natural dyes. Defend researches the pros and cons of traditional products available on the market and determines safety measures needed to properly use and dispose of the materials. She experiments with foodstuffs, mediums and mordants to create techniques to paint, dye and break down costumes in a safe and non-toxic manner. This workshop presents concerns attending traditional products and explores new, non-toxic products and recipes that use natural ingredients. The workshop has a hands-on component. [return to top]
The scenery construction shop consumes many materials in the realization of a show. Traditionally many of these materials are not reused, are harvested in an unsustainable fashion, and in the lifecycle of their use cause toxins to enter our environment. The goal of this workshop is to explore techniques that have proven to be both sustainable and cost effective and that can be implemented in many levels of scenic construction. Robert Usdin, the LEED-certified owner/operator of Showman Fabricators, New York and architect of the Green Day events at Live Design International, leads the workshop, assisted by Professor Paul Brunner, head of theatre technology at Indiana University, and Damond Morris who is currently completing his dissertation on sustainable scenic practice in theatre. [return to top]
Workshop 5: Peripatetic Practices: Walking, Art, and Sustainability
This workshop begins with an illustrated survey of some of the historical and contemporary benchmarks in the relationship of walking and art, from Baudelaire’s Parisian flâneur and Debord’s psychogeographer, through stalking performances by Acconci, Ono and Calle, to Lippard and Land Art, and Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust. Following this introductory overview, Lounder presents a selection of contemporary artists’ walking projects as examples of creative and sustainable practices that conjoin thoughtfulness and perambulation (peripatetics) with environmental stewardship and social engagement. The third part of the workshop is a participatory group activity in creative walking, suitable for participants of various abilities and backgrounds. No special training, body type, supplies, maps, equipment, skills, uniforms, provisions, fees, footwear, luggage, previous experience or tools are required. [return to top]
Workshop 6: Sustainable Practice in the Paint Kitchen
Sustainable painting practice must become an integral part of the creative process involved in creating theatre and film.
Since preparation and cleanup can account for over two-thirds of painting production time, limiting the amount of paint making its way into the water table through cleanup becomes a daily concern. Integrating green maintenance processes into the job so that they become part of the production process allows workers the opportunity to make conscious choices concerning waste. Through education, sustainable practice becomes second nature.
In this workshop, scenic artist and instructor Rayfield demonstrates and discusses several green practices in scenic painting. Participants will have an opportunity to share their experience and ideas regarding the greening of the industry, and will come away from the workshop with added know-how regarding sustainable practice.
This workshop will offer the opportunity for select volunteers to get their hands dirty. If you would like to participate please wear appropriate painting attire. [return to top]
This workshop brings together artistic directors and producers from three arts organizations that have embraced a specific mandate to create sustainable performances: Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company of San Diego, California, represented by its co-founder and artistic director, Seema Sueko; Toronto-based Out of the Box Productions, represented by co-founders and co-artistic directors Gwen Dobie and William Mackwood; and the Hillside Festival of Eden Mills, Ontario, represented by its executive director Marie Zimmerman and lighting director Victor Wolters. The aim of this session is to guide and hopefully empower other producing companies to work under the dual mandate of creating works of artistic value while ensuring that sustainability is a focus throughout the process. [return to top]
At Green Day, part of Live Design International 2009 in Las Vegas, the question was asked: How can we create a sustainable measuring tool for live performance? Learning from LEED-certified theatre construction projects and the Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company's green resource guide, the search for solutions began. Many questions were raised about the difficulties this proposition created. In 2010 Green Day at LDI moved to the next question: What elements should a measuring tool for live performance have to alleviate these difficulties? There was much discussion, and many practical suggestions were generated. The aim of this workshop, led by Green Day organizer Robert Usdin, is to outline these research points and direct them towards the ultimate goal of creating an architecture in which shows can be budgeted for financial cost and simultaneously also for environmental costs. [return to top]
The Arctic is melting and everyone wants a piece of it. In the race to shape the future of the region, seven characters — an ice scientist, an Inuit activist and her daughter, two Canadian Coast Guard officers, an Inuit hunter, and a polar bear — see their values challenged as their lives become intricately intertwined. A work-in-progress originally commissioned by Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company and developed in collaboration with an Inuit spoken word artist, a projection artist and a puppeteer, Sila uses three different languages (English, French, Inuktitut) and weaves together Inuit myth and contemporary Arctic policy. In a world where increased interconnectedness has collapsed the traditional six degrees of separation into one, this play is a plea for increased collaboration in dealing with the big challenges of our time. [return to top]
The Elephant’s Graveyard deals with aging and science. Aging, once considered a personal problem, will surely become public and political. Science is racing to cure illness and disease and stave off death, which leads to the survival of our elders at a rate that overwhelms the younger population. By 2050 the largest age group in the population of the United States will be the ‘over 80s’. How can we as a society sustain this imbalance?
The Elephant's Graveyard offers a forum for discussion about these concerns. It also deals with the loneliness of a parent ‘put out to graze’ in a nursing home by her brilliant daughter, Eve, a scientist trying to cure the disease of death at the NeverDie Institute. [return to top]