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THERE IS NOTHING THAT IS BEYOND OUR IMAGINATION First Published 2015 by ArtinSite, Transforma, Largo de Sto António, 24-26, 2560-632 Torres Vedras, Portugal Edited by Claudia Galhós (PT) Contributors Adrienne Goehler (DE) Amelie Deuflhard (DE) Amy Sharrocks (UK) Artúr van Balen (DE) Beki Bateson (UK) Christian Mousseau-Fernandez (FR) Christopher Crimes (UK/FR) Chus Martinez (ES) Claudia Galhós (PT) Chloe Cooper (UK) Cyril Dion (FR) Driss Ezzine de Blas (FR) Ellen Walraven (NL) Gil Penha-Lopes (PT) Gregor Zoch (DE) Guillaume Gatteau (FR) Guy Gypens (BE) Henrietta L. Moore (UK) Isa Fremeaux (UK) Jean Lambert-wild (FR)

Jeroen Peeters (BE) John Jordan (UK) Jon Davies (UK) Judith Knight (UK) Laurence Mellinger (FR) Luís Firmo (PT) Michael Pinsky (UK) Neil Callaghan (UK) Nevenka Koprivšek (SI) Phoebe Davies (UK) Renata Salecl (SI) Richard Houguez (UK) Sónia Baptista (PT) Stephen Emmott (UK) Stijn Demeulenaere (BE) Tobias Kokkelmans (NL) Theresa von Wuthenau (DE) Uta Lambertz (DE) Vera Mantero (PT) Zane Kreicberga (LV) Zvonimir Dobrović (HR)

Transcriptions Claudia Galhós (PT), Mark Godber (UK) Translation “What can art do in the face of Climate Change?”, by Cyril Dion (FR) and “Rising To The Challenge of Impotence”, by Christian Mousseau-Fernandez (FR) – both translated from the French to the English by Claudia Galhós (PT) “Conceptual Thoughts on a Fund for Aesthetics and Sustainability”, by Adrienne Goehler (DE), translated from the German to the English by Sonja Linke (DE)

Revision and Proofreading Alexandra Bochmann (UK/PT) Design and Art Direction O Bichinho de Conto (PT) Printed and bound by M Creative Corp (PT) Cataloguing THERE IS NOTHING THAT IS BEYOND OUR IMAGINATION, Edited by Claudia Galh贸s Keywords Activism. Art. Artivism. Climate Change. Community. Creativity. Culture. Dance. Dialogue. Ecology. Economy. Film. History. Immigration. Integration. Intercultural. Nature. Participation. Performance. Performing Arts. Permaculture. Photography. Politics. Public Art. Public Space. Site-Specificity. Social. Social Sciences. Space. Survival. Sustainability. Theatre. Transition. Number of Pages 336 Copies 600 ISBN: 978-989-95397-6-1 Legal Depot nr. 393576/15 漏 2015 | Selection and editorial matter: Claudia Galh贸s (PT) | Chapters: the contributors. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form, electronic, mechanical or other, without permission in writing from Transforma or the Imagine 2020 - Art and Climate Change network. IMAGINE 2020 is funded with support from the European Union. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.



by Claudia Galhós



by Theresa von Wuthenau



Artsadmin | by Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination - Isa Fremeaux and John Jordan



Bunker | by Henrietta L. Moore and Renata Salecl



Domaine d’O | by Chus Martinez



Kaaitheater | by Jeroen Peeters



Kampnagel | by Adrienne Goehler



Le Quai | by Cyril Dion



LIFT - London International Festival of Theatre | by Stephen Emmott, Amy Sharrocks and Jon Davis



Rotterdamse Schouwburg | by Tobias Kokkelmans (Actors Group Wunderbaum)

A BODY MADE OF BONES (SCIENCE) AND BLOOD (ART) Transforma | by Gil Penha-Lopes and Vera Mantero






Artsadmin + LIFT | by Michael Pinsky, Phoebe Davies, Chloe Cooper, Judith Knight and Beki Bateson

Bunker | by Nevenka Koprivšek



Domaine d’O | by Christopher Crimes



Domino | by Zvonimir Dobrović



Kaaitheater | by Guy Gypens



Kampnagel | by Amelie Deuflhard, Uta Lambertz and Gregor Zoch



Le Quai | by Christian Mousseau-Fernandez



NTIL - New Theatre Institute of Latvia | by Zane Kreicberga



Rotterdamse Schouwburg | by Ellen Walraven



Transforma | by Luís Frimo



by Jean Lambert-wild



by Artúr van Balen, Driss Ezzine de Blas, Guillaume Gatteau, Laurence Mellinger, Neil Callaghan, Richard Houguez, Stijn Demeulenaere, Sónia Baptista and Richard Houguez





“Thoreau was wrong when he observed that most of us lead lives of quiet desperation. Most of us, I think, lead lives of denial. Like children passing a graveyard, we hold our breath as we pass the shadow of meaninglessness that darkens our lives.” in “Search for Meaning”, by Dennis Ford

This is where we start. THERE IS NOTHING. The emptiness of meaning. The inaction. The perspective of no future... It is related to the paradox anthropologist and cultural theorist Henrietta L. Moore talks about in the lecture she gave, here transcribed, in the context of the forum “Still Ready to Change”, organised by Bunker (Ljubljana) in 2014: “As I see it, the world may be warming, but politics is frozen. The climate is changing, but people are not. This seems to be the problem. We talk endlessly of climate change and yet we have not created any climate for change.” Renata Salecl (philosopher, sociologist and legal theorist), in her lecture at the same forum, points out the action and attitude of denial of human responsibility towards, for example, the economic crisis, as if it were “a natural event, as if it were not instigated by social changes”. With this in mind, how to change mentalities? The point of


departure is the THERE IS NOTHING. A mentality of denial, of inaction, of catastrophe or simply apathy that resonates all around us. But there is so much more beyond that, as this publication will prove.

The point of departure is the THERE IS NOTHING. A mentality of denial, of inaction, of catastrophe or simply apathy that resonates all around us. But there is so much more beyond that, as this publication will prove. The network IMAGINE 2020 – Art and Climate Change proposes, among other things, to raise awareness about the question of climate change through dialogue with art. And they know – as the texts here testify – there is still a lot to be done. Human creativity, recognised as Art or as pure practice of imagination in daily life, contrary to nature, still has many more resources than those used.


We can conclude that it is a case of huge resources wasted. And this NOTHING which is the beginning of this publication, relates not to the first texts (that is not the dramaturgy of the book) but to the common frame of mind that feels it is easier to demise any human responsibility from ecologic changes, changes in nature, or in our ecosystem. This is the logic that will lead us to the NOTHING. And this could not be further away from the truth. If there is a generic perception that an economic crisis is a consequence of natural causes, how can people feel responsible for events, disturbances, destructions, which belong to the world of nature? More difficult even when the tendency - a wrong one - is to think of nature as an entity external to us. We start this collection of essays, interviews and conversations with the image of the threat of human extinction on the planet, the attitude of not acting and not

We start with the vision of a possible end to humankind. The planet will outlive us. We start at the exact moment we are dangling over an abyss. This is what scientists predict. assuming responsibility for human action. We start with the vision of a possible end to humankind. The planet will outlive us. We start at the exact moment we are dangling over an abyss. This is what scientists predict. “Many scientists who have produced these different studies (pollution, degradation of arable land, population increase, climate shifts, collapse of biodiversity...) now talk of the possible disappearance of part of humanity between 2040 and 2100. They also estimate that we have a period of only 20 years in which to react.” This is a quotation from Cyril Dion in his essay, “What can Art do in the face of Climate Change?”



That future emptiness is the first text image, that “THERE IS NOTHING”, on the cover page of the publication, leaving almost no space for the use, at least, of one of various exceptional human talents: to transform its environment through imagination and collaboration. Fortunately, as the texts succeed one another, the future becomes a possibility. While consciously facing the hard times we live in and the real threat we have imposed on ourselves through an irresponsible relation with nature and with the other(s), also while exposing a raw analysis of the facts... all this is accompanied by extraordinary examples of action (in different areas of knowledge), inspiring, unique in the engagement and persistence in the struggle for a better world.…. In his historic view of this disaster, in his essay “Imagine the political”, Guy Gypens (director of Kaaitheater, in Brussels, project leader of


That future emptiness is the first text image, that “THERE IS NOTHING”, on the cover page of the publication, leaving almost no space for the use, at least, of one of various exceptional human talents: to transform its environment through imagination and collaboration. IMAGINE 2020 – Art and Climate Change) points out the fact that “in the decades following 1989, the individual allowed himself to be seduced by a desire for ‘ever more, faster and cheaper’.” It is what Portuguese artist Rui Catalão calls “In Goods we Trust”, in his lecture-performance “People versus Power” (referred to in the text “On Happiness and the Importance of Diverging ways of Seeing” by Luís Firmo, from Transforma, Portugal). We propose a journey into the



opening of multiple possibilities in the future to come. So as the reading of the texts progresses, OUR IMAGINATION becomes a power which fulfils the nothingness from which we started. This substantive content is founded on the collective, on the collaboration. That is why it is ‘OUR’. And this publication is the result of that practice of collaboration in all diverse aspects. It goes from overcoming distrust, something very present in our society, into a real, engaged, committed, shared work. This was practiced across the network in general, but was particularly present in the Summer Labs organised by IMAGINE 2020. It was also present in the artists, scientists, economists, curators, theatre directors, activists, artivists... who with great generosity, gave their time to open themselves up to a stranger and share a profound questioning, sometimes trying answers to questions for which they did not

yet have the right response. The richness of such encounters is now shared with the reader of this book.

So as the reading of the texts progresses, OUR IMAGINATION becomes a power which fulfils the nothingness from which we started. This substantive content is founded on the collective, on the collaboration. That is why it is ‘OUR’. The connection between art and climate change is a question of human behaviour and, most of all - as Isa Fremeaux and John Jordan, from the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, talk about in “The Art of Ecological Living” - it has to do with relations, and what they learnt from permaculture, which became the third element added to their art+activism, in 2009. “It is related



to the change we think has to happen culturally: to no longer see the world as a series of objects and things and individuals, but as a rich network of relationships. We have to think of the world relationally, in its relational quality. Some people call permaculture design ‘the art of creating beneficial relationships’.” For a network which deals with nine European countries, which means different cultures and languages – as Theresa von Wuthenau (coordinator of IMAGINE 2020 – Art and Climate Change for over six years) explains in more detail in her introductory text about the network, the process of coordinating this publication also revealed good will, commitment and availability from all the partners, which was expressed in the way the English partners – Artsadmin and LIFT – dedicated their time to reading all the texts and commenting on them. The richness of the content was only


possible because of this generosity and collaboration.

First of all, there is the constant articulation and dialectics between art and voices coming from other worlds of knowledge. There was also a concern in the design to make each text, each voice, unique, praising their differences. The same with the bios. There is no standardisation here. This is the result of a community of individuals engaged in making a difference. The network IMAGINE 2020 – Art and Climate Change represents the convergence of many different voices, sensibilities, fields of knowledge, ways of perceiving the world. It has practised this attitude throughout the years of its existence and now it is a responsibility for this publication to respect that commitment and the values it






implies. That is why there was a desire to translate the essence of the network and the ethics and knowledge and its identity in the organisation of this publication. First of all, there is the constant articulation and dialectics between art and voices coming from other worlds of knowledge. There was also a concern in the design to make each text, each voice, unique, praising their differences. The same with the bios. There is no standardisation here. This was only possible thanks to the constant exchange, complicity, the rigour and the excellence of the work of the designers from O Bichinho de Conto, Pedro Maia and Mafalda Milhões. In the journey from THERE IS NOTHING to OUR IMAGINATION, the reader will go through three sections, which are discretely identified at the bottom of the pages. The first is dedicated to “curated contributions”. It is organised alphabetically (according

to the names of the partners of the network) and it means that each partner chose someone or a collective from whichever field of knowledge they decided, with whom they had a connection (if for nothing else, for valuing their work and/or world of thought), a voice which could represent the identity of the theatrical structure, to either write a text, be interviewed or engage in a conversation with another artist, scientist, economist...

This method of choosing the content and collaborators in the publication resulted in a group of very different perspectives on how the subject of Art and Climate Change was approached This method of choosing the content and collaborators in the publication resulted in a group of very different perspectives



The second major section is called “inside views” and consists of texts written by each partner, bringing a personal perspective on the subject from the inside. Also here the engagement of the partners was particularly touching: because all organisations which are part of the network participated, which – from experience in other networks – seemed a utopia and an impossibility to accomplish in the beginning. Each one approached the subject the way they felt closer to their hearts and interests.

two English structures, Artsadmin and LIFT. What they did was a conversation, entitled “One Thousand Years Above You – A Conversation about ‘Plunge’”. “Plunge” was a public art project in London, commissioned to artist Michael Pinsky by both partners, in February 2012. “The project was an artist’s vision of a time, 1000 years in the future, when the effects of runaway climate change have completely changed London. Pinsky marked an imagined 28-metre sea level rise on three London monuments with simple blue rings of light.” Now, in a conversation for the publication, five members of the team behind “Plunge” - Michael Pinsky, Phoebe Davies, Chloe Cooper, Judith Knight, and Beki Bateson – revisited the various aspects and questions raised by the art project.

There is one exception, a very interesting one, which is the sharing of the corresponding space of their inside view between the

At the end we leave you with “open dialogue”, where the poetic and touching imaginary of French theatre director Jean

on how the subject of Art and Climate Change was approached, corresponding to the expanded complexity of the subject and treating some aspects with more detail than others, depending on the personality and interests of the author.



Lambert-wild expands the vision (which is recurrent throughout the publication) of belief in the possibility of a future. This conviction is sustained in the human scale of our actions, in an intimate relationship with nature founded on care and attention, forming a unity with us and not considering nature an externality. It means to use the immensity of the power of imagination and living each day in love with the world we are part of. At this point I should mention that the partners of IMAGINE 2020 included in the publication are current ones but also the ones, or one, who meanwhile left the network. Domaine d’O, in Montpellier, was – as I am told – very dedicated and active in IMAGINE 2020. But, and this is related to all that has been written before in this text, the engagement was not from the institution, but from the person behind it: Christopher Crimes. He

was also one of the most active and engaged, and an accomplice in the making of this publication. I have a lot to thank him for. Jean Lambert-wild came, with an open heart and complete trust in the stranger he met by Skype, me, because of the careful mediation done by Christopher.

Each reading is an experience of hope. You will find this in all texts. My mind is full of meaningful references, clarifying reasoning and hopeful visions for this earth we live in. I believe the reader will discover, as I did, amazing human beings and individuals engaged in really making a difference. I highlight Christopher Crimes’ name, but my heart is thankful to each person (directors, partners, and all the contributors) who



were involved in this book: for each person for themselves, the ethics and the humanity dimension of their being, and for the greatly enriching, inspiring and enlightening analysis of the subject in question, Arts and Climate Change. Each reading is an experience of hope. You will find this in all texts. My mind is full of meaningful references, clarifying reasoning and hopeful visions for this earth we live on. I believe the reader will discover, as I did, amazing human beings and individuals engaged in really making a difference. I do not mention names, but they are all in the pages of this publication


and I think the reader will feel this is the materialisation of the “art of creating beneficial relationships”, repeating a citation from Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination. At the end, we close with answers from various artists, artivists... who were engaged in some way with IMAGINE 2020, to questions about their opinion concerning what has been done, and so contributing to the new chapter that is starting: IMAGINE 2020(2.0), which begins in July 2015 and will be continuing the work already done, for four more years.


“The capacity to detect the presence of impersonal affect requires that one is caught up in it. One needs, at least for a while, to suspend suspicion and adopt a more open-ended comportment. If we think we already know what is out there, we will almost surely miss much of it.” in “Vibrant Matter – a political ecology of things”, by Jane Bennett


AN INTRODUCTION by Theresa von Wuthenau

Over the past five years eleven performance, theatre and art organisations in nine European countries have joined forces, initially to raise awareness of climate change, the socio-ecological crisis and, increasingly, about their underlying systemic causes. The network “Imagine 2020� was formed in 2010, but its origins date back to 2007.

The tipping point: once it is reached, we will no longer be able to turn climate change around. The term defines a space in time in which substantial change is still possible. But how much time is left? This was the question at Oxford University back in 2007 when artists, scientists, writers and curators gathered for one of the first “Tipping Point”1 meetings to discuss art and climate change. Representatives of six European performing arts organisations met under the “Year 2020” banner: the “2020 network” was born. After a twoyear pilot programme called “Thin Ice”, five additional members joined the network, to found “Imagine 2020 – Art and Climate Change” in 2010, with funding from the European Union Culture Programme. Our network spread across nine European countries and brought together diverse cultural institutions: Kaaitheater in


Brussels, Belgium, as the project leader; Artsadmin in London, UK; Bunker in Ljubljana, Slovenia; Domaine d’O in Montpellier, France (up to 2013); Domino in Zagreb, Croatia; Kampnagel in Hamburg, Germany; Le Quai in Angers, France; London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT), UK; New Theatre Institute of Latvia (NTIL) in Riga, Latvia; Rotterdamse Schouwburg in Rotterdam, Netherlands and Transforma in Torres Vedras, Portugal.

Our network spread across nine European countries and brought together diverse cultural institutions. 2020 seemed a realistic date to work towards the implementation of changes necessary to stabilise the climate and secure a sustainable future.


There were reasons other than the initial meeting of like-minded people under a “2020” banner, to keep the horizon 2020 in the title and at the heart of the network’s perspective. While working on defining the network’s objectives and its programme just before the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit at the end of 2009, climate change was at the top of the European media and political agenda. 2020 seemed a realistic date to work towards the implementation of changes necessary to stabilise the climate and secure a sustainable future. Political targets were set at the time across the EU to decrease carbon dioxide emissions by 20%, save 20% of energy consumption, and increase the share of renewable energies to 20% by 2020. Those were clear objectives. We asked ourselves what would be behind those figures? How would change happen in a positive way?

Art, we believed, should provide a physical and imaginary space where people could take a step back, away from corporate, commercial and educational agendas. A space to exchange and engage with each other. A space where audiences could be involved in a playful yet serious way. And above all a space for art and action to create positive energy and a momentum for change through a sense of common purpose and hope. Artists traditionally confront issues of high social importance and often act as a catalyst for social change. But what role could the cultural sector as a whole play in the process of drastically reducing carbon



emissions, slowing down climate change and increasing resilience to the effects of peak oil? Quite idealistically, the IMAGINE 2020 network members shared a sense of responsibility and wanted to use their connections within the art world and other areas to add their voice to the European climate change debate and push the cultural sector to act. Art, we believed, should provide a physical and imaginary space where people could take a step back, away from corporate, commercial and educational agendas. A space to exchange and engage with each other. A space where audiences could be involved in a playful yet serious way. And above all a space for art and action to create positive energy and a momentum for change through a sense of common purpose and hope. We wanted to use the creative potential of artists, curators, scientists, authors, activists,


philosophers etc. to raise awareness and provoke change within the cultural sector and beyond, involving the general public both as an audience and as a participant.

Since 2010, about five hundred artists (and two thousand performers) have been involved in IMAGINE 2020 projects – that means two thousand artistic ambassadors across the European arts scene raising awareness and promoting change among their peers. Since 2010, about five hundred artists (and two thousand performers) have been involved in IMAGINE 2020 projects – that means two thousand artistic ambassadors across the European arts scene raising awareness and promoting change among their peers. Choreographers, directors




ng g s.

and visual artists of international renown, including Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Christoph Marthaler, Robyn Orlin, Michael Pinsky, or Philippe Quesne to name just a few, were coproduced and presented by the network. Close to two hundred artists, scientists, and academics were part of the four IMAGINE 2020 Summer Labs in France, Portugal, Croatia, and the UK. Inspired by the New Economics Foundations’ The Great Transition report2, a series of successful events with commissioned artistic work combined with open conferences and debates on how to live differently took place in all network countries. Over a million audience members from all kinds of backgrounds, many of them young people, attended shows, workshops, lectures or visited installations and exhibitions. Many more were reached through films, social media, documentation, and general

media coverage. The network has also provided constraints and therefore opportunities for its members and artists to include climate change concerns in their everyday working practices, to explore new ways of producing, performing and presenting art, and often act as ‘green pioneers’ in the cultural sector in their countries. Today, the year 2020 is fast approaching and much still needs to be done. Climate tipping points come closer than ever before and have maybe even arrived. Turning around climate change seems a more and more unrealistic ambition. At a time when COP21 in Paris3 is just around the corner and equally hailed as a last chance in the climate debate (just like Copenhagen in 2009), governments still do not often prioritise climate issues and environmental concerns. Despite



being closely related, other issues such as the debt crisis, unemployment, social exclusion and poverty, are excuses to back out of prior commitments. Despite all the campaigns to raise public awareness, CO2 emissions reach all-time highs year after year. However, in the cultural sector things seem to shift: addressing climate change in an artwork, and taking ecological considerations into account during the creative process, has become more and more common. The network therefore wants to take a step up. The process of change that its members have gone through in the past five, sometimes seven years, the local and international connections developed with a wide range of partners, and the experience built up in artistic strategies is the basis for the


more ambitious programme that IMAGINE 2020(2.0)4 is putting forward for the coming years. Most members stayed on board for this new phase, showing their commitment and proving the benefits of working together across Europe. New members have joined, broadening the artistic spectrum even further.

From analysing the current crisis and raising awareness around it, Imagine 2020(2.0) - Art, Ecology & Possible Futures will focus even more on imagining, studying and making prototypes of possible futures, while remaining firmly rooted in cultural practices. From analysing the current crisis and raising awareness around it, IMAGINE 2020(2.0) - Art, Ecology & Possible Futures will focus even more on imagining, studying and making prototypes of possible


futures, while remaining firmly rooted in cultural practices. Set to start in July 2015 for four years, work done through the network wants to speculate about a sustainable future by modelling it on artistic creations and experiments that allow alternatives to emerge. TippingPoint is a network-based organisation aiming to be a year round ‘connector’ of the arts and climate science worlds. www.tippingpoint. 1

NEF is the UK’s leading think–tank promoting social, economic and environmental justice. www. 2

The United Nations Climate Change Conference known as COP21 will be held from November 30th to December 11th 2015 in Paris. It is said to be the last chance for politicians to preserve the climate target of 2°C by 2100. 3

Funded under the European Union’s Creative Europe programme, the network IMAGINE 2020(2.0) - Art, ecology & possible futures is the continuation of Imagine 2020 – Art & Climate Change. 4



Curated by Artsadmin

THE ART OF ECOLOGICAL LIVING by Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (Lab of ii) Isa Fremeaux (IF) and John Jordan (JJ) (testimony collected by Claudia Galhós)

ON ART, PERMACULTURE AND ACTIVISM Isa Fremeaux: In 2009, we held an event with Artsadmin in the Two Degrees Festival, called C.R.A.S.H.1, ; a global title for a series of projects: there was, for example, the C.R.A.S.H. contingency which was a 10day training with about 25 young unemployed precarious people and students, and the C.R.A.S.H. Conversations, a series of lectures... It all came together under the umbrella of synergies between art, activism and permaculture. Basically the 'Lab of ii' is a collective that we founded 10 years ago which aims to bring together artists and activists to co-create creative forms of resistance. Of course we feel that the notion of artists and activists is complicated and they are identities we ultimately would like to dissolve. There is an issue with the idea that artists have the monopoly over creativity. We believe, contrary to this idea, that everybody is creative and an artist; it is merely a matter of finding one’s own creativity. On the other hand there is also an issue with the idea of activism, as if activists had the monopoly on social change. We believe that social change belongs to and needs to be grabbed by everyone. All our work brings activists and artists together. We feel that artists have a lot of creativity, imagination, and a great capacity to think outside the box, but at the same time they very often tend to have big egos, because this is how they have been trained, and they are not courageous enough to be really politically and socially engaged. Despite all the discourse around social engagement practices, they very often remain in a safe space, or frame, which is the frame of the arts world. Activists on the other hand, are much more audacious, engaged,



courageous and informed, but often lack creativity and have a tendency to repeat the same old forms. However when they are brought together – artists and activists – their joint synergies can be really powerful and new forms of resistance can be created. That's definitely what happened with C.R.A.S.H., however it was also the first time we added the permaculture dimension to our work. For five years, we had been working on the fusion between arts and activism, but bringing in permaculture really only happened in 2009. The reason why we felt it was so interesting was the fact that permaculture brings a powerful ethical framework to the notion of arts and activism, and there is something very productive and beautiful in the way it encourages one to no longer think of nature as an outside thing. It makes you really see it as a teacher and enables you to reintegrate yourself as a part of nature. It makes a shift. It is no longer about this thing called the environment, something that would surround us, and not be a part of us. It activates the opposite reasoning, which is what's correct: we are part of it and we think of nature as a teacher. Bringing in the notion of ecology is really powerful in an instructive way. So this is something we started in 2009 and have tried to maintain in many ways in our work ever since. John Jordan: I think this is also related to basic perceptional shifts which occur when a person works in permaculture. It is related to the change we think has to happen culturally: to no longer see the world as a series of objects and things and individuals, but as a rich network of relationships. We have to think of the world relationally, in its relational quality. Some people call permaculture design 'the art of creating beneficial relationships'. That is one definition of permaculture.



We never call our pieces ‘art work’ or anything in that family of naming. What we do are 'experiments', because we think the basis of creativity is to give yourself permission to fail. And if you don't allow yourself to fail you can't be creative. So in all our experiments there are always questions. What beneficial relationships are we creating through our work? How can the work exist within an ethical framework? Etc. We apply permaculture not only to our experiments but to our lives. For us, we try not to separate the means and the ends. The work itself is designed using permaculture principles, and embedded in the ethics, which are: earth care, people care and fair share – the equitable redistribution of what is produced. All this brings everything together around an idea of limits. Everything has to be constructed within limits: there are physical and ecological limits to our actions. This also applies to our everyday lives; we live in a yurt in an ecological community and we haven't flown for 10 years. So these ethics really influence the way we live and work.

TEN YEARS WITHOUT FLYING IF: I don't think it is that hard to live without flying, even for art activists such as us who travel significantly. It is very often more a question of not wanting to face the consequences connected to the convictions each person has. People fly because they want to be able to do lots of things, in lots of places, in a minimum amount of time. This is the most common argument that people who fly a lot put forward: I would not have the time to do all this without it. And one of the things one learns when we look at permaculture is that if you try to get closer to natural time, then you have to accept that you can't be everywhere at



all times. Flying is very much this illusion that one can be everywhere pretty much simultaneously. For me it is also a question of consistency with one’s values. If you work on climate change and you fly, there is a tacit message in that contradiction that is: I am more important than what I am talking about. What it says is this: I think climate change is really important and therefore we all need to reduce our contribution to carbon emissions but I will not start with myself, because what I have to do and what I have to say is so much more important than climate change. For John and me this doesn't make sense and that is why we decided not do it. Deciding this meant that there are invitations we cannot accept because for instance there is not enough money in the budget to take trains, which are more expensive. We have also refused invitations when the festivals, theatres or events are funded and sponsored by airlines, or the fossil fuel industry, or even banks which fund fossil fuels. Even for just one collaboration, we refuse to be a part of institutions that accept being the PR [Public Relation] wings of the fossil fuel industry. This also means that we have accepted that it affects our profile. I think it is a matter of just being coherent, it is not a question of trying to be pure. We are definitely not pure, we would never claim this, but I think there are lines in the sand that one needs to draw for oneself. For us, flying is such a basic and fundamental part of the fossil fuel culture and I think this argument about how it is really complicated and there is nothing I can do but fly is, personally, an argument that I don't accept. JJ: For us the art of ecological and political living means being coherent between what we think and what we do. And bourgeois society is filled



with incoherence between what people think and say, especially in the public sphere, and what they do. Again, it is not about being pure at all, but about being coherent. Imagine we were here in a network, let's say in the XVIII century, defending the end of slavery. Let's say we were artists doing our artwork which was developing a culture against slavery, but at the same time we had a couple of slaves at home. That would be really messed up... “but ahhh... As an artist against slavery I was creating art about that... but... sadly... ohhh... I don't have time to do all the housework... you know... I am an artist after all”. For us, this is the same as what is happening today, because climate change is a war on the poor. It is a catastrophe that affects those least responsible for the actions that cause the consequences. So for us it is a question of justice. At the same time, we don't think that personal consumption choices are political. IF: I don't agree. Personal choices are political.

«YES» / «NO» THE CREATION OF ALTERNATIVES / THE CREATION OF RESISTANCE JJ: OK, but it is not about saying “I don't fly, I buy organic vegetables, recycle, collect rainwater and so on and this is my politics”. We think this is not actually a political act, we think – or I think – it is simply and absolutely what we should be doing as ecological art activists anyway, because we should be coherent between what we think and what we do. What is political is attacking and resisting the structures that force us



not to live the way we believe we should. The political work is actually forcing the structures to stop pulling fossil fuels out of the ground. Because we can make all our permaculture gardens and live ecological lives, but the water will still rise and still flood our gardens and transition towns if we don't destroy the fossil fuel industry. So the political work is to destroy the fossil fuel industry. A fundamental thing in our work is, «yes», we must have creative alternatives, make people desire a different way of behaving and to live in the world but, at the same time, each person has to resist and say «no». The DNA of our work is these two strands, the «yes» and the «no»: the creation of alternatives and the creation of resistance. IF: I don't agree when John says it is not political because I am a feminist and I very much believe in the personal being political, but that is not enough. I think we live in a society where we too often delude ourselves into thinking that it is enough, “I’ve done my part, I’ve recycled, and if everybody does their little part, then it’s going to be OK.” I strongly believe this is not going to be OK. This system is actually much more profound and complex and already damaged than that. If we all do our part and limit our action to our own personal lives, it is just not going to be sufficient. But I still think it is political.

ART ACTIVISM ARE THERE FRONTIERS BETWEEN THE TWO? IF: I think it all depends on the concept of art you are talking about. I think it has to do with the conception of art one defends. We have been



very interested in the concept of art John brought to the Lab, which is defining art as the act of paying attention. It is not about being part of the segmented logic of the art world. I think this is something we decided we would not care about, whether the art world chose to define what we do as art or not. This is not an identity that I care about. At the same time, I am not saying we escape art. I am saying we are not interested in the art world in that sense, and the art market. That is a completely different subject. John used to be a performance artist and now some people say he escaped art. We haven't escaped art. It’s just that art is really the art of paying attention to what you are doing with the utmost consideration, attention and care. It means doing things as best you can. Then it becomes art. I think that when you actually do that, whether in the art space, public space, or whether in a garden, then it is art. It’s a process not an identity for us. Personally for me the identity is something I'm not very attached to. I was not trained as an artist. These are the kinds of identities and labels that can make us lose our sense of what matters. Whether something is going to be called art or not, I could not care less. Whether what we are doing is beautiful and effective, considerate and transformative... this is what matters to me. Then it actually brings to the surface all the dimensions we want. This means not just saying, “this is a good and effective political action”. The result is more fairly defined by saying “this is a political action that is also beautiful, also irresistible, also desirable”. If that is the case, if that is what we have produced, then whether we label it art or not, personally, I don't care.



JJ: I was a 'Beuys [Joseph Beuys, 1921-1986] scout', and Beuys talked a lot about the expanded concept of art. He was my first teacher in a way. We have to expand this concept of art, which is related to the way we think about art now. The dominant contemporary concept of art is an incredible blip in Human History. It is not even a blip. We were hunter-gatherers for 99.8% of our time on this planet and the concept didn't exist then. We are all using a very western and Eurocentric concept of art, separated from everyday life and it's only about 500 years old. It is for these very reasons that it has to be highly criticised, because it immediately constructs an elite of creators. Suddenly it means that gardening, cooking, taking care of a child, making love is not an art practice. This returns us to this idea of the importance of paying attention. The relevance of paying attention to art actually comes from Allan Kaprow, who said “art is simply paying attention”, and relates to permaculture, because one of the bases of permaculture is observation. Before you intervene in a system you have to get to know it very well. In order to do so, there is the need to pay attention, to know it really deeply before you begin any kind of intervention. That is the same as the practice of art. An artist will observe and work with her/his material, the body, the stone, whatever, and she/he really has to know the thing. John Berger says that in order to transform something, you need to know the texture of the thing. I think that comes back to this. To actually transform society you need to know the texture of all its components, and that requires attention, paying attention. And paying attention for us is art. It is more like a verb, not a noun. Art is simply a way of doing something, not the name you give to something. And I think that in an ecological society, where we see the world more as a series of relationships, we see the world less as nouns. Therefore these crazy abstract nouns, such as art, need a correct context.



IF: This is related to another thing permaculture teaches you: to reject constant competition. The notion of art is really rooted in competition. It means showing that one's idea is more interesting than the idea of another artist, that it is more special, more unique than others’. Permaculture really demonstrates the extent to which so much of ecosystems and the natural world is actually based on collaboration and symbiosis. And when you try to think in terms of creating beneficial relationships, then again this label of what I am doing, if it is art or not, doesn't really count anymore. JJ: And it comes down to artists being terrified of instrumentalisation, terrified that their work will be instrumentalised for political objectives. This is a concept which is just over 100 years old and comes out as an absolute paradox because people who are scared of their work being instrumentalised often produce art that is part of the art market: being sold and marketed. So it is instrumentalised by the culture industries or the art market anyway. The idea of a non-instrumentalised pure autonomous work of art is still a kind of myth within the art world but it doesn't take much thought to realise that it is actually a myth based on a way of seeing the world outside relationships. It goes back to a conception of the world where everything is compartmentalised, art is autonomous, and has no connection to other spheres of life or knowledge.

ABOUT THE DOCILE BODY AND THE IMPORTANCE OF DISOBEDIENCE IF: The notion of disobedience is fundamental to our work. Not disobedience as a value in itself, but as a fundamental attitude to



have in order to fight the system that is destructive and undignified. Disobedience is about being able to go against the values we have imposed upon us in the dominant paradigm of our society. So it is a mental attitude, but also a very physical and bodily function, because very often obedience starts with the body that doesn't want to move... I think that in the work we do, the body is very much at the centre of this encounter between the mental and emotional attitude. That's what is important. It is related to the 'docile body' Foucault mentions. He really talks about the meeting point between the emotional and rational, and the fact that we are being taught to be polite and not make waves. We claim the right to be impolite and to make waves because one of the things we never ever forget is that every little thing we take for granted in our society, from women wearing trousers to women voting, to the right to strike... all those rights were gained out of disobedience. Maybe at the moment, the most important is not only to act through disobedience, but through people taking risks, putting their bodies on the line. At the very beginning, such ideas as women voting seemed and sounded ridiculous and an outrage. The first person who said that black people should no longer be slaves was saying this at a time when the church was saying black people had no souls. When the first women said “we want to vote�, we were still at the point where they were accused of having smaller brains. So I think that this docility is something that we really want to shake, because it seems to us that there is an obsession at the moment with wanting to be liked, to be nice, and not be offensive. I think it is important to remember that we do not really change fundamental systems of oppression by being polite. That has never happened and I imagine will never happen.



The disobedient body is fundamental in all this history. JJ: The catastrophe of climate change, the collapse of our life support systems and erosion of social justice issues is a result of people not acting. It is due more to docility than anything else.... As a young artist I was very much influenced by people like Chris Burden, Marina Abramovic´... all those figures of the 70s and 80s body art... Most of my books were about body art. That was what I was doing in the late 80s. So I think there was a very important moment for me when I discovered there were people literally attaching their bodies to bulldozers to stop them from destroying ecosystems. I realised there was something there which made sense and created meaning: it was that exact same use of the body as a kind of tool. The body as the centre of the artwork, as the material of the artwork. But it was pragmatically making a difference. It was real, not just symbolic. Literally putting your body in front of the machine, in real social situations of conflict, as opposed to placing your body in a fake abstract conflict in an art gallery, makes sense to me. I realised that each time I did it in a gallery there were the same 400 people who came to see it. So it became evident that doing this in a public space on a bulldozer to stop the destruction of an ecosystem has a completely different kind of audience. And most importantly for me, an aesthetic question: it was beautiful. That is what makes these experiments particular and special: beauty. Beauty is there when you creatively resist the destruction of an ecosystem; beauty is there when a forest remains and is not replaced by a motorway; beauty is there when a squatted social centre is not ripped down to make luxury flats... It's still an aesthetic question for us and that is really important.



HOW TO CREATE THE DESIRE TO LIVE IN AN ALTERNATIVE WAY? IF: I think first of all this is about making the alternative, but also the resistance, desirable. I think that there is a paradigm that has made resistance a dirty word. In our very industrialised world, there is an obsession with comfort and wellbeing, where everything needs to be nice and comfortable. And it is difficult to go against this. However it seems to me that most often what is more desirable is the enthusiasm and joy of other people. So it is our responsibility to keep the joy of what we do, and it also comes down to something a dear friend of ours said. She is about 60 years old now and has been an activist for 40 years of her life. When we asked her how she kept going, she said, “I will always have more fun being on the side of those who fight than with the others”. And for me there is a lot of truth in that. We don't do our experiments with the guarantee that they’re going to work and that we are going to win, but it is more fun to do it like that. The question of desire is very much linked to work on emotions. This is one of the things that artists are very good at. Activists have a tendency of obsessing with facts and figures. They tend to think that if people know and have more information about how wrong things are, then they will be moved to act. However, people are more likely to act through emotions, values, desire and fantasy...This is what artists can be very good at activating. This is what makes us keep bringing artists together with activists. JJ: I propose putting the question the other way round: we can say one of our jobs at the Lab of ii is to make artists desert capitalism. One of our goals



is to get artists to desert a system where they end up making business as usual more beautiful. Most art is making capitalism sexier and because of that, business as usual can continue. One can argue that everything currently in the Tate Museums is working for the PR wing of big businesses, and that's what it is doing. It is working for the PR wing of British Petroleum or any of the other companies funding it: BMW, Unilever, etc. For us a lot of the work is making artists desert and stop their work from becoming instrumentalised by capitalism, and start applying their creativity to alternative ways of living, alternative ways of resistance, to something that isn't business as usual. At the same time, there are diverse ways and alternatives. So we live in a yurt on an organic farm and commune and use permaculture, and have compost loos... of course not everybody will want that. It’s not about promoting that for all. But there are things in our personal everyday life that are perhaps desirable, maybe more desirable than the compost loos. The fact that we try to live with a different idea of time and a different idea of money and property, and in a relationship with nature, the fact that we live with other people... For us issues of loneliness are less present, and this is just one example... We are very influenced by the Zapatistas, and one of the things that came out in the Zapatista movement very early on, was this idea of one «no» to capitalism and many «yeses», many alternatives, meaning that the alternatives depend on the context in which they exist. The alternative in a neighbourhood in Lisbon is not the same as in our valley in Brittany, not the same as a Sudanese peasant, or a Chinese worker... All these alternatives are different, and must be contextualised and diverse. This comes back again to learning from ecosystems - the



importance of diversity. The problem with our culture is the monoculture of it, and when something is mono-cultural, it is no longer resilient and collapses very quickly and easily. Capitalism has this great myth of choice, but it is actually about creating a mono-culture across the world, a mono-culture that is enforced with violence.

ABOUT THE INCORPORATION OF RISK IF: Risk is absolutely linked to what we were talking about before: the need to obey. We feel that we live in a system of oppression that is real and stronger than ever before. We are in the claws of the fossil fuel industry, of neo-liberalism, of hyper government surveillance. We can see that repression is tightening on everyone who dares to disagree with the paradigm and we've made a choice that we will not shut up as long as we have the strength to do it. Yes there are risks to take, but the risk of not doing anything is so much more destructive. And let’s be very honest, the risk we take is absolutely minimal compared to most of the risks a lot of people are taking around the world. People who just keep on living, just surviving: if you are a farmer in some parts of the Global South you've taken much greater risks just trying to keep on living, than what we are doing. I think it’s important to bear in mind that we have been told there is nothing worse than being arrested and spending some time in prison. When you are the kind of people we are: white middle class people currently living in an eco-village in Brittany (France), that just isn't true compared to what is at stake.



Being arrested is not a terrible thing. And I am not minimising the experience of spending time in jail for most people. I am not trivialising it, but I think that at the same time we’ve been taught to fear it more than we should, and that fear makes us forget what the actual risks are. So we disobey. When we built “The Great Rebel Raft Regatta” - a flotilla of boats to shut down a coal fired power station - the risk one person takes is of getting wet and spending a few hours in a cell. That is basically what we risk. So it is important to put the value where it belongs, and to remember that what is at stake is life on earth. And it might sound really grandiose but that's what we’re looking at. We feel we should be taking greater risks. For us the challenge is to feel more confident to take greater risks and feel that we can mobilise and make those risks desirable for other people, because this is absolutely what is needed. JJ: I was a great fan of Situationism and I think that what we learnt from Situationism was the importance of play and adventure within politics, not only to dissolve this difference between arts and politics but to see the process of political action being one of pleasure. In a way the risk brings adventure and people come with that... A lot of our work is a kind of window into action for people who normally would never do it. A lot of people joined the Clown Army2 because they wanted to learn to be clowns, lots of people joined the “Bike Bloc” in Copenhagen because they liked bikes and wanted to make bikes. A lot of people were in the “The Great Rebel Raft Regatta”... because they wanted to dress as pirates, and so on... We often find ourselves to be a window into civil disobedience, and there is often a sense of adventure connected to it which makes people want to do it again. We know many people who took part in our actions and yet 7 or 9 years later they continued and they dedicate their lives to activism. Now that's what they do, because they had such a



great time. Bertolt Brecht talked about the importance of training people in the pleasure of transforming reality, and that's really fundamental for us: how we make people enjoy that process of transformation. Risk is part of it. They don't have to go to Disneyland and go on a roller-coaster; they can get their dose of adrenaline from meaningful actions.

WHAT IS A CREATIVE PROCESS FOR ART ACTIVISM? JJ: Each one of our projects is very different, and some have been more successful than others. I think in theory, and sometimes in practice, we try to create a conceptual and formal frame which we then throw open to a social movement, and to a public. In that phase it gets developed and is taken into action through non-hierarchical forms of organisation. An example is the project “Put the fun between your legs: become the Bike Bloc”3 in Copenhagen, during the UN Conference on Climate Change in December 2009. We had the idea through thinking about the materiality of a bicycle. How can we transform a bicycle into a tool of civil disobedience? How do we just go beyond the body? What can happen when there is a body and a machine? And how can the machine, in this case a bicycle, take on a kind of disobedient form? We had already spent some time in Copenhagen, and observed that people abandon their bikes everywhere. In permaculture 'waste' should become a resource, nothing is ever wasted in natural systems. And so we decided this would be the key material, something local and available. We often begin our experiments with a text that describes the concept – in this case transforming bikes into tools of disobedience. For



us the writing and text are very important. In a way there is a very strong aesthetic around the writing of the first proposal. Then people get engaged and excited about it and we start talking to the social movements, organising meetings to present the idea. Then people develop it and we work on getting the funding or whatever we need and we make it happen. For the “Bike Bloc”, around 200 people were involved in the process. But all that process, when the idea was out there, was completely horizontal. There was no leadership beyond the initial idea. Or maybe it is more correct to say there was a shared leadership led by lots of people, but with no director, no one in particular saying this was how we wanted to have the bikes, this is how we wanted it to look. There were open workshops for the design, construction and development of the choreography. The conception of the strategy was all completely open. The beauty for us, the most powerful thing, is actually when we, the authors of the initial frame, become useless. When the author of the initial idea becomes useless, that is fundamentally important for us. In the “Bike Bloc” process, on the second or third day in the Arnolfini Gallery (Bristol), where we were doing the first workshops to design the prototypes that were to go to Copenhagen, we went for coffee, came back late, and the 50 people from the workshop were already in a circle developing their own discussion, using the tools we had taught them the day before about facilitation, and the process was going on. For us that was perfect. And if you asked the people a few months later in Copenhagen what they were doing, they would always say, “oh it’s the ‘Bike Bloc’”. They would never say, “oh it’s The Lab of ii even the publicity doesn't say it’s an action of the laboratory... IF: We genuinely believe in modelling ways to re-learn how to build these



beneficial relationships between people. That is the true art. And when that happens, we feel the satisfaction of an artist who has created a piece of art. I think maybe the difference is that we don't feel the need to put our stamp on it, to claim that it was us, or ours. That is never the case, we are the trigger, we are the facilitators, but the magic is a collective thing. To actually merge into the collective, is something that I feel much more satisfying than having our name on it... JJ: But at the same time to go back to the circle of risk, it’s interesting where the question of responsibility comes in there. People are going to put themselves into very dangerous situations. The Copenhagen contemporary art centre who commissioned the project, ended up by pulling out because they did not want us to actually do desobedience, just make the bikes for the museum. So we ended up being based at the Candy Factory, a legalised squat. One of the neighbours came and said “police have come into my flat and they put a camera in my flat that is filming you all”. We said thanks to the neighbour and we were conscious that we were bringing people into a dangerous situation. The night before the action a thousand people were arrested on the streets of Copenhagen during a legal march. Governments don't want people to deal with climate change, they want the multinational companies and the state to deal with it. They don't want popular movements to deal with it or find a solution for climate change which would affect their control and profits. So a thousand people were arrested; and later the police raided our workshops. They took a lot of the bikes; a friend of ours was arrested for having a tool in a bike workshop and was deported from Copenhagen! And during the action the next day people were attacked by police dogs on their bikes, one person was injured by them, and a



load were arrested and put into cages, which the Danish state had built especially for that occasion. They built cages in an old brewery to put people in, they knew they were going to have these massive arrests. Of course people are going into a dangerous situation because this really is a war of capitalism against the climate, the economy against ecology. Related to this, there is a question of responsibility towards others. Training is fundamental for us. It is interesting when you have art and activism and permaculture, and you add into this equation another element beginning with 'p' which is 'pedagogy'. For us, in a sense, we see pedagogy as an art work. That goes back to Beuys and his thinking that “education is art”. This is very central to our practice. Training people to be able to deal with these kinds of risk situations is also really important, because the future is going to have more and more of these moments of resistance. 1

“C.R.A.S.H.” was commissioned as part of “2 Degrees” festival through the Imagine 2020 – Arts and Climate

Change Network 2

“For 2 months in the lead-up to the anti-capitalist protests against the G8 summit in Scotland, in July

05, the Lab toured the UK. In 9 cities, we presented interventions and an information centre in a bespoke caravan which transformed into a stage for our evening performance. The free show took place in town squares and parks and included: a spoof academic lecture on the history of civil disobedience, the Clown Army’s Ridiculous Recruitment Show, free chips and films of creative activist actions. In each city we ran a two-day intensive training in rebel clowning and battle of the story workshops, with the weekend culminating in a Prayers to Products action. By the end of the tour a Clown Army platoon of more than 200 rebel clowns made it up to Gleneagles for the protests” (Transcription from The Laboratory Of Insurrectionary Imagination site, at 3

“PUT THE FUN BETWEEN YOUR LEGS: BECOME THE BIKE BLOC” was an experiment that put artists, engineers,

activists and bike hackers together to design and build new tools of civil disobedience out of Copenhagen's



thousands of discarded bikes for the RECLAIM POWER day of mass action. Following weeks of working with the CCAC, they dropped the project when they realized that when we said ‘civil disobedience’ we really meant it; we were not ‘pretending’ to do politics: we were going to build the machines and use them on the streets, they were not going to be commodities to contemplate in a museum, but practical tools of resistance. Thankfully the Candy Factory, an incredible creative social centre in an old factory was less timid and offered to host us for the building part of the project. (Transcription from The Laboratory Of Insurrectionary Imagination site, at



Curated by Bunker

HOW TO CREATE CLIMATE FOR CHANGE Transcription of part of the lectures and the beginning of the dialogue by Henrietta L. Moore (anthropologist and cultural theorist) and Renata Salecl (philosopher, sociologist and legal theorist) in the context of the forum “Still Ready to Change�, organised by Bunker (Ljubljana) in 2014.



CLIMATE IS CHANGING BUT PEOPLE ARE NOT I would like to begin by reminding us of some ideas that were current in the 1990s and in early 2000s, just as a way of provoking you into engaging with this discussion about the question of change. Let us start with a few simple propositions. As I see it, the world may be warming, but politics is frozen. The climate is changing, but people are not. This seems to be the problem. We talk endlessly of climate change and yet we have not created any climate for change. This is a kind of paradox for us. Of course we all know it is not for lack of information. We all know that the costs of doing nothing about climate change could rob the globe of 20% of its economic performance annually as we go forward. Which would mean every year we could be decreasing by 20%. One of the things that is interesting about politics, particularly when we think of politics in relation to the arts, is that politics is about story-making. A new politics would require new stories. So what do our current stories look like? Perhaps the problem is with our current stories. In this frame of mind I immediately thought of Cormac McCarthy and “The Road”, both book and film (rather a horrible film, even if it was widely praised everywhere). I thought of it because it is a story about a post-apocalyptic America. It is about a man and his son on a journey across a horrible apocalyptic landscape. The point about this journey is that it has no goal, it’s futile; they are going nowhere. The man and the boy in the story have no names, they remain unnamed throughout the whole pilgrimage process. Now, in contemporary political life, apocalyptic imaginaries infuse the whole climate change debate. In fact they infuse the whole debate about the environment and human-environment relations. So if we do nothing, the earth as we know it will come to an end, and humanity will come to HOW TO CREATE CLIMATE FOR CHANGE


an end. That’s the basic story. Of course these kinds of apocalyptic visions, as we all know, have a long history in Christian thinking. But in the Christian apocalypse what happens is that there is always a promise of redemption afterwards. There is always a new dawn, some event will change history, and something new will come out of it. But currently in the way we tell this story about climate change, there is no new dawn. It is as if we were walking into a kind of post-apocalyptic landscape. It turns out that climate change politics are not really about climate at all, but mostly about how to transform the way we think, and about how we are going to develop new concepts and new ways of thinking to transform social institutions and social practices. If we know that, why don’t we have any new stories

to take us forward? What stories are we telling? What are the alternative stories?

Casting our minds back to the 1990s, several useful kinds of theory did emerge and took their place in the thought process of this subject. They were not about what the future could hold for us. They were about why, in the face of urgent necessity to change, we had actually evacuated the future. We had actually nothing much to say about that future except that we needed to change.

GLOBAL WARMING VERSUS FROZEN POLITICS As I suggested at the beginning, I think part of the problem, at least in Europe, is that these apocalyptic imaginaries create a frozen politics. Frozen politics is the result of the way we think about the future. Much of this happens because at the symbolic level, apocalyptic stories of this kind both disavow and displace dissent and diversity, partly because they start from the proposition that we are all in it together. So the crisis of humanity prevents us from achieving what we most urgently need: Where are the voices? Where are the voices from below?

Where are the voices of people from different classes, different nations, different countries, different political ideologies? 58


All of these people are actually affected very differently by climate change and perceiving and experiencing climate change very differently. But we don’t hear that difference; that diversity is not there in the

story about climate change.

The story we have about climate change is a curiously flattened one, and because of that we don’t get that sense of diversity coming in to build up these alternative stories. So we don’t actually have a real politics around climate change; not of diversity, different approaches, or different scenarios laid out in front of us. We actually have a kind of strange and uneasy consensus. This consensus is very disabling for us, both individually and collectively. This uneasy consensus is one of the reasons why Ulrich Beck argued quite extensively in the 1990s, and continues to argue, that “any chance that we have of greening societies in

the future will require new forms of cosmopolitan solidarity across differences and diversity”. The question, then, is how will these

forms of solidarity be built and sustained? I think one of the difficulties here is that when we have this crisis of climate as a crisis of humanity - of all humanity - then the crisis itself gets depoliticised. It becomes outside politics because it is not about the specific things we should be doing, it is not about choosing one trajectory over another, it is not about proposing specific kinds of socio-ecological projects. When I say that, I am not denying or moving away from the kind of activism that takes place at a local level. There are plenty of examples around the world: transition towns, great art projects, all sorts of alternative ways of developing exchange systems, of dealing with carbon neutral enterprises for the environment in small quartiers in cities all around the world, and so on. There is a rich diversity of development projects that go on in the world looking at how to cut deforestation, and how to be more careful about the conservation of fuel and energy. All of these things often work fantastically well at the local level. So we have fantastic ideas. But the problem is we cannot scale them up. So all of these initiatives are happening here and everywhere but they are not coming together, there is no coherent story or vision that is forming around them.



ACT NOW OR FACE THE CONSEQUENCES What do we end up with on the climate change agenda? We end up, I think, with a kind of mobilisation, a kind of anxiety, an agitation around climate change which we can all feel and experience, but it does not include real politics, no real diversity of approaches, no cornucopia of alternatives. There is nothing we can actually choose between; we don’t even have alternatives to allow us to debate which way to go. So that’s what led Alain Badiou back in the 2000s to say that all this discussion around ecology and the green environment was what he called the ‘new opium of the masses’. He referred to something that filled our minds, our souls and our spirits with great agitation but didn’t do much or anything for our politics. All this means - and this is provocative to think about - we are inhabiting a strange kind of space where we have been called on to act radically, to change radically. In other words, to act now or face the consequences. But these demands only exist within the contours or frameworks of the existing state of affairs. This was what Jacques Rancière, writing at about the same time, called the ‘partition of the sensible’. ‘The partition of the sensible’ is, in this case, of course, the framing device of capitalism. So we have been asked to change our lives radically but without having any developed idea as to what these new social, economic and political institutions are that will be needed to safeguard our future on the planet. We really don’t know what they look like. We see this most clearly in those kinds of arguments on climate change that propose a stabilisation of the climate through returning to business as usual, in other words ensuring the continuation of capitalism. This is

what most ideas of how to deal with climate change are about. Stabilise it, and then we can continue as before.

By continuing as before, we keep within the same system, not proposing an alternative. Even more obviously, we can see this in the way it works where people who talk about how we can tackle climate change, actually propose that climate change will be tackled by mobilising the inner dynamics and the logics of the very system that created it. What are their solutions? Their solutions are the privatisation of CO2, the commodification and market exchange of biocarbon and various forms



of carbon offset trading. In other words, a vision, quite literally, where getting the prices right will solve everything. This demand to respond to potential catastrophe without any idea of how to do it exhausts our imagination, as Badiou says. It exhausts our political imagination and actually prevents us from creating new stories, because we cannot change radically within this kind of straitjacket that we are held in. This idea that we have to have change, in my view, stops it dead in some way that we find very difficult to manage. We end up in a strange place, where it is actually easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine how we might transform capitalism. Now that really does seem like a kind of lack of imagination on the part of a lot of very, very talented people around the world. It is easier to imagine how we could end the world than how we could transform capitalism, build new social institutions, and build new ways of collaborating with each other. But, I do think that the reason why we feel frozen is because we are in this impossible situation where we demand that change should happen individually and collectively, and yet we are in an iron grip of something which doesn’t let us think hard enough about what the alternatives would really be.


CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE FEAR OF DEATH While you were speaking of how we envision the future, I started thinking about how we lack playing with scenarios regarding the future. We cannot envision how the world will look in a few decades. What about in 50 years? What about in 200 years? And we have become more and more frozen. First of all because of a perspective change towards risk and death: as soon as you look at the debate on climate change, you come to the problem of anxiety over demise, death.

A lot of our traumas of inability to cope with climate change really circulate around our personal problems, the fear of death, HOW TO CREATE CLIMATE FOR CHANGE


decay... We can sort of say – as you, Henrietta, said – that we are able to imagine the end of the world but not the end of capitalism. Even with regards to certain natural changes, the act and attitude of denial is one of the strongest things I have observed. We have been talking for decades of climate change being something that was happening pretty much everywhere. Of course, we first had a fantasy that climate change might happen in such a way that temperatures would steadily rise. Only later did scientists working on climate change realise this would not be so. What is happening and will happen, are huge changes, turmoil, sometimes a little bit warmer, then much colder. Mostly what is happening is unpredictability, even with regards to what kind of crops we might envision, what will grow and what the seasons may be like. One of the fears is that then we will have new political conflicts, mostly between south and north. The south will definitely be more affected, also because it doesn’t have the infrastructures to cope with the kind of devastation this unpredictable weather brings.

The strength of scepticism in regard to climate change is that it plays on the idea that in science there is always a need for doubt. While science introduces new knowledge, it needs to keep questioning

this knowledge. Conservative politics which fuel climate change denial very much play on the need for scepticism. Of course, this discourse is heavily supported by the marketing campaigns coming from big industries. If we study the logic of this marketing campaign, we can see there is a similarity between this scepticism and the type of scepticism that was present a few decades ago in the tobacco industry. In regard to the theory that tobacco causes cancer, the tobacco industry responded with scepticism in regard to scientific research that was connecting tobacco, smoking, and cancer... Doubt is today played out in a similar way in regard to climate change.

THE OBSESSION WITH RISK MANAGEMENT Today’s society is obsessed with risk management. I remember once meeting a professor at a large UK university who was leading a department that dealt with various risk studies. When we spoke about risk, I became interested in how humans deal with



it. Sadly, however, the discourse about risk that this specialist was concerned with did not include humans at all. It was all about structures, cooperation and society, and how organisations should deal with risk. There was nothing in this analysis that touched on human anxiety and what risk basically means for people. Often we have a perception that we can prevent risk. In our private lives, for example, we are constantly obsessed with learning how to prevent illnesses or risks which come with emotions. How to manage our children, our love affairs, our passions... How to think about personal health... At the same time there is also

a whole obsession in the market towards risk prevention.

A few years ago, just before the 2008 crisis, there was a huge belief that we had almost perfected computer programmes which were studying risk in the finance world. One of the programmes, or software, called “VaR - Value at Risk” was the one which almost all financial institutions around the world were using when dealing with investments. The programme was supposed to be 99% accurate. (However, when

someone tells you something is 99% accurate you should think about that 1% left as margin for error...) The 1% in this programme was that no one thought that the market could actually collapse. And added to that issue was the fact that all the data they used in this future investment forecast was based on the last few decades of continuous growth. That data didn’t go back far enough to the crisis in the late 20s... And that is why they didn’t even imagine a possibility of market collapse.

RISK AS AN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY At the same time as becoming much more risk averse, we are also becoming quite risk-seeking. We can observe a particular enjoyment, especially among the upper classes, in constantly exposing themselves to risk, and a kind of illusion that we can actually master death. For example, we have more and more people who die while climbing mountains every year in the most adventurous way possible. We, Slovenes, are quite an adventurous nation in this regard - climbing the Himalayas, for example, in a way no one had climbed it before... These last two years, this desire was a little lost but before, every year, a group of a few people would get



stuck somewhere in the Himalayas and then phone with their satellite phones to get a rescue team to save them. A lot of this passion for risk has to do with the illusion that we can master death. In the mountains it looks as if we can almost touch the limit between life and death. And in some way a lot of the ideology behind it plays with the idea that nature is kind of a human being with whom you get in touch and, in this sense, the mountain accepts you or not. In the developed world, this desire to seek extreme experiences, can also be observed in other sports. In ski resorts many people are going off designated areas, often finding enjoyment in transgressing the rules and testing their ability to avoid injury. The inability to think about the future, together with the fear of death, is strangely coupled today with the ideology and fantasy of an all-powerfulness of the person. One can observe here narcissism coupled with all mastery, extreme arrogance, even to the point of seeking moments of selfdestitution; moments where a person truly comes close to death.



EMPATHETIC BUT RUTHLESS TOWARDS THE OTHER HENRIETTA MOORE: I think it was the philosopher Gillian Rose, in her last book “Love’s Work”, who said “modernity is a moment in which we

are infinitely sentimental about ourselves, but methodically ruthless about others”. I think this is an interesting problem. It is about

the relation between self and other. For example, one of the very good things about the kind of interconnected mediated world we live in, is that we can know a great deal about other people’s lives. We can enter into forms of cosmopolitan solidarity with others, of the kind which perhaps Beck 64


wants. We can support what is going on in Syria, we can support what is going on in Zuccotti Park, we can support what is going on in political protests around the world. We can also express outrage, we can empathise with other people’s hurt. In all these things we have an enormous capacity for empathy and identification. The mediated world we live in of super inter connection actually enhances that wonderful capacity we have for empathy and connection. But alongside that is this kind of methodical ruthlessness about others that we still have. For example, we all know climate change is pushing over the edge those people who are least responsible for it; in other words, people in the global south. We know there is increasing uncertainty, exactly as Renata said: we can no longer deal with uncertainty as if it were risk. It is not risk, it is radical uncertainty in certain cases. But actually, when we are having the debate here in Europe about what we will do, how often in that debate do we hear those diverse African voices, for example? How often do we hear in that debate their views on climate change? Do we actually take their views seriously into account when we start to think about how we will formulate actual changes that we want to bring about? Of course, all of you in this room will know that is what is happening in Africa. You will also know the poor are more affected by climate change than you are yourselves. But we still have a tendency, in the way the debate is run, to take that geographical specificity, the particularities of context that we know about, and use it as yet more examples of the universal predicament that we are in. So we say: there we are, what is happening in Africa shows that humanity is really at risk, rather than saying, what are the actual interconnections here? How much of the discussion are we actually having between ourselves in Europe and the global south about what the alternatives are? I think this is connected to the point Renata is making: we are turning back, in a sense, to a subject which is worried by the risk of extinction, by death. We do have a certain sentimentality towards that subject, but a kind of ruthlessness towards others, whether we intend it or not.



THE NATURALISATION OF HUMAN GENERATED CRISIS RENATA SALECL: Another important aspect is our perception of the economic crisis. We tend to naturalise human generated crisis. Economic crisis appears to happen as if it were a natural event, as if it were not instigated by social changes. We live in a moment where we are forgetting culture and social dimensions. At the same time, we cherish a certain fundamentalist view of the market. Going back to climate change, I myself think change in the future might really happen, precisely, because of the causes of climate change. This is a crucial moment. We can either move in the direction towards more solidarity; or we can change for the worse, into a more totalitarian leadership, become more ruthless, and have an even greater division between rich and poor. I think we are at the precise moment where the change will go in either one or the other direction...



Curated by Christopher Crimes (Domaine d’O, Montpellier, France)

ART AND NATURE ARE NEW GENDERS Chus Martinez interviewed by Claudia Galhós

ART THAT IS ABOUT HOPE AND COMPLEXITY When you were appointed head of the Institute of Art at FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel (2014), you addressed some aspects about how you perceive art and a couple of questions you have about it. For example: “How can we best address the changes in art practices today? How can we best foster a practice activity concerned with both displaying the world and inquiring about the world?” You also stated that “the art school of the XXI century should not only be dedicated to the development of artists, but ultimately to enrich our public life”. Can you develop these ideas?

It’s all part of a complex idea, because it is not enough for public opinion and public life to change cosmetically. That would mean it would only be transformed from the outside. This is the problem with an art which presents the public with what they want. I defend the opposite of that: an art which challenges the public with what they don’t know, and what they didn’t think they wanted to know about, but which is very necessary. One could say we are talking about how art could change or challenge the meaning of what we understand as the public sphere and public opinion. Also



it asks how far can we stretch and explore the concept of what is public? Certain structures, certain languages, certain logics... challenge it. These are those that are not reproducing what already exists.The public is made up of institutions... We understand the public as an institutional public and institutions aren’t proposing change. The way we are sending messages to these institutions, and the way the institutions are communicating, is with discourses and practices that are born from an already existing way of formulating ideas. This is just going to make them more conservative. How we challenge this is very complex. It demands new alliances among people that believe in complexity, and are ready to become complex and provide new structures inside already existing structures. You need to plant a challenge inside an existing structure, simultaneously creating new challenges on the outside, and then relate what is happening outside with what is happening inside, in the hope that this will originate a different structure. This is not an easy exercise. We can easily say “art can do that”. But why should art do that? Art can do that because artists are actually very good ‘connoisseurs’ of existing structures. Art practices, historically,



are linked to commissioners, linked to public opinion... So historically, art knows how the establishment works, how the market works, because art is part of it all. Part of what art is, is to be it: establishment and market. Another part of what art is, is to deny it. To create tensions and conflicts with it. In that dialectic of being it and denying it, the activism of art and the conceptualism of art, the synthetics of art and the combination of all these products and factors, makes art a very flexible enterprise and very difficult to define. The possibility that art gives us to be elastic allows for hope. This is my first tentative answer. With regards to what you just said, there are two strong statements of yours which I would like you to comment on: “an intellectual context where complexity should be a goal and a challenge, not a condition to avoid; we need a discipline of risk, that is, a social space where we can take risks”.

We just have to look back at what happened in Paris. [note: the interview was conducted a few days after the morning of 7 January 2015, when two Islamic terrorists armed with assault rifles and other weapons forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper ‘Charlie Hebdo’, killing 11 people and injuring



11 others, and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “God is [the] greatest”) during their attack] That is the clear evidence that if you avoid complexity what you get is pure terror. Violence is a kind of fundamental tool for avoiding complexity. It functions by very simple means, I am not talking only about those who are identified as terrorists. I am talking about both sides, it’s one simple way people behave in society and how the forces of security and institutions act. We need complexity. It is as simple as this: this is a complex world. The question then is: How? Where? How is this going to be made into a habitus in society? I think we need to invent new ways... That is clear. We are in a really complex moment in history and we need to start thinking about what we inherit. We need to add a different taste, a different invention, an invention that affects collectivity and relations.There is no use saying “let’s have dialogue”, because that’s false and nothing comes of it. We need to invent new ways of producing relations. Art knows how to produce new relations, among disciplines, among the senses, among materials, among words, among individuals... Art is a discipline at the core of the human sciences, ready for us to produce sources. If we are conscientious



of what artists have been doing for the last hundred years, there is a lot to learn from it. So, what is the next command? A connectivity among individual forces. This is the most difficult part. The bigger challenge we are facing is how to connect individuals again. How do we create groups of individuals who are ready to share and produce a language that would convey this intention of going along with it, in the sciences, in the arts, in politics, in the media... It’s really difficult. It means something different from replicating languages that we know are absurd, which have been proven and proven again to be absurd, but we keep replicating them because they are fast and it is simpler to do that. We say certain things and everyone understands us. We know we need to face an impressive animosity towards intellectualism, but this can only go forth if we produce works that are also able to convey a certain enthusiasm, a certain hope, and a certain ground from which you can build. It is really difficult. And since there is no money for doing certain things, these ideas that need networks are very slow in uniting people, in making the relations possible. It is a massive challenge. On the other hand, we can say, “well, there is nothing to lose�.



ABOUT THE FIRST SOCIETY OF POST-LABOUR CONDITION Is this related to your theory about people needing to dream differently from the way they have been dreaming up until now? The fact that we are not dreaming our dreams, but the dreams of economic models that define our dreams...

When we think about the case of the crisis in Spain and Portugal, we can approach this moment as the first time in history when the hope to get better can also become a way of pressure. The hope to get better has been there not only as a possibility but, for some years, as a pressure. But how to get better? What does this mean? Are we living according to the responsibility of what is expected from communities like ours? What are the standards we need to match? Are they European standards? Are they American standards? Are we supposed to create new models, or are we supposed to just replicate existing models? Then, what does it mean to grow? To get bigger, is that to grow? The result of following this  idea



is that we have found ourselves completely in the dark because of the amount of pressure that came from the model of growth which we have to follow. Now we fail. This failure is very interesting. It is not only a bad failure, but an interesting failure. Are people outside our communities going to explain our failure in positive terms? No. It is for us to do that. It is for the people inside the community to define why this failure is an interesting moment in our history, or in our artistic production, or in the history of our institutions. And then how to carefully and very specifically, address this failure in positive terms? How to convey a message related, if seen in an immediate way, to a certain moment of discontent, and transform that into moments of possibility? It is also complex. Can it be done? It could. I really believe in it. The possibilities are there. I came to understand much more about certain conditions which define the identity of Spain now, rather than ten years ago. This interests me because it implies connecting differently as well as respecting differently. I think you are at a disadvantage if you expect something and you don’t get it. But this disappointment can



be used at the service of an ability we do have: we are also able to start different exercises in dreaming. Perhaps we need to start dreaming about something else, perhaps the dreams we were dreaming were not the right ones. Or maybe they were not even ours. Perhaps one of the problems is that we have been preventing ourselves, auto-censuring ourselves, to dream according to what we want to dream. This is an interesting thing. It relates to canonic ways of thinking, institutional ways of thinking, and the economic models that define the dreams and expectations of any one of us. We lack voices capable of giving form to this. It cannot be one or two individuals. We need to just sit and repeat that action of sitting. The second action, which is problematic, is how can we sit together? When I say sitting together it implies repeating the same words, telling these kinds of things, telling us tomorrow and telling us again the day after tomorrow, and the day after... So the continuation of the meeting and the presence of the people and the retelling of the story is much more important than buildings and roles. The possibility of connecting this human presence to other aspects of our society is really important right now, as environment and nature are important. And now with the



crisis, people ask: “Hey, why do you care about climate now? We need to get food, labour, these are our major concerns. Why are you talking about something that is not immediately related to labour?” We are probably going to be the first society which needs to face the post-labour condition. We are not going to be able to work in the same manner our parents did, because there isn’t work for everyone in the way the industrial development promised. We really need to understand our context in a completely different perspective. Is that why you say the laws of the imagination are not the laws of the convenient?

The problem is how to re-imagine ourselves? You look at the map of Spain and say “it really relates to Europe”. But how does it relate to Europe? It is interesting to have these massive neighbours: Africa and Europe. How are we relating to that? Here enters the need to belong. The question of belonging doesn’t solve any problem. Imagine someone saying “I want to belong to Europe”. A person’s wish doesn’t define what is going to happen. Someone else says, “no, no, no, I want to belong to Africa”. It is the same. Belonging, and the wish to belong, is not how you can frame a person’s position in a



context like this. We have to find other ways of relating.There is no need to belong to one or the other. Belonging is not what is going to define the possibilities that we have of establishing a productive imaginative relationship with our context. This is just a basic example...

TECHNOLOGY AND NATURE AS NEW GENDERS As an expert in visual arts and also a curator, do you see artists of the XXI century questioning the world and dealing with the themes you have been referring to?

Artists are pioneering the question of extreme singularities. In the past we used to call them geniuses, or masters... Artists have become extremely critical of this, with extreme interest in the particular, in  singularities. On the other hand, artists have been very generous in giving us a critical vision and a valorization of extreme singularities, which is fundamental. We are living in a strange moment in all areas of life. From industry to politics, everyone is talking about leadership, the collective and the market. People are looking for extreme singularities that can fulfil this kind of dream 78


of an individual giving us enough, giving us what we think we need. In contrast to this, art has been educating us about the conditions of many extreme cases of hybridity that, again, art has been introducing. This is the case of ‘gender’. I should introduce here one important question: “Do we want to be educated?” I just leave the question for thought... But going back to the idea of ‘gender’... I am not talking about gender as a distinction between feminine and masculine, but as a condition of the meeting point between desire and a certain body. I would say machines are not tools but ‘new genders’. You have conditions that would define nature as a ‘gender’, that technology is a ‘gender’, and so on... Artists have been training us for the possibility of relating to those things as not pure externalities. Technology is not purely external or purely industrially defined as a tool. In that sense, art has been trying to train us to imagine that we are in a post-industrial, post-modern society, in the sense that we have surpassed   dreaming that industry is going to rescue us according to a specific model of economic definition and growth. We are also in a time after the knowledge of the western world as the defining model. We are not that. We know that countries that have not been at



the centre of the narrative of the History of the world are also ruling, decisive, and are also here. They are also thinking, they are also dreaming, they are also wanting, and we are confronted with that from Asia to Africa. They also have different models of belief that they practise all day long. What other than art introduced us to these possibilities in an integrated and critical view? But then we have to ask another question: how can we absorb even more? We can say we are in the first stage. We manage to absorb an intuition of this condition. Now we need a new language for it. Historically speaking we developed a language, an art historian’s, critical, language. But we need to develop a language that surpasses the model of criticality, around culture. We can no longer say that production, or industrial production and capitalism, are bad. I mean, of course we can say it, but it is redundant. We matured from the phase of criticality. What is the new phase we are in now? It is linked to finding a way to producing an understanding of these ‘new genders’. It is a modern relationship with technology that made us part of a system that understands labour and defines our life, further and further towards the instrument and towards the machine, in completely



different terms. The same can be said for the way we are going to understand the hybridity of certain belief systems... We are at the point of a great beginning. Or at least I feel we are at the end of something and at the beginning of something else. It is some kind of intellectum and, yes, artists have the knowledge of it. In terms of the language which needs to be reformulated, do you have examples of alternative expressions or terms that could be introduced in our discourse about art and the relation between art and life today?

I call it language because I am limited and I don’t have a better alternative. I cannot imagine it as something else, but I don’t mean words, it is not language in that sense. That is why I use the term ‘gender’ because we need, first, to develop new feelings. It is the sensorium. There is a new system of how to feel and perceive everything. If technology is a ‘new gender’, then it relates to us differently. If nature is a ‘new gender’ then... the same. That modifies all of us. This modification is what is ultimately going to define what we feel. Right now we feel exactly the same. We are not living in the modern era... Feelings change a lot, but not enough, so to speak. How to challenge that? I think the



answer to that is precisely the function of art. Why I think artists are political or artists are crucial and are at the centre is because of this organum. It is because art is that very organum, that sensorium. It is a possibility, our new feeling bank. It is the new brain that is becoming bigger inside us, allowing for things to grow. This is not coming from economy. I don’t expect economy to be the new sensorium of society, even if every discipline contributes... Economy did teach us how to feel about certain things, about productivity, about consuming, about labour, about free time... Of course economy is an important element. Whatever and whenever you understand the word economy and whether you will understand the word economy in a hundred years from now... it will always be important. But art is definitely the organum and I have an impressive belief in that. This is something very personal, I believe in it, and I  believe art is very capable of  providing us with possibilities.

THE IMAGINATION OF A NEW LOVE You consider nature in the same way you consider technology, as a gender. What does that mean? In the



XX century, discourse tended to see technology as an extension of the body... for example.

We have been trained to think internally and externally. In that frame of thought the body is in a relationship with the mind in a condition of exteriority. The computer, technology, any instrument... is always external to the body. The body itself, the human, has a condition of externality versus nature. These are only metaphors, just a way of imagining it. By imagining these things in terms of ‘genders’ – then we have five, six... big ‘genders’ – we are able to imagine new ways of breaking this fixed framing of internal/external. I don’t think of ‘genders’ which are not external to me. They are complementary to me. This complementarity also imagines a new love and this is a love that demands a clear position from things. If someone asks me: “Are you an ecological person?” My radical answer is,“no way”, because I don’t relate to it ideologically. I am from the north of Spain, not far from Portugal. I am a rural person. I would never think in external terms about nature. I grew up in nature, with animals in my house, in my living room, in complete wonderful chaos. We cannot have an idea about what should be done with nature.



We should feel part of it. And in that sense it is not an external idea, but a complementarity that needs to be imagined from the inside. If you feel you are part of nature, you are not defending something exterior to yourself. You don’t defend your right hand from your left hand, they are equal parts of an organ. How could that be possible? It doesn’t make sense. Not wanting to simplify the question – which is what you defend for all levels of life and art – there is a trend which defends an action towards a more ecological nature-friendly life as opposed to the dominant politics, which means opposed to the capitalistic system and everything ruled by economy. How do you feel about this idea of oppositions?

It is not entirely true because politics are also us, and the fact that we can make a change is a too simple statement and, just because of that, easy for me to agree with, but that would lead to nothing. It seems as though there are a few good people and then a bunch of bad people. Structures change probably in an organic way. Things can be done but it is not a question of all of us waking up and a decision being made only by us, for us. We need public guidance in how to imagine things differently. Art changes our feelings, and our feelings



are what ultimately change our actions. It is a much more complex thing than a group of people without feelings, like rocks, sitting and thinking only in numbers. These are all very interesting questions, which do not touch only the time of the biography that we are living in. It will not be resolved in our lifetime, as it is a much more complex thing. That is why even if there is a generational change, you cannot be sure that the structure will change. All this is not about those individuals who don’t want to give in to the idea of economic growth. It is very complex...

ART ACTIVISM IS THE ACTIVISM OF IMAGINATION Does this complexity relate again to the essence of art as knowledge, comfortable in dealing with the unknown?

We have a problem of imagining things interrelating. In each relation which doesn’t work, we have a problem. This is because we don’t know how to imagine it otherwise. The fact that we don’t imagine these connections and these relations differently is preventing us ART AND NATURE ARE NEW GENDERS


from thinking that there are new possibilities. This is not a question of intentionality, of waking up and saying “I would like to think about economy differently”. It does not work like that. The activism is an activism of imagination, of how to be active in imagining things, and there are pioneers who tried to introduce us to those imaginations, from philosophers to artists. How does this penetrate the common language? That is the challenge. It requires an impressive amount of time. It’s happening, but many other things are happening too. I would like you to explain your idea of artistic research. Do you see it as an alternative concept that is related to the notion of new genders?

It is related to what I was saying about artists and organum. When I started writing about this four or five years ago, I was wrong when I used the term ‘artistic research’. I thought one needed to distinguish between the research that humans do and the research that this activity or this entity called art is doing. Art is thinking, we are thinking. I thought these were different ways of thinking which coexist, but what became clear to me after was that what I meant was understanding art as a ‘gender’. This is more powerful.



Art is an organum. This means that it is feeling and thinking and acting in the world, in coexistence with us. This coexistence produces an epistemology and this epistemology is different from our epistemology. This coexistence of several of them is what we need to be touched or transformed by. This is why I am very positive. It doesn’t matter to me if art is business or not, if artists want to do business, they can. They can always do as they feel. But this is not what is defining the thinking of art as a research practice. It is a phase of art to research, sometimes as an academic, sometimes as a pseudo-academic, sometimes in an etymological way. This is definitely not a problem. I do not thematise things that are in the life of art. I think art lives, it interrogates matter in many different ways, I would not really bother calling it artistic research, it is obvious. Art is a ‘gender’ and art is an organum; it is less obvious and much more polemic and expresses a more paradoxical condition, which is much more fair to its essence. This is what I meant. I was not able to articulate it this way before. But the thinking was already there and it’s completely irrelevant to say ‘artistic research is research artists do’. Affirming this only produces the institutionalization of it. There is



a more profound intimacy to what artists are doing and I have no interest in making art into an institution because for me, art is completely beyond these structures. Artists are the ones that escape and enter structures and then teach us how to do it.

I JUST WANT A KITCHEN You have this new challenge in which you are living in the Institute of Art at the FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel [note: the interview was conducted at the end of 2014]. What are you doing there?

I am trying to figure that out myself. It is quite early on, but I have some intuitions which are very powerful but quite complex. It demands an impressive effort and this effort is by activating things that are normally not activated or which I did not activate before. It also has to do with forcing myself to do things I haven’t done, to think in ways I haven’t thought, to talk and act in ways I haven’t talked or acted in... The first steps are always very simple, just everyday life, trying to change little by little, structures and so on... These are all very commonsensical and very banal. It is working little by little. To find the organicity in which one can move takes time. 88


What are these intuitions? One of the objectives of IMAGINE 2020 is to create alternative and/or new spaces where art and life and different fields of knowledge can meet...

I can give an example of one idea. One more very important thing is ‘to meet’. And to facilitate that in a meaningful purpose I am becoming interested in food in a really strange way. Or in cooking, or doing things that are very similar and very simple but in different ways... I am very interested in habitus. I think the repetition of certain simple actions that are, simultaneously, nourishment and social, is important. I am very interested in producing as many informal meetings as we can. Meetings that don’t have a briefing at the start and a goal for the finish. This is what I would like to implement. I am looking for partners that would want to help me to do that. Then people want to know why and what I am doing and I just want to meet. I am not able to get what I want because not everybody understands what I am doing. I just want a kitchen. I would like to put the kitchen at the centre of the school, operating as a studio, and as a public programme. The kitchen as a complete place, where everything that has to do with



a presentation and content would happen in order to break the conventional format. If you are cooking and talking at the same time or if you are eating and talking at the same time, it doesn’t matter who is at your table and you are, at the same time, presenting content. Then all content of what’s presented is going to change. This is a very simple thing. Yes, so simple that it is so difficult for it to be understood and created.

Exactly. No one understands because everybody wants a conference room and I don’t want a conference room. I don’t want that, or a meeting room, or anything that is not related to simple ways of relating to quotidian life, like a kitchen or a living room, or places where you would actually act privately and with others. This notion of being completely private because you are doing your thing but other people are doing their thing interests me.



Curated by Kaaitheater

MAKESHIFT COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE Notes on “Sitting with the body 24/7” by Heike Langsdorf and radical_hope1 In the frame of Burning Ice #8, 8-15 February 2015 by Jeroen Peeters

In February 2015 I clipped a newspaper article about a giant ball pool, installed during two weeks in a bright gallery space in west London by the design office Pearlfisher. The image shows a circle of eleven adults partly submerged in what appear to be 81.000 white, small plastic balls; all of them are cheering as they keep their bodies afloat, reminisce about their childhood, or enjoy the oblique approach to that day’s meeting. A blogger commented after visiting: “I felt supremely calm after exiting the pool, which has so far been used by people of all ages and for several business meetings. I can definitely see how it would aid creativity, it’s a bit like being in a vacuum, with no distractions just your own thoughts and sense of space.” All the talk is about creativity, multi-sensorial experience, reconnecting with childhood – yet this ‘experiment’ was also a stunt by a creative agency, the whole environment a billboard of sorts, fully embedded in today’s experience economy. Our society seems to crave such spaces of relaxation that provide alternatives to demanding work schedules and the stress they entail. Yet, what kind of alternatives do we want? Can we ourselves have a say in these experiments and the ways in which they are fashioned? *** Around the same time, under the umbrella radical_hope, dancer and artist Heike Langsdorf and a group of collaborators set up the project “Sitting with the body 24/7” at the Monnaie Centre in Brussels. This ‘retreat in public space’ happened in the framework of Kaaitheater’s Burning Ice Festival, placing its questions in relation to sustainable development: “Our lives are governed by an economy that never sleeps. What is the impact on our relationship with time,



work and our body?” “Sitting with the body 24/7” created a space for practising everyday activities that involve the body: sitting, lying, standing, walking, resting, making, dancing, speaking and seeing. All of it was organised according to a strict time schedule that allotted two hours to each practice from 6.30am to 11.30pm, observed by a timekeeper sitting solemnly in the space with an hourglass and bell. Installed in a shopping mall with large windows to the street, the space was furnished with white carpet, pillows and blankets. Welldesigned information panels at the window introduced the practice space and its time schedule in four languages, but the space itself had a somewhat generic outlook, which made it hard to tell precisely what was going on inside: a dance studio, meditation centre, gym, yoga classes, art gallery? Perhaps all of it, but not the familiar practice of shopping… In the public space, amid advertisement panels, public transport, shopping windows and the hustle and bustle of the city – how do we recognize practices in their specificity? How can we tell artistic practices apart from everyday practices outside the common institutional framings of art? Does the difference matter? To meet the confusion, there was always a host outside on the sidewalk to engage in conversation, explain the project to interested passers-by, or hand out brochures. “You are invited to watch our activities or enter the space and delve into action yourself.” Some of the practitioners were collaborators of Langsdorf’s, others were visitors who could join in for free for a single session, a whole day, or several times during the week. Some were experienced in certain corporeal practices and could deepen their embodied knowledge, others would explore the basics after being teased into the space by the project’s brochure or posters presenting the practices with an



image, a drawn manual and the promise of a Chinese fortune cookie – take for instance ‘walking with the body’: “Getting many things out of the way and instead, following one thing.” Some would come inside and simply observe, yet others would stay outside and observe everything through a large window, discuss what they saw or simply pass by and not bother. If the strict score of “Sitting with the body 24/7” organised the various practices in a precise and decisive manner concerning time and technicality, the project as a whole left leeway for choosing if and how one participated in it. What did “Sitting with the body 24/7” produce as an experimental space of practice and a work of art? The project sought to propose alternative approaches to time, work and our bodies, but what exactly is it the people participating in it were practicing? *** Starting in the early morning with ‘sitting with the body’ and then followed by lying, standing and walking, each particular activity was introduced by a ‘teacher’ who would guide the practitioners through the two-hour session. The preparatory phase involved specific warm-up exercises, followed by half an hour of doing the practice according to a single task that created focus. Sitting, lying and standing were still meditational practices that produced nearly sculptural imagery. They reminded me of the work of Brazilian artist Lygia Clark and her ‘rites without myths’, sessions in which she would prepare people’s bodies with objects in an imaginative practice that paired sculpture and therapy. Take ‘lying with the body’, in which someone would lie down on their back for half an hour, supported by blankets and cushions, the legs propped



up with a pile of books, eyes covered with a small sandbag, open palms held to the ground by stones. Or ‘standing with the body’, which creates a still image, but also arouses in the practitioner an active negotiation with gravity and an attention to small impulses and patterns in the body. ‘Speaking with the body’ and ‘seeing with the body’ built on similar principles of physical training, perceptual focus and corporeal self-observation. Although this way of working is familiar to dancers, practices and the ‘techniques of the body’ remain difficult to share and discuss. The embodied knowledge of training and deepening of a particular practice over many years cannot be compressed into an image or language – what could a temporary practice space of one week offer in this respect? Or in the case of everyday practices such as walking, speaking or seeing – what exactly is the ‘expertise’ one could develop and perhaps transmit? Heike Langsdorf had asked all her collaborators to bring three books that mattered to them, which constituted a small and heterogeneous library with reflections on practice. Between sessions, reading and informal conversations accompanied the physical practices. Every evening “Sitting with the body 24/7” closed the day with an open conversation with guests to discuss a particular (artistic) practice, starting with the question: “What is the resonance of a dedicated practice on an individual and group of people?” These corporeal practices afford sustained attention and give a sense of the body as an internal technology one can own and develop. Repeated over a long period of time they become an ingrained skill and a craft that facilitates choice and freedom. ‘Walking with the body’ left the solemn atmosphere of the gallery and its ‘living sculptures’ behind, precisely because it was close to



the walking bodies of passers-by, spectators or anyone entering the space. The practice itself led the gaze upon oneself and upon everyone else, in an embodied contemplation of what the anthropologist Marcel Mauss coined ‘techniques of the body’ in the 1930s; those corporeal attitudes learnt over a long period of time in which physical and social elements intertwine to produce individual traits, and thus as many different ways of ‘walking with the body’ as there are bodies. In “Sitting with the body 24/7”, walking directed the gaze quite literally outward, through the window and towards the city and its urban practices. *** How can we tell artistic practices apart from everyday practices outside the common institutional framings of art? Does the difference matter? After 1pm “Sitting with the body 24/7” hosted a silent lunch, followed by a space of rest where people could take a nap, bring their knitting or read the paper. It ended every day at 3pm with ‘making with the body’, the construction of a mandala, a symmetrical pattern with all the objects in the space. After a hesitant start and the careful placement of objects, the whole space would mostly be crammed after five minutes – how to spend the remaining 25 minutes? The following subtle adjustments and negotiations through doing were always different and always wonderfully poetic, often with people placing themselves as objects in the mandala, handling themselves as living stuff amid the stuff. People forgot about the technicality of craft and corporeal techniques, yet their attention remained focused on caring for this makeshift community of practice.



I found these moments always liberating, also for the reflection they offered on practice. They came close to what sociologist Etienne Wenger terms ‘communities of practice’, in which a group of people with specific competences, both varied and overlapping, cooperate to achieve a certain goal. “A shared practice thus connects participants to each other in ways that are diverse and complex. The resulting relations reflect the full complexity of doing things together. They are not easily reducible to a single principle such as power, pleasure, competition, collaboration, desire, economic relations, utilitarian arrangements, or information processing.”2 The group is concrete, its goal can change during the process, which is negotiated through actions (rather than discussion) that create a ground for informal exchange and a shared learning process. “Practice resides in a community of people and the relations of mutual engagement by which they can do whatever they do.”3 The concrete, makeshift quality of constructing the mandala provides a lens to look at the other practices, but also at “Sitting with the body 24/7” as a community of practice that precedes the week it opened up to the city, and that continues to exist afterwards – inevitably in a transformed and expanded form. The group of collaborators who set up “Sitting with the body 24/7” was a motley crowd indeed. Heike Langsdorf and the core group of practitioners have hybrid careers and practices that they brought to the project. Many people offered advice or support, or worked as volunteers to take care of the space and keep it running 24/7 – a glance at the credits of the project suffices to realize it challenges the usual economy of artistic production in the subsidised field.4 It seems to me that it is perhaps not so much in the rituals of learning processes and ingraining skill but in the ‘experiments’



with collaboration that today’s performing arts hold a promise for society. The essayist and dramaturge Marianne Van Kerkhoven never tired of pointing out the importance of “slow, sustained practices” in the performing arts for building social networks: “The processes that lead to stage activities are almost always the result of a collective practice with a limited group of people: designing and performing the work are closely connected; there is direct personal communication between everyone involved in the project; everyone can more or less create an idea of the work as a whole, and in that way retain a connection with it.”5 “Sitting with the body 24/7” can hardly be called a piece, yet it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that most of Heike Langsdorf’s collaborators have a history in the performing arts. What they bring along is an appetite for experimenting with ways of spending time and organizing work, and especially with models of collaboration. How to own your life, work and practice as an artist or researcher and do this in a relational context? Explicitly framed as a ‘retreat in public space’, “Sitting with the body 24/7” brought about questions of practice and collaboration in relation to citizenship. The makeshift community of practice constructing a mandala together also offers a glance into the diversity of visitors participating in the project. Even though active participation in the physical practices was met by many visitors and passers-by with some inconvenience at first, inhibitions diminished during the course of the week. This growing involvement made it abundantly clear that many people in a city like Brussels are constantly looking for meaningful ways to spend their days (or part of them): commuters, businessmen and working people, unemployed people and volunteers, artists and activists, bloggers and photographers,



teenagers and the homeless… What binds them in “Sitting with the body 24/7” is a mutual engagement in a ‘disinterested’ activity outside daily routines. They use an artistic space of practice as an opportunity to negotiate the freedom to spend their lives, time and labour in ways alternative to the productivity of capitalism that exerts pressure on the welfare state as we know it. The sustainability and Zukunfstfähigkeit of these makeshift communities of practice might reside in developing skills of collaboration and a repertoire of “routines, words, tools, ways of doing things, stories, gestures, symbols, genres, actions, or concepts” that enables them to negotiate meaning and choose the kind of cooperation they want in today’s world.6 *** Once more: How can we tell artistic practices apart from everyday practices outside the common institutional framings of art? Does the difference matter? Every day at 5pm “Sitting with the body 24/7” experienced its performative peak with ‘dancing with the body’, half an hour of continuous shaking to a live soundtrack (by Philippe Chatelain). At rush hour, the practice drew a lot of attention from passers-by and elicited a mixture of rejection and fascination. People shaking with their heads covered and dressed in loose patchwork dresses made of silk scarves – this appears to be both a familiar (“Ah, this is dance!”) and a profoundly foreign image that exceeds the quotidian imagination. While a group of people danced inside the space, another crowd gathered outside the large window, as a mirror group pondering the image and practice, watching and discussing. It struck me how



people were using their smartphones in various ways: passers-by staring at the tiny screen shuffling past with a slow, stooped gait, seemingly unaware of how the device affects their physicality; others taking pictures as if shielding off the unfamiliar, then filming to hold on to the uncanny fascination a little longer, or why not, taking a selfie (“I was there!”). Most interesting were small groups of teenagers making little documentaries (which they just act out, and perhaps post on the Internet, perhaps not) in which they comment upon things, experimenting with these new technologies, with a sense of self, with ways of behaving in public space – in the streets and in the cloud. They were most deliberately acting like a community of practice, negotiating their freedom and defining their citizenship, and this, crucially, in relation to an artistic project and to other urban practices. In such moments, “Sitting with the body 24/7” created a complex dynamic in unexpected ways, in which leaving leeway for choosing if and how one participated in it suddenly took on a larger scope than the naïve proselytism of so much participatory art. “Sitting with the body 24/7” did not only install a space of practice, nor simply frame other urban practices; at best it provoked a situation of ‘artistic citizenship’ in makeshift communities of practice. *** 1

This text was written on the invitation of Heike Langsdorf with the support of Hiros (Brussels).


Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice. Learning, Meaning, and Identity, New York, 1998, p. 77


Ibid. p. 73

Credits “Sitting with the body 24/7”: Concept, development and realization: Heike Langsdorf. In collaboration with: Philippe Chatelain (body practice advice), Helena Dietrich (graphic design, images), Sébastien Hendrickx (dramaturgical advice), Lilia Mestre (choreographical, dramaturgical




advice), Christoph Ragg (scenography, technical development), Agnes Schneidewind (assistance), Jeroen Peeters (outside eye). Research: Renée Copraij (mental and physical coaching), Heike Langsdorf. Advice: Shadow, Michael Schmid. Practitioners: Isabel Burr-Raty, Philippe Chatelain, Helena Dietrich, Dolores Hulan, Fleur Khani, Heike Langsdorf, Jo Massin, Wayaba Tokpwi, Lilia Mestre, Elke Van Campenhout, Isabelle Wahedova, Dieudonné Zoko. Photography: Quentin de Wispelaere. Illustrations: Raquel Santana de Morais. Production: Hiros (Brussels), radical_hope. Support: VGC Brussels, Atrium, apass, Bains Connective, nadine, Sacrofilms, Shiatsu Dojo Bruxelles, shopshop, ZSenne artlab. Co-production: Kaaitheater,Vrijstaat O. Thanks to: AG Real Estate, Brussels Boxing Academy, Charlotte Bouckaert, Hans Bryssinck, Kathleen Deboutte, Khadija El Bennaoui, Robin Amanda Creswell Faure, Nelle Hens, Isabel Hoornaert, KVS, Kunsthumaniora Laeken, Ariane Loze, Jan Mayer, Christophe Meierhans, Gilles Polet, Anna Rispoli, Emiel Rooman, Einat Tuchman, David Weber-Krebs, Adva Zakai, Putters International NV. Marianne Van Kerkhoven, ‘When is there a path?’, in Idem and Anoek Nuyens, Listen to the Bloody Machine. Creating Kris Verdonck’s End, Utrecht/Amsterdam, 2012, p. 33



Cf. Wenger, Ibid., p. 83



Curated by Kampnagel


1 The concept for a Fund for Aesthetics and Sustainability has been published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation both in English and German and is available as an open source in order to facilitate discussions with an international audience to help build the broad alliances for aesthetics and sustainability, that are necessary to identify innovative solutions beyond the existing structures of decision making and funding (

“Only when people are in a position to use their own creative potentials, which can be enhanced by an artistic imagination, will a change occur [....] Art can and should strive for an alternative that is not only aesthetically affirmative and productive but is also beneficial to all forms of life on our planet.� Rasheed Araeen2

Rasheed Araeen, Eco-aesthetics. A Manifesto for the Twenty-First Century, Third Text Publications, London 2010


What the UN Brundtland Report stated in 1987 has not lost any of its urgency: “In the middle of the 20th century, we saw our planet from space for the first time. Historians may eventually find that this vision had a greater impact on thought than did the Copernican Revolution of the 16th century, which disturbed the human self-image by revealing that the Earth is not the centre of the universe. From space, we see a small and fragile ball dominated not by human activity and edifice but by a pattern of clouds, oceans, greenery, and soils. Humanity’s inability to fit its activities into that pattern is changing planetary systems, fundamentally. Many such changes are accompanied by life-threatening hazards. This new reality, from which there is no escape, must be recognized – and managed”3. Then “Earth Summit”, an unprecedented UN conference by the name of “World Environmental Conference”, took place in June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), with the presence of around 2,400 NGO representatives beside heads of state, and about 17,000 people attending the parallel NGO Forum. Through the Summit’s message, that a transformation of our attitudes and behaviours would bring about the necessary changes, governments finally recognised the need to redirect international and national plans and policies to ensure that all economic decisions fully took into account any environmental impact4. Since then a lot of experts have asserted in numerous manifests and publications that the cultural and aesthetic dimension of sustainability is indispensable for raising humanity’s awareness. However, almost 23 years after the UN summit in Rio, the potential of the arts remains largely unaddressed. In addition to the potential of the humanities the cultural 3 4



and social sciences are carelessly under-estimated and under-used when it comes to the need for sustainable action. Subsequently I shall not speak about Climate Change. Instead I shall speak of the broader term of sustainability, as the crisis that is threatening our planet and its inhabitants cannot be looked at as an isolated case, but only in its entirety. We are facing several kinds of displacement caused by globalisation: the division between the localised poor and the globalised rich (Zygmunt Bauman); the growth of the world population and simultaneous decline of vital resources such as energy, water, land and forests, which are no longer common goods and the migration that results from this; the increasing number of both shrinking cities and megacites, and the desolate landscape between them (Jean Ziegler). The cultural ramifications of Climate Change will have retroactive effects as long as the dignified existence in education and health of every single individual is put below the need for capitalism. These all raise existential challenges to policy making, to which the current discussion about Climate Change does not do justice. To develop sustainability as a powerful tool for change we should resort back to St. Francis of Assisi’s detailed definition – he who was perhaps the first ecologist in history: “... per lo quale a le tue creature dai sustentamento (...through which you give your creatures sustenance)”5. One could also refer back to Joachim Heinrich Campe, teacher of Wilhelm 5

Saint Francis of Assisi, Il Cantico di Frate Sole, 1224 – 1225



and Alexander V. Humboldt, who called sustainability what “you hold onto, when nothing else holds”. Foresters have been defining sustainability more simply and economically over the last 300 years: “Don’t cut down more trees than can grow back”. We could also resort back to Albert Schweizer, who calls sustainability “the capacity to look ahead and to provide”6. For the philosopher Rudolf zur Lippe, sustainability is a term that changes the negative impact of harmful capitalism into something positive. As we can see, the broader notion of the idea of sustainability has been discussed by humanity for centuries before it became a popular term of political jargon after “Earth Summit”. It then became meaningless immediately afterwards because of the inflationary and undifferentiated use of the term. It is therefore hardly surprising that for most individuals, issues of sustainability are seen as non-essential and unconnected to their lives. It is not yet understood as a space of possibility because it is not yet linked to the sensuality and passion of personal action, but is still mainly seen as an appeal to the super-ego or the well-filled wallet. This point of view also includes the majority of artists and others in the creative professions. The greatest impasse in relation to the calculable and provable failures of governments and other responsible parties concerning sustainable goals are, however, the fears of individuals. They might have different faces on the different continents, with fears of varying intensity, but they all circle around hunger, displacement, and lack of protection and around Ulrich Grober, Die Entdeckung der Nachhaltigkeit, Kulturgeschichte eines Begriffs, Verlag Antje Kunstmann, München 2010


Allora & Calzadilla | - from »Under Discussion« 2004/05, © courtesy the artists





the feeling of not being needed, wanted, or consulted. They ask questions such as: “How do I, as a subject, even appear in the restructuring of society, with what I know and what I can do, with what I have learned and what I have experienced, and with what I could provide? Who consults me?” Sustainability requires a social vision. The multiple links of the existing wealth of knowledge and experience can only truly unfold in what I call ‘the cultural society’7 over the long term, and only if they are open to change and transformation. Sustainability that understands itself as intervening and fashioning something new cannot work without arts and sciences. They teach how to think in transitions, interim solutions, models, and projects. Arts and science are capable of getting to grips with their mistakes; something we are lacking in politics. However in order to distribute the possibilities of arts and science socially and evenly, there is a strong need for a political counterpart that will help them reach their political realm and sustainability goals. Re-loading the notion and the debate around sustainability through aesthetics is a great way to protect the term from losing its power to convince. All sustainability is the result of thinking new things and seeing the familiar from a new perspective. Sustainability is the continuous renewal and it is “our most original world cultural heritage”8. Sustainability can only exist when we relate with other people, other beings, other processes and other things in the world, with whom and what we have Adrienne Goehler, Verflüssigungen, Wege und Umwege vom Sozialstaat zur Kulturgesellschaft, Campus, Frankfurt Main 200 8 Ulrich Grober, ibid. 2010 7



and can, should want and would want to live with. The cultural dimension lies exactly within these relationships between civilisation and nature, where the individual and the community are necessary and possible. Since we cannot leave the world to the experts and the institutions, we need new alliances between artists, scientists and inventors, combined with the knowledge of the NGOs. We need new spaces and longer time frames for developing creative solutions for our planet. Why are we in need of the arts? The interpersonal communication is based on words, images, gestures, speech, language and nuance. The combination of the arts with these casts a new, wider redistribution of the sensuality, and extends above the given. Artistic questions and approaches have, for a while now, been aimed at expanding the spaces of social resonance. Central themes are: arts in the public interest; the relationship between nature and technology; the relationship between arts and science, the relationship between economics and ecology, the relationship between globalisation and regional identity; as well as questions of social participation and the democratisation of arts through participation. In this way arts become a motor, enabling new forms of interaction between subjects and social organisms. Artistic strategies are the best for radically opening contexts and dealing with gaps which are the characteristics of ‘fluid modernity’. This is how the philosopher Zygmunt Bauman is characterising the present. Being interstitial means tolerating ambivalence, and artists have more practice at this than others because they are specialised in transitions, intermediate certainties, and laboratories.



As never before, contemporary art is using the political, ecological, and economic crises for its own work. Artists take on the tasks of listening, observing, and publicising world events that have moved beyond the focus of daily attention. My considerations for a Fund for Aesthetics and Sustainability are based on different assumptions, observations, and experiences: We live in an era of comprehensive social transition, in an era of the ‘not anymore and not yet’. There is no longer a hope of ‘more, better, faster’. There will be no return to the time of care-free consumption of resources, of full employment and welfare structures that focus on human dignity. The most important resource of the 21st century is creativity. It is not a natural resource found in the ground, or something that can be stored. Rather, it flows and requires supportive conditions in order to continuously renew itself and thus be a source of sustainability. Creativity should not be understood as an exclusive good. It needs free access to an education and environment that understands creativity as an ability inherent to everybody; one that needs to be fostered and developed. The goals are multidimensional and experimental, connecting the various fields of artistic, social, ecological, and economic creativity. Kindergarten and schools are therefore places where it is determined whether creativity acts as a processor in the development to something that is socially larger as well as economically more potent.



As sustainability, like most of today’s big challenges, will not be achieved as a one-department-issue, it will need a multi-disciplinary, multi-layered perspective. We need new scopes, new rooms, new containers for this urgently needed cooperation. These thoughts on aesthetics and sustainability are also deeply rooted in my experience that politics is not driven by a holistic perspective and overall responsibility. Instead, governmental thinking and its actions are determined by dividing reality into hermetic departments and segmenting things that belong together. “This does not fall into my jurisdiction” or “This is none of your concern” are the most commonly expressed attitudes, not only in the field of sustainability! The cultural dimension was and still is widely ignored both politically and scientifically as well as in the manifesto of the environmental NGOs. Unfortunately it is not only politics that is guided by this logic: most public and private trusts, foundations, sponsors or funds follow the same principles. In these cases, they respond to the segmentation and exclusion criteria: “This is not in our profile”, or “Sorry, not corresponding to our portfolio”. The main cause for this widespread ignorance is therefore a lack of foundation; no political department and no grant-giving body feels responsible for connecting aesthetics and sustainability. Instead, the current mono-disciplinary criteria for awarding support monies from political programmes and foundations excludes the aesthetic dimension and refuses to integrate it in the intended efficacy of sustainable thinking, economic management and life. This also becomes evident in the priorities of the European governments and programmes which do



not even mention the cultural dimension in their agenda goals; nor is it mentioned in the documents of The United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Also, research programmes within universities and extra-curricular research projects still work with a three-pillar- or three-silos-model of sustainability: ecological, economical, social. However these silos cannot communicate with each other. They are static. It has taken a lot of World Climate Conferences, 19 to be precise, until finally last year in Lima, as part of COP20 meaningful time, space and efforts were dedicated to showing, through artistic means, the cultural impacts of the multiple crises the world is facing today. Its side programme did not only include exhibitions, festivals and site specific art projects in Lima9 but was also present in other important cities in Peru such as Cuzco10. As a comparison, the Climate Conference in Warsaw in 2013 did not include any arts or culture in its whole agenda11. This will hopefully hone the focus towards initiatives such as ‘Save the World’, a theatrical congress that took place at Theater Bonn in October 2014, where, after sharing a space of intellectual and playful exchange, artists, scientists and politicians offered alternative ways of survival out of the global crisis12.

9 10ñol-1.pdf 11 & 12



Your network IMAGINE 2020 has already created several frameworks to share knowledge, develop thoughts and experiment with time frames. The question is how will we create a long-term research context and if so, who will provide the necessary funds? Well, if there was a Fund for Aesthetics and Sustainability... However, even though these and other existing examples are encouraging, we still have a long way to go. This, as we mentioned, is partly due to the lack of fostering frameworks which combine artistic knowledge with ecological facts. Currently funding criteria of political programmes or public and private foundations does not incorporate an aesthetic dimension into the intended efficacy of sustainable thinking, ways of life, and economic activity. Environmental foundations fund environmental research, communications, and technology, as well as nature conservation. If they deal with culture at all it is limited to the preservation of cultural heritage. The reverse is also true: hardly ever do cultural foundations mention sustainability as part of their funding criteria. As of yet, there is no foundation that feels responsible for those projects that, by combining art and sustainability, could develop great efficiency. Aesthetic sustainability targets the creation of linkages. Sustainability needs to be built on a foundation of the senses. Sustainability needs new forms of learning. Sustainability has to deal with new forms of labour. Sustainability poses new tasks for university teaching and research. Sustainability needs to combine knowledge, experience and action. Sustainability means generating permeability. The diagnosis of ‘not anymore... not yet’ is the point of departure for implementing aesthetics into the debate on sustainability. CONCEPTUAL THOUGHTS ON A FUND FOR AESTHETICS AND SUSTAINABILITY


The Fund for Aesthetics and Sustainability sees itself as a step towards exploring this hitherto neglected dimension towards an aesthetic practice of sustainability, and is committed to ‘productive action‘ (Hannah Arendt). Aesthetics is understood as the consciousness of the senses, the participation of all senses in feeling, perceiving and fashioning the world, and here the arts have to be understood more and more as agents of aesthetics, and artists as the procurators of social awareness. The goal is to find and invent new overlapping strategies that will lead to other – sustainable – models of life and work. For this we need funding structures which create space for possibilities where, through a transdisciplinary and transsegmented, holistic approach, different forms of knowledge and action can be tested, because universities nowadays, with their diktat of acceleration and usability, are no longer the places that give room for experimentation. We need new forms of funding; we need deceleration, also in the production of art. We need to have an open discussion on whether European society – which is known to lack both natural resources and be rich in creativity – can afford to forgo the power of the arts to solve these urgent questions of sustainability. Ideally the Fund for Aesthetics and Sustainability would rest on the shoulders of different public and private foundations as well as ministries. It would have cross-disciplinary juries. The fostering would not stop at European borders. I therefore imagine the year 2020 with a Fund for Aesthetics and Sustainability



that helps, initiates, takes up, and strengthens a dialogue of aesthetics and sustainability that receives regional and international attention. Like Peter Weiss, author of “The Aesthetics of Resistance”, I am convinced “that the biggest quality of art lies in its capacity to interfere in reality, in order to transform it”13. Berlin, Germany 23 February 2015


Peter Weiss’ answer to the German and partisan politician Wilhelm Girnus in an open letter in 1965



Curated by Le Quai


Even if we, westerners from Western Europe, do not yet feel it in our daily lives, the ecological threat (which is not only limited to climate change) is without a doubt the greatest challenge humanity has ever been confronted with.

If we persist in current gas emission strategies which in turn lead to a greenhouse effect, we will in 2100 experience the hottest temperatures the planet has known in its first three million years of existence. Neither humans nor most mammals would have existed under such conditions... Numerous studies estimate henceforth that our climate, and in consequence our capacity to be nourished through agriculture, will be affected, a part of our land submerged, and our whole social structure destabilized. If we keep on living the way we do: forcefully destroying our natural resources at such a swift rate, consuming much more than we need, more and more people will have no water, food, access to energy... (unfortunately this is already the case in many regions of the globe). Extensive migration will disrupt several continents and mingle with the aggressive movements of nations and enterprises to monopolize lands, oil fields and mineral deposits, causing new conflicts. If we persist in destroying ecosystems on the ground in order to stimulate economic growth, many plant and animal species will continue to disappear (fifty percent of wild mammals have already disappeared in the last 40 years as a result of our overuse of resources and environments), unbalancing the ecosystems that enable our survival.



At the same time, we dive deeper into economic depression every day. The debts of our countries, businesses and households weigh ever more intensely on our economies, leading to all the evils that we recognize: recession, bankruptcy, unemployment, reduced public services, increased inequality... Never before have such disparities been reached. Eighty-five people now own as much wealth as 3.5 billion less fortunate people, collectively. Social fabric falls apart in this context, exacerbating frustrations and threatening to become explosive. Many scientists who have produced these different studies (pollution, degradation of arable land, population increase, climate shifts, collapse of biodiversity...) now talk of the possible disappearance of part of humanity between 2040 and 2100. They also estimate that we have a period of only 20 years in which to react. However our responsible politicians and leaders of the world’s largest enterprises continue to implement measures of another age, deploy schemes that have already demonstrated their ineffectiveness and even danger, as if they have no awareness of the gravity of these issues. Meanwhile, a growing gap between elected officials and their constituents adds to this democratic crisis, with all the perils already mentioned.

WHAT TO DO? In the face of such colossal threat, what is it that we can undertake to do? And what positive role could art play?



For many years I have asked myself this question, having found that the strategies implemented by activists (of which I was one; creating and leading an NGO for 7 years) do not really come to fruition. Neither have the protests, petitions, pressures on political parties, awareness campaigns, documentaries or other actions halted the phenomena of ecological and economic degradation in the last twenty years. Worse still, they are amplified. Trying to understand this phenomenon led me to meet many personalities: scientists, activists, politicians, entrepreneurs, philosophers and artists... I was especially passionate about my meeting with Nancy Huston, novelist and essayist, whose many books I had read. “The Tale-Tellers: A Short Study of Humankind” (2008) [in French: “L’espèce fabulatrice”] had struck me in particular. This short essay established the premise that our species thinks, breathes and conceives the world as a series of fictions. Being the only species aware of its own death, the human being apprehends its existence on this planet as a continuum in time: a beginning, a development and an end. In short, a story. According to Nancy Huston, this unique perspective on reality leads humans to bring together each event and every bit of information, to create multiple individual and collective stories. Far from being rational, these fictions meet their aspirations, their fears, and embody their phantoms and neuroses. Terrified by their own demise, human beings feel the need to construct meaning, to justify their existence in the heart of the mysteries that surround them. Religions, governments and political parties never cease to develop narratives which, when widely shared, become the foundation of social and cultural



constructions. The most powerful stories, and those most likely to win the support of many (such as Christianity in the West), form entire civilisations, and shape the trajectories of millions of men and women. They constitute the basis of cultures spread over the entire globe. If it has always been thus (this is at least a point of view I am inclined to accept), then our modern era is no exception to the rule. The narrative of our current civilisation was formed, 60 years ago, in a sufficiently attractive way in order for us to be led into the embodiment of it. But how? Oral, then pictorial tradition, followed by the book (the Word of the Bible), have all long held a place of choice in the diffusion of these stories. The appearance of the novel accelerated this phenomenon to give it the official position of ‘fiction’ (generally opposing essays or other kinds of writing, which is actually quite debatable). After the 1930s and even more since the 1950s cinema has acquired an increasingly larger role in this story-telling capacity developed by human beings, thus shaping millions of others’ imaginations. In many ways, what we used to call the ‘dream of progress’ is a fiction which, by its ability to make most of humanity dream, has transformed our entire planet. And cinema has played a great role in its promotion. If film stars are now so popular, if we carry them socially to the skies, (while the services they provide could be considered much less important than those of surgeons, teachers, farmers…) it is probably for this reason. They embody our new pantheon, our modern mythology, the one in which we seek meaning in our lives.



Americans, like the Germans or Russians, fully understood that storytelling through this medium was a formidable weapon. Stalin did not hesitate to say that: “Film is the most effective tool for stirring the masses. Our only problem is to know how to keep that tool under control.” For his part, Hitler said that “Art should attract the attention of the multitude [...], its action must always appeal to the senses and very little to reason [...]. The art of propaganda consists in being able to awaken the public imagination by appealing to people’s feelings, finding psychologically appropriate formulas that attract the attention of the masses and touch the hearts [...]. The image, in all its forms, up to film, has even more power in this respect. There, man should even less involve his reason; it is sufficient just to watch.” This assertion is highly questionable: for once it is by no means required to abandon one’s reason when looking at pictures or when approaching a work of art. There are various examples of art which do not miss the opportunity to stimulate reflection, and it is likely that true art has nothing to do with the propaganda these dictators speak of. But the same assertion still carries with it a share of lucid observation on the emotions of human beings, prone to let themselves be led by his/her passions. Sometimes this is absolutely tragic, as in the case of the Third Reich.

While Nazi fiction (which had unfortunately aroused so much excitement among many Germans) was militarily defeated by the Russians, the British and the Americans, it was America which ended up winning, alone, the Propaganda War. In 1947 Eric Johnston, president of the American Chamber of Commerce and the Motion Picture Association of America, sent to France during the negotiations of the terms of the Marshall Plan, stated before the Committee on



anti-American activities: “American cinema is and must be more and more a weapon against communism [...]. American films provide tangible evidence of lies of totalitarian propaganda. The old legend of the decadence of capitalism in the United States collapses as soon as the public has a chance to see our movies and draw conclusions.” Although this statement is openly manipulative (it belongs to a time when very few spectators possessed a culture of image and its manipulation) it was premonitory. The massive fictional export entitled ‘The American way of life’ came about as a result of the Communist narrative, and hastened the fall of the Eastern bloc. Thanks were due in part to Eric Johnston who, apart from provisions for the payment of billions of the Marshall Plan, negotiated with Europe the right to dispose of sixty percent of the screens from the old continent, for the dissemination of Hollywood productions. A formidable tactical move. A few decades later, consumerism, free trade, the worship of wealth and appearance, meat diets... have swept the world. Hundreds of millions of people have incorporated American culture into their own: clothing, food, cinema, town planning (shopping malls, hypermarkets, shopping areas outside the cities surrounded by car parks, the reign of the automobile …). In Europe, a civilization dominated by petroleum and dollars has developed and spread throughout all the channels we know: film, television, novels, photography, advertising... Today billions of Chinese, Indians, Brazilians and even Africans aspire to replicate this model, which they consider a form of accomplishment, even if a very ambiguous, love-hate relationship with the United States is maintained. The aversion felt towards an often imperialist and



belligerent policy does not prevent impregnating a part of their culture with that of America’s, yet it is this model exported by the US and the West in general, which now leads our humanity into the abyss.

A NEW CULTURE The magnitude of the crisis we face presents us with a simple choice: metamorphosis or collapse. Adjusting the margins of our model, which would allow for limiting the damage without questioning the fundamental principles of our societies, will not suffice. It is our conception of the economy, our relation with nature and animals, our conception of education and of democracy which needs to be re-thought. We need to gradually abandon a pyramidal, industrial, centralised model which considers the planet as a deposit that can be endlessly plundered to generate profits. In this model, we must also end the situation where power and wealth are concentrated among just a few hands, where education seeks to conform children to just make them grow. And we must nurture a way of life more inspired by nature where, to paraphrase words attributed to Lavoisier “nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed”. In this model, human systems, whether agricultural, economic or administrative, organise themselves into autonomous and interdependent networks. They are no longer structured in chains of pyramidal and industrious command. The idea is to draw from the power of the elements rather than the depths of our basements to produce energy… To do that, we need these new collective narratives, in order to develop another imagery, powerful enough to inspire billions of people and



give them the impetus to engage in these pathways.

Muhammad Yunus (Bangladesh pioneer of lhe concept of microcredit and Nobel Peace Prize 2006), declared in 2012: “Unfortunately we do not write societal fiction (social-fiction). If we did, our world would have already changed! Because imagination is one of the most powerful things. We must make films which imagine what our society should look like. And then we would say: ‘Let’s make it real!’ All impossible things were accomplished because we wanted, we imagined and desired them intensely. This is what the young generation must do today. And then we’ll get there!”

Yunus developed the theory that science and industry often try to replicate what science fiction started. We first imagined going to the moon and one day we actually did.

As such, art is probably one of the most powerful mediums to help us imagine this new culture, to build it, to share it with as many people as possible. Artists who, through their disciplines, have the power to touch, to move, to make people think, to mobilise, are essential in the times we face.

Never, perhaps, have we had such a need for these actors of culture, to create a new culture on our planet, as now.



A NEW RENAISSANCE As in the great periods of transformation in History such as the Renaissance, where art, science and social organisation experienced joint mutations, we need artists to bring a philosophical reflection on the world around us, to express the sensitive reality of what we are going through, and project the visions which will encourage us. To translate the reality of our time outside mechanistic contingencies and the drought of materialism and financialisation, we need to repoétiser the world, to make the world more poetic, and so to awaken the resources that lie within each of us and which a simple intellectual reflection cannot mobilise. Art has the ability to speak to the multiple dimensions of our being.

In many respects, climate change is an abstraction for many of us, as it is the collapse of biodiversity. For all the people in the world who live in urban environments where nature is absent and soils are artificial, in latitudes where extreme meteorological phenomena have not yet become frequent, apocalyptic announcements as I described at the beginning of this text may seem purely fanciful. However this is not so. Art and artists have the opportunity to make these realities tangible, by translating them into emotions. Emotion, as its Latin root suggests, is what moves us, what makes us move. Now we already know most of the solutions that could ‘save us’: a revolution of free currencies, local and high output farming systems without oil or mechanisation, regions producing more renewable energy than they consume, government models allowing hundreds of



thousands of citizens to participate in the drafting of their countries’ Constitutions, circular economy , pioneer schools … This world is within our reach if together we choose to make new narratives for humanity and put all our energy, all our ingenuity into its realisation. Art can help us in this quest. Our future depends on it.



Curated by LIFT

THE ART OF SHARING KNOWLEDGE A conversation between Stephen Emmott (neuroscientist by training, Head of Computational Science, Microsoft Corporation and leader of a multi-disciplinary research laboratory, which spans stem cell biology, immunology, molecular programming, biogeochemistry and Earth System science, author of book “10 Billion”) and Amy Sharrocks (live artist, sculptor and filmmaker, author of “Museum of Water”), mediated by Jon Davis, from LIFT.


STEPHEN EMMOTT AND “10 BILLION” ON STAGE SCIENCE ON STAGE Stephen Emmott: I was on the board of NESTA1 and one of the other Trustees was Nicholas Star, one of the National Theatre directors. When we met, I said I was a scientist and he explained that he knew a theatre director who was interested in seeing how artists and scientists can work and collaborate together. We decided to meet at the National Theatre and it turns out the director was Katie Mitchell. She was very keen to hear about what I did in my lab and why, so I explained about modelling Earth’s Life Support Systems. Katie said she was keen to discuss further how artists can learn from scientists about their craft, and how scientists can learn from artists. After listening to me talking about what I did and my practice, she explained she’d worked with neuroscientists but she had never heard anyone explain the problems we are set to face and how they are all related, in such a clear way. She said she thought everyone should be given the opportunity to hear this. This was when she asked whether I was interested in doing something in a theatre. The idea was basically me giving the talk I had just given to her, but to an audience. I just said “you can fuck off, not under any circumstances”. She asked why and I said the idea of being on a stage in a theatre was terrifying. Don’t get me wrong, I give scientific talks at large conferences, so I’m not worried about giving a talk, but I’m not an actor. Katie explained how it would be a disaster if I tried to act and suggested that we get an actor to play me. So I NESTA is an innovation charity with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. See more at:




agreed and we spent a few days with, unbelievably, Simon Russell Beale. However it quickly became obvious it didn’t really work. Amy Sharrocks: Why didn’t it work? SE: I don’t know.. It just didn’t come across with any sort of conviction or domain authority. Katie Mitchell and everyone else agreed that it wasn’t going to work. So she said the only way it would, was if I would do it. Just me on stage with no acting. I eventually said yes. Interestingly, during this time, the National Theatre put on a play called “Greenland” which was partly about my lab. And somehow, it failed to really work.

THE ISSUE OF CLEARLY COMMUNICATING CLIMATE CHANGE Jon Davis: Why did Greenland fail? Was it just a bad play or was it bad in its depiction of the science behind climate change? SE: It was trying to get the climate change message across but it was just too confusing. It had these four parts and they were all interwoven: one about a scientist, a lobbyist, other scientists who were post-doctorates in my lab at the time, as well as scientists in Antarctica who were tagging albatrosses, and I think what was meant to be a government minister for the environment, if I remember correctly. And it just got confusing. The lobbyist and the minister (or was it a journalist?) were fucking each other at a climate change conference... I wondered what that had to do with anything. It was verbatim theatre and I was very surprised and shocked to hear everything I’d said, down to the last expletive. AS: How appalling to have all your words played back to you. What did you think when you heard yourself?



SE: Well, I wished I’d known it was going to be used verbatim, as I would have thought more about what I’d said. JD: Did you feel that your words didn’t translate your ideas properly? Did it try to cover too many angles? SE: The entire story was just odd. JD: Is this because they hadn’t understood the issues well enough? SE: They didn’t understand the issues well enough. Had I known that, I would have explained that we needed to work harder in getting the issues right. The reason I mentioned “Greenland” is because the idea was to put on “10 Billion”2 at the National Theatre, but they felt it was just too difficult. As a result it went to The Royal Court Theatre.

SCIENCE FOR THEATRE AUDIENCES JD: How did the dialogue between yourself as a scientist and Katie as an artist work? Do you feel that this exchange helped you communicate more effectively with a wider audience? SE: We had a lot of conversations with Katie and the associate director Lyndsey Turner. I was on stage at the Royal Court. But it was surprising how well the show was received. JD: What consequences did it cause, the fact that you were delivering your information in an artistic framework, in a theatre? Did it change the way in which you handled the material, or the way you spoke to the audience? Stephen Emmot is the writer of the book “10 Billion”, published in 2013, about the potential consequences of a population of ten billion people.




SE: It was certainly very different. In a scientific conference you can use any number of names and concepts you want to, and everybody in that audience is familiar with your vocabulary. It is not possible to do that in theatre. If I start talking about ‘CMIP 5’, everybody is going to be thinking what the hell is CMIP 5? I can even say it is a Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5. But that won’t mean anything to anybody either, so we had to think very carefully about how to communicate in a way that didn’t dumb down the issues or the audience. That was actually quite a tricky thing to navigate. JD: What did you feel you were able to do more there, in comparison with a scientific context? Did you feel you were trying to provoke an emotional response? If so, did that shape the way you approached it or not? SE: Not for me. But Katie was keen to provoke an emotional response, and that was done more by the lighting, sound and music, rather than the words, I think. AS: What kind of direction did she give you? SE: Just things like the rate of delivery, because normally I tend to speak very quickly. Then, although I was not acting, Katie and Lyndsey were very keen to say: “at this point, when you are talking about this issue, you really have to slow down and give people a chance to let them understand it”, or “after saying so, just don’t say anything for about 20 or 30 seconds”, so there would be total silence, and I would have never done it like that. There were theatrical techniques I would never have come up with myself, and it seemed to work.

SITE-SPECIFIC DIALOGUE AS: I have questions to do with the framework. One is: How did it feel? - Was it different from your usual large lectures? How did it feel to do the talk on a stage? Because that changes the frame. The second



question is related to the response from the audience. I imagine that obviously there is applause and clapping in both situations, but is there a possibility for questions? Was there communication between you and the audience at the end of the play? SE: It is an important thing to bring up because if you give a talk at a scientific conference, you really have to give time to your peers to ask questions. In the case of theatre there was nothing like that. One evening we opened up a conversation with the audience and there was an hour of Q&A. It was interesting. Of course they asked different types of questions, but it brought a very different feel to the talk. I wished it had been at the beginning of the run, because I ended up wondering if these were the kinds of questions people would have asked every night. JD: Do you feel it brought your research and knowledge to a broader audience? SE: Well, a different audience. In terms of audience type, then clearly, broader than just scientists. But in terms of broad ‘reach’ then not really. The capacity was only 88 people per night, because it was upstairs at the Royal Court, and only for 20 nights... That’s not a lot people. JD: It is a different community of people? SE: Yes, but I suspect strongly that I was preaching to the converted. People go there because they want to be told everything is going tits up. I am sure some came because it might be a bit unusual having a scientist on stage... AS: It is an attempt, a combination between science and theatre... The scientist Chris Rapley did something at the Royal Court just last year (2014), which I didn’t see...



SE: I read all the art reviews of Chris’s talk with Katie and they drew inevitable comparisons with “10 Billion”.

THEATRE CRITIC FOR A SCIENTIFIC PERFORMANCE JD: Did you feel uncomfortable for your work and research to be judged in a theatrical and artistic manner? SE: One of the reasons why I eventually said yes to doing “10 Billion”, and which I enjoyed most about it, was that it was an experiment in how artists and scientists can work together. It was not the first experiment Katie had tried, and I know about other cases, but it was a first for me. And from that perspective it was an enjoyable experiment from which I learnt an enormous amount. I don’t know how Katie views it, it was very different from the kind of things she has done in the past. AS: It is very interesting considering the artistic licence it gave you, and I also like the fact that it was reviewed in the arts pages, which is not where you normally appear in the newspapers... SE: What is interesting is that Katie didn’t warn me about the press night. I think it happened on the second or third night, and I felt something was odd, because she said, “I really want tonight to go well”. I said “OK, all right”. And then it did go well. Only after it had finished did she tell me “by the way this was the press night, there were loads of journalists”. I just thanked her for not telling me beforehand. I asked what kind of press people had come, imagining she was going to say, the science editor of the Daily Telegraph or the New Scientist..., but she said, “theatre critics”. I immediately reacted, “you are joking, they’re going to say, ‘who the hell is this clown on stage?’”. AS: I completely sympathise with that. That was what I felt - a strange situation - when I collaborated with LIFT. Precisely because of the



context of LIFT being a theatre festival, there were a lot of theatre reviewers, which I was unprepared for. I am much more used to being a sculptor, a visual artist... The feeling of being in a different context was surprising. Because of the nature of my artwork, it is more usually seen as visual live art, not a performance piece, although I see that many times my works have heavily performative elements. SE: It was interesting when “10 Billion” opened, the Radio 4 programme Front Row had Sarah Hemming, Arts critic at the Financial Times, on. and she was asked about “10 Billion”. She said something like, “I haven’t seen it but the idea of a scientist on stage doesn’t appeal to me at all” She wasn’t very complimentary, adding something like “it sounds utterly dull”. Then she saw it, and in her own FT review of “10 Billion” she described it as (I might be paraphrasing here) “the most disturbing evening she had ever had in the theatre”. JD: So were you surprised by the emotional impact? SE: Yes I was. The reviews started coming out about a week after we started. I was surprised by the fact that the theatre critics wrote that it was very emotional, although I had not thought of anything to do with any emotional response or any emotional aspect while trying to communicate those things. It proved that Katie was spot-on in achieving what she set out to achieve with “10 Billion” at the Theatre.


AMY SHARROCKS AND MUSEUM OF WATER ART THAT CARES ABOUT PEOPLE JD: Amy, I feel that your work has human connectivity and interaction at its core, particularly with “Museum of Water”, which deals with the



emotional connection between people and water. How does science and that notion of personal engagement come together? AS: What I am most interested in is people and how we feel. I am exploring the impact we have on each other and the world, and I like to notice things together. “Museum of Water” is a collection of publicly donated water, each with its own story. It was originally commissioned by Artakt and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for the celebrations to mark the bicentenary of John Snow’s3 birth. So right from the start, the Museum has been in dialogue with science. For more information visit Museum of Water at John Snow discovered that cholera was spread through the infected water which people drank. The Museum is also an attempt and an experiment. It was very interesting making it in this framework, in the sense that there is this resonance with John Snow’s walking the streets of London, his footsteps in Soho in 1854 echoed by all the footsteps of those people who have collected water for the Museum. We use some of the same methods to explore, though we are making different discoveries. Of course the artwork was never intended only for scientists - everyone has a stake in it. “Museum of Water began in March 2013, and is an itinerant collection, travelling across the UK and Europe, showing its wares and gathering water. The Museum started on a street corner in Soho, commissioned by Artakt and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, as part of the Bi-Centennial celebrations for John Snow, who, by walking the streets of London, painstakingly plotted the journey of cholera from water pumps right into our stomachs, and in so doing saved hundreds of thousands of lives”, quoted from Museum of Water website, at




STORIES IN A BOTTLE WITH WATER AS: It is an invitation for people to bring water - any kind of water - in any kind of bottle4. It is an invitation to each person, to decide what exactly it is about water that he or she likes best, which would be different from what you, or I, might choose. So now I have 604 bottles in the collection [note: the conversation took place at the beginning of 2015; the collection is still growing] and they are all entirely different. Each one is personal to that person or group of people who brought it to me. In the diversity of the collection there is this extraordinary exploration of different aspects concerning water and our relation to it. I didn’t predict how extraordinary it would become. Somebody called it ‘a mosaic of the universe’, and that is lovely: it is built up by these tiny little bottles and when you see them all together, or even in a small grouping, they become something else. There are incredibly touching and amazing stories behind some of these bottles. For example, there was this woman who gave me her birthing water – both her breaking waters and the water her baby was born into. It was an extraordinary moment, which she caught in her bottle5. One time, a brass quintet came into the Gallery when the Museum was in Lancaster, and played these incredible songs they had written and practised together, each with a bottle down by their feet. At the end, they poured their collected condensation from the instruments into one bottle and gave it to the Museum6. Donating to Museum of Water is easy. Choose what water is most precious to you.Find a bottle to put it in.Come and tell us why you chose it.We will keep it for you.” (from the Museum of Water website, at


No. 589 – Alice Booth, 12th June 2014 – This bottle contains the breaking waters & the water my daughter Ada Belle Quick, was born into.


No. 600 – Tom Barnish (trombone), Gill Hancock (sax) Sue Holden (sax) Joe and Ben McCabe – from a performance by brass instruments 22.2.2015. It’s not spit, it’s condensation!




In all those bottles there is this sense of Museum of Water both as an activating force and as a piece activated by the engagement of others. It is a two-way street. The Museum is an invitation to go and do something, and what usually happens is that each person has that journey before ever meeting me. They go off. There is something about the invitation that has appealed to them enough to actually get up and get out the door. That is quite a massive thing to bother to do: go on a journey to get something and then bother to come and meet me, and tell the whole story behind it. I’m very impressed by them.

JOURNEY THROUGH A PERSONAL HISTORY OF WATER AS: There is another part of the process, which is the conversation, where the retelling of that journey to me or to one of the custodians takes place, and then there is the accession into the museum. The artwork has different parts or phases: the first part of it is the experience the person goes through to get the water, perhaps in complete solitude. There was this woman who walked to a frozen lake in Snowdonia by herself, orienteering by map for the first time, in driving wind and rain7. She couldn’t see further than a foot in front of her face and she literally said to her friend, “if I am not back by 11am you might want to call someone”. And off she went on her own, in an attempt to rediscover a lake that she had found the year before. It had been frozen, and she had had to smash the ice in order to jump in, but she had felt that experience to be extraordinary and magical. The bottle she brought me was her way of revisiting the footsteps of No. 220 Jane Porter, 02/-3/2014 – ‘Magic Water’ from Llyn Cwmffynnon, Snowdonia. One February I broke the ice in this lake with an ice axe, and for a dare jumped in with a friend. And straight out again! It gave me an extraordinary high for the rest of the day. On 2.3.14 I set out on a lone quest to gather water from the lake – it was hidden by clouds but emerged from the rain just when I though all was lost.




this first enormous journey, to bring me back a bottle which kept the memory of this magical moment she had lived a year before. I like the echo of all these people’s journeys in John Snow’s footsteps around Soho. Footsteps that this live art experience echoes, in parallel with the scientific epidemiology from 200 years before. I like this frame of the scientific and medical history and the tracing of things back through movement, keeping a relativity to the notion of distance – of time and space – wondering and thinking what all this interconnection could be... There is something in the air, maybe a sense of a scary miasma involving all this past and the path of Snow’s wander in the streets: having conversations with people around Soho, mapping little black bars on the streets of London and then tracing the connection to our bodies, cutting people up to discover what caused the epidemic wasn’t something which went into the lungs but into people’s stomachs. From that whole journey, he knew that there was something in the water, which I’ve tried to trace back to. There is something in the water, and maybe if we all look hard enough we’ll all be able to see it together. We can explore together, whatever it is. We are using similar methods of mapping, walking and talking, to begin a different kind of cartography.


ARTISTS VERSUS SCIENTISTS ART THAT RECONNECTS PEOPLE WITH LIFE AS: I feel very strongly that the methods of artists and scientific



methods are not a million miles from a kind of priest’s methods. I was in Lancaster participating on a panel where, beside me, was a social scientist who dealt with water, a water scientist who dealt with molecules of pure water, ‘cell samples’ he called it. This different phrasing, the language, is very interesting to me. There was also a priest, who talked about water as a symbol in the sense of a parable and allegory. I talked about metaphor and a lot about the language but in a way of affirming the importance of noticing together. Both scientists talked about the questions of what is a water expert, who is a water expert8? Are we all water experts? These were the questions we were all asking. Who is making the decisions for our water? Because actually we are all invested and we are all experts in many different ways... We need to look at the questions and the value systems we are using to make decisions about something as fundamental as water. Concerning the multiple ways we feel about things, science is one of them, and the scientists tended to argue in a way that seemed to imply there was only one perspective and approach: the scientific one. And I feel very strongly that everything happens in a context; I don’t make art that is not part of the world, it is absolutely to do with how we resonate off each other, how we impact each other. Despite the discourse I heard, I also feel very strongly that the scientists were talking in the same way, they sense the impact we have on the world, our footsteps of human life... SE: I think one of the problems in the way scientists communicate typically in the scientific world, is that everything is couched in probabilities. Scientists rarely say anything more unequivocal than that, it’s more like “we predict this might have an effect on that...”

The panel consisted of Amy Sharrocks, Ben Surridge, Emma Westling, Rev Canon Paul Embery.




I feel this particularly when it comes to things like climate change, ecosystem degradation or desertification. I think the time has long gone for dressing things up with these kinds of probabilities; we are able to say by now with some certainty that the climate is changing and I do think scientists don’t help the situation by couching everything as ‘probably’, rather than going for something more affirmative like “we are indeed in trouble”. Artists are not afraid of saying things like that, to make an impact, an emotional impact. JD: Was there a moment, with “Museum of Water”, with all the scientific and human implications, when you became conscious of how amazing it is, expressing how water is relevant in our lives in so many different ways? AS: I do think that the Museum reconnects people with their surroundings, with their lives. I also hope we are aware of how fortunate we are that England has this excess of water. This is the kind of thing one takes for granted. I think a reconnection has been made and the amount of people that come to me and express it proves that. I had no idea of all the different connections people would make, and I don’t know how that translates into action. I think it’s possible to get to quite a scary place through the Museum. You can look at the archives and at the bottles the scientist from the British Antarctic Survey gave to me from different times in the Earth’s history: from 129,000 years ago, the last warm period in Earth’s history, or from 19,600 years ago, from the last Ice Age9. He drew a map of his own for us, a kind of graph of the Earth’s history as a series of ice ages. We see a wave that projects a future timeline, where all this fear No. 397 – Dr Robert and Libby Mulvaney, Dec 2004 – This water is 19.490 old. I collected it from Berkner Island in Antarctica in December 2004. At the time this snowfall fell, the earth was in the grip of an ice age. No. 399 – Dr Robert and Libby Mulvaney, Jan 2012 – Ice from 649 metres down in the ice sheet at Fletcher prom in Antarctica. This water is 129.000 years old.




gains an image, for there we see the Earth will have another ice age. We are only a part of the story, and we are now living the difficulty and fear of that moment in the future. This is a small part of the story the Museum tells. I can give another example from another bottle. Someone brought me a bottle from the highest tide of the last 30 years. It came from Morecambe Bay and it was brought still cold from the sea. He went to get it that morning and came straight to me, and he told me the story of the cockle pickers who had died on Morecambe Bay and the work that he has done since with the local community10. So, the bottles all these people gave create various possibilities of knowledge, thought and feelings in the Museum; but there are other layers of meaning, through connecting the possibilities of how we relate to time through those bottles in the graph where we see the 30- or 18-year waves or even thousand-year waves of changes. I think there are extraordinary and explosive moments that can leave you very disturbed and with the feeling that we are not safe, that we live on shaky ground. This feeling makes sense but I think one of the things that art can do slightly better than science, is perhaps this sense of not paralysing people with fear. It can be very paralysing if you only get the narrative of horror and the difficulty of what we are facing. To actually take on board what is going to happen, the ‘definitives’, of this world and how we are dealing with it for the next hundred years and what it’s going to be like, can stick your head fast into the sand.

TO NEED OR NOT TO FEAR SE: I agree with that but I feel there is a need for fear, and I agree fear can be 10

No. 604, Pete Moser – A wish for 23 lives. Gathered 3670 days after the event.



paralysing but I think we should all be fearful of what is coming. And one of the criticisms of “10 Billion” was that it was so stark that it didn’t leave room for hope. It is not my job to give hope, I am just communicating the issues. JD: Are you saying that by communicating through an artistic framework you were surprised by the emotional response and fear? Did you feel that in a scientific environment that wasn’t communicated? That only when you put it in an art context you got that emotional impact? SE: Yes. JD: But perhaps it wasn’t about hope or fear, it was about facts. SE: It was about the way in which the facts – notwithstanding the fact that there are uncertainties about some of the ‘facts’ and the impacts we face – are communicated. The problem is that what we were trying to do with “10 Billion” was not only to talk about climate change. The subject was not climate change, but about us, about us being the drivers of every problem we face, whether risk to food security, ecosystem degradation, desertification, deforestation, pollution, over-consumption, energy, water... It is a long list, and all these things we are altering, they are all inextricably interrelated. So it wasn’t about climate change, it was about this much bigger, highly complex picture: Earth’s life support system, and the fact that we are all of us modifying every single component of it.

LISTENING TO A SOUND WE CANNOT QUITE HEAR JD: Amy, how did scientists take part in your project? How did they feel about their research or field of knowledge – water – being filtered through an artistic framework?



AS: I think they were really amazed by it. One woman, a brilliant scientist from LSHTM, came every day, and stood by the Water Bar. We have a Water Bar at the Museum where we offer free glasses of water, as refreshment and respite, in celebration of our access to fresh water here. She works with malaria and she sat and watched how people interacted with the artwork and how we talked with people, and she was amazed. I had that sense a lot with the scientists. I discovered what they can learn from art - how to talk to people with a wider vision... We need to open wider questions, wider concerns, and think about the impact we have on each other, how things are interlinked and how we can be able and bear to take that on board. I participated in a conference with UCL and environmental science PhD students and there was this scientist who was exploring turtles in Cape Verde11. He was following turtles and he had put a very small listening device on the backs of baby turtles and we were all so taken with that idea, with those beautiful baby turtles... We all had an extraordinary emotional response. It reminded me of a book I was reading which proposed that all art is listening to a sound we cannot quite hear. That is really true in my work, that sense of really trying to listen very carefully, and listening together. I felt this scientist with his turtles was entirely involved with listening carefully to the turtles. That is our shared process. What he took away – which also happened with me at the end when some students came to talk to me - was the importance of communication and how to challenge people about what their work is. So I felt we were all impacting on each other, artists and scientists. I feel very strongly that artists should be in every public programme. There should always be an artist on the board and perhaps they should have a scientist on board too, in the sense of encouraging people to 11

Christophe Eizaguirre



think in a different way, because I think that is what got us into this trouble: not connecting ideas, not understanding actual resonances. Later on, when this happens well, one can see it brilliantly around cities and all landscapes which change from art events. When it’s done well with artists on board, I think that it is life changing for all areas of existence... SE: Unfortunately, many of my colleagues in the scientific community are not very good at communicating what they do to non-scientific audiences. There are some notable exceptions of course. It does create a barrier to engaging non-scientists in a debate. If you are a scientist working in a field like ecology, biology or chemistry, or agricultural science or epidemiology, I don’t think you can get away with that anymore. The issues are so important and now non-scientists are starting to talk about them and looking for people in the scientific community to clarify things and communicate in a way that can engage everyone. When I listen to the ‘Today’ Programme on BBC Radio 4 in the morning, every single day there is something about science, whether it has to do with obesity, bees, climate, or statins, or three-parent babies... I listen to these scientists – and even though I know what the the issues related to this subjects are – I am frequently left thinking “no wonder some people end up utterly confused about what the science and the scientist is saying!” – The scientific community’s difficulty in communication is a recognised problem. That said, in most of the life sciences PhD programmes, students are now taught how to communicate their work to non-scientists, but as far as I am aware there are no artists involved in this. They do tend to engage journalists, ex-reporters of the BBC or Channel4, who come up and give mock interviews and all that does is frighten everybody to death. Because they come with cameras or microphones and start shooting interviews. It is in my view, the wrong way to deal with tackling this problem. I have always advocated that artists should be more involved in the communication of science, and we don’t have as many as we should.



AS: There was a very frightening moment on the panel I participated in recently. There was me and there were scientists talking about scientists working with curiosity and the fact that it is not enough anymore in order to get a grant funding; they have to prove what it is for, with a discourse of justification and evidence. And I was thinking, I’ve had that conversation for 15 years: ‘What is that for?’ ‘What is art about?’ I had no idea that scientists were being asked the same questions... and I wondered if the answers would be the same. That we are questioning what impact we have on each other. Exploring what and who we are and what we are hearing or seeing now, and taking everything on board that we’ve been sensing in the air that we breathe...



Curated by Rotterdamse Schouwburg

NEW FOREST IN THE CITY Tobias Kokkelmans (dramaturg of Actors Group Wunderbaum) interviewed by Claudia Galh贸s

THE INVESTIGATION OF A POTENTIAL NEW SOCIETY One of the projects your collective is working on is called “The New Forest”, presented as “an investigation into a potential new society in the light of the current crisis”. So, what is this artistic group called Wunderbaum? What is this investigation into a potential new society? Wunderbaum is an actors’ collective: Five actors who started out when they were still in their early twenties in 2001, almost 14 years ago. They met in art school... The logic of the collective is that they do everything by themselves - writing, directing and performing - and the performances Wunderbaum do, have always been based on current things happening in society.

For more information about Wunderbaum, visit the page:

Three years ago, they decided to intensify what they already did: that all their work is based on research, interviews and collaborations, with people from outside the arts, scientists, sociologists... Different groups from different domains within society were always a source of inspiration. What happened until three years ago was that the public of a Wunderbaum performance only saw the output of the process that had taken place



before, in the form of a performance. However all the collaborations’ processes with these societal domains are just as interesting. They wanted to create a project where all these different networks are brought to the foreground and not left in the background. The whole process of making these performances is politically, socially, ecologically... engaging and the whole process is also part of the experience. That was the basic idea of “The New Forest”: to come up with a new project with a four-year life span. It began in 2013, and the name refers to everything we do in these four years that includes not only the performances, but also seminars, a film project, a huge amount of contextual programmes, online content, etc... All the performances we do are linked and all these contextual programmes are interconnected. We wanted to show audiences the processes of engaging on the inside of societies. In order for us to do so, we imagined “The New Forest” as a new kind of society, where we ask ourselves questions: If we had a chance to recreate society, what would it be like? What kind of alternative ways of life would we have? What kind of changes are possible to create a better society? How can we talk about change in different domains, such as social, economic, political, etc? Basically everything we do is centred around this question of change, of a changing society and looking for alternatives.

Why did you choose the name “The New Forest”? In English, our name Wunderbaum means ‘wonderful tree’, and a thing we hang inside our car, which smells nice. The name was chosen a couple of years ago when they were in a cab. They were going to do an interview over the phone and had to find a new name, and someone



said, “well, there was a Wunderbaum hanging inside the car and that is actually a nice name”. And it stayed. “The New Forest” is not one tree but many trees including us, people. This global view of a new forest - to think about a forest as a rhizomatic society, or as a group or community of many trees. The name eludes to the fact that there is not only one Wunderbaum anymore, but actually a growing organism of many trees.

By trees do you mean people from different areas of knowledge, diversity, or do you keep to an ecological domain? First of all, it has a symbolic meaning, but I think that the ecological domain is as much a part as the economic or social. It is all part of what it is to be a society, you can translate it into many things.

You are the dramaturg of Wunderbaum, correct? Yes, I would say my role is as a ‘spare part’ partner when it comes to content. I do interviews and make programmes with audiences and seminars. The only difference is that I am not an actor, sometimes I am on stage but most of the time I am not, I am mostly behind the scenes.

But you are referring to Wunderbaum as ‘they’? That’s right. And it is not completely correct. It is because I joined Wunderbaum later. Sometimes I say we, and other times I say they, and ‘they’ refers to the five actors who are the face of Wunderbaum on stage. But you are right, I am also part of Wunderbaum and I am also a part of the current Wunderbaum face.



“TUINDER”: THE NEW APP FOR SELLING AND BUYING VEGETABLES When you were describing the first phase of Wunderbaum’s work, I associated it with the trend in theatre, which is now less fashionable, of documentary theatre. But what you added after, made that categorization – documentary theatre – reductive. With that in mind as well as one of the main questions of the network IMAGINE 2020 - “How can art be used to create awareness about climate change?” – What strategies do you implement and what ideas do you have concerning the question of the arts and climate change? I know this issue is just a part of the questions you work with. About climate change, we use it in a broad sense, because when we talk of nature or ecology, they are all interconnected. Sometimes we do projects which are more focused on ecology. A year ago we did a project called “BLA BLA BLA... ACT NOW!” (created in the context of IMAGINE 2020, in 2013) which refers to the demonstration flyers people were handing out in front of the meeting halls where the G8 Climate Change Summit was taking place. It is saying stop talking and do something about it. We worked together with people who organized these big climate meetings, and we re-enacted one of these meetings. There was a big show with a lot of contextual programme, but at the heart of it was a theatre piece where we put the climate conference on the agenda. Basically what we wanted to show audiences is that so many nations are brought together, and at the end they come up with a document or



even new laws to reduce carbon, but what happens afterwards? So we wanted to show why it is so difficult. We also interviewed politicians who participated, as well as organizers, Greenpeace, etc... We wanted to dedicate the programme to this notion of why they always go “bla bla bla” but don’t actually act on anything. This is one example where we worked very specifically on the idea of conference and action connected to the issue of climate change. The second project we are working on now [note: the interview was conducted in January 2015] is a mobile phone application called “Tuinder”, which means ‘gardener’ in English. It is an app for rooftop gardening and peer-to-peer networking. It’s a kind of dating site but not for matching people together, but rather vegetables and people. The idea for this application is the trend of rooftop gardening that we have here in Rotterdam. It exists in many other towns too, of course... We wanted to come up with a project where people can really have a peer to peer network where they can actually buy and sell their stuff to others who want to have this healthy, self-produced food. That is the basic idea. We are now in the middle of creating the app and we also have investors who are interested in the project, investing next year (2016). By the end of the year we will have this application, which will actually be used for selling and buying home grown vegetables in towns. The app is part of a larger context. We are making a film, “Transition is the mission” (scheduled to premiere at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2016) which is about discoveries in “The New Forest” so far. For the past two years we have worked with numerous innovators and people from transition movements inside Rotterdam and we wanted to have them all together. We thought a film would be the best way to do



it, because it allows for a large number of people to be involved. We can really connect in a way we can’t on stage. So we are making this film, and it’s actually about a group of actors who decide to stop acting and to do something for real, in the real word.

This fiction you are creating actually reflects a recurring theme among contemporary artists: the need, while still being an artist, to act in the real world. Yes. Of course it is a question of where your political engagement is. Where does art stop and real life begin? I think it is an important question to ask and there are many artists who use art projects which don’t appear to be art projects, or seem to be other actions which wouldn’t be considered art. We can see it in many places where artists are and operate. To be or not to be, that’s somehow still the question: where does art stop and life begin, and what does that say for my involvement in life? I think that what is happening right now is that art has two aspects. One is the autonomous aspect of art. That means art is art is art. It has value in itself. And then there is the heteronomous aspect. This relates to the way art evolves with life, stretching out its tentacles into all levels of life which are not art. This is the heterotonomy of art, not only flirting with what is in the real world but really engaging with it and searching for where we can place the boundaries of art and how we can stretch it, to go to the furthermost edge of where art stops. We have the feeling that on the one side we are so intertwined with so many aspects of life that we have many different identities and, on the other



hand, we sometimes feel trapped in this understanding of society as a segmented one, an issue-based society. This would mean art is one issue, ecology another issue, housing another... Of course we know that this is not the reality of things. So we want to bridge those gaps or tear down the halls between those different domains and aspects of life.

“TRANSITION IS THE MISSION” Does the film explore the subject of the transition movement? The title of the film, “Transition Is The Mission”, comes out as an ironic title because transition is such an everyday word... to the point that we can ask “what does it really mean?” In the movie, the group of actors stop acting to take real action in real life. They are followed by a team of cameramen in their personal quest for the ideal transformation. But – and this is the story of the film – what turns out as a battle against society ends up as a crisis of the group itself. So, the idea about change is a large one. It asks how we can change as a group. How can we stay together throughout this whole process of transformation? Are we losing our previous identities or not? There are many questions that are also in the ‘Transition Movement’, we are either talking about ecology or other spheres. It also questions how we can escape from negativism. Where is the balance between idealism and personal gain? When do we step over the line? What happens when alternative becomes mainstream itself? Should we think bigger or smaller? All these questions are asked, and



are the themes of the film. It is not only about the projects we are now working on in real life but also the question of the group itself: how do we keep our integrity while changing so much? This is basically it, but in the film, the spectator will follow the actors while they are working on different projects. There are basically four projects, like the “Tuinder” application I just talked about. The film started out as a story we wanted to create, which included the rooftop gardens app. While building this story, we thought we should really materialise it, which is why we are working on this application and making it really work. So we now find ourselves talking to web developers and investors. Something that started out as an art project, is not an art project anymore. Now it is a real life project.

I challenge you to reconsider that statement: “it started out as an art project and it is not an art project anymore, it is now a real life project”. Is it really not an art project anymore?

I agree. It is still an art project. The second theme of the film is in fact where the boundary lies between fiction and reality.

Which is something art has been questioning a lot, either on stage or not. Yes, it is the suspension of disbelief. It exists particularly in the mimetic arts - theatre or film - and is the question of the boundary between reality and fiction. We can also say that all life is built on many fictions. Politicians are selling fictions. And going back to what we were talking about - the question of being art or not, related to the fact that life is



constructed on many fictions - when you say something is art or an art project, it gives a completely new perspective to what you’re doing. It completely changes the meaning of what is happening. With this in mind, in the specific context of Wunderbaum and the film, of course we will remain artists throughout the whole project, because the reflection on the society is always there. This aspect of self-reflection, which is so crucial to art, implies a reflection on life, while at the same time it is also somewhere outside of life because it is in the artistic domain. This never ends...

ART REVEALS THE SOCIETY We are creating projects that are not considered art in a traditional way, but perhaps we draw them into art. I have an interesting example of a colleague artist of ours who was very inspiring to us: Jonas Staal. He is a visual artist and one of his projects was “New World Summit”, a summit for so-called ‘terrorist’ organisations. The idea of terrorism is a very broad definition, there are many gradations and his idea is that if we have a democratic society, we should hear all voices. Even if they are very abject and very wrong, they are part of the political process. So as an art project he started out these “New World Summit” groups to be politically active and part of the bigger political scope. He did another one, “The Geert Wilders Works (2005-2008)”. Geert Wilders is a politician. What happened was that several lawsuits were filed against Jonas because he was working on the boundary lines of the law, between what he could or not do. Just as a kind of anecdote, but with relevance to this discussion, I heard from someone that when he was in front of the



judge for his own defence he said, “I hereby declare this court session to be part of my art project”. What happened was that all the lawsuits and the actual going to court became part of the art project. I believe in that. You are making art when you say you are making art. Then there is the question of whether it is good art or not. But that is another question... In the case of Jonas, I would say: very good art.

For more information on the work of Jonas Staal and court case, see: and

I read a lecture you gave in a seminar where you challenged the status quo of how easily we accept dogmas. You commented on the fact that there is a negative image surrounding art in public debate. And this is a widely repeated statement, so much so that nobody now questions it. You asked, and now I ask you: what is the solution? You gave a solution, a proposal to change common discourse and reclaim a different perspective and change the way things are understood... I think about the ways we can reclaim art as an act of public importance. “The New Forest” for me is a very inspiring project, just by showing how much the art we are doing is already so inter-connected with so many different domains in society. The people we are working with are inside that society. The people who are coming into our performances



are inside, substantive and play an active part in that society. They are labourers, doctors, scientists... They are from all fields of society. I propose a metaphor. Let’s imagine we are in a theatre and there is a curtain which goes up. From the audience’s side we always have the impression that actors appear, the curtain goes up and reveals the actors. But from the actors’ perspective, one could say the curtains go up and it is society who appears. Actually it is the society that appears inside the theatre - I am talking about theatre, but we can more broadly talk about art. I would say that art also makes society appear, and brings people together in this temporary community, which is looking at or experiencing art. What we want to do is to put the focus on this apparition of society inside art. I think a lot of the focus has been on actors. In this sense, if we talk about financial support for art, we are talking about financial support for the society to have these temporary communities think about life and be challenged about life or challenge the artists about their views on life and society. This is art, and society is already there. With “The New Forest”, the only thing we do is pull the perspective more onto this social process, which is part of the arts or experiencing the arts. For now, I would say this is my positive approach to giving the arts its rightful place in society.

THE ART OF CREATING PUBLIC SPACE In an article you wrote in 2013 about how theatre is doing, you defended the following idea: “the decreasing support of the arts by governments



doesn’t mean there is a decrease of power because there is an increase of public interest in the arts”. On what do you support this statement? I challenged that idea by turning that concept around and showing, with facts and figures, that there is actually increasing support towards the arts. This argument that art is losing power is basically bullshit, but then the question remains: “why should we think art is something people care less about?” It all has to do with public goods. If we talk about a main political economic discourse, then all that is defended in society is people seen as free entrepreneurs, related to what people commonly refer to as a neo-liberal discourse. I refuse and reverse this idea with the simple fact of noticing that there is an increasing need for people to create public space and not private space. What we see right now is that everything – society in general – is being argumented or thought, especially in mainstream political discourse, as a gathering of individuals perceived as entrepreneurs with their own private interests. If everybody follows their personal interests, as is understood in liberal discourse, we will have balance in society, which we would call the good life. In this case the good life is the good lie. My challenge is that there is need for more public space. This is the place where there is no preconception of what that space can be. It is the place where people have coincidental encounters with other views in life. I think that is the meaning of the public space which finds itself at the heart of democracy. We should have this public space where one can meet other real people, other real opinions, where we feel happy to be challenged in our own ways of thinking.



In this article I show that there is an increasing interest to engage in the arts and we can say this means that people are in need of more public spaces where they can challenge their own ways of life or of thinking. That is what I could say on a philosophical level of what my thought is about: the re-acknowledging and protecting of the public space. It is not about thinking that public space is a waste of space, which should be filled with the private interests of entrepreneurs, etc...

THE EXPERIENCE OF BEING THE OTHER I hear in that statement a defence for each civilian to encounter another person with a different perspective, but symbolically it is also the role of art: this repeated clichĂŠ, in which I greatly believe, that live arts, performing art and are the last resort for bringing people together in a shared experience with different perspectives and possibilities of life. Do you agree? Yes. When I was a little boy I always dreamt of being an actor and when I was a little bit older I considered it not actually a very good idea. But when I was 8 I thought the perfect job for me would be to become an actor. I thought that if I was an actor, I could also become a policeman, a fireman, etc. I could be all these people in society. In this idea is what I feel about art, still today: art can really address all these different aspects and points of view and that is really the power of art in its essence. It can dress up and engage with so many different, interesting aspects



of life. In art you can be a policeman, and... whatever..., and you can always look for things, and experience being someone that you are not.

Can you develop the idea of what the role of art is in this defence of the public space? I think art presents a discourse inside public space. Art organises the public space because it puts the focus on a certain theme, being life and death or a very specific political subject, or... I think it puts a focus on filling this public space temporarily with meaning. Also doing an art project means creating this public space. So I see art in its essence as a public phenomenon which is never finished without a public. It is in its essence a public and not a private phenomenon. Art is something you cannot enjoy only for yourself, you have to share it with others, otherwise there is no art at all.

BREAK UP OR LOVE IN THE LAST TRANSITION Going back to the beginning of the conversation and “The New Forest” project: do you propose an alternative new society resulting from your investigation? To answer I have to describe how the film develops and how it ends. During the film “Transition is the Mission” we see the other projects artists create. Besides the “Tuinder” app there are three other projects. One is called “Tear Bar”: a café, bar, where there is a place for failure,



sorrow and grief. Where people come together basically to cry. It is like a juxtaposition or answer to this society where we always have to be successful, happy and positive. We started this “Tear Bar” concept in the film, but it becomes too successful and too happy and people are enjoying themselves too much in the bar. So you see, this alternative project that gets out of hand. Similar to what happens with “Tuinder” is that the very good ideas are being hijacked by big corporations. There is an actor that lets himself be hijacked by a big corporation, so he is a sell-out in a way because he smells and goes after the big money. There is another project about assisting the lower classes in the south of Rotterdam, which is really a disadvantaged area. One of the actors goes there and tries to help people out of the whole swamp of bureaucracy, but she becomes stuck in bureaucracy all day. The fourth project is called “Action/Department”. This is about very extreme actions, about consumerism and big corporations. One of the actors organises protest demonstrations but they become more and more fundamentalist, so he also becomes marginalised. By following the four projects, which the film does, we see that they are actually becoming successful but too much so, which sometimes just creates loneliness... So we see both sides while we follow the group. When we get to the end of the film, the group is not being held together anymore. They decide to break up and stop everything. So they worked for 14 years but during this last transition they cannot find each other anymore. And in the last scene, there is a terrible breakup as one of them is moving to Italy, while the others are going on by themselves, which is very unfulfilling.



It’s quite hopeless. Yes, it seems like that, but the very last shot is when the four are together again looking for a new place to start a new project. So basically, the answer in the film is that we show failure, but also continuation because people do not want to give up and there is a strength that resists all in a good working relationship. This sounds very corny, but at the end love will prevail. At the same time it is also very ambiguous. At the end there is this question of whether it was all worth it, and if they went too far... I think the question is not whether we should or should not continue. We have to continue, there is no doubt about that, but failure is also part of the process, and it is important to look at failure. So, I would say it is not a happy ending but an open ending. They start with a utopian idea, most things fail and some things work out. Utopia fails, but at the end, at least they don’t give up on it, even if it is different. There is a lot of damage we do when we are attaining utopia, but perhaps there is also some collateral good. So I would say the film is not about collateral damage but about collateral good.





AND BLOOD (ART) A conversation between Gil Penha-Lopes (GPL, biologist) and Vera Mantero (VM, choreographer and dancer)

ABOUT WHAT IS UNKNOWN Gil Penha Lopes: I feel today we live, mainly in the western world, in a heartless society. We see but we do not feel. People often know what to do, but there is no urgent panic that gives them sleepless nights, unless they do what they know they need or should do. I feel it’s through art that this state of things can change. With a group of international partners, we founded ‘ECOLISE’ (European Network for Community-Led Initiatives on Climate and Sustainability)1. It is a network that works as a platform of initiatives and projects which are local anchors and structures that promote events on this subject matter. Although mainly targeting international networks of local initiatives, two founding members are not network initiatives: they are the Foundation of the Faculty of Sciences in Lisbon (Portugal) and the European Association for Information on Local Development - AEIDL (Belgium). Interestingly it was these two that started this whole process while the latter was creating a monitoring report of what is happening in Europe. They spoke to me because at the Faculty we had created the “Converge Network”1 in Portugal, and they wanted to create a European map of the networks that promote the ‘Great Transition’. Vera But getting to you, Vera: How do these Mantero: scenarios enter the world Actually I do not know of contemporary exactly. That is what I am looking dance? for, what I am trying to understand. One of the things the project-performance-installation “More for less than for more” (2014) meant, was that we had an artistic event which includes sustainability initiatives. In






this case it was important to work on the imperative of getting food back into the city. It was an action contrary to the trend of what is happening with food, which is being increasingly produced away from the place where it is consumed. Therefore, one of the initiatives was to create permaculture gardens in the centre of the city of Lisbon. But there was performance, dance, music... This was produced by two theatres in Lisbon, Culturgest and Maria Matos Theatre, although most of the activities happened outside the theatres themselves. In fact, I don’t have an answer to that at all. I know I want to work with those questions, but I do not know exactly how to do it in the context of art. We have set the hypothesis of the artistic context being a pretext to create sustainability initiatives in the city. We thought there could be workshops on how to build mini-producers of wind energy. We wanted to touch some of those issues. For example, how can we live a more sustainable life, without leaving the city, without having to move to an ecovillage? The idea was to make a radical activist change. On the anniversary of Culturgest (2013) we occupied all of the large auditorium - both audience and stage - and set up a brick construction from an organic fertilizer workshop on the stage. People who wanted to take part had to take off their shoes and step on the wet mass of clay. This action had the symbolic purpose of, in communion, building the stone foundation, the first brick of a possible future house... These concerns have been present in my artistic creation, on and off the stage. It was interesting because it was more user-friendly. People literally



dipped their feet in the mud. There were people who went there and kept their feet full of mud and just let themselves be, lost in conversation. It was like the kitchen at parties. In terms of sensitive experience it is very nice, it feels like a foot massage…

DANCE IN PERMACULTURE GARDENS GPL: It is interesting because we have transformed tools and being, dehumanising tasks. Painting a house, making wine or building a wall. All activities were complete in themselves and involved the body, sharing, conversation... It was a full experience of body and mind. And we separated them. Today painting a wall is a physical job. Many years ago it was also a social work, shared with friends; or spiritual, in the sense that the person was with his or herself, opening up a space for introspection. Now it is purely functional because it has to be effective and therefore done as fast as possible. Before, it invoked other experiences VM: connected to the act of doing; other senses, So there and other consciousnesses of are all these posinvolvement in the act sibilities that I am considerof doing... ing. One is art as the trigger to create environmental sustainable initiatives, and then put art in the middle of life. It was what I was trying with “More for less than for more”. I really wanted movement and dance happening in the middle of the cabbage. There is this image I wanted to create which implied seeing a body in motion, with an aesthetic thought, although still at a very initial stage of construction, alongside cabbages and lettuces.






Body and food mixed in the same framework. Something of substance is being activated there. One hears texts beside the food that is still in the land, which is not yet in the basket, not yet in the market to be sold... This was important for me: being together. In that same year I did a performance at the “Festival Todos - Caminhada de Culturas”, also in Lisbon, within Parliament, because I had read the book “Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet” by Tim Jackson, where he states that more equal societies are less likely to be consumerist societies. We have to make a move to a greater equality not only motivated by a social or ideological quest, but also because it is an environmental issue. Equality is an environmental issue. I found this to be very interesting. Tim Jackson spoke of “The Spirit Level” by epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, where they defended the spirit of equality. One aspect that I found very interesting was: it is better to be rich in a more equal country than in a more unequal country. I think this is information that the rich should have in order to contribute more to equality. Usually it is those at the bottom of the social scale that fight for equality. The book is made up of statistics and graphs and one of the facts it reveals is that the health of the rich is much better in a more equal country than in a more unequal country. In that context, the life expectancy of the rich is greater. In this festival I gave a lecture-performance which is not yet sufficiently artistic.



GPL: What does that mean: “It is not yet sufficiently artistic?” VM: It is around 80% lecture and 20% art. If I compare this with another lecture I give, “The Serrenhos do Caldeirão, exercises in fictional anthropology” (2012), it is more balanced with the artistic side. I have more artistic actions in the lecture than in the other on equality and inequality.

ART AND LIFE GPL: Those boundaries are complex. Everything has to be imbued with art, as everything has to be imbued with science. If you visit the oldest eco-villages, everything the people living there built - the houses, the gardens... - are artistic pieces. The most emblematic example is Damanhur2, an eco-village in Italy where residents excavated temples inside a mountain at night, by hand. They worked during the day. In addition to the extraordinary beauty of this temple, they built their ecovillage houses only in metal or wood. So many of them spent the night digging. When it became public this was happening, the police intervened and forbade them to continue because what they were doing was legally considered destruction of natural heritage. It was forbidden. There, one of man’s masterpieces was born. People who knew nothing of art made stained glass, carved sculptures... Everything there was born from living daily in a creative state of mind. It’s not just a matter of wanting to be more artistic or thinking that making a square, white house is boring. It has more implications than that. It is probably also ineffective. So there are also scientific facts to consider. If we look at a flower, we think God is an artist or the seed is an artist. However, the wonders of the flower and of other elements of nature, are filled with science: in the shape they






grow, in their colours, in the placement of the leaves with one on top of each other forming a spiral, etc… Another very important aspect is that we must all be more truthful and genuine than we are today. It is the only way to achieve two objectives. One is to stop being cynical and false to each other. This alone may result on meetings which take five hours to come to a decision and then nothing happens. The worst example is meetings between scientists who have all the data, who know that the planet is warming up, with all variants and consequences well identified. The meetings take place, two years go by and nothing happens. People who attended the meeting were not truly there. If they had been there it would have been impossible to receive knowledge of this data and not act. It’s similar to knowing that there is genocide in our home town. There is a meeting because of it, and at the end of the meeting they only think about where to spend their holidays. We are either disconnected or in favour of the genocide happening. Assuming that it is not the latter, we can only be disconnected. I think that in a healthy way, art reconnects us with us, with others and with the world around us. This is crucial, even when it might generate conflicts. Because if we are reconnected we may react more. But maybe we have to have a period of conflict. Maybe we need to ‘beat each other’ in order to free ourselves from whatever it is that does not allow us to be and act upon this information that science is bringing us. The VM: information is not reaching people, because And how a lot of scientific information hits can we fight this protective shields. state of affairs? How do we articulate proof and validation of facts which science provides, with the input of people from different fields of knowledge?



GPL: It is something I value but includes a problem of which we are aware: it is not only objectivity that will drive us out of here. In transition groups [in the “Great Transition” workshops], I say, “if we create a vision with the interception of all our visions, the more people we bring into our sight the smaller the vision becomes. This is because the common intercept is increasingly smaller. We end up having practically no common vision. What we need to create is a co-vision, which is the result of a combined overview of different points of view and not a reduction of what we share or agree. I do not want science to be the ‘science of almost nothing’. We still have a connection with different social areas but there is the risk of reaching a point where not even science can make this connection. VM: But going back to the idea that everything has to be imbued with art and science. Ultimately, and with the context of our conversation as a reference, does it still make sense for artistic and social forms to involve the ritual of going to a theatre, watching a show, doing art for the sake of art? GPL: One does not invalidate the other. It makes as much sense as the scientist continuing to have his lab where he does specific experiments. But this example is more associated with the creative process or the moment of rehearsal or creation of a show in studio... Perhaps the performing arts are more similar to a scientific conference where we end up transmitting what we worked on in the lab? However, as science brings information to an audience, the show also seeks to bring a process, of transformation or not, to an audience. For me, art has two important aspects: the awakening of the individual, activating awareness and sensitivity in the individual, and the fact that it is communal. Why do people feel good when they go for a walk in nature? Because what there is, is art. That’s what I feel.






VM: Art used to be more part of everyday life. I am also thinking about handicrafts. For example, many of our everyday objects, a spoon for example, had a strong individual component of investment; creative, sometimes even artistic. Everything was much more ornamental. It’s something that only lives on in handicrafts. They offered me a beautiful wooden spoon from Serra da Estrela (north of Portugal), with a small sculpture on the handle. When you find an object such as this one, it stands out, it is extraordinary, and it becomes in itself an event. But traditionally, before, this was everywhere. I relate handicrafts with folk rituals which still exist. The artistic, in a broad sense, was more present. I have been working with other artists on a scheme which explores how to open ‘that thing’ which I cannot define in humans but which implies a more refined sensitivity and artistic availability. I tried to answer the question: “What is the wealth of spirit?”. The question began long ago, around 1997... and it was being built with the dancers and collaborators who were working with me. They were adding things. At the same time, as it was being built, we realised that it is a scheme that attempts to answer other questions: What is important in life? What is it worth? What must we remember, celebrate, point out, name? What makes a person want to live? What makes us vibrate? What brings out desire? What produces this vitality? What are we doing in life? What is a life well lived? All this actually has to do with things that open other places of possibilities in us. Like any scheme has its problems, I feel that what might be called ‘a practice’ was kind of lost here. There



is here a significant place for the body, being the place which provides us with activation of the senses and thought, and intensifies the relationships with all that is around us. There are proposals for practices about which you can stimulate that body into motion. All this has to do with what creates energy, movement, intensity and desire, and that creates meaning. Recently we built another scheme. We’d been reading the German sociologist Norbert Elias and the book “On the Process of Civilisation”. He argues that when, in the history of the world, the notion that it is better to have good manners, appeared with etiquette manuals in the XVIII century, the type of economy and political organisation we have today also emerges. For him, good manners result in the closing of the body. One cannot say bad words, cannot burp, cannot say what is in one’s mind. It is very interesting when he associates this closed body to the emergence of a political and economic structure that has now been established. The scheme we started to build addressed that: a capitalist economy is related to a closed body; an alternative economy corresponds to an open body. This was a working hypothesis. This is all still in rough, I do not know exactly where it goes… When we did “More for less than for more”, we were designing it in a way which allowed us to try to understand what, in art and life terms, we should propose through our artistic work, realising more what we wanted to defend. It also had a lot to do with understanding how to mitigate greed. How do you override these trends that are very present in people in general?






At the end, there are some artistic endeavours because we start to find some ideas of possible answers to these questions. This body is closed and aseptic. ‘Good manners’ means being clean. It is the image of sweeping under the carpet. Hence, I think there’s a lot of art that has to do with the opposite of this; a strategy to criticise the concept and open the body. I am referring to art that has to do with dirt and dissonance. That has nothing of this aseptic quality, it wants to raise the carpet, because they can no longer handle this cynical attitude of sweeping under the carpet.

ART AND SCIENCE AS A HUMAN BODY GPL: What I often feel, in relation to what you’re saying and which makes me react is: any system tends to be in balance. This can lead us to understand why we’re all so separated from the centre. In a group, if there is someone very organised, there must be someone more disorganised. One is more cognitive, others are more emotional, etc... This logic is behind the ‘Theory of group transitions’, which implies realising that within the group there has to be diversity in order for there to be harmony. Often when society is one thing, art tries to counterbalance and reveal something else, the opposite. And opposites create conflicts that do not exist by themselves. There is a greater organism that encompasses this smaller sphere that will create the balance. When we are apart, we have the feeling of being in conflict, but the whole being is always minimally balanced. If art is only subjective thought, alternative, etc., then maybe science is



quite clean, organised, proper. It is as if we were at the top of a board which has only one equilibrium point in the middle. What I find important to start to do is to go into the middle, but we will only manage to do this if we do it all at the same time. I think the exercise we should undertake in a coordinated manner is not so much to demonstrate opposites, because they would move further and further away from VM: each other, but begin to take steps towards But dothe centre. And I feel that this esn’t that mean is more difficult than conforming to the standdeparting. ard? Submitting to dominant trend? Reproducing the monotony of what has already been done and already established? Because art claims precisely the value of the margin, of the difference. GPL: No, because reality is multidimensional. The more we approach the centre the more we find ourselves on the ends. It is the logic of Eastern thought, where everything is paradoxical, and the logic of quantum physics; it is one thing and then, when tested, another. Today we live much more in competition for monogamy, individuality, always very far apart from one another. If we come to the centre in a balanced perspective, we begin to collect all the colours in the centre... So it depends on how it is seen. The centre is the singularity of multiplicity. I often use the metaphor of the human body. We have millions of cells, many completely different from each other. Bone cells have a fixed structure, they do not move, are highly conservative in their whole functional processes, with great longevity. We have other cells in the human body, which are individual and traverse the whole body, carrying oxygen and ’living’ for 180 days. This set of cells can create a highly






harmonious system, whose total is more than the body itself. I know we have to be able to create a society that is highly diverse in its characteristics and properties, individual and intrinsic, but united to the point of being interdependent of each other. There is a confidence level that is required for the survival of the organism. In human systems, if there is this trust, we can go beyond the level of survival being able to reach other levels of human potential. For me, the interesting paradox is here: we have people that behave like bone cells: conservative, family people, where there is a structure, good etiquette, etc... Other people behave like blood cells and have all but this etiquette and structure. For me science is bone cells, and perhaps muscle. It might also be the cognitive and the brain. In this metaphor, art is the blood cells, the heartbeat, that nurtures the whole human body. Some argue that the heart is much more than just the pumping of blood cells, that it also creates a magnetic field which harmonises a whole other dimension of being. I know that without art we will not do this ‘Great Transition’, which is why I have tried to bring art to science. We are at a stage where there is already relatively accessible knowledge, but it must be inspiring. It has to do with adaptation measures but it has to be done in a way that the adjustment made is not measured by its effectiveness, because it has more biodiversity, or is cheaper. The change has to happen because it makes sense to people, because it is good, because that is the world where that person would like to live. Behind all this there is a lot of science, but it is important to be concerned with communicating it in a friendly manner for people to implement it.



Art has to help communicate information, to inspire and demonstrate that inspiration artistically, to be transported into the most profound being of each person, so everyone can be an artist. Better: an artivist, an activist artist, something of this kind. We spend time devoted to what we love without effort. This is how the transition has to be made: with passion. I think science cannot reach that level of commitment.

ART AND THE GREAT TRANSITION MOVEMENT VM: I still insist on the question of how art can be more part of life. It was great in “Introductory Course To Transition”, overseen by you which I attended, because I realised what was at stake in the transition process, what the initiatives were, to work on making people more open to the question, to create curiosity, to explore a wide variety of materials, for example ‘language’ or ‘space’. It was interesting because I had been in another initiative with similar objectives where we artists did not know what our role was very well. People from the water resources, from agriculture, everyone had an important and clear function. And I felt: “I really want to be here but I do not know what I am here for. I’m good for nothing here.” It was hard to realise the function of the artist in that context. In your course it became clear. But there is one question that remains: in concrete, where does art come in? In Graça, one of the oldest and most charismatic neighbourhoods in Lisbon, we have a super-initiative of transition. The






neighbourhood is very involved, there are many gardens, many relationships created with the concept of proximity of culture, the buildings take advantage of rainwater, there is GPL: already the use of renewable energy... But I answer where does art go? Does it come in you with a question: to post-work activities? Where has art been, concerning It is not clear. saving our planet? VM: If we look at the history of dance in the twentieth century, the whole series of movements of the 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, the early decades of the century when all is revolutionised, and then in the sixties and seventies... there is a lot of movement in dance in these times related to the communities. There is the departure to the countryside, gardening... Followers of Laban, the German Expressionists... Not only do they perform shows on stage and in unconventional spaces, but they try to create another form of life. There is a mixture of art and life. There is the great utopia of the 30s, which deals with and more profoundly activates the body, wherein the release in the body occurs. We see photos of that decade and they are all naked people running in fields, living in communities and growing what they eat. There are folk dances that still preserve part of this essence. This ritual expression interests me a lot but it is true that with the evolution of human history, art has been separated from the ritual, if we think of ritual as popular expression, such as folklore. This aspect has always interested me. There was a time, when I began to choreograph, that I had a boyfriend who was studying anthropology and used to bring home videos of dances from Amazonian tribes. These are lives



where all expressions of being are in unison, all intertwined. I saw the videos and said, “This is what I want, it’s all connected.” I came to say I wanted to move to a tribe. Then there is also an extreme experience of this ritual where people go to other states of consciousness, entering into other states of relationship with space. There is art which also does this. But what I loved was the fact that it happened in the normal daily lives of those people and not in the context of something targeted as ‘a crazy bunch of artists’ who are allowed to behave in what is considered most times a strange way in a society, within a controlled frame, where those practices and behaviours are acceptable. I come from a very bourgeois family, for me some guys rolling in the mud making strange sounds together is radically the opposite of the life of the petty bourgeois. And that’s what we do too, or at least it is the kind of art that I practise. We have always been going to this kind of place, searching for these other states of consciousness, other types of relationships between people, other perceptions and experiences of the body, of different bodies’ relationships to space ... It is researching persistently in order to be able to have a life that is not only standing, sitting and lying down. Where sometimes legs are thrown up into the air and the head upside down. But poetry is also this, moving the word upside down, changing the order of words, putting them in places where they should not be, putting one word next to others in a way that does not make sense... Or we can create a new order in an apparent disorder. This existed in the ritual and the ritual was part of life and yet, meanwhile, there was this division and now it’s all separate.






PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH ART/SCIENCE GPL: Your essence corresponds to what, in science, we call participatory action research. This expression helps combat the need for scientific research to be separated from all action and participation. One thing I feel is that humanity has to know how to integrate. What does this mean? The answer is the same as the answer to your question: “How can science and art be integrated into daily life?” Maybe one day it will be through something called participatory action research art. I like to bring art to science. In one of the conferences I organised, I invited musicians, but I knew then I was approaching it at an initial stage; it would be more to communicate data and scientific information. But I want to go further. I would like to use art as ‘scientific methodology of knowledge’, although I do not yet know exactly what this means. We have an objective in science. The concept of participatory action research implies abandoning full objectivity and dilutes the separation between the researcher and his object of study. The object of study becomes the reality, and the reality is objective and highly subjective. Taking all this into consideration, the participatory action tries to apply a minimally objective methodology. We need someone who is somewhat on the outside to VM: see what is going on, it may be through the It seemed use of cameras or some sort of you were describdocumentation of what ing a rehearsal when you people share. spoke of the need to film because we are in a creative process and afterwards you need to go out and look from the outside to analyse and



build something from what we experimented. I use improvisational processes; sometimes we enter other states of consciousness. For this reason, even when I am creating, when I am at ‘the moment of doing’, I have no capacity to see exactly what I’m doing. And I am talking about dance, where we’re even more within what we are doing. We are inside and we are the thing we are doing in itself. It is essential, afterwards, to look from the outside. I create many pieces this way. I often select material from what happened in improvisation and use excerpts of it, sometimes I rework what has already been done...

GLOBAL WARMING IS A NEW GLACIAL PERIOD GPL: We build possible climate change scenarios. These are challenging areas in real contexts. These scenarios correspond to what science can currently say about the subject. But what we call ‘global warming’ can easily become a glacial period. There are mechanisms of the complexity of the planet Earth which guarantee that what we think is going to happen, can change completely. It even means we can quickly switch to cooling down, and we have clues which indicate in that direction, as is the case, for example, of the frozen mammoths found still with fresh food in their mouths. We do not know how this planet will react. Now, with what we know and the information we have, there is a scenario that we can predict as being likely to happen in the coming decades. With all these variants and






imponderables, when I’m facing politicians, institutional agents, fishing communities, for example, I feel a bit like an artist standing in front of an audience of real people. I feel it has an impact that has VM: the potential of changing people. Similarly the But what rehearsal, when you are in the process are these activities of creation, can change with these fishermen and you as an artist. other communities? GPL: Research. It is this participatory action. I can tell you what it means to me: it is to use science as a transformative process of society in which my subject is not examined in the laboratory, for example, but occurs in relation to concrete reality. The aim is not to make science elitist, but to be in direct dialogue with reality, and make this reality – comprised of individuals or groups of people – participatory. This implies there is a part dedicated to education, involving several months of interaction with different scientists. And it must be done by a multidisciplinary team. This diversity allows science to communicate, receive and exchange with reality. Usually I act when there is an issue that needs transformation. For example, the coastal area of the sea has been rising slowly and suffered a brutal erosion process. We have towns and villages by the sea, and we have beaches, dunes, ecosystems... What I do as a scientist is propose a specific question. For example: How can we properly manage this system? What is the integral solution for this situation and what are the actions and changes we need to undergo, which are the most likely to achieve good solutions? Then I take scientific information on how a particular system works, about what’s going to happen in the future, about the cost/ benefits of large measures. Later in the process, together with politicians, residents, non-governmental associations, local universities, surfers,



environmentalists... the knowledge is shared among all. Each one of us has always only a partial knowledge of each subject, including scientists.

SCIENCE WILL PROVE TO BE 95% WRONG GPL: I find it interesting that science can be one of the few groups respected by the various classes of society. Sometimes I feel there is a difficulty in getting people to believe it will be useful, but on the other hand it is one of the few groups that I do not have to prove and it is quite easy to have meetings, either with politicians, residents of VM: a neighbourhood... It raises many questions, but I also feel it has not as many enemies compared something similar to other societal groups. with art. This happened with the construction of the permaculture gardens. The fact was that an artistic proposal opened many doors. We had a garden in the centre of the city, in a wasteland, behind a set of buildings. GPL: Do you feel, as an artist, that you have easier access to politicians? VM: No. In that case it is different. Science is valued because it has a solid and objective basis. At this level we are on opposite sides. Science is credible, art is not. Art is part of the imagined world, it is invented. GPL: But it is more likely that what science says today, in a hundred years,






will be proved to be 95% wrong. If there is a field of knowledge wrong from the outset, it is science. Art, by its nature, is impossible to prove to be wrong.

1 The Federation of Damanhur, often called simply Damanhur, is a commune, ecovillage, and spiritual community situated in the Piedmont region of northern Italy




ONE THOUSAND YEARS ABOVE YOU A Conversation about ‘Plunge’ Dialogue resulting of the collaboration between Artsadmin and LIFT (London, UK)

In February and March 2012, IMAGINE 2020 partners LIFT and Artsadmin commissioned Michael Pinsky to create the public art project ‘Plunge’ in London. The project was an artist’s vision of a time, 1000 years in the future, when the effects of runaway climate change have completely changed London. Pinsky marked an imagined 28 metres sea level rise on three London monuments with simple blue rings of light. Alongside the public installation, the artists’ group DARTER (Chloe Cooper, Phoebe Davies and Louise Martin) were commissioned to run an associated series of events with education and community groups, and also created interventions alongside the ‘Plunge’ sites. In January 2015, five members of the team behind ‘Plunge’ came together to



revisit and reflect the success and problems of the project: Michael Pinsky (MP), Phoebe Davies (PD), Chloe Cooper (CC), Judith Knight (JK), and Beki Bateson (BB). Judith Knight: LIFT and Artsadmin are the only two IMAGINE 2020 partners in the same city so it made sense to share a project. We wanted to do something that was really visible so we asked ten artists to put forward ideas. We assembled a panel to look at the proposals and unanimously agreed that ‘Plunge’ was the project to go for. Beki Bateson: Another reason for joining forces was to enable us to develop a large scale project. There are lots of brilliant artists doing great work on climate change but it’s often shut away in a black box theatre. We knew that working together, we could create something really visible and to do this we quickly started moving towards a visual artwork rather than something performed. Over the period of the IMAGINE 2020 network we’ve seen that theatre often struggles with the themes and concepts behind climate change. When we saw Michael’s idea and his use of light and scale within the public domain we knew it was the right project. Michael Pinsky: The original proposal I put in was much simpler – to put a blue line of light across several buildings – but when I was asked to refine it, what I really wanted was an idea which was much more efficient. So this idea of drawing a long line seemed a really inefficient way of getting the message across. And efficiency is really important when you’re talking about ecology because this



is really what a lot of ecological thinking is about. If you’re inefficient you’re going to consume more. This is why I gravitated towards the idea of using monuments which are really charged with a sense of history and have an emotional context which is linked to the idea of the expansion of the British Empire. There was a massive shift in my proposal before I was interviewed by the panel, from something which was didactic, showing where the water level will reach, to something which is much more about symbols and icons, and works on a different level altogether because these monuments are already symbolically charged and the work was just running on the back of that energy. This way I gained so much more in terms of visibility because the locations of the monuments are at focal points of the city. Seven Dials Monument is really small and hardly a monument at all, but it is surprisingly visible. I was amazed how it would catch my eye when I was on Shaftesbury Avenue, the reach of it was so much greater than just this little ring. It’s quite incidental in terms of scale. The Duke of York ring was a big piece to put up, and challenging from a logistical point of view, but all of the rings were really challenging from a political sense with the work we had to do to get the permission to mount them. JK: The reluctance of some people surprised us. Maybe we were being naïve, but being optimists we thought everyone would be keen to join us. The thing I loved about ‘Plunge’ was the simplicity



of it, its beauty; the way it would catch the eye and the important message it was giving. And of course we thought that everyone would want to be involved and that we’d be able to put rings on several monuments. It was much harder than we had originally thought to get the permissions. It was such a shame not to use Nelson’s Column (in Trafalgar Square) but the three we did get were brilliant in different ways. One was right by St Paul’s Cathedral, one in the centre of ‘theatre land’, which gave so much more than its little size, and one very near Buckingham Palace. Those three were incredible so it’s great we got those, but it was hard to understand why everyone didn’t wanted to be involved. MP: In retrospect, perhaps we could have approached mounting ‘Plunge’ in a totally different way – building a completely false narrative of what the project was about. Then we could have got them up and then had a ‘narrative hijack’ at the very last minute. Being serious though, there is nothing offensive about having these neon rings on the columns. BB: We were also surprised about the narrative; because we work artistically, it was exactly this symbolism which drew us to the project and that made it incredibly exciting, engaging and public. And yet when we started talking about the specifics of ‘Plunge’, people had real trouble with our decision to work on an imagined future sea level height of 28 metres in 1000 years, because no scientist would be willing to say anything so specific about such a long time in the future, even though of course we were actually trying to achieve the same goals. Because it wasn’t ‘true’ to scientific research, we found that some people couldn’t really make that leap.



MP: It was an interesting problem, and you can see this issue in a lot of the comments in the newspapers about ‘Plunge’. Obviously this kind of thing is a polarised position and Marine (Thévenet, lead producer on ‘Plunge’ at Artsadmin) always called it the ‘Achilles heel’ of the project. The project isn’t about an actual figure, it isn’t about a thousand years. It is just saying that if this happens, then that will happen. We wanted to try and escape the conversation about the project just being limited to the discussion of time and height. BB: What I loved about the project was just the process of standing by the Duke of York column and thinking “I could be underwater”. It was that connection of the self to something that is just huge in terms of scale and also global. And this was certainly one of the ideas we were trying to engage people with. We were trying to create this selfawareness of our own individual roles which have an impact on our climate rather than shouting down at people. JK: You’re right. It is a very gentle piece, it wasn’t about pointing a finger, rather a beautiful and gentle reminder that we need to be thinking about climate change. Perhaps this is why we were a bit naïve, because we were not solely concerned with the number of metres or the height of London. Chloe Cooper: This is interesting because we took the formal quality of the work, the time and the height, as the subject of the work, but also this connection of the self. Phoebe and I worked with two young men from Centrepoint, a charity for young homeless people, and we went to Seven Dials and hung around with them.



We talked about general current affairs and about different ways you can express yourselves and be passionate. Naïvely I hadn’t thought they’d have been engaged by reading about politics and current affairs, but they were. We made this thing called a “Prop for Reflection” and it was a long stick with a mirror taped on the end. We did it so that the mirror reached just above the height of the ‘Plunge’ ring. I like this idea of looking down on yourself, where there is this opportunity to travel a thousand years into the future and look down on yourself. Phoebe Davies: The reality of this was that it was me and Chloe and these two lads and this really tall, thin wobbly stick on a Saturday morning. It was really early so we’d had to get them out of bed and take photos of ourselves reflected in the mirror. DARTER had been talking about the way artists activate spaces and start dialogue and conversations. With the different groups we worked with, we wanted to look at the issues ‘Plunge’ raised and the main thing we looked at was agency. Everyone we worked with came out with different responses to this. One school we worked with made fake documentation for the stealing of water across the school. It was a real mix of simple documentations and actions. We worked with London Metropolitan University and they performed actions outside their building. For me it was interesting as the older groups we worked with were able to have more agency and say what they wanted to do. This was also especially the case in an educational setting, as young people would often ask “are we allowed to do this?” and “am I allowed to voice this?”, “am I allowed to act in a certain way?”



CC: So we were encouraging them to work with an alternative future model. When you’re young you can feel like you don’t have the ability to change. It was also really good to do things at the ‘Plunge’ sites as well because, as you say, it was a beautiful and quiet thing. When we were there with the stick, people would ask us what we were doing and so that was great to create a loud activity around it. MP: There were lots and lots of tourists who would crowd round the Duke of York column and wonder what it was. I’d go up to them and tell them. And you certainly heard a lot of people saying “What is that?”. London is very particular, for example if you were doing this in Edinburgh or Manchester, there isn’t such a huge tourist contingency, and where these were placed, they were very close to ‘tourist land’ so it’s not where London residents are generally going back and forth to work. PD: It’s also interesting to think about how works spread and this piece was able to initiate a few things. Often work which is about issues comes to people in a different way. London is complicated because we are bombarded with images but art works still have the power to start conversations. CC: We did one project with free newspapers – with the copies of the Evening Standard that were distributed around the columns. When they are delivered they leave them by the bus stops so I started drawing a ring around everything I could, on copies that were going to get picked up later, as a guerrilla action. I was trying to repeat the motif of the blue ring. There was a widely circulated image



of Adele giving someone the finger in the press and so I drew a blue line around her finger. PD: Giving people a voice is really interesting. How do you give people agency to speak their minds? So some of the people we were working with would write statements to politicians and then make images of putting politicians in headlocks. MP: The beauty of a project like this is that now we have great images of ‘Plunge’, and a film, and these things can be reinvigorated. I always envisaged that this would go somewhere else and pick up momentum from that.

[At this point in the text, we invite the reader to go online and watch the film at:]

JK: We all thought that ‘Plunge’ was incredibly photogenic, and that its beauty and the striking images would carry it in the press. The initial film and photos were so stunning that we felt that choosing this method rather than plastering posters around the rings was better. The project needs to speak on its own and we thought that it would and it does but of course there were a load of things going on in London and it kept on being bounced out of the papers. We were fighting with the coverage of the Occupy movement and the Olympics coming up. BB: Another thing we did which was successful was to give confidence



to other stakeholders. Everyone knows that the issues of sustainability are important and this conversation within the sector has moved on a huge amount. I definitely think that what we’ve been doing through the IMAGINE 2020 network and ‘Plunge’ is part of that wider conversation with people like the Arts Council and the Mayors Office. People were genuinely pleased about the fact that we were doing this big public piece of work when others were doing it with performance and debate. Getting profile and visibility in London can be tricky but I think we managed it. PD: The fact that it was in the public realm is really important. Work like this has to be public. JK: We still talk about ‘Plunge’ a lot now. Every time there is a talk about art and climate change people always refer to the project, and the strong images really help with that. It is a really strong piece of work. PD: We did one activity with London Metropolitan University with loads of different groups that we worked with. You ask a certain question and say “stand up if you believe in this” and we did a lot around climate change. For example “stand up if you want to commute to school” or “stand up if you’re worried about being employed post college”. Then we ask everyone to ask their own questions and they are really broad. Here is a mixture: “Stand up if you ever thought about giving up.” “Stand up if you are a passive audience member.” “Stand up if you ever thought of changing your sex.” “Stand up if you understand critical reports.”



“Stand up if you want a good future for your children.” “Stand up if you think gay marriage should be legalised.” “Stand up if you have a practical way of reducing climate change other than cycling.” “Stand up if you have a spare room.” “Stand up if you earn a living through art.” “Stand up if you lie.” “Stand up if you think art and politics don’t mix.” “Stand up if you have ever hugged a tree.” There are tons more of these but when we are working with groups of more than 30 this just gives you an idea of the questions which came out. What is key for me is the way in which this project can engage people even if they don’t think they are concerned about climate change or art and politics.



WHO OWNS THE WATER? By Nevenka Koprivšek, from Bunker (Ljubljana, Slovenia)

Society is constantly changing for good or bad. And so are we. Access to new technologies and discoveries is making our lives easier, longer, more interesting maybe, but also creating great discrepancy, inequality and alienation amongst the people. Effects of economic, social and environmental crises are simply multiplying and constantly intervening with each other, pushing people to and over the edge. We pretend that we have nothing to do with unacceptable human tragedies such as, for example, farmers in India showing their drastic suicidal protest against seeds corporations by drinking pesticides in public squares; or hundreds of refugees drowning daily in front of our very eyes at the gateway to Fortress Europe in the Mediterranean Sea. The way we get used to it is even more unacceptable. What we do as individuals, artists, cultural activists, and humans, may seem so little, so insignificant. I wonder if our sometimes too fragmented actions are just patches in those grey areas of bad conscience, assisting the neo-liberal society, giving even more power to politics overruled by big corporations dominating the world. Although massive movements and protests have been undertaken across the globe in recent years, little has changed or been proposed: states of affairs have even regressed. The questions to ask are: How can we fight against apathy and greed? How can we shift apathy into empathy? Is this desire too idealistic? The wish to run for the creation of new autonomous zones where imagination and brave thoughts can possibly evoke new potentials? A kind of permanent laboratory where new ideas can not only be thought but also tested, where the wealth and resources could be redistributed and relations re-invented, trained for better times, for a more humane society?



Our first attempt in terms of climate change issues in Bunker came in 2007, just a few years after being put in charge of the new space in Ljubljana - Stara elektrarna (Old Power Plant) - a technical monument transformed into a performing arts venue. We organised the open forum “Si(e)nergy”: a week of talks, workshops, films and exhibitions on the theme of new renewable sources of energy and relationships between arts, science and technology, where humanistic and pedagogic approaches could be combined and stimulated by art practices. I still remember that among artistic communities we were somehow perceived as ‘new age - weirdos’ and these sessions were mainly attended by already convinced environmentalists. We quickly understood that paving the way to more attentive ecological awareness was going to be a long process. We put forward this worry and made an alliance with other concerned partners from across Europe, co-creating firstly the network, followed and enlarged by IMAGINE 2020 - Art and Climate Change. This engagement empowered us not only through European funding but also through the conviction that we were not alone in the matter. At the same time we were faced with strong scepticism and denial amongst local artists who were reluctant of an eventual instrumentalisation for a cause. This may have been due to local history, when artists were often used for political propaganda, creating an aversion to receiving commissions for an already selected subject, or being told which causes they ‘should’ defend. At the start it sometimes seemed easier to invite already engaged artists from abroad and place them with local communities as well as local professional communities. Within that logic, we would invite



an artist or activist with a certain methodology, who would in turn engage with the local community. Together they would research a concrete local subject or local burning issue, such as in the case of controversial American artivist Reverend Billy, who was invited together with Aksioma in the frame of the Mladi Levi Festival, in 2012. Through this collaboration, the polemic concerning water and to whom it belongs in Slovenia was brought to the public agenda. Working with a Slovenian team of activists, Reverend Billy learned that Halliburton had acquired a hydro-fracturing concession with financing from big Euro-banks. His recollection of that experience can be read on the Aksioma site - Institute for Contemporary Art of Ljubljana - where he stated that “Slovenia is famous for its water, with its Teton-like mountains, lakes and streams and Adriatic beach”. So our Mladi Levi Festival workshop concentrated on the elemental force of water, so beautifully celebrated in the fountains of Ljubljana. To read more about Aksioma and Reverend Billy visit the webpage of Institute for Contemporary Art of Ljubljana: On that Friday we walked with bags of water up to the country’s parliament, and washed the front door of the elected building, as police looked on. Another thing happened: the mysterious quality of this life-giving liquid created an experience that we are still now trying and failing to explain; the fascinating expressive power of this thing that we ourselves are made of. When we speak of ourselves, we don’t self-identify as water. We call what we do “culture” or “politics”, but – I propose – let the water speak. Let the water do the talking.



The message is unmistakable. “Earthalujah! Ljubljana!”… The event did not provide concrete solutions for challenging the profits-over-people-logic, but it did start the discussion and put the issue on the public agenda. It had great media impact and raised quite a polemical issue. We have explored and addressed various subjects of climate change in relation to the economy and social and political crises through performances, but also through conferences such as “Still Ready to Change?”. We have confronted artists and theoreticians, and combined lectures or monthly talks in Stara Elektrarna about ecology in the context of wider societal changes.

Besides raising awareness of issues of recycling or behavioural patterns in various projects, we have, for example, tackled the issue of global warming by Beton LTD performance, with a tender critical utopia of how you can adopt a polar bear and wash out the guilt of contributing to consumerism. The performance “So Far Away” has been largely accepted by young audiences, which, not without reason, seem to be the most concerned. We also commissioned the lecture performance “Double Game”, by Slovene performer Katarina Stegnar, on the basis of the NEF document “The Great Transition”. In the piece she addressed her personal duality towards the issue and the document. We worked with schools, especially in Maribor during the European Cultural Capital year, where kids took over a part of the city in a kind of “City to be”. The scales or



impacts of projects varied greatly, sometimes going far deeper than we had hoped, and other times further away.

One of the very first projects touched me in particular, because of its simplicity. It was the photo exhibition “Migranti” (Migrants), by Slovene artist Tanja Lažeti, who went into a market and took photos of the fruits and vegetables that everyone could buy in their neighbourhood. One of the questions asked, quoting Irena Štaudohar’s text from the Mladi Levi 2012 catalogue, was: “Do we ever ask ourselves where exactly that healthy red apple came from when we bite into it with great gusto?” Similarly, as with real-life migrants, fruits and vegetables end up in various files as index cards with their photographs, names, and countries of birth. The exhibition “Migranti” likewise presents a thorough catalogue-like inventory of various fruits, stating their name, country of origin, and picture of their shadow and essence. Every entry represents an image which narrates its own story of two different worlds – the world of prosperity and the world of poverty, the world of satisfaction and the world of hunger, the world it comes from and the world it travels to. We showed these photos one by one, next to their dark copy. To me it was a constant reminder that the way we live, the way we eat, the way we create, and our lifestyle can make someone else’s life very dark and miserable. We have apples growing in the centre of the city, behind the National Drama and we go to the supermarket to buy (eco!) apples from Chile and garlic from China? It’s simply ridiculous.



Things have also been changing slowly but gradually. Let us say we would all agree that a change or transformation in the way society is organised is necessary and evident. I see artists, media and local community consensually agreeing that something should be done, but nobody knows exactly what or how. How do we go ‘beyond recycling’? We now have an extremely efficient recycling system in Ljubljana; we have changed our actions towards a greener attitude. We have helped to engage local neighbourhoods in community gardening, we still go to work on bicycles, we do not put heating on in our theatre lobby (not intentionally, but for lack of money)… Even though we realise our actions are far from enough, the more important question of how to transform in a more collective and systematic way remains unanswered. Our overall aim may never be reached, but it is important to keep trying and hold this small, caring and engaged artistic and environmental community alive and vibrant. As Milton H. Ericson, one of the most influential hypnotherapists of the past century, would say, “our sub-conscience is much more positive than our conscience”, so let us go forth with this positive thought and believe that by continuing to raise our collective awareness, we may also improve ourselves and society. Otherwise, the hammer option1 still remains available.

“Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it”. Bertolt Brecht




LOOKING BACK ON IMAGINE 2020 By Christopher Crimes, from Domaine d’O (Montpellier, France)

It all started perhaps with my involvement in Theorem at the beginning of this century, a most enlightening and enriching experience. That network made me aware of just what high challenges the European arts and cultural communities had to face in the push to welcome more countries into an already highly diversified Europe. It was obvious that economic and social considerations were going to be at the heart of the big change. So just how could – or should – we position our institutions in order to allow as many new commissions as possible to be made and above all to be produced and toured? We were all highly convinced and involved with the major challenge of sharing our project with our colleagues, our team and above all audiences. Festivals succeeded where institutions had more difficulty in presenting Eastern-European theatrical creativity. Networking within Theorem was a most enthralling adventure with great debates carrying highly differing points of view on creativity, aesthetics, logistics, economics, society... After completion of the Theorem objectives and the transfer of responsibility and organisation to our Latvian partners in Riga, many of us felt that this productive networking experience should be continued. What better follow-up could there be than a European network who, through partnerships with existing structures, would consider the question of climate change and its devastating effects on the



planet which nourishes the ever increasing human race? A network which also deals with the question of how we can become aware of each person’s individual responsibility for the rapidly diminishing resources and increasingly high pollution? Through two different venues, my personal experience proved to be an incredible source of inspiration, although much doubt and professional questioning had also to be challenged. As projects were emerging one of the first challenges was to ensure that the whole team under my responsibility became aware of the issues and assumed their complete involvement in the project. It is one thing to engage in a comfortable venue with colleagues of similar thought and coming to some sort of consensus; it is something completely different when you are questioned in fine detail by your team both on the pertinence and feasibility of the projects with an audience not yet convinced that climate change is an issue at all. We were definitely a forwardlooking group and each member had her/his own real difficulties in putting the project forward. Here in France it became rapidly obvious that there were fewer artists and venues having pertinent thoughts on the issues than in the UK, Germany or Belgium for instance. The new building I was to open



in Angers was situated in a city that prided itself on being environmentally friendly and the Mayor made a strong point that certain aspects of the building were to reduce CO² emissions. So we imagined a project that could immediately communicate these thoughts to as wide an audience as possible. We managed to unite hundreds of eager spectators in a weekend of debates, performances and exchanges that really put the new theatre on the map for research organisations, universities and schools. At the same time the ‘traditional’artists in residence tended to coldshoulder the event, even criticising the very thought that art could have a role to play in climate change. My problem about just how to associate both audience and decision makers in a sustainable manner was firmly anchored in the way the team reacted to these events. Misunderstanding was probably the major factor but also perhaps lack of long and painstaking dialogues with all to persuade them to adhere to our convictions. We organised many family events and major exhibitions which treated different aspects of the human impact on the planet. “Of All the People in all the World” by British team Stan’s Cafe using grains of rice to represent the world’s population or the french NGO Robin des Bois “Sea Monsters”, which was made up uniquely of jettison, collected from beaches around the French coasts. Audience interest



was highly encouraging even though the Mayor and his team did not consider these events worthy of ‘their’ new Theatre! When I left Angers for a new venue in Montpellier we enrolled the Domaine d’O in the context of IMAGINE 2020. Owned and managed by the county council, this magnificent park in the heart of the city was an ideal setting to address climate change, biodiversity and art. Among the memorable activities that we presented were the first and only “Tipping Point” in the French language, organised with the support of Peter Gingold. We had an amazing number of very generous contributions from research scientists and the response and reaction from artists was most encouraging. “Tipping Point” worked to organise a panMediterranean event exploring the cultural context of climate change and focusing on ‘water’: a theme of urgent consequence to the Mediterranean basin. We addressed the theme of water with regard to its impact on climate change from an environmental, social and economic perspective. The great interest created among the university and research institute leaders encouraged us to open the Domaine d’O to regular and diversified debates and meetings. Many artists accepted our invitation to residencies



that were inspirational, for life in the park itself and its biodiversity was highly conducive to new work. Even more satisfying in our view, was the welcome that research labs gave to artists in search of confirmation or contradiction of their creative intuitions. Another fine event was the very first Summer Lab for IMAGINE 2020. We had a really great response from all our partners, especially scientific teams from around Europe. The theme of ‘forests’ was explored through all dimensions and the many workshops and discoveries that we shared made a lasting impact on the way we look at our woodland environment. The major and final achievement during my time in office, was having a 600-seat theatre built, integrating all aspects of environmental protection. The initial concept included future recycling of the building, considerations about ‘grey’ pollution from the building process, all wooden material used for building and the overall concept of an ‘eco-friendly’ theatre with low energy consumption, thanks to 100% LED lighting or solar-powered hot water system. Thus everything was perfectly planned and built and the construction process took only seven months from start to finish. Dialogue with production teams was an essential part of programming the new theatre, because negotiating the lighting plan from ‘classical’ tungsten ambience to LED equivalent engages aesthetics and needs very



forward-looking approaches to which many theatre and dance companies are not yet accustomed. It remains the only 600-seat theatre in France to maintain a new everyday approach to production and presentation of the performing arts with the environment at its core. This involvement with IMAGINE 2020 was a most invigorating experience because I was able to converse with many people from different spheres, that in the course of my career I would never have had the occasion to meet. At present, I share my happy retirement in the south of France with the running of Nature Addicts Fund a private foundation that encourages new work from visual and performing artists inspired by Nature and the Environment. At present we are preparing for the COP21 International conference in Paris. Overcoming doubt and convincing the sceptics continues to be my credo! IMAGINE 2020 (2.0) will surely open new roads for research and involvement of audiences, both young and old, in the transition process. I wish long life to the many colleagues who pursue the project. I am pleased to have modestly contributed to this fine network.



INTRODUCING CLIMATE CHANGE TO ARTS IN CROATIA By Zvonimir Dobrović, from Domino (Zagreb, Croatia)

Domino is the biggest independent art organisation in Croatia, producing numerous festivals, commissioning works in the field of contemporary dance and theatre as well as visual arts. We have always been interested in cross-sectoral work in all our endeavours. IMAGINE 2020 as a network seemed like an excellent platform to continue working in this way, with a specific content and topics in mind. Before joining the network, our organisation Domino had already addressed environmental issues and realised collaborations with other associations and organisations that dealt with this topic. However the participation of Domino in the frame of IMAGINE 2020 has opened many more possibilities for collaboration with similar organisations at the international level, but also enabled us to spread that knowledge in Croatia and the broader region. IMAGINE 2020 has found in Domino a partner that stands for the same ideas of environmental protection and sustainability as well as a shared value of contemporary artistic practices and research that goes with it. With the projects that are realised through the framework of IMAGINE 2020 between 2010 and 2015 Domino has made a constant effort to introduce the notion of climate change into the public discourse in Croatia. Previously these topics and questions weren’t frequently addressed within the artistic community in Croatia and its region. That made our challenge even more demanding, because although a few organisations were dealing with the environmental issues,



not one of them explored this area through art as a medium, nor as a medium that could connect science and activism. Keeping that in mind we also tried not only to focus on Zagreb as the capital, but to expand our activities to other cities all over Croatia. We tried to reach different audiences in the areas where the topics of sustainability were relatively unknown to the public. Our Perforations Festival, which is the biggest festival of live and performance art in Croatia, created a platform for promoting and reflecting on the ideas embedded in the concept of IMAGINE 2020. The Festival seemed like a perfect match for reaching out to other local artistic, activist and scientific communities in Croatia, outside of Zagreb, as the festival takes place in three other cities as well: Rijeka, Split and Dubrovnik. Our diverse programme offers a wide range of performances from the most established local artists to very young and emerging artists. The programme is mostly made of commissions and collaborations which the Festival initiates. The aim of the Festival is to give to our artists, and consequently to the audiences, the opportunity to explore and experiment with different artistic forms, ideas and concepts. From the local authors we should mention some of the Croatian artists who are regular guests of the Festival, and whose work was part of the IMAGINE 2020 network: Damir Bartol Indoš and Tanja Vrvilo, dance collective BADco, Montažstroj. Among many international guests we would like to mention: Heather Cassils, Igor Josifov, Nikola Uzunovski, Graeme Miller, Ana Catarina Vieira, Matthew Day and performing collectives such as Maska and VestAndPage.



We discussed the issues of climate change and sustainability within the frame of our Festival most specifically through two performative events: “Night of performances” and “Invasive dinner”. “Night of performances” became one of the major events at the Festival with the simple concept of inviting up to 8 artists and commissioning their new work for a site specific event. The works could be anywhere from several minutes to several hours long. This is an absolute audience favourite within the Festival. One of the artists whom we have regularly supported was Željko Zorica, who used to create huge elaborate events dealing with issues from food production and consumption to environmental idealism. “Invasive dinner if you cannot beat the enemy, eat the enemy”. It is a creative attempt to put two seemingly very different topics together: gastronomy and environmental protection. It is an entertaining, creative and educational event during which the spectators enjoy the culinary specialities prepared exclusively from ingredients that are recognised as invasive species. So, while learning what invasive species are and how we can possibly prevent their spreading in our ecosystem, the audience also enjoys a very tasty dinner. During the Festival we tend to organise workshops, seminars,



conferences, and other educational programmes which address and discuss a certain issue. We have tried being as creative as possible about these workshops and have developed a few interesting ones in cooperation with different artists. Maybe the best example is the workshop “Ecological origami” taught by Japanese artist Ayako Miyake. This workshop was aimed at young children between ages 5 – 10 who made origami in the shape of different endangered species, and through that process the kids became familiar with some endangered plants and animals, while they talked about the ways in which they can contribute to the saving of these species. By participating in the network IMAGINE 2020 Domino was able to better collaborate with numerous NGOs dealing with environmental issues including Green Action Croatia which is the biggest and most famous association of that kind in Croatia. Together with the “Union of cyclists” we organised several lectures and exhibitions with the aim of encouraging citizens to change lifestyle habits and raise awareness of the harmful effects that traffic has on the environment. In the last five years as a member of IMAGINE 2020 Domino has presented numerous works that have focused on environmental protection. Domino’s collaborations realised through the IMAGINE 2020 network represent an enormous step in the discussion of the issues of climate change, sustainability and the ecosystems of the future in Croatia and the Balkans, and this is the pathway we plan to continue in the future.



IMAGINE THE POLITICAL By Guy Gypens, from Kaaitheater (Brussels, Belgium)

The question is no longer whether there has to be change. The question is whether this change will come about as a result of ‘decline’ or ‘design’, of ‘frivolous neglect’ or ‘collective political responsibility’.

end of the Cold War. Blom says that Europe did not throw itself en masse In his book “The Vertigo Years: Change into the Great War because of omniand Culture in the West, 1900-1914”, present nationalist and thus pro-war the German historian Philipp Blom sentiments, but rather because of a points out a striking parallel between sense of inevitability, of fatalism, that the years preceding WWI and the ensued from a lack of solid foundapresent day. Both these periods are tions and a serious uncertainty about the future. Whereas characterised by exceptionally rap- So the catastrophe of 1914 until that time past id changes in soci- was due much more to a and future had been ety. At the start of lack of imagination or, ac- linked by tradition, the 20th century cording to Hannah Arendt, religion and authorit was the driving a lack of the capacity to ity, modernity made power of moderni- think, or again, as Robert a breach between ty that initiated the Musil put it, a lack of aware- the ‘no longer’ and the ‘not yet’. So dizzying changes ness of possibilities. the catastrophe of and bowled over old values. Nowadays we feel above 1914 was due much more to a lack all the consequences of a capitalism of imagination or, according to Hanthat is bursting at its seams after the nah Arendt, a lack of the capacity to I. A SENSE OF POSSIBILITY



think, or again, as Robert Musil put fell and the triumphal march of free it, a lack of awareness of possibilities. and unregulated capitalism was really This ‘awareness of other possibilities’ able to begin. The concepts of social is now our most precious commodity. engineering and solidarity were increasingly associatThere is little point in idealising an im- We know damn well that ed with dangerous aginary past simply the prolongation of our utopian ideas and all-controlling out of a fear of the present individualistic lives an future. It is plainly in the pursuit of endless state. Yet, in a not dangerous to revive growth will saddle future so distant past, old values only in generations with an insolu- this modern nation order to escape the ble problem. We know that state had been an complexity of the business as usual is no lon- attempt to give a present. ger an option. And yet we new form to human cohabitation and still carry on. to base it on more II. INDIVIDUALISM WAS A MISTAKE rational foundations than previously. We called this pursuit of such a nation The eighties. Thatcher and Reagan. state the civilisation project. Power When neoliberalism was born. The and politics were inseparably linked Cold War was still raging and, in re- in this endeavour. After 1989 it beaction against the communist utopia came increasingly clear that power of social engineering we were shown was gradually evaporating upwards a society where the state was the into a sort of extraterrestrial no man’s great enemy and the free individual land of global economic players. In was the measure of all things. De- its turn, politics leaked down into the regulation was the order of the day. level below, that of individual ‘life polThatcher declared that “There is no itics’. ‘Power’ created a place for italternative”. In 1989 the Berlin Wall self that was ‘independent’ of politics.



Politics established itself at the level blindness to the consequences of our of the individual life, but without the individual actions also led to the historical termination power to have any effect. In the middle Fundamental questions can- of the generational contract. The longstood the half-emp- not be ignored. term shaping of soty house of the nation state. Thatcher Can people not be anything cieties had always prompted and Reagan were more than solitary actors in been by the concern for happy to watch it the utopia of avarice? and anxiety about happening. States became less politi- Is there any other possible future generations. cally run and more balance between market, This anxiety is still today, managed. Manage- government and civil soci- expressed but it is no longer ment also implies ety? apparent in our acsocial engineering, but without the ideals that go with it. tions. We know damn well that the In the decades following 1989, the prolongation of our present individindividual allowed himself to be se- ualistic lives in the pursuit of endless duced by a desire for ‘ever more, fast- growth will saddle future generations er and cheaper’. There was little sign with an insoluble problem. We know of the ‘rational egotism’ as proposed that business as usual is no longer an by such neoliberal ideologues as Ayn option. And yet we still carry on. The Rand. The individual seemed not to question is no longer whether there care that the ecological limits of this has to be change. The question is desire had been exceeded. The only whether this change will come about true limits to all these desires was de- as a result of ‘decline’ or ‘design’, of termined by ‘the market’, that free, ‘frivolous neglect’ or ‘collective politideregulated market, guided sup- cal responsibility’. posedly by an ‘invisible hand’. The We have to see the renewed ques-



tion of whether social engineering is other ideals without at the same time possible, chiefly in the light of both lapsing into Marxist or other twentian ecological crisis that is becoming eth-century utopian alternatives? Are more and more visible and tangible by there any other possible social engithe day and of the excrescences of the neering practices? The answer to the ‘casino capitalism’ that came to light last question is in any case ‘yes’! in the 2008 credit crisis. The serious- We see increasing numbers of ness of these crises and the political such alternative practices appearauthorities’ inability to react to them ing around us. It’s all about ‘citizens adequately is leading to the growth in action’ taking control, not as inof more and more centres of resist- dividuals but as communities. Such simple questions as ance that no longer accept that the free Can the neoliberal utopia ‘what things do we market denies us the of the ‘ego’ be replaced still want to do topossibility of ques- by other ideals without at gether?’ and ‘acting tioning the imbal- the same time lapsing into together: how did ances it has brought Marxist or other twenti- we use to do that?’ about. Fundamental eth-century utopian alter- have led to inspiring actual practices. Toquestions cannot be natives? gether, these pracignored. Can people not be anything Are there any other possi- tices do not form unambiguous more than solitary ble social engineering prac- an whole, though they actors in the utopia tices? do operate within of avarice? Is there any other possible The answer to the last ques- a collective sphere. This sphere is in the balance between tion is in any case ‘yes’! first place one that market, government and civil society? Can the neoliber- involves ‘re-politicising’, discovering al utopia of the ‘ego’ be replaced by the plenitude of alternatives.



dent for the cultural sector to seek our right to existence in a ‘false economic Eighty years ago the economist John equation’? Is it not much more our Maynard Keynes warned of the lack task to show how essential it is to corof long-term values in our ‘blind eco- rect the equation itself? This comes nomic equations’. It is self-evident down to fundamental criticism of the that we have not heeded his advice. system and thus to adopting a politiThe notion of ‘short’ in ‘short-term cal position. profit’ can nowadays be expressed IMAGINE 2020 has been, amongst other things, an atin nanoseconds. A thing only exists IMAGINE 2020 has been, tempt to motivate if it has proven its amongst other things, an the cultural world to immediate contri- attempt to motivate the take such a political bution to econom- cultural world to take such stand, to rediscover ic growth. Culture a political stand, to redis- art as a source for too is breathlessly cover art as a source for re- resistance, discontidoing its best to sistance, discontinuity and nuity and awareness achieve the same. awareness of other possibil- of other possibilities. But would it be pru- ities. III. A POLITICAL POSITION

Brussels, February 15, 2015.



LET’S TAKE ON TOO MUCH! By Amelie Deuflhard, Uta Lambertz and Gregor Zoch, from Kampnagel (Hamburg, Germany)

“Art and climate change – do they work together?” This was a question we repeatedly came across during our five-year network cooperation in IMAGINE 2020 – Art and Climate Change. Along with it the question about the purpose of art in general arises – its role in society and its scope of influence on non-art subjects such as science, economy and politics. Thus IMAGINE 2020 can be understood as a self-experiment: aside from the specific question of how climate change can be confronted with the means and methods of art, the network cooperation always required debating the partners’ own position as art-production-venues placed in a transforming society. The goals of IMAGINE 2020 were ambitious from the beginning: for accomplishing the necessary changes that are essential to stabilising the climate on a long-term basis, projects were to be developed and presented to the public that work on warning viewers and encouraging them to take action; that bring together participants and audiences from different areas of society; that give hope and motivation to rethink production, consumption and cohabitation in the city in terms of sustainability; that start with themselves and set a good example – projects that cause change. Is that too much for art to handle? The answer can only be: Yes. Because art is not economy, politics or science and it can never be coextensive with them. It is an immoderate expression of hubris if art claims to be able to change the world. And it’s precisely because of that – and this is



our thesis – that society needs art, institutions of artistic research and projects like IMAGINE 2020. Why? Because the purpose of art and its institutions is to display contingencies and to irritate ingrained cultures. Because it can show the world that everything could be completely different: better, fairer and maybe more beautiful. And because it can demonstrate to its viewers over and over again that if they take the world as it is, they bear the blame themselves. Simply put: because it is art’s purpose to take on too much. For itself and for society. In this sense Kampnagel has never understood itself just as an ‘art-temple’, but always also as a space for discourse and utopia, as a productive laboratory for ideas, as a think-tank and as a place for controversy. Kampnagel is Germany’s biggest production venue for liberal performing arts, with five halls, seven rehearsal stages, a foyer, a sound studio and a restaurant. The dimension of the premises alone enables a variety of different artistic approaches and formats: we work on new formats that seek to explore contemporary forms of public life, communication, interaction, participation and knowledge exchange. The venue is open to society and its surroundings.



Kampnagel defines itself as an ecosystem of diversity, where artists and visitors are confronted with unfamiliar cultural contexts offering the people of Hamburg possibilities of discussing sociopolitical questions with congresses, festivals and topic series. Due to its cross-sectional working method, Kampnagel has a very heterogeneous audience – in terms of culture and age – which leads people to become curious about approaches, discourse and styles they did not know of, by simple confrontation. The range of topics Kampnagel is working on ranges from questions of gender, to the future of labour, to ecological questions. To exploit the potential of such a differentiated programme, Kampnagel works with different cooperation partners and takes part in various national and international networks that provide ideas and resources for shaping topics and formats and are able to promote their dissemination. In this context, Kampnagel has been a part of IMAGINE 2020 since 2010. For Kampnagel, the network partnership IMAGINE 2020 – Art and Climate Change is unique not only because EU-funding enabled a lot of challenging projects: the topical focus “The Limits of Growth” of the Sommerfestival 2012 is just one example. In 1962 ‘Club of Rome’ presented the extensive study “Limits of Growth”, showing irrefutably that every growth



reaches its limits, that unlimited growth in a world of limited resources is a figment of imagination, that eventually the tipping-point is reached and without substantial setbacks there is no coming back. For four decades these certainties were present without anything happening. According to expert opinion, the tipping-point has long been exceeded, yet still everybody is talking about the dogma of growth. Starting with this extensive study, various performances as well as a lecture programme were invited to Kampnagel to examine the insatiable thirst for growth. The event “Fully grown. A Marathon with 11 Perspectives on Growth” presented different theoretical and artistic positions that dealt with the end of the idea of unlimited growth. Academics and artists were invited to talk, sing or dance about the necessity of social change. Political scientist Ulrich Brand talked about new models of social wealth; artist Armin Chodzinski presented a lecture performance about different definitions of growth; Austrian artist Julius Deutschbauer founded a political neo-party – sitting in a fridge and wearing underpants; German singer Peter Licht sang songs about the end of capitalism; the performance group LIGNA offered an audio tour along the tracks of the old Kampnagel crane factory; Bos Temple-Morris designed an audio-drama about a hamster who doesn’t stop growing; economist Niko Paech talked about the end of our system which had defined itself in terms of an economy of growth and presented new strategies of living, producing and consuming which neither harm our ecosystem nor waste resources; performer Davis Freeman involved the audience in a pseudo-religious worship and motivated them to make



promises for a more sustainable way of living; Sibylle Peters developed a performance about the role of money in our contemporary society; author Kathrin Röggla presented pictures of industrial places like coal mines and atomic power plants which mean a fundamental risk for people and animals – not only in the direct neighbourhood; Andrew Simms, fellow of the New Economics Foundation, spoke about the difference between ‘well-being’ and ‘wealth’ and the necessity of a great transition. “Fully grown. A Marathon with 11 Perspectives on Growth” is a perfect example of how art takes on too much: artists, scientists, activists and an interested public are brought together for one day, claiming together that change is possible and can be thought about in an alternative way. And even if no immediate change occurs in society, the experience of the involved actors and recipients is real: they were introduced to new perspectives, different from their own. And this is where the potential of art lies: to open up spaces for thinking that point beyond themselves. IMAGINE 2020 is also unique because such experiments in development, implementation and reception always happened beyond the venues and in the network it was the partners’ mutual obligation to continually work on the topic of ‘Art and Climate Change’: producing together, touring and sharing their knowledge and expertise in regular network meetings. In this sense IMAGINE 2020 was and is the mutual invitation for the partners to dare the new: Let’s take on too much!



RISING TO THE CHALLENGE OF IMPOTENCE By Christian Mousseau-Fernandez, from Le Quai (Angers, France)

To engage in the IMAGINE 2020 network meant first of all that Le Quai would have to face some gaps head on: gaps between well-meaning discourse on ecology and non-environmentally friendly practices; between the willingness to participate in changing attitudes and the lack of resources deployed. It meant also accepting the need to change our own professional practices and public activities because of the consequences they have on the environment, as well as their immediate effects on the economy and social well-being. It was necessary to change the paradigm and be the engine behind a new dynamic that would meet the challenge of powerlessness in the face of the global problem of climate change. What role can artists play in this project of civic awareness? Is art political enough so that artists take on this issue? Can the act of resistance which is artistic creation join the commitment against climate change? How can we translate this social responsibility without falling into simplification, to an idea which reduces everything to ecological catastrophe? How can we bring people away from their daily responsibilities, to raise awareness of a global issue that transcends us all and requires a planetary response? It is all these questions that we have tried to answer with the artists we have met at Le Quai during these five years, among them the project of company Les Colporteurs. This company has accompanied its show “Le bal des intouchables” (“The ball of the untouchables” in English) with a “research project and the creation of a durable plan for sustainable cultural development”. The action aimed at questioning how people related to the inhabiting of public spaces with a new model, ‘the big top’ – which supports sustainable travelling – would lead to



a new relationship with time, more respectful of quality of life and would promote collaboration and dialogue with people over a period of time. The purpose of the show also evoked the issue of exclusion and living with ‘the other’, or how artistic expression can overcome these differences without erasing them... This research has led to ecoconceptions of the big top (‘chapiteau’) and campment elements. Hosted by the Scenography Department of the National School of Architecture of Nantes, this work enabled the company to confront the realities (including financial) that it was unable to assume alone, when potential partners had withdrawn. This global project, designed to better take into account environmental elements in the construction of an artistic project, was supported by Le Quai because it allowed us to highlight our entire chain of public and private responsibilities. It was an opportunity to support a company that had the will to translate its values of respect for the environment into actions, even though fully aware that the action of transporting a ‘chapiteau’ in itself generates a lot of CO2 emissions. This was a collaborative project which also contributed to raising awareness among many young and not so young people, with a research seminar open to public participation, debating the question: “A sustainable and nomadic artistic presence: a utopia?”. Through IMAGINE 2020, we wanted to be able to address even more complex issues than, for example, the emission of greenhouse gases. Such was the case with Les Colporteurs, since we were able to question the boundaries between freedom of artistic creation on the one hand and environmental constraints on the other. Another approach was the involvement of our building and employees in a desired virtuous process, with the objective of giving ourselves a



better knowledge of the effects of climate change on our planet. After a long period of diagnosis, awareness building and realisation of microprojects, we were able to act simultaneously in several directions. For example: - We optimised our information and communication materials, maximising digital approaches, limiting the printing of seasonal programmes and distribution and promoting paper recycling. - We implemented an environmental rider with all artists’ contracts, stipulating that hotels were all eco-labelled and catering used organic produce. - We established a corporate travel plan for employees, and strongly encouraged artists to use rail services. - We changed our entire use of paper products, purchasing ecolabelled recycling paper from an Institution of Service and Aid for Work which employs disabled people. - We decreased our energy consumption by 15% and the equivalent of 50% of the electricity consumed by the building is now generated by renewable energy through a specific contract with the French energy provider (EDF). And we installed three beehives on the roof. These different activities have allowed us to review all job descriptions for employees in order to adapt these new sustainable practices into their functions and missions. It is in acting in a global way and at a local level that we were able to converge innovative artistic projects and new initiatives to combat climate change.



These four years have helped to highlight several commitments that must be prior to any action. First we must be aware of the rhetoric around the fight against climate change, because it is not a selfexplanatory issue. We must be the engine and therefore be proactive in relationships with artists to support them to integrate the issue of climate change into their creative processes. We must ensure the sustainability of the initiatives undertaken in  our organisation so that the expected outcome can be  real and that we can measure the necessary adaptations. Finally, it comes to finding the levers of ownership of the issues by audience / viewer, employees / agents of change and regulating bodies / accountable to citizens. It is thanks to the simultaneity of these actions that we were able to participate in changing citizen behaviour and thus reduce the feeling of powerlessness before climate change that sometimes afflicts us.



THE LONG BEAN By Zane Kreicberga, from New Theatre Institute of Latvia (Riga, Latvia)

When we joined the IMAGINE 2020 network, we did not know much about climate change or how to talk to our audiences about it. It was right in the middle of the economic crisis which hit Latvian society quite heavily. Funding for culture was reduced by 40-70% and we started to learn new survival skills. We decided to share our office with the New Media Centre RIXC, which led to our collaborative project “The Long Bean”, one of our first activities in the framework of IMAGINE 2020. It was a social art campaign with the aim of creating an impressive city environment installation consisting of potted plants and vegetables that people grow on their windowsills, balconies or backyards. Each pot, with a home-grown plant provided by the city’s inhabitants, became an important element in this common piece of art – the more pots, the larger the installation! “I’m staring at it as an altarpiece…”, whispered a lady into her phone. Indeed, grand shelves with pots, whose rich leafage was made by home grown vegetables and plants, resembled iconostasis that night.

“The Long Bean”, one of our first activities in the framework of IMAGINE 2020. It was a social art campaign with the aim of creating an impressive city environment installation consisting of potted plants and vegetables that people grow on their windowsills, balconies or backyards.

The same year we produced and presented a light installation-performance “I’d really like to come back home”, by artist Anna Rispoli from Brussels and the inhabitants of Riga Technical University student home. For 15 minutes students would switch lights on and off in their homes according to a musical score, thus creating moving light patterns and signalling to the outside world that they were back home. During the two week long preparation process Anna Rispoli met



almost every architecture student living in the hostel and discussed not only the particular preparation for the ‘show’, but also issues such as sustainable architecture, sustainable art and ways of living. The light installation-performance of one house happened to be one of the most original and environmentally friendly events during Riga’s “Festival of Light”.

A light installation-performance “I’d really like to come back home”, by artist Anna Rispoli from Brussels and the inhabitants of Riga Technical University student home. For 15 minutes students would switch lights on and off in their homes according to a musical score, thus creating moving light patterns and signalling to the outside world that they were back home.

Looking back at our first IMAGINE 2020 initiatives, I see that all the crucial aspects of our work were already present. Collaboration. Interdisciplinarity. Artistic quality. Social engagement. Imagination. I believe that through Symposiums such as “Change the Climate: Alternative Scenarios in Art, Ecology and Economics” (2012), “I, Consumer. Shopping, the Climate and Us” (2014), “Festival of Ideas ‘Art and Economics’” (2013) and other similar events, we are establishing new links in our society - locally and internationally - that are important for building a better common future. It is necessary to encourage interdisciplinary platforms of discussion and exchange of knowledge and experience that will attract different professional and interest groups of society. Artists should talk to scientists, environmentalists, economists, anthropologists... and feed their artistic practice with their knowledge and



insight. Artists could be mediators of knowledge and ideas, making them more understandable and emotionally engaging for wider audiences. And vice versa – artistic visions, questions and ways of looking at things can inspire experts from different fields.

Artists could be mediators of knowledge and ideas, making them more understandable and emotionally engaging for wider audiences. And vice versa.

I cannot forget the amazing atmosphere of “Blackmarket for Useful Knowledge and Non-knowledge” in Riga that gathered 60 experts from a variety of different fields including, for instance, medicine, anthropology, arts, law and ecology, among others, and shared with audiences their knowledge in “90 talks on Repaired, Enhanced and Dead Body”. The smart and engaging ‘expert installation’ by German curator Hannah Hurtzig, imitating familiar places of knowledge exchange - such as the archive or library reading room - combining them with communication situations - for example markets, stock exchanges and counselling services - created the situation and feeling of true ‘AGORA’. There is a lot of hidden potential in cross-sectoral communication and collaboration. We should listen more to each other and get to know more about each other to be able to think out of our ‘professional’, ‘sectoral’, ‘social’ and other ‘boxes’, and build the critical mass of society by demanding and performing for a sustainable future. I like to quote artist and activist John Jordan from the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, who has said that art today should no longer deal with aesthetic questions, but care about the survival of our planet. Of course we cannot expect



all artists to engage in social, political or environmental issues, but we can hope that theatre will, to a greater extent, become a platform for engaging discussion on questions relevant to our society.

We can hope that theatre will, to a greater extent, become a platform for engaging discussion on questions relevant to our society.

In Latvia this has been the case for the last few years. Just to mention a few examples: we co-produced a performance-walk “Mārupīte” with Dirty Deal Teatro, which brought spectators to the site of a serious ecological disaster caused by an accident in chemical storage (2012, director Valters Sīlis). The story intertwined personal memories, political and public discourse and similar global cases such as the Bophal ecological catastrophe and “The Yes Men” action. As part of the “Imagine the Great Transition” programme, we produced the performance “Testing Transition” (2013, director Kārlis Krūmiņš), reflecting on the experience that 5 artists gained during their simulation of financial apocalypse in the Latvian countryside. They went there without money, credit cards or food, hoping to exchange their artistic skills for food and necessities. They returned home with a strong belief in reciprocity as one of the basic human qualities, which became the overtone of their performance. Being part of IMAGINE 2020 has greatly helped the New Theatre Institute of Latvia in gaining the knowledge and encouragement to put forward the issues of climate change, alternative thinking in economics and individual and collective responsibility in the core of our work.



The Long Bean is a popular mythological image in Latvian folklore - equal to the world tree connecting earth with heaven.

The Long Bean is a popular mythological image in Latvian folklore - equal to the world tree connecting earth with heaven and supporting the transition of the protagonist to the other world and back with an acquired treasure. I wish that we as a society could grow the ‘Long Bean of the Great Transition’ and be there already.



IN SEARCH OF A GREEN THEATRE OR JUST GREENWASHING? By Ellen Walraven, from Rotterdamse Schouwburg (Rotterdam, Netherlands)

The opening performance of the Rotterdam Schouwburg this season was an overwhelming production, “Van den Vos”, by the Belgian company FC Bergman. It was a visual rollercoaster: pine trees swinging in the air, a pool full of fish. All as real as you can get. It was a huge success with our audiences. It was not with our technicians. Their discontent was not about the long days of building up the set, but about the responsibility of our theatre, hosting a production with a striking number of real trees and animals being wasted for one evening only. They questioned: “How sincere is the Rotterdam Schouwburg in its pursuit for a green theatre? What is the value of this? What are valid arguments for this amount of waste?” These questions are in fact political ones. Then there is Rien, a lighting technician who recently retired. He also took care of general maintenance. He was a child of his times and had the mentality of a survivor. As a child he experienced the Dutch famine of 1944, known as “the Hongerwinter” (‘Hunger winter’). A famine that took place in the German-occupied part of Holland, especially in the densely populated western provinces above the great rivers, during the winter of 1944–1945, near the end of World War II. He knew what things cost and had a clear idea of what they were worth. He felt that something was profoundly wrong with the way people lived nowadays, caring mostly about material self-interest. So, within his possibilities, and relating to the ethics of his craftsmanship, he put signposts on the front of the doors of our theatre spaces, explaining to the audience what amount of collective goods, such as energy, were being spent on the performance. Just like his colleagues in the first example, he asked a political question: “Is the electricity spent worth it? Or: Will it bring us closer to a better world?”



Unregulated capitalism in the eighties and nineties, large budget cuts in the arts in the following decade; all these matters forced themselves upon our business and our artists. It put the focus on the quality of our own individual conditions and on the position of the arts. Different questions had to be answered, for instance on the legitimacy of the arts themselves. The reigning neoliberal ideology intervened with our practice, redirecting the debate towards the necessity of cultural entrepreneurship and stakeholders outside the arts. In the meantime the globalisation brought ‘glocalisation’ as well. This time the debate focused on questions about our national, regional and local identity. Finally: the Internet and social media changed our notion of reality and we found ourselves in a vortex full of questions on identity and what reality means. Fortunately IMAGINE 2020 provided a backbone and kept ‘the planet’ on our agenda and gave us our monthly wake-up call telling us we cannot go on living like this. The frequent network meetings were important to meet, get to know more about engaged artists and allow our in-depth knowledge to grow. But to be frank, at certain moments, the performances, workshops, seminars etc... of the network felt like incidents. And, in the worst moments, a means of greenwashing our own organisation.

How could that happen? Why do performances not add up? Why do we experience such difficulty even imagining a different, more sustainable, society? We understood quickly that we had to go beyond thinking in performances, projects, proposals, initiatives, etc. A clear engaging context in which political questions can be asked over again and again was needed urgently.



We became convinced that we had to make very explicit what we were already doing, as well as show our plans for the future. It required a strategy that was more effective and robust, generating local and a global impact via collective actions with very different sorts of partners. We absolutely believe this was the only way to overcome this difficulty, in order to reach a much more fundamental responsibility for a sustainable future. So we combined our DNA (Riens’ sobriety and knowing the price of things) and the values of IMAGINE 2020 and initiated a major project to reach a zero carbon footprint: “The 7 Square Endeavour”. Our target is to reduce our emissions by 40% by 2020, moving to Carbon Neutrality in 2030. We cannot realise this scale-up plan on our own, since we are at our limits of what can be done in a conventional way. To break through the symbolic ‘green glass ceiling’, new methods/ applications/ inventions are needed, as well as new partners: locally and internationally. At this moment we are breaking new ground, and there is a lot of interest in our work. In short, we’ve taken the square where our theatre is located as the energetic centre. Everybody living and working on this ‘Schouwburgplein’ (inhabitants, micro and macro retailers, cultural institutions) is entitled to become a partner. Furthermore we have built up a close liaison with companies such as Eneco, Dura Vermeer, Imtech, Arcadis and the City of Rotterdam for the technological development. We have moved beyond power generation and energy storage to grey water, heat recovery by waste and sewage water, waste-to-energy, green roofs and other new technologies.



The square is a testing ground where the arts, technique and economy meet, and above all: people. All partners must work closely together. We have to get to know each other; show trust, guts and commitment. Real solidarity can also act against our own specific interests, so it will be a bumpy road to arrive at our destination, but connectivity is surely the key to a more radical responsibility for our planet. In due course, artists and scientists together will be producing poignant images and finding ways to enlighten the square, to add the WOW factor to our (most of the time invisible) enterprise. This is why we created a global partnership: “the 7 Square Endeavour”. We take part in the Big Urban Clients programme of Arcadis (a company specialised in connecting high-tech solutions in the fields of transport, environment, water facilities, urban planning and architecture) and then relate to six other squares, probably in São Paulo, New York, Amsterdam, London, Doha and Shanghai.

By doing this we keep up with our city’s ambition to position Rotterdam as an important player on sustainability, being an urbanised delta under sea level. By setting up “the 7 Square Endeavour” we are doing two things. In a very hands-on way we are heading for 100% carbon-free theatre, and in the meantime we are constructing a political/moral context for our programmes in pursuit of a sustainable ecological future. We realise that our venue, the practices and the sets of arrangements attached to it are in fact a cradle of values.



From this viewpoint we might be able to reframe our status as an institute financed by public money. Our subsidiary status is not the result of a failing business model, but a gateway to keep the arts with their vibrant ideas and illuminating images connected to the systems of politics and economy. Subsidising the arts is a way of investing in game changers. IMAGINE 2020 taught us that institutions such as our theatre are in fact the arteries of democracy and cannot play their role without a clear opinion or ideology. We have to play a much more enhanced role in our cities: as a provider of the opportunity to have an ethically informed public conversation. By doing this we are sure to reach a more ecologically and socially sustainable society.



ON HAPPINESS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF DIVERGING WAYS OF SEEING By Luís Firmo, from Transforma (Torres Vedras, Portugal)

It is easy. It should be easy. If only people came together and walked the path of transition. In his short film, “The Trail of a Tail”, Portuguese director Gonçalo Tocha shows how things could be different, in a visual poem. And it should be so easy. The film is almost the same length as John Cage’s “4’33’’” (1952). Cage’s essence of music is present in the atmosphere, when Gonçalo presents the sound of water in contrast to that of the industrial city in movement, which comes later. “The Trail of a Tail” was one of the works of art commissioned by Transforma, in the context of IMAGINE 2020 and co-produced by NEF (New Economics Foundation). It won first prize in the international Action4Climate award. Life, in all its hope for the future and ecosystem destruction, coexists here. From the world where “In Goods We Trust”, 264


and a false belief, consumers imagine they can buy happiness. Gonçalo takes the viewer into a journey of the past; a hopeful present, experienced in the midst of destruction; and the future yet to be built. There is a voice. It guides us through the restlessness of being alive. In an almost prophetic rhythm, it says to us, viewers, and graffiti artist MAISMENOS, “Words were losing sense. Among shouts and whispers, you decided to write (…) Did you believe it then? That words still have the power to transform people?” Words are still powerful. It is up to us to create the narrative that will nurture a constructive and affective imagination which will create a vision for a sustainable future. But there is still a lot to be done... “All interest sectors involved in achieving sustainable urban development have genuine but differing ‘visions’ of the future. … these ‘ideals’ and the debates about them, remain within their discrete worlds and are rarely acknowledged or understood outside their expert communities.” K. Williams, 2010, International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development



This is just one aspect of the complex problem surrounding climate change that has yet to be solved. The quote was evoked by Nancy Duxbury (from the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal) in the second Summer Lab organised within the context of IMAGINE 2020 – Art and Climate Change network, in 2012. The first took place in Montpellier, organised by the Domaine d’O partner. In this second one we brought discussion and critical thought to the central region of Portugal, the city of Torres Vedras – considered a decentralised area, because it is not one of the two largest cities of the country: Lisbon as capital, and Oporto, the so-called ‘capital of the north’. The Summer Labs represent one of the most fulfilling activities of IMAGINE 2020. Summer Labs represent the creation of a protected context. Different perspectives and areas of knowledge come together. Share, with wisdom, care and attention, what each other knows. This happened within the organisation of each Summer Lab as well as in the diverse ways each partner organised its own Summer Lab. The case of Transforma. We created an intense choreography of thought from the most diverse areas of knowledge, allowing the possibility of taking the debate out of ‘inside their discrete worlds’ 266


and confronting ideals and ideas with participants challenged to think ‘outside their expert communities’. That is also part of the essence of what IMAGINE 2020 is. From where we stand in Transforma, our proposal relates to the urgency felt to implement change so that a sustainable future has a chance of becoming a real possibility and not merely a utopia; and so that climate change and all natural life can change towards a non-catastrophic, apocalyptic, direction. This means hearing the scientists, economists, entrepreneurs, and the population in general, but situating artists at the confluence of all these worlds. All these voices we should hear, consubstantiate something which already exists in art creation: the daily practice of a diverging view on what is around us and what is part of us. We and nature we are one and we have already done enough damage to nature. After all, this is the reason why geologists affirm ON HAPPINESS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF DIVERGING WAYS OF SEEING


“we are in a new geological era: the anthropocentric era”. This diverging view must be founded on daily and real questions and only then can this alternative way of seeing establish a bridge between utopia and the constraints of reality. It is an important tool at the service of the reinvention of society. Natural to their essence, artists have the potential of adding a diverging way of seeing, concerning the themes they are dealing with. Art and climate change are just one of them. It is a way of seeing and understanding the other(s) which creates meaning, comprehensibility, to the knowledge produced by science. Brought together, they search for alternative solutions to these problems and, in this togetherness, searching may be one of the most prolific motors of the reinvention of society.



It is sometimes not evident that artists work upon the theme of climate change. Even some artists engaged by Transforma to participate in previous Summer Labs did not necessarily come away with a project which dealt directly with the subject they had been living and breathing in those initiatives. However sometimes, even if the theme is not treated in an evident and literal way, there is also a social, ethical, ecological concern inherent to artists who are engaged in the reality of life that is present at a more underground level and not immediately perceived. That is the case of artists who bring critical thought concerning the way we live to their work, that should not be underestimated. Of course, at a time of urgent action, we may expect to see in our initiatives, in the artistic creation, a clear reflection of that concern. It is not just by accident or reaction to the economic crisis that there has been an emergence of ‘artivists’. Jacques Rancière defends “the mass manifestations are becoming more moments of artistic intervention and expression of creative imagination”. Even with this in mind though, there were two projects (keeping in mind that other projects also corresponded positively to this premise) which dealt with the subject of sustainability, and the fact that nature is a part of us and not an externality. These were artistic objects which, in a subjective way, related to the “The Great Transition” report, by NEF – New Economics Foundation. This is the case with Gonçalo Tocha’s film (already mentioned above), “The Trail of a Tail”; as well as the case of writer and performer Rui Catalão, a gifted storyteller who created and presented the lectureperformance “People versus Power”. ON HAPPINESS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF DIVERGING WAYS OF SEEING


In his very personal way, working inspired by the NEF report, Catalão leaves the audience with some questions to consider. One example is a critical view on the role of imagination. Talking about an impossible task, climbing a mountain, our imagination may trick us into believing: the imagined impossibility becomes a fact. That catastrophism paralyse any chance of positive action. Rui Catalão says: “Our imagination is removing ourselves from nature, when we are part of it.” So, as with imagination, there are always at least two sides to each story... During recent years, Transforma has organised a series of activities and implemented a change in behaviour in the use of resources not solely bound to actions related to the IMAGINE 2020 network. This is an organisation which promotes the development and transformation of society through the arts and creativity, bringing together organisations and citizens of various communities, and aiming towards the production of knowledge. It disseminates and facilitates content creation processes, research and documentation, operating in artistic, educational and different socio-cultural contexts.



Our participation in the IMAGINE 2020 network was part of the frame in which we developed actions addressing concern about the future of our planet and our life on it, but inspired by this subject and the network, we went further in the activities we produced. In 2013 for example, we organised the “Transformations In Society” cycle, consisting of diverse actions and activities, including a creative laboratory. In this cycle, the collective hello!earth developed and presented “Re-everything”, a series of performances applied to the actions and thoughts of how to transform society and what society we are aiming for. One of the hello!earth interventions consisted on the “Elections for the local ministry of happiness”. In their own words: “an intervention and initiative to catalyse dialogue on values, active citizenship and forms of governance”. The event took place in Torres Vedras and they were conscious of the importance of context to influence the result. “Depending on the local response and context, it can turn into an alternative political platform, a community-driven initiative, a school project or other and it can also be designed as a participatory art-piece with a duration of around 1 to 3 hours.” This was a first edition, but in the future, also as Gonçalo Tocha and Rui Catalão say in their works of art, the ‘we’, the togetherness, the caring about the other, is the catalyst for change. ON HAPPINESS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF DIVERGING WAYS OF SEEING


Here is where happiness resides; not bought as another dormant consumerism act. This is related to what really matters, which is also present in the project hello!earth. “We are still intrigued by investigating cities and environments from within, aside, above, below. We still enjoy having questions as answers and still have strange animals included in our performances. We are still surprised by daily routines and continue to be attracted to the invisible and its complex simplicity. We love to talk to people that we meet in the street, in shops and in books. It is exciting to be alive!”



A POETIC EXPERIENCE OF THE WORLD by Jean Lambert-wild (testimony collected by Claudia Galh贸s)



THE DISCOVERY OF THEATRE AS THE HOUSE OF MAGIC I don’t speak about revelation, that would imply a kind of religious mystique which I don’t have. For me revelation means discovery, in the sense that with theatre I discovered a place I was searching for, even without knowing that I was searching for it. I grew up in a tropical climate, on the French island of Réunion (located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar). I am Creole. My childhood was nourished by heroic figures, discoverers and explorers. I wanted to be a marine captain and when I arrived in France, in the metropolis, when I was 17, I was completely lost. I felt as if I was living in a world without magic, a world that created a sense of religion but not of magic. I believe in magic in my environment. The magic of communication that can exist between certain elements, independently from being between trees, rocks, man... When I arrived in the metropolis I had the impression of being in a desperate world, empty of that magic which is so important for a poet. So I searched for a 'Terra Incognita' and became aware that I could reinvent the fantastic world about which I dreamt repeatedly on the stage. Until that moment, the idea I had of theatre was too



reductive a conception. I thought of the theatre as an expression of the bourgeoisie. When I saw the play "Three Sisters" by Chekhov directed by Matthias Langhoff, I understood it could be more than I had imagined. It has many more possibilities of being reinvented... in the fables, in History, in the social, in the amorous... I was a boy without any theatrical experience, but this has allowed me to create another thing. I didn’t become a marine. I dedicated myself to theatre, which is what I do, as a kind of navigator. What interests me is to create expeditions and search for adventures. There, in the theatre, I am a poet. I have that happy vanity to think that I have a work of art to create. It started when I was 17 years old. I named this first creation, which will accompany all my life, “Hypogeum”. This work is a corpus of things. I call it a fable, made up of different elements. It has three ‘Epics’: one has already been written, called “Splendeur et Lassitude du Capitaine Marion Déperrier Épopée en deux Époques et une Rupture” (1999) [in English: “Splendour and Lassitude of Captain Marion Déperrier - Epic in two Epochs and one Rupture”]. There is a second one, “La patrie des taupes” [in English, “Land of the moles”], which is being written now. They are inspired by family figures from my childhood. Because all those people who were around me seemed to have a fantastic and mythical quality in their character.

[In 1990, Jean Lambert-wild started the construction of his “Hypogeum”, a complex work



that he wrote and directed on stage, consisting of three ‘Confessions’, three ‘Melopoeia’, three ‘Epics’, two ‘Exclusions’, a ‘Dithyramb’ and 326 ‘Calentures’. “Hypogeum” is being done throughout his life and some of the artwork will only be revealed after his death.] I would say all the pieces of “Hypogeum” have a logic related to the organisation of my memory, in an environment where I talk with phantoms. In ‘Melopoeia’, there is a first, particularly important one for me called “Mue, Un discours de Sereburã, accompagné d’un rêve de Waëhipo Junior et des mythes de la communauté Xavante d’Etênhiritipa” (2005) [In English “Mue, a speech by Sereburã, accompanied by a deram of Waëhipo Junior and myths of the Shavante community Etênhiritipa”]. I went to work and live for a long time with the wise indigenous people of the Pimentel Barbosa reserve in Matogrosso, Brazil. We were hosted by the community of wise men and it was a real communion achieved through dreams. It lasted for a number of years and at the end, we did a show that was mute. Text was avoided. It was an organisation between my text and the dreams and fables of the indigenous shaman of the community of Pimentel Barbosa. They gave me a name. I am called Waëhipo, I think it means boar but it is mainly the name of the warrior who adopted me and I became kind of part of the family, so I was called Waëhipo Junior. Because it is a warrior tribe, I am now Rotiwà Oporè, which means ‘the chief of war from the other side of the sea’. That is why one part of what I am creating is a phantasmatic autobiography. My life is constructed in that



piece without constraint. The second one is “La Mort d’Adam” (2010) [In English “Death of Adam”], which retakes a very strange but founding fragment of my childhood. There will be a third ‘Melopoeia’ which is very particular, on which I have been working for ten years. The first is called “Tête perdue au fond de l’Océan” [In English “Lost head at the bottom of the Ocean”] and the second one “Le Jardin des éponges” [In English “The Garden of Sponges”]. They relate to something that has always been haunting me, submarines and the idea of going into the abyss. Mentally, the abyss represents a great depth. “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne is fundamental in the memory of my childhood. So, “Le Jardin...” has the desire to create a piece with the wives of men who work in submarines. It is about all which rises to the surface of human feeling, the fear of absence, the loss of sailors. And I hope to make “Tête perdue au fond de l’Océan” as a theatrical concert inside a French nuclear attack submarine.

ALL IS POSSIBLE All is possible. Until now, everybody has been saying that I will not be able to create this piece on the submarine. But I also heard that it would be impossible to live for some time with the Brazilian indigenous community... was possible. Everything is possible, it just needs commitment, it needs to be built and turned into reality. The third part of my life theatrical project is ‘Confession’, which is more intimate.



The first one is already written, it is called “Grande Lessive de Printemps” [In English “Spring Great Washing”]. It speaks mainly of my relation with disability. I used to suffer from speech aphasia. There was a moment of absence in my adolescence because of that, but it resulted in something different being constructed in me in relation to language and also in the way of conceptualising the world and my environment. In this context I created “Grande Lessive de Printemps” and “Crise de nerfs - Parlez-moi d’amour” [In English “Nerve crisis - Tell me about love”], which we continue to present. The core of “Hypogeum” is that we can pick it up whenever we want. Alongside that there are two ‘Exclusions’. They are written, but kept secret and won’t be revealed until the day I die. There is a great circle that connects everything, called ‘Dithyramb’. It makes three threes, three threes, three threes, two points...

[this is the moment when Jean is designing geometric circle figures on a piece of paper while speaking...] The great circle is the ‘Dithyramb’, which is a sort of great picaresque mural, where there is a mix of many things, in a way similar to what Frankétienne does in his great frescoes. A sort of great verbal delirium. And next to it there is the ‘Calenture’. This is a French word which means ‘the delirium which affects certain seamen, because of lack of water,



nourishment, fatigue, lack of vitamins...’ They get caught in a nervous delirium, they feel the need to sing, dance and an impressive desire to throw themselves into the sea. They tie their hands to the ship to prevent themselves from doing so. For example, there is a possibility that Ulysses had an attack of calenture when he heard the mermaids. It’s a disease that has not existed for some time now, but it was very well known in the past. Most of the performances I do - and ‘performance’ is a term I don’t like - are to show that theatre is a space for mutation which has the possibility of influencing and metamorphosing all the spaces around it. It is the only space for possible mutation with the capacity to include all media. It is a magic medium which can take all and any kind of media and organise it the way it desires or needs to. I have in the piece a very singular clown that makes up ‘Calenture’. When a person is in that state astounding things may happen. For example I did a ‘Calenture’ about microgravity and another one at the bottom of a pool... I did 40 of them, and we produced them regularly and sometimes it was very amusing. It can become a kind of experience of a strange clown to whom strange stories happen. It’s great fun. So, “Hypogeum” regroups all that I have been describing. And ‘Calenture’ as a part of “Hypogeum” is located in what we call the ‘Ecmnésie’. This is a moment related to memory, «a hallucinatory evocation of past events, with forgetfulness of recent events», where there are other shows that allow me to develop the conception of theatre I believe in. Through “Hypogeum”



I can go back and forth in the chronological order of the works I created. It may seem complex but I would say it has an ecological organisation. If you get into it, you see there is a bigger part, and there are particles... It is always strange, it is not finished, it started as I said when I was 17 years old. Now things start to merge...



WE WILL TALK TO THE TREES One work of art creates a territory, and goes forward to another. It is an idiom and it is an imaginary place with stations, moments of perdition. Sometimes we have to accept being lost. I am passionate about science and we live in a tremendous era where we are always discovering something. What? We discover what we already know by wisdom, but we have a tendency to forget: we are in permanent interconnection. There are visible interconnections, and there is ‘the world of the invisible’. But this world of the invisible is as pertinent as the visible one. It is simply the principle of a ‘radio’. Consider the human being as a radio: we capture different everyday frequencies, for example the frequency of sound, of the voice. I say, I am a radio. Sometimes I am a deranged radio, other times an amplified radio. I understand and receive other frequencies.



I am interested in the chimera of saying to myself that one day I will be able to talk to a tree. I am interested in the life of bees. I am interested in things such as the fact that our bodies produce radiation. There are also scientific concepts that completely change our metaphysical power. We know that we regenerate perpetually. I am in permanent transformation. And the work of art that I decided to create is a resistance of the memory to that transformation. Let’s take as an example the fact that we have cells. In these cells we have a micro-bacteria called mitochondria, and it is this bacteria that allows for the synthesis of energy and makes each of us a living being. This symbiosis that happens at a given moment and starts from the cell of a bacteria is genial. Mitochondria is memory space. With some amusement, I would say that I make theatre for the mitochondria. I try to remind the spectator of the mitochondria, which is invisible, through all the magic games that theatre offers. Magic of the verb, magic of signs, magic of memory. For me theatre is not a place of the present, it is a place of memory. Everybody says that in live performing arts we exist in the moment. I am not in the immediate. I think that does not even exist. It is a futility, a foolishness. Every day the present is a reorganisation of memory between a past, an action, and an already conceived future. It is this connection, this friction which is interesting. It is in this friction that we find the need for poetry because this poetry is the spermaceti which exists in whales. «Spermaceti is a wax most often found in the head cavities of whales.» One theory for the spermaceti



organ’s biological function is that it allows the whales to go to great depths. If they did not have this oily substance their brain would explode [Note: in science it is called

‘buoyancy’, an upward force exerted by a fluid that opposes the weight of an immersed object or, in this case, animal]. Poetry can be related to this idea in the sense that it is a way of conserving the world. It is not necessary to forbid anything.

A POEM WRITTEN ON MARS In the field of nonsense or proving the impossible can happen, there is the real possibility of writing a poem on Mars. It’s very simple. How can you send a poem to Mars? It is just taking the opportunity of using the programme NASA offer each time they send a new robot to Mars. There is this childhood joy of believing that every day the world is a conquest. A conquest of the spirit, not through arms. For a long time I have been passionate about spacial conquest. I would say it’s the armed arms of our solitude. A probe in space sends us a perspective of ourselves. It allows us to better perceive our situation, our solitude, our isolation, precisely in our own environment. It also allows us to report this solitude we created and be a medium of communication about that isolation. I wrote a huge poem called “Space Out Space”. It is not possible to be read. I repeat the question. How can one send a poem to Mars? You just need to have two robots, spirit and opportunity. NASA did a small children’s programme for people in general to become more interested in the conquest of Space. This was called



“Write your name on Mars”. They facilitated a programme which allowed anyone to write a name and a surname. This is the first ‘Exclusion’ of “Hypogeum” and the poem will be revealed after my death. How much did this cost? Nothing. I am not a defeatist. Even if the situation is terrible, and it is, we have solutions. If we make an effort we are able to achieve something as equally important as the Italian Renaissance. We have the money for that, we have the knowledge and the means of communication to make it come true. What we need is effort and commitment. And if we strive, the result may be unimaginable. We can talk and see each other, be in communication, and save travel money, save time. We exchange with a simple object - the Internet - which was on the level of the unimaginable just some years ago. I have the advantage, because of the fact that I was born on an island, of not being trapped or surrendered to a dogma. My conception of the poetic organisation of the world is an incredibly unbelievable joy of the constant discovery and rediscovery of the world. I can make art pieces where I put bees on stage, and with just bees I show at what point empathy is created.

THE ASHES OF MEMORY RETRIEVED Oradour-sur-Glane is a town destroyed in World War II, near Limoges (the city where the Dramatic Centre is located) where almost all the inhabitants were killed, and the village was burned, everything was completely devastated. It is an impressive place, for what it still is - the image



of destruction is preserved - and for the memory of what it represents, what was shattered and killed. It is terrifying. And this is a village that people can visit. It is a very important place of pilgrimage, and I am attached to it. I visited the village with Richard Jeriaski, director of Oradour Memorial Centre. He told me: “We must find something to create here together.” I thought about it and found what it was. Who are the living beings, still present, who saw, who testified to what happened and have memory of it? The trees. And there are linden trees which are said to bring good luck and which are also important because they were needed for the beekeepers, because they attract bees. My idea is to make those trees talk. How? I have the idea of recording the memories of what was found there. Letters, various documents... they will be recorded by professional actors. I am going to put a small device in the trees, a simple sensor that will register the presence of a passer-by. Someone who arrives at the memorial, downloads an ‘app’, and depending on the tree he/she gets close to, it calls to the person and it will say something to him/her. And it is the voice of the tree that the person will listen to. It is a game of clues. Something that will be strange but there is an intention behind it, and people are going to end up doing something in reaction to it. They are going to sit down close to the trees to hear them talk. I am going to do what we call a fuzzy limit; there won’t be a range of capture in a perfect circle around the trees. There will be irregular distances



around the tree within which it is possible to hear what they are saying. People have to be inside the zone that activates the voice of the tree. On different sides of the tree there is a more restrictive space or a further range of capture. This is also a theatrical conception, of how to understand the reasons behind poetic conception to create empathy. I do this as an idiot. It’s simply activating connections with childhood. It relates to the innocent times of our lives when we imagined the natural elements talking to us. At the same time it is also a fair tribute. These trees were in this city, if we cut them down we find inside the traces of massacre. Why? Because the massacre affected the tree. The fact that the city was burned, freed a large amount of black carbon, and the deposit of this has been forcibly inscribed all over the place. Scientifically we can prove it. It’s also one thing that is important for people to be aware of. Through this artistic piece, just saying “this tree saw it”, creates a change - even if only mentally, but I think also affectively - in the relationship I and other people have with that place. There is something related to memory that is activated.

THE EDUCATION OF THE BEEKEEPER I don’t know if the term ecology is convenient for me. I would say that it is important for me to rethink our connection to the world. Let’s suppose ecology implies, as an inverse effect, the same solution as liberalism: on one extreme there is liberalism, on the other we have an ecological life. For me



this doesn’t create any interesting effect. It doesn’t create any solution. It means I understand lots about ‘decrease’, and the discourse of de-growth, but things are not just black and white. Progress also has advantages in science, in knowledge. It is important not to forget all that. The real question is how to think of our organisation, our environment. It is to say how to change our metaphysic of the world. For that, for me, the medium is poetic. It’s to get to name things, to name our environment and when we name things, they don’t disappear. People don’t name their environment anymore. For example: I am now director of the Union National Theatre and of the Limoges Academy of Dramatic Art of Limousin. I have 16 wonderful students. I tell them, “in school you face the world”. It’s formidable. They inhabit a place in the municipality of Saint-Priest-Taurion, a wonderful house with a huge park. I ask them: “Are you able to name all the trees in this park?” They are not. We start by doing that. They have to know them. I say, “they are your life companions, they are your first public”. Then there is a small hill, it’s just around 200 metres high. They never go to the top of it. Again, I tell them, “If you go up there you can  see what is not seen from the bottom, there is a small sanctuary, and deer go there to eat, and you can observe all this.” This is important. We do beekeeping education, including honey collection, which becomes the Union’s honey. It’s perfect.

[The first decision and action Jean Lambertwild took when he assumed the position of



director of the Limoges Academy of Dramatic Art attached to the Union National Theatre, in January 2015, was to install hives so that beekeeping and making honey was part of the school programme] This has shown me the experience of an actor. If he wants to say words, he needs to understand the utility of them, and that words are here to name things. This is what is genial. We have biodiversity in our thought, the wisdom of this biodiversity is the wisdom of the world that surrounds us. If we don’t name, if we continue to feed these personalities that live in the virtual world of television and forget what is in front of us... If this continues, we will disappear. But the world won’t disappear. This is absolutely certain. For me we clearly have a delay between philosophies, poetry of the world, and all the traces of everything that has been changing in the world. This change has been happening at such a pace, that we haven’t yet built the utensils, the helpful tools, which will allow us to organise this world while still respecting what the world is. There is always this moment of chaos and then understanding. I hallucinate when in the morning I see, in the Arab world, ten million people marching, burning religious churches, appealing for the death of Frenchmen. Why? Because there was a small drawing where Muhammad was crying? They wrote: “All is forgiven.” That drawing, in my opinion, is not



even a caricature, but a letter of love. Considering this, effectively we have a problem. And the problem is always exactly the same: we are not capable of understanding and relating to our environment. We are in a bellicose and competitive atmosphere. Today we need to change that logic. For me the logic has to be different from discussing what we fight for, because otherwise it is just changing one malady for another. We need to go back to the very simple identities which build our humanity. Let’s hear the poets.

WHAT IS THE BEST ECOLOGY? There is nothing really new under the sun. The only thing is that this education of the world creates an education of the spirit which changes our behaviour, and that may create urgency. So what is the best ecology we can have? It is to educate our children. The more we transmit knowledge, the more attention there is towards our environment. I have immediate evidence of this from one of my children which made me laugh. He went to visit a friend and his mother didn’t like books and said that books have no use. And he asked: “Why?” He comes to me and tells me this, surprised, “You know papa, she says the books have no use. I swear to you, that shocked me. It was as if she said a washing machine doesn’t have any use.” It is interesting. He associates the context of his life in the world, and his own life, with a book. So, for him, a book, in his conception, is as important as a washing machine. Why not? It



is just that, for him, the book became a habit. It is a question of transmission.


A POEM IS NOT MADE TO BE READ Our brain hasn’t evolved in the same way as our tools. If we make a connection between this and theatre, the latter is a wonderful laboratory to experiment these ideas in depth. We can explore, try to refine our dialectic, to confront all our memory, to experiment and see what our possibilities are in all media, and the possibilities each media has. Related to this, we can also build transmission in the context of an idea of a public service which is education. And this doesn’t stop at the age of 18. It needs to continue. This place, the theatre, is fabulous for this. A world of truly amazing, possible permissibility. As a poet, I fundamentally chose this art because it is the one which is clearly not constrained by this epoch. Cinema is constrained by an era. In the worst of the worst I prefer to amuse myself with stones. Going back to “Hypogeum”, the second ‘Exclusion’ is a poem written on stones, which are scattered, as in a mystery game, to be discovered at any moment. We can make a useless poem. A poem is not made to be read. It is written to identify itself in a cosmogony. There is a



cosmogony which takes into account this state of space, but which also has to take into consideration the fact that I myself am also a stone. If I imagine too much, at the end if I go very high in my imagination, I will fall to the ground just because there is gravity. So the stone is a wonderful reminder of what we are, with the advantage the stone has over us: it exists always in the present. We are the fruit of the tree in which we grow. I am the son of my father and my mother. This is not idiotic. When I say this I am saying something enormous; that I am the son of this. Effectively I think the strangeness which I am, almost Freudian, is connected to this. I belong to the French nobility of the country, emigrated to escape from the ‘diktat’ of conventions, with my father who was a farmer but who takes me into the adventure of the discovery of a world, with an education of “Paideia”, the idea of the education of a young Greek, the idea of Sparta, the idea of resistance... Ideas completely out of fashion, in part connected to military strategy, understanding of the world, science, what we call the humanities. I was a disciplined student, so my brain is connected to all of this, including the warmth of the island where I grew up.

THEATRE: A COOPERATIVE OF SOCIAL INVESTIGATION The idea I always have of the experience of my past, as a child, is of someone who stored everything. The result of



that is that I did a mutation. I am the product of an amiable hazard. This means that within a moment of my mutation I am already the fruit of a mutation that occurred before, so I am simultaneously distant and close to that world. Distant because it doesn’t belong to me. It is completely foreign to me. And close because every day I am in this love relationship with a wish to know myself. I assume this completely. My childhood is more than the fruit of generations and generations and generations which succeed one another, it is the result of a transmission of something which may seem eccentric and picaresque at first glance, but is very important. And in that there is also this conception of saying we are all limited by our competences and skills. The system of cooperation is the best solution. If you observe carefully, I have never signed a show alone, I refuse the definition of stage director. I am not that. I am something else, whatever you wish. I prefer the term of the person that incriminates others in a project, as I did with Michel Onfray and Carolyn Carlson, also with Lorenzo Malaguerra, Jean-Luc Therminarias, François Royet, Juha Marshalo, Catherine Lefeuvre, Stéphane Blanquet.

[In 2009, Jean Lambert-wild started a theatrical collaboration with Michel Onfray, inspired by texts of the French philosopher. The first was “Le Recours aux forêts” (“The Recourse of Forests” in English) with the collaboration of Jean-Luc Therminarias, Carolyn Carlson and Francis Royet, at the Comédie de Caen - National Dramatic Centre



of Normandy in the 2009 Festival Boreal; the second one was “La Sagesse des abeilles” (“The Wisdom of Bees, Democritus first lesson”), with Jean-Luc Therminarias, Lorenzo Malaguerra and François Royet, at the Comédie de Caen National Dramatic Centre of Normandy, in 2012. He is now preparing a third theatrical piece with Michel Onfray] I think that in a complex world, the only way to solve complexity is through cooperation. Theatre is a social laboratory. We are here to try to create objects which are not necessarily constructed every day in relation to social stratification, which means a hierarchy led by a director. The cooperative model creates its own works of art. I don’t believe in the collective. I don’t believe in the terms performance or emergence - these are words that say something about the logic of the market. I believe in artists submerged by something that surpasses them, or young artists who are immersed and that are expected to break out... Emergent is a word that everybody uses and repeats to dismiss from the responsibility we have to transmit and inform. The single opportunity we have is still this fundamental love the French people have for liberty translated into small spaces which are National Dramatic Centres. They are small but finally the open spaces which allow us the possibility, in respect to the republican framework, to organise an experience of the world, a poetic experience of the world. This is not much, but it is essential, that in this permanent



exchange, it is a laboratory of together trying repeatedly to start again from the beginning to express ourselves and from the belief of the cooperation and transmission and knowledge. Intellectuals, poets, the university, we have a huge responsibility with semantics. This means we have to be attentive to the use we give words nowadays, which in my opinion destroy reality. The concept of ‘emerging artist’ for example, is an absolute horror. Emerging from what? If we reflect on it, it is humiliating. Me, being rebellious by nature, in the 90s people said I was a young emerging artist. And it also creates segregation. If there are those who emerge, then there are those who decline. It’s horrendous. Here, good ecology starts immediately by being responsible and putting order and sense into words, into naming. I know from experience what it means to loose words, I tell you how much more important and essential this is and how conscious I am of the relevance of this. We have the responsibility, here, at this place, of transmission. It is very easy to create shows without words. The symbolic image creates magic, it works, but are we able to associate and create meaning and magic through the use of the power of the verb? I am the one that does all the scenography for the shows. For me this is a challenge, it means to create these visually, very complex systems, but the body and the word are always present. The body is present even in its phantom. The word is always there with its generous expression. Today people need to reconcile with the verb, not in a religious sense, but in terms of reconciliation with our humanity.



THE RE-EVALUATION OF UTOPIA Firstly, I find it interesting to bring exogenous forces into theatre every day. The philosopher should work for theatre, the poet should work for theatre, everybody should, at a given moment, experience something of theatre. The connection and bonding is possible. This way you create a space of dialogue and community with different methods. Imagine for example the force of Michel Onfray associated with Carolyn Carson and myself at the service of that force. It allows for an alliance which implies ‘friendship’. And friendship is very important. It opens up space for disagreements, to close your eyes. I know to close my eyes because there is a gift which is offered by friendship, the possible reconciliation of a tomorrow. I personally believe in a possible reconciliation with that tomorrow. I don’t live as an apocalyptic. I refuse to live like that and I begin to not tolerate apocalyptics, people that repeat every minute that we are getting closer to the end of the world. Of course this is a difficult world, but if I remember well what my grandfather told me, he lived in harder times than ours. So if we keep the proportions of different times in perspective, we need to put things in their particular contexts; this is the first thing. The second is: we should have a utopia every day, but in the sense of creating the entropy of a utopia. This means that the entropy is really saying that the path is open. I don’t



want to live in a condition which has always said this will be this, and that will be that. I am too wild for that. I get troubled by everything that is turned into dogma. Everything is an occasion for poetry. Attention, we have to say and understand this: everything is possibility of poetry. If we contemplate everything this way, we have a relation to the world which evolves in its totality. And I try to think in a totality because the totality doesn’t belong to me. I am a singularity inside a totality. Thinking a totality is to preserve your singularity with the desire to possess the totality. The subject of the totality is simply a cartography of the possible which is accessible from an existence, from an experience of being. This is why I believe in this incredible opportunity which is having a life, being alive, appearing and disappearing infinite times in the course of a life. I am conscious that I regenerate myself from cell to cell and astoundingly there is a space of coherence which allows me to have memory of all this, which allows me to talk about it, which is interesting and passionate. On the other hand there is always something to be discovered. Another important thing is to understand how to obtain a supplement of oneself which disappeared in the course of a century.

THEATRE IS THE ART OF DISAPPEARANCE It is possible that the act of transmission creates its own loss. The principle of communication is: each time we transmit



something, we lose information. The obligation of each human being is always to search for that unknown loss. That is probably the best way of falling in love. Because it’s in the process of searching for that unknown loss - not for oneself but for the successive generations who lost something that was transmitted to them - that we get to re-composition and attain the experience of growing old. I find that interesting and fundamental. It is an amorous concept of the world and the human being, creating a strong form of loyalty and fidelity. Today the most interesting forms to experiment with are those of cooperation, which necessarily escape the unity of dogmas because they create an obligation of conversation. Conversation is much more difficult than democracy. Conversation, debate and the exchange of ideas are much more complex than democracy. We may have a democracy in which nobody speaks to each other but everybody votes. Talking in a dialectic model is taking the time for an exchange. We are all there to search for that loss. What I search for is without a doubt different from what another person searches for, but because we search together, in our exchange of words and conversations, each of us adds something to the other which will allow him, in new ways, to re-orientate and foresee futures of who he/she is in the world. In this sense, I am absolutely in agreement with Pier Paolo Pasolini who translated this wonderfully into the feeling of delight. He is happy, of a desperate happiness. It is more difficult to be happy than to be unhappy. To be happy



there is a need to exercise the curiosity of what is around us every day and what is around us which is part of what is on us. It is complex. For me, what I love in theatre is the fact that theatre is the space for this conversation of individuals. It is usually a strange conversation but always enriching. It is a community which comes to sit down and listen to someone who was nominated to speak, and who carries and transmits a word that is not his/hers. He/she is the transmitter of something. Words we can debate, and when there is the applause at the end, it is not for the actor, but the public itself. Considering I am part of that audience, we applaud what we have found of ourselves in what was said to us. When we don’t find anything, we cannot applaud. We praise the recovery of what we are in what has been given to us. It is because of this that the clapping of hands is important. And because of this there is nothing more touching for an actor than being applauded. He knows from that sound that he was able to disappear enough on the stage in order for something more important than him to emerge and be manifested. This art of disappearance is so singular to the theatre and is in my opinion an essential function in rethinking an ecology of the future in a modern way, already beginning with words.




IMAGINE 2020 is a relational platform which brings together thinkers, artists and activists from different areas of knowledge, to share information about Climate Change, with art at its heart. Each person’s engagement had completely different configurations and contexts. The Summer Labs – four, which happened in France, Portugal, Croatia, and the UK – are one of many emblematic activities of the network. In a concentrated frame of time, organised by different partners of IMAGINE 2020, a group of people coming from diverse backgrounds and geographies, engaged in the thinking and acting, inspired by issues related to different possible approaches to Climate Change. Here, eight of those specialists, who participated in at least one Summer Lab (most of them were involved in other ways with IMAGINE 2020) share some of their thoughts about some questions. For example: How do they relate to the subject of Climate Change? What do they see as the potential role of art to raise awareness about this issue? How do they value their relation with the network?... They are Artúr van Balen, Driss Ezzine de Blas, Guillaume Gatteau, Stijn Demeulenaere, Laurence Mellinger, Sónia Baptista, Richard Houguez and Neil Callaghan, in random order.

What is your personal and artistic relation to the subject of climate change?

Artúr van Balen: I first got

Guillaume Gatteau: Of course I had heard about climate change from newspapers, TV, etc, but my real and deep understanding of it started when I had to create a play on the topic. Then, I had to read, understand, watch and think about everything concerned with and affected by these simple words 'climate change'. I discovered a kind of parallel world where people fight for the climate and are engaged to make something change. I used to say that I was looking for a new way of becoming involved in political thought after years of disenchantment. I think I’ve found it!

Sónia Baptista: I am someone that invariably uses animalistic representations, inspirations and excuses to create my performance and poetic work. You might think of me as someone who took Deleuze and Guatarri’s becoming-animal as her own and rolls with it smoothly and creatively. Notions of identity, nature, or rather the conflict between what is nature-made and what is man-made also permeate my work. I have a natural empathy with what concerns nature and I fear for its demise. The world is becoming something else that is more and more unkind to many of its living inhabitants. As I wrote in one of my last pieces ("In the fall the fox") "there is fear in waterfalls". 304

involved in thinking about climate change in 2008/2009 when I did an exchange with the Glasgow School of Art. There I learned to gather all my food from supermarket bins. I went gathering to several Glasgow supermarket dumps three evenings a week and shared the food with my fellow friends who were also into dumpster diving. This practice of gathering food made me realize the kind of crazy wasteful society we live in on a very physical level: globalised food production that ends up uneaten in the bin. Through my dumpster dive, my friends and I also became involved in campaigns against climate change and airport expansion. This was my entry point into thinking seriously about climate change. In 2009 I cycled from Berlin to Copenhagen on a tall bike to the Copenhagen Climate Conference. Since then I have been involved in a variety of creative activism campaigns around different issues within climate change.


Laurence Mellinger: I am an environmental artist. Since 2000, I’ve produced art work to make people aware of the responsibility wich humans have towards their environment. I try to show unity in life, links between human and the earth and the fragility of the ecosystem. For me, the problem stems from the nature/culture rupture in our society. I question our ways of using materials, producing, constructing and living in the world in our emergent society. From this research a theme reoccurs: quality of life and its environment. The media varies according to inspiration and context. The idea is to create awareness and be involved in the change before it’s too late. I use different processes: photography, video, installation and collective projects (with youths, people in jail or in a psychiatric environment) between artistic, ecological and social fields. Climate change is one of my research topics... In 2000 in Sweden, I started a work based on ice and produced an experimental work of photography and sculpture. Between 2006 and 2009, I developed a collective work with inhabitants of my city called "Le Chantier Enchanté", meaning "The Enchanted Work Site". It was a collective work made with natural materials, ecological and collective pedagogy. In 2012, I started a series of pictures with the sea over my city, by superimposing painting on photography. I called them "Architectural Fictions". As a collective action, I have been involved in the "Clipperton Project" for 6 months. This project organises research and education programmes, expeditions and exhibitions all around the world, all with one ultimate objective: using exploration to energise and empower active citizens. Now I am involved in "More To Come" (MOTOCO:, a project built by the city of Mulhouse and a collective team from Switzerland, Germany and France. It has received a prize from the IBA Basel label. Imagined together by users and communities, the District DMC (a former industrial textile site) in Mulhouse was transformed into a European laboratory for social innovation and creative action from its pit (MOTOCO). The bottom-up process allows for a rich heritage to be re-conquered, a testimony living on the industrial history of Rhenish. By going beyond national borders within the framework of IBA Basel, the project has opened up new possibilities of development for the DMC site. "MOTOCO" and the project Swiss IBA generated an impressive dynamic and fertile partnership. I am also working with Bearboz on a book about the controversal closure of the oldest nuclear power plant Driss Ezzine de Blas: Science. in France, wich is near where I live. IMAGINE 2020: PERSONAL AND ARTISTIC VIEWS


Richard Houguez: In the same

Neil Callaghan: Personally I have followed

groggy way that the alarm clock rips my body from sleep and lets me know it’s time for work, industrial time also uproots forests from their seasons, or is it seasons from their companions? It’s in this grogginess I feel my relation to the subject - that lucid clarity of dreams where you’ve solved it all, if only you could remember how. I started making work about climate change when I realised it had articulated a subject within me. An unethical consumer. A highly privileged being. Politically alienated, full of many complex impulses and confused ideas of reproduction and no idea how to tell the time. I’ve been working with Liberate Tate, a collaboration of artists and activists creating a sustained visibility around oil sponsorships of the arts, with a focus on BP sponsorship of Tate Galleries. They create highly effective, fight-specific performances, to borrow Isola’s term. I’ve been very influenced by working with groups such as Platform and insurrectionist-arts collective Lab of ii.

arguments on climate change since I was a student, perhaps even as early as a child when the ozone layer and CFCs were big issues. After studying at Dartington College of Arts, I founded Propeller Performance ( with 4 friends. We were a company who made performances, gave lectures and ran workshops. We always said that our work explored "Art, Ecology, perception and orientation". Certainly we were engaging with issues of climate change, but our work came from a place of feeling like there is a lot of statistical information and scientific data available - we all know that we should recycle more and fly less - but what other possible responses could there be to climate change? Since then I have worked with people who engage explicitly and less explicitly with climate change. I have also trained in Body Weather for many years and organised several Body/Landscape workshops with Frank van den Ven in remote parts of the UK. This has certainly informed my relationship with environment and landscape. I have always had an interest in the outdoors and wrote my BA and MA thesis on ecologies, perceptions and 'becomings', and for the MA I was very influenced by Felix Guattari’s "The Three Ecologies".

Stijn Demeulenaere: Personal: climate change is an important and interesting topic. Both from a scientific point of view (how does a weather system work, how is it influenced 306


by our behaviour, what are the evolutions on a geological scale…), and a social-scientific point of view (how is our perception of the climate change question formed, how has that changed in the last decades, how are the power balances trying to influence this image and framing of the question, how does the economic field co-opt this message, etc). Artistic: one of my previous works - "SmallTalk" - discusses the perception of climate change. But, while this topic still remains important to me on a personal level, it no longer plays a role in my current artistic endeavours. I am now focusing on other questions, mainly inspired by my sociological background.

What is your relation with IMAGINE 2020? Richard Houguez: I was invited by

Laurence Mellinger: I was invited by

Mark Godber and Sam Trotman from Artsadmin to attend the first Summer Lab in Montpellier in 2011. I was sent with an ambiguous role – that of a 'Young Explorer' - to observe and partially document the experience and dynamics of the lab, and to report back to Artsadmin and the wider network partners as the lab format developed year after year. I think I am the only person who have been to all four labs. For the 2014 UK Summer Lab, I was part of the production team, and responsible for documenting the sessions.

Christopher Crimes, director of Domaine d’O in Montpellier, where the "Tipping Point" Summer Lab had taken place. In August 2011, Domaine d’O welcomed the first summer school, inspiring artists’ sensitivity towards environmental and social stakes, so as to instigate awareness among citizens. Christopher Crimes discovered my work in 2003, in Mulhouse, and showed it at La Filature, a national theatre in Mulhouse. This work, a live installation called "e" showed, simultaneously, the power and fragility of nature.

Guillaume Gatteau: Le Quai (Angers, France) asked us for a theatre play last year: we did it, and then went to summer camp last spring in Petersfield. We should have performed once more this Autumn, but Le Quai had some problems and preferred not to. We were disappointed. We certainly won’t have another opportunity in IMAGINE 2020. IMAGINE 2020: PERSONAL AND ARTISTIC VIEWS


Driss Ezzine de Blas: Participation in the Montpellier encounter. Stijn Demeulenaere: I was

Neil Callaghan: Along with Simone Kenyon,

happy to be invited to take part in the 2014 Summer Lab of IMAGINE 2020, of which I had not heard of before. I sympathise with the idea and effort of the program. Crossdisciplinary and international collaboration between institutes and artists, on a specific topic, is an intriguing approach. On top of that, I strongly believe artists shouldn’t shy away from relevant societal questions. (For more about this go to the answer to the next question). However, my own relationship with IMAGINE 2020 is, up until now, limited to my presence at the 2014 Summer Lab.

I was invited to the IMAGINE 2020 Summer Lab held in the UK, and organised by Artsadmin, at the Sustainability Centre in Petersfield.

Sónia Baptista: I hope to be able to develop an artistic project with the support of Transforma and re-unite with my fellow Summer Lab participants soon and share experiences, knowledge and queries.

Artúr van Balen: I participated in C.R.A.S.H. Course, a two week workshop around art, activism and permaculture organised by the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination and funded by Artsadmin in 2009. This was my initial relation with IMAGINE 2020.

In what way do you think artists may contribute to changing awareness and behaviour regarding a positive attitude to ecological concerns towards climate change? Artúr van Balen: I pass on this question as I think it is a very open question, but also implies that art can create maximum awareness or change an individual’s attitude. At the moment I am also trying to rethink my own practice and come up with something new for me. I think it’s important that in the face of man-made catastrophic climate change, in the so-called Anthropocene, where 'man' itself changes the composition of the earth and human technology has the ability to destroy life on earth, be it fast with the use of nuclear bombs 308


or slowly through the release of carbon emissions, we not only need to create awareness but practice M.A.S. (mutual aid society). We need to share skills and knowledge, and help build and sustain cooperatives, communities and create shared economies. How to do this in an artistic satisfying way, that is the question.

Neil Callaghan: It is hard to draw the line between work that draws awareness towards ecological concerns and awareness about climate change. I think artists might not necessarily contribute to this through the content of their work, but through what the work does. For ecologists, a healthy ecology is a diverse one, and I think it is the same for our cultural ecology. We need a variety of different responses and there is not just a correct one. We need work that processes data and represents it in comprehensible ways. We need work that focuses our attention. We need work that can show us what it means to be together. We need work that ignores all of this and shows us how to remain positive.

Sónia Baptista: Perhaps to personalise matters, keep it simple and close to one’s own experience. Big numbers and big events often de-sensitise or petrify people, and the result is inaction and/or denial. Be honest, show doubt, show hope, show your personal research on the matter, and intertwine ecological concern with artistic concern. Reference scientists but keep the philosophers at hand. Create events deriving from personal experience, performance lectures, and installations where the sometimes grim facts and truths are also poetically expressed. Do things of beauty and share, show things of ugliness, and share, with hope and positive action.


Guillaume Gatteau: It’s quite hard to answer. Artists are citizens, so they behave as citizens first. I don’t think it has to be a subject for all artists to create work about this issue. But as soon as we look at the world as human beings, everything will follow... Am I clear?

Driss Ezzine de Blas: Artists have an emotional way of dealing with complexity. Scientific rationality is sometimes not enough to find solutions, new hypotheses and to communicate with the rest of society. Other ways to deal with complexity are key to being successful in research and in communicate objectives.


Laurence Mellinger: I think there are

Stijn Demeulenaere: Personally,

different levels at which to contribute. Artists can contribute by empowering the subject of climate change more strongly! Artists could create awareness and concern through pictures, stories and reports showing the public the consequences of climate change on human beings, not only human beings living on far away islands but also here, near us. Artists could work with scientists to communicate about new discoveries. Artists could work with people to experiment with new models of society, by using collaborative and participatory economy to produce and create. We all need to work together to solve the problem. People have to learn to work together. I think in France, institutions could promote a more ecologically engaged contemporary art to make awareness more efficient.

I find this question rather problematic. First of all, the wording of the question is ambiguous and could, albeit maliciously, be interpreted in different ways. Above all, I believe artists don’t have to tackle social questions if their artistic endeavours take them on a different path or are focusing on different subjects. Artists shouldn’t do anything, except make good art. So it is up to every artist to decide for him or herself what the topics, questions and stances should be. This being said, even though I haven’t taken any activist stances in my own work up until now, I appreciate artists who do it. The only condition being, and this is paramount, that the art is good. Activist art should challenge, question, displace, attack and perhaps even subvert our own preconceptions and assumptions about the topics addressed. Even, just a blistering indictment of/for a cause could be a good work. You have to make people think, and make them question themselves, others and the world. You have to have a reason to use art to advocate your stances, and it is my belief that art needs to question. As said, art doesn’t have to do anything. This is my personal preference, what I find interesting, and I believe this is where art can be of use in the climate change debate. If you just want to be an activist and advocate a position, there are perhaps better options than making art about it. Go into politics for example, become a scientist, debate, be a journalist. I believe if art just tells the stories that all these domains tell very well, then you’re just recapping what somebody 310


else said, and perhaps they’ve said it even better. I believe some of the artistic approaches I’ve encountered in this field are rather simplistic and naïve, and lack a critical questioning of the topic and their own stance towards that topic (examples that centre on ‘becoming one with nature’, or the romantic sublimation of nature…). To me, this results very often in mostly boring and superficial art. I can’t believe this is very beneficial or even relevant for the cause. Last but not least: art is not pedagogical (or at least, not that directly). There’s nothing wrong with preaching to the already converted, but it won’t start or help a good discussion or new viewpoints. I believe activist art should aim higher.

In what way did you participate in the IMAGINE 2020 programme? Describe your involvement, and what you feel came of it. Stijn Demeulenaere: I participated in the 2014 Summer Lab. I met some great people there, stayed at a nice location, and overall had a good time. However, I did leave with the feeling of not really having done any substantial work, not really discussed anything, and not really having made anything. In retrospect, I have the feeling that the structure of the lab was perhaps a bit too ambitious. I completely agree with, and support, the organisers opting for practice-led research, however, it felt like the time for any real research was lacking. Because it was only a week and the days were packed with different workshops morning to night, it felt like there was absolutely no time to dig

deeper, to really discuss things and think of how we could thoroughly question our own viewpoints and the topics at hand in art. I felt like we were hopping from one thing to the next, hesitatingly remaining, and shallowly agreeing with each other. I know from the ‘after hours’ and off the record discussions I had with other participants of the Summer Lab that this was not due to the participants themselves, but that there were structural limitations to the setup of the week. There was simply too little time to really get into the things and questions. I found some of the workshops very intriguing (most notably the listening and discussion led by Anja Kanngieser), but even there things ended just when it started to become interesting.



Guillaume Gatteau: I already

Laurence Mellinger: I was invited as

answered, no??!!

an environmental artist. During the Summer Lab I exchanged as much as possible with other scientists, artists, economists, lawyers, etc. I shared my views on the subject as much as possible and exchanged ideas which could be concretely developed. I realized that the perception of the subject of climate change is so varied amongst different people, that we need to develop interdisciplinary projects. I got involved at this time in the Clipperton Project. I was not chosen to sail in the end, but helped the project in France. I questioned human choices for construction materials that human use to build, and our responsibility regarding these choices. During the Summer Lab we visited the Domaine d’O, and I suggested to Christopher Crimes that 4000 wooden chairs could be recycled from the outside theatre into a sculpture for the Domaine d’O. By this recycling act, I gave the exotic wood a second life, keeping the CO2 in it for longer. The Summer Lab was an extra-large open mind place of exchange between different disciplines and learning about new research. It consolidated my choices as an environmental artist and questioned my practice.

Artúr van Balen: I led two workshops in the Summer Lab. See descriptions at

Sónia Baptista: I was invited by the Portuguese partner of IMAGINE 2020, Transforma, to participate in the 2014 Summer Lab.

Neil Callaghan: Simone Kenyon and I facilitated the IMAGINE 2020 Summer Lab organized by Artsadmin. It was our job to make possible the programme that Artsadmin had curated. For us, it was a huge privilege to spend the week with such a great group of people made up of artists and activists. We made new connections and are still in touch with some of the people we met, leading to interesting conversations and further thinking about my place in the world, my politics, my responsibility and how I play a part in affecting change. 312


Suggest proposals for future action or initiatives on the subject of arts and climate change. Stijn Demeulenaere: Make the Summer Lab longer, and less packed. The practiceled research is a good approach, but it is one that needs time and also a group differentiated enough. Some counter opinions should be included. One should aim for a true debate: different opinions are necessary to really make progress through discussion and work. In general, I’d refer back to my answer 3: art needs to question in depth, and make people think about their own viewpoint, perhaps from a different angle. It should not just tell easy (and luckily by now widely accepted) stories about the topic. Even though they have their place in an artistic approach to this topic, I believe the true power of art should be to make people think, not by just advocating a point of view, but by making people think, and questioning themselves, the people around them, and the world. And of course: show, don’t tell.  Also, Neil Callaghan: It always feels it is important to have good and factual data and like there could be more time. Not just one week, but longer engagement work with these. Talk to scientists, politicians, economists, and yes, also the people opposing your over time. Not just being busy own stance and use that in your art. with new encounters and sparking It is also important that any activist art should thoughts and ideas, but about at least be aware of the key facts as understood following them through. (Perhaps this did happen through other strands by institutions and actors with an undisputed reputation. Otherwise the critical stance of the of the IMAGINE 2020 programme?) work is too easily dismissed. I think it would be interesting to take a long boat trip with a diverse group of individuals: a boat trip to Guillaume Gatteau: I don’t know... In France, America, Africa, Australia, Brazil and theatre life is organised within a 30 or 40-year-old China. To have time in which there is system, wich does not include consciousness of plenty of unscheduled time for deep climate change (waste of energy, exhortation to tour conversations and to allow various more than to work with local audiences, etc.). We responses to emerge. should think about this... IMAGINE 2020: PERSONAL AND ARTISTIC VIEWS


Laurence Mellinger: Develop exchange groups between inhabitants and artists in each city to create street furniture and gardens adapted to the emergent society: made with recycled, industrial materials from the area, built in “Fablab” nearby, developing a new relationship with gardens (solar energy to spray water or lighten, playgrounds using alternative energy)... Because public space belongs to everyone, it is the place to experiment with how to live together with different dreams or cultures. This change can start in the street. Make collective artistic actions at the seaside to draw attention to the rise of the sea level. Maybe during summer festivals. Sónia Baptista: (Refer to answer 3.)

Can you give an example of an artist that is doing influential work on this subject? Sónia Baptista: I’ll have to get back to you

Artúr van Balen: John Jordan

on that, but in her unique way I think Yoko Ono references nature as a true descendent of the haiku tradition, and expresses reverence and respect to the natural world, especially in her writings. To write about the beauty and amazement of nature is already starting a thoughtful flow.

and Isa Fremeaux and their Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination. Their workshops on art, activism and permaculture have influenced me a lot. The Public Lab and their community oriented civil science approach. This is a network of individuals and not of artists. In their words: “Public Lab is a community where you can learn how to investigate environmental concerns. Using inexpensive DIY techniques, we seek to change how people see the world in environmental, social, and political terms.”

Stijn Demeulenaere: Check the performances by Davis Freeman, “Random Scream”. They’re great.

Driss Ezzine de Blas: Not really. I am ashamed, as they probably are...

Guillaume Gatteau: No, sorry! 314


Laurence Mellinger: Naziha Mestaoui has great work about links between people and nature in a participatory way. She uses contemporary media to create new kinds of ‘Transe’ inspired by ancestral culture. She recreates a universal experience which can influence people’s awareness. It can help protect the old forest by the link she creates with native people. I like the work of photographer Spencer Tunik. He takes pictures with Neil Callaghan: For me, a few that come people naked in nature, for example a to mind: Platform (www.platformlondon. naked crowd on Aletsch, the biggest org) are doing interesting work explicitly glacier in the Alps. He relocates human related to oil and climate change and Future beings in an original posture looking at Farmers ( Then their own future. He draws the attention there are other artists whose work for me of the public by bringing together the relates with this issue but they would not vulnerability of the glaciers threatened necessarily describe their work in this way: by the reheating of the climate, and the Gisuppe Penone, Basia Irland, Jeremy Deller, fragility of the naked human body in the Min Tanaka and Milos Sejn. There are also face of the elements. He is engaged with very interesting writers: Rebecca Solnit, Lucy this issue and a poet of the landscape at the Lippard, Suzi Gablik, Naomi Klein, John same time. Berger, and Ruth Little (dramaturg).




INTRODUCTION Claudia Galhós (PT) Claudia Galhós was born in Lisbon in 1972. She has been writing about dance and performance art since 1994. She is a published author in Portugal and abroad in the area of fiction, culture in general, dance and performance. She currently writes about the performing arts for the weekly Portuguese national newspaper Expresso, and is a columnist for the “Festival Bytes” (Blog of the European Festivals Association, EFA – She was editor of the weekly TV programme about performing arts, for Portuguese public TV (2003-2005); editor of the weekly cultural magazine AGORA, also for Portuguese public TV (2012-2014); and has written and given seminars about performing arts (specialising in dance) for several publications in Portugal and abroad. Theresa von Wuthenau (DE) Theresa von Wuthenau is a Paris-based freelance curator and project manager in the performing and visual arts. Over the last five years, she has focused her work on arts and climate change and sustainability. She was among the founding members of the European networks Thin Ice and IMAGINE 2020 – Art & Climate Change, which she has coordinated for over six years. Among other projects she has also worked with the British organisation Cape Farewell, and is an artistic consultant to the French Nature Addicts! Fund.

CURATED VIEWS ARTSADMIN The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (UK) Infamous for fermenting mass disobedience on bicycles during the Copenhagen climate Summit, touring the UK recruiting a rebel clown army, running courses in post-capitalist culture, throwing snowballs at bankers, launching a rebel raft regatta to shut down a coal fired power station, covering the Tate gallery in molasses and falling in love with utopias, The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (Lab of ii) is not an institution or a group, not a network or an NGO, but an affinity of friends who recognise the beauty of collective creative disobedience. We treat insurrection as an art and art as a means of preparing for the coming insurrection. Creation and resistance are the entwined DNA strands of our practice. We see art and activism as inseparable from everyday life. Our experiments aim not to make art but to shape reality, not to show our world to you but


to change it together. We champion artists who escape the prisons of the art world, who stop playing the fool in corporate palaces and apply their creativity directly to the engineering of social movements. We befriend activists who value the imagination, listen to dreams and play with the political as they would stanzas of a poem. At the heart of our experiments lie new ways of relating to each other and organising ourselves: working without hierarchy, taking direct action, practising self-management and living ecologically, we refuse to wait for the end of capitalism, but attempt to live in spite of it. | Isa Fremeaux (UK) and John Jordan (UK) (Co-Founders) Together they co-founded art activist collective The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, and co-authored/directed the film book “Pfard dur Utopia” (nautilus, 2013) They are in the process of setting up a new school for art activism and Permaculture with the new land-based collective La r.O.n.c.e (Resist, Organise, Nourish, Create, Exist) in Southern Brittany, France. John Jordan is an art activist. He founded the direct action groups Reclaim the Streets and the Clown Army, worked as a cinematographer for Naomi Klein’s The Take, co-edited the book We Are Everywhere: the irresistible rise of global anti-capitalism (Verso 2004) and lectures in theatre and fine art. Isa Fremeaux was a lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck College-University, London, before deserting the academy to set up a new self-managed education project in France. Her action research explores popular education, storytelling and creative forms of resistance. BUNKER Henrietta L. Moore (UK) Professor Henrietta L. Moore is a distinguished anthropologist and cultural theorist and has held the William Wyse Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge since 2008. Her work has developed a distinctive approach to the comparative analysis of gender and sexuality, and to the intersections between culture and globalisation. A founding Trustee of The SHM Foundation and Chair and Co-founder of SHM Productions, she has been actively involved in the application of social science insights to the arts, business, and public policy for twenty years. Appointed fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2000 and Trustee of the Barbican Arts Centre in 2011, she has an on-going interest in the role of the arts in promoting cultural and social innovation. Professor Moore regularly participates in public and academic debates and has written and presented on subjects ranging from virtual worlds and new technologies, to self-imagining, democratic political decision-making and contemporary art.



Renata Salecl (SI) Renata Salecl (born in 1962) is a Slovene philosopher, sociologist and legal theorist. She is a senior researcher at the Institute of Criminology, Faculty of Law at the University of Ljubljana, and holds a professorship at Birkbeck College, University of London. She has been a visiting professor at London School of Economics, lecturing on the topic of emotions and law. Every year she lectures for a couple of weeks at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (New York), on Psychoanalysis and Law. She has also been teaching a course in neuroscience and law. In 2012 she was also employed as visiting professor at King’s College London. Her books have been translated into ten languages. Salecl is associated with the critical legal studies movement. She was Centennial Professor at the department of law at the London School of Economics (LSE) and is now visiting professor at the LSE’s BIOS Centre for the Study of Bioscience, Biomedicine, Biotechnology and Society, as well as visiting professor at the School of Law at Birkbeck College in London. She has been fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin (1997/8), visiting professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin, visiting humanities professor at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and visiting professor at Duke University. She also writes columns in various European newspapers, including “Delo” (Ljubljana) and “La Vanguardia” (Barcelona). In 2010, she was awarded the title of “Slovenian woman scientist of the year”. DOMAINE D’O Chus Martinez (ES) Born in Spain, Chus Martínez has a background in philosophy and art history. She is currently Head of the Institute of Art of the FHNW Academy of Arts and Design in Basel, Switzerland. Before she was Chief Curator at El Museo del Barrio, New York, and dOCUMENTA (13) Head of Department and Member of Core Agent Group. Previously she was Chief Curator at MACBA, Barcelona (2008–11), Director of the Frankfurter Kunstverein (2005–08), and Artistic Director of Sala Rekalde, Bilbao (2002–05). For the 51st Biennale di Venezia (2005), Martínez curated the National Pavilion of Cyprus, and in 2008 she served as a Curatorial Advisor for the Carnegie International and in 2010 for the 29th Bienal de São Paulo. During her tenure as Director of the Frankfurter Kunstverein she curated solo exhibitions of Wilhelm Sasnal, among others; and a series of group exhibitions including “Pensée Sauvage” and “The Great Game To Come”. She was also founder of the Deutsche Börse Residency Programme for international artists, art writers, and curators. While at MACBA Martínez curated the Thomas Bayrle retrospective, an Otolith Group monographic show, and an exhibition devoted to television, “Are you ready for TV?” In 2008, Martínez was curator of the Deimantas Narkevicius retrospective exhibition, “The Unanimous Life”, at the Museo de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, which


travelled to major European museums. Martínez lectures and writes regularly including numerous catalogue texts and critical essays, and is a regular contributor to Artforum, among other international art journals. KAAITHEATER Jeroen Peeters (BE) Jeroen Peeters (Brussels) is active as a writer, dramaturge, performer and curator. Trained in art history and philosophy, he publishes on dance and performance in various specialised media, including Contact Quarterly, corpus, Dance Theatre Journal, Etcetera, Maska, Mouvement and TM. Together with Myriam Van Imschoot and Kristien Van den Brande, Peeters directs Sarma. As a dramaturge, artistic collaborator or performer, Peeters has contributed to performances and research projects of a.o. Eleanor Bauer, Paul Deschanel Movement Research Group, deufert + plischke, Sabina Holzer, Anne Juren, Thomas Lehmen, Vera Mantero, Martin Nachbar, Meg Stuart and Superamas. KAMPNAGEL Adrienne Goehler (DE) Adrienne Goehler is a publicist and curator based in Berlin. 1989-2001, President of the Academy of Fine Arts (Hochschule für bildende Künste) Hamburg; 2001-2002, Senator for Science, Research and Culture of the State of Berlin; 2002-2006, Curator of the Cultural Capital Funds Berlin. She is the author of Verflüssigungen (Liquifications) – Wege und Umwege vom Sozialstaat zur Kulturgesellschaft, Campus, Frankfurt Main 2006 and € 1000 für jeden: Freiheit. Gleichheit. Grundeinkommen (with Götz Werner), Econ Verlag, Berlin 2010. Since 2010 she is Artistic Director of the touring exhibition examples to follow! expeditions in aesthetics and sustainability in Lima, Puebla, Sao Paolo, Beijing, Addis Ababa, Mumbai, et al. Further exhibitions: wall on wall, WestsideGallery, photographs by Kai Wiedenhöfer, Berlin, 2013; radius – research based art, part I & II, 2008 | 2011 and Art Goes Heiligendamm, an art intervention on the occasion of the G8 summit, Rostock, 2007. LE QUAI Cyril Dion (FR) Cyril Dion is a writer, director, French poet and activist. Actor by training, he was an actor before joining the Hommes de Parole Foundation as project coordinator and editorial director. In 2007, with Pierre Rabhi, he founded the NGO Hummingbirds, which he directed until 2013, before becoming their spokesman. Editorial adviser at Actes Sud



Collection “Domaine du Possible” created by him, he is the co-founder and editor-inchief of Kaizen magazine, co-produced with Hummingbirds, a film by Coline Serreau, “Local Solutions to a Global Disaster”. He is preparing a new film, TOMORROW, of which he is author and co-director with Mélanie Laurent. In 2014 he published his first collection of poems “Sitting on the wire” in the Round Table editions. LIFT - LONDON INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THEATRE Amy Sharrocks (UK) Amy Sharrocks is a live artist, sculptor and film-maker who invites people to come on journeys in which their own experience, communication and expression are a vital part. For 10 years she has been investigating people and our relationship to water. She also makes a lot of work about falling, looking at our daily trips and stumbles, questioning our need to be up. Jon Davis (UK) Jon Davis has worked as Producer at LIFT since September 2011. Prior to this appointment, Jon worked as a Project Facilitator for The Reader Organisation and as an independent producer for Il Pixel Rosso. At LIFT Jon is responsible for year round research and development and producing festival presentations and new commissions. He has delivered a wide range of projects including large scale, site specific performances, multi-disciplinary projects and theatrical productions in conventional theatres. Jon has worked extensively with artists from the Middle East and North Africa, including Ahmed Al Attar (Egypt), Lucien Bourjeily (Lebanon), Company O (Morocco), and has travelled throughout the region meeting with artists, cultural organisations and attending arts festivals. Stephen Emmott (UK) Stephen Emmott is Head of Computational Science, Microsoft Corporation. A neuroscientist by training, he now leads a multi-disciplinary research laboratory which spans stem cell biology, immunology, molecular programming, biogeochemistry and Earth System science. His Laboratory’s work has been published in Science, Nature, Nature Medicine, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Climate Change and over 100 leading domain specific scientific journals. Stephen is Visiting Professor of Computational Science at the University of Oxford and Visiting Professor of Biological Computation, University College London. He is author of the best-selling book “10 Billion”.


ROTTERDAMSE SCHOUWBURG Tobias Kokkelmans (NL) Tobias Kokkelmans (1980) graduated at the University of Amsterdam in theatre science, musicology and dramaturgey. He has worked for, a.o., The Flanders Festival in Brussels/ Ghent (B) and the Ro Theater (NL). Currently, he works as a dramaturgee for the festival Operadagen Rotterdam and the actors’ collective Wunderbaum. TRANSFORMA Gil Penha-Lopes (PT) Gil Penha-Lopes holds a PhD in Functional Ecology and is currently working on a PostDoc on “Integral Adaptation Solutions when facing Climate Change”. His research focus is on bottom-up initiatives and processes such as social movements (Transition and Permaculture) and Eco-villages, and on the analysis of the implementation success of participatory, inspirational and conflict solving tools for decision-making. Vera Mantero (PT) Vera Mantero worked as a dancer in the Gulbenkian Ballet from 1984-89. Since 1991 she has been showing her choreographic work in theatres and festivals around Europe, Brazil, USA, Canada and Singapore. She participates regularly in international improvisation projects, teaches workshops on composition and improvisation and collaborates in music projects as a singer. She represented Portugal at the 26th Bienal of São Paulo in 2004, together with the sculptor Rui Chafes, with the co-creation “Eating your heart out”. In 2009 she was awarded the prestigious Gulbenkian Art Prize for her career as a performer and choreographer.

INSIDE VIEWS ARTSADMIN + LIFT DARTER (UK) Chloe Cooper and Phoebe Davies are British artists who work independently and in a collaborative process with Louisa Martin as DARTER. Chloe Cooper (UK) Chloe Cooper is a British artist who uses performative tours, lectures and instructional videos to propose something quite improbable to a group of people, to be worked



through together. This something quite improbable normally splashes about in the rocky waters of human relationships, such as the desire to subvert conventional thought around regionalism and progress by travelling in time or seeking to understand why someone left a challenging programme of practice-sharing by inspecting a plaster cast of their foot. Phoebe Davies (UK) Phoebe Davies is a British artist and producer, her practice is defined by its location and context, investigating and exploring how people perceive their social framework. She generates work through instruction, discussion and live interaction, be it creating wrestling performances in shopping centres to feminist nail bars or public installations on byroads connecting local farm villages. Her work is often ephemeral and chanced upon, existing primarily in pedestrian spaces as well as in galleries and institutions. Michael Pinsky (UK) Michael Pinsky is a British artist whose international projects have created innovative and challenging works in galleries and public spaces. He has undertaken many residencies that explore issues which shape and influence the use of our public realm. Taking the combined roles of artist, urban planner, activist, researcher, and resident, he begins residencies and commissions without a specified agenda, working with local people and resources, allowing the physical, social and political environment to define his working methodology. Artsadmin and LIFT (UK) Judith Knight is Co-Director of Artsadmin, Beki Bateson is Executive Director of the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT). Both Artsadmin and LIFT are members of the IMAGINE 2020 Network, and co-commissioned Plunge. Beki Bateson (UK) Beki Bateson is Executive Director of London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT). Previously CEO at Greenbelt Arts Festival for nine years, she was also Projects Coordinator for the human rights charity Amos Trust of which she was also Chair (20072012). Beki has led trips to the Middle East, Nicaragua and South Africa and made films promoting charitable work including HIV and microcredit initiatives. Beki was co-founder of Vaux, a collective of artists and city-lovers, and has lived in London for twenty years. Judith Knight (UK) Judith Knight is the co-director and founder of Artsadmin. She worked in theatres in Hull, Glasgow and London before setting up Artsadmin in 1979. Over the years Judith has


produced numerous projects by different artists, nationally and internationally, many of which have been site-specific pieces in locations all over the world. She is on the boards of the arts and environment organisation Tipping Point and theatre company Jericho. She was awarded an MBE in 2007, and in 2009 was made Officier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government. BUNKER Nevenka Koprivšek (SI) Nevenla Koprivšek was trained at Ecole Jacques Lecoq. She began her professional career as an actress, then theatre director. She was artistic director of Glej theatre and in 1997 established BUNKER. Since then she has acted as the company’s director, as well as artsitic director of MLADI LEVI international festival. Bunker is also in charge of STARA ELEKTRARNA, an old power plant converted into a performing arts centre. Nevenka has been involved and co-founded many international networks and exchange projects. She occasionally is writes, researches, lectures and advises on different issues of programming and cultural policy. She is also a certified practitioner and trainer of the Feldenkrais method of awareness of movement. In 2003, the City of Ljubljana gave Nevenka Koprivšek a major municipal award for special achievements in culture and in 2011she was honoured by the Government of France as a Chevalier d’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. DOMAINE D’O Christopher Crimes (UK/FR) Christopher Crimes first taught languages and arts in Southampton. Over the last 40 years he has developed expertise in challenging new projects throughout France. Initially assistant director of a multimedia centre serving schools and teachers throughout France he moved on to the performing arts in 1982 and joined the management team of Oscar Niemeyer’s Maison de la Culture in le Havre. In 1993 he opened “la Filature” one of the major venues for performing arts in the east of France, home to all the major international talents: Merce Cunnigham, Denis Marleau, Trisha Brown, Bob Wilson but also Alvis Hermanis, Christophe Marthaler to name just some of the 900 artists supported or produced over the 13 years of production and programming. Moving on to the Quai in Angers – a new arts centre with accent on sustainable development and also a founder member of the Thin Ice network. In Montpellier he developped an ambitious project involving arts, science and audience involvement around the major questions of present day society and notably climate change which was concluded by the opening of an exciting new 600 seat theatre, designed on sustainable principles and with limited energy needs At present Christopher is General Manager of NA!Fund.



DOMINO Zvonimir Dobrović (HR) Zvonimir Dobrović was born in 1978 in Zagreb. He is developing the Domino’s artistic programs (over 100 events per year), implementing the strategic plan, building institutional marketing for the organization and securing the budget for a steady growth of the organization and also is responsible for cross-sector cooperation between the organization and a wide pool of stakeholders (NGO, arts, politics, media). Founder, producer and curator of two festivals: Queer Zagreb (since 2003) and Perforations – week of live art (2009). Perforations Festival is presented in Croatia annually in Zagreb, Rijeka and Dubrovnik and commissions up to 20 new works per year.In 2012 started an annual Queer New York International Arts Festival.Invited as curator for different festivals and events – Limit festival Belgrade, Balkan focus Onassis Cultural Center Athens 2014, Contrefugue Le Quartz Brest 2012, etc. Executive Producer of IETM Zagreb 2012 meeting (450 participants / conference – Informal European Theater Meeting).Founded Balkan Performing Arts Network with the goal to promote and support local and regional artists internationally 2012.Started the first comprehensive international research and development year round artist residency program in Croatia 2013. Editor of a performing arts magazine Balcan Can Contemporary, published 3 times a year in English in Slovenia by Maska. KAAITHEATER Guy Gypens (BE) Guy Gypens is currently the artistic director of the Kaaitheater arts centre in Brussels. After obtaining a master’s degree in economic science and an MBA in marketing & human resource management he became the administrator at the Beursschouwburg in Brussels from 1987 to 1991. From 1991 until 2007 he was Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and her dance company Rosas’ general manager. Simultaneously, he worked for some years as theatre company tg STAN’s and contemporary music ensemble Ictus’ manager. From 1996 to 2000 he also directed the Springdance Festival in Utrecht. KAMPNAGEL Amelie Deuflhard (DE) Amelie Deuflhard was born in 1959 in Stuttgart. She is married and a mother of four children. After studying Romance, History and Cultural Science she worked as a research assistant at the University of Tübingen and at the Museum für Technik und Arbeit (Museum of Technology and Work) in Mannheim. From 1996 onwards, Amelie Deuflhard was a producer of theatre- dance- and music-projects in Berlin. Between


2000 and 2007 she directed the Sophiensaele in Berlin and developed it into one of the most important independent production venues in Germany and beyond. In 2003 she was head of the association “Zwischen Palast Nutzung” (Temporary Palace Use) that created and organised an artistic programme for the Palast der Republik (Palace of the Republic, Berlin). In 2004/05 she was one of the artistic directors of the “Volkspalast” (People’s Palace), a kind of festival project at the demolished Palace of the Republic. This project produced an international discussion about the use of the palace square that has been lingering until today. Since 2007 Amelie Deuflhard has been Artistic Director of Kampnagel Hamburg, the biggest independent stage and production venue for Performing Arts in Germany. Amelie Deuflhard is (Co-) Editor of several publications, eg. “VOLKSPALAST – Zwischen Aktivismus und Kunst” (2005), “Spielräume produzieren – Sophienseale” (2006) and “Parcitypate: Art and Urban Space” (2009). In March 2010 Amelie Deuflhard received the Caroline-Neuber award from the city of Leipzig, for being a “founder of theatre in the best sense of the word”. In November 2013 she received the insignia of the Chevaliers des Arts et lettres from the French ministerial of culture for her engagement in cultural dialogue between France and Germany. Uta Lambertz (DE) Uta Lambertz was born in Unna/ Germany in 1983. In 2003 she started her studies at Ruhr-Universität Bochum where she completed her degree in theatre & media studies in 2007. During her studies she did internships at Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen and Schauspiel Essen and worked as musician and freelance dramatic advisor for several scenic projects. From 2008 she worked as an event manager and project leader for Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen, where she later pursued her postgraduate studies in Communication & Cultural Management. In 2010 she completed her master’s degree under Prof. Karen van den Berg and Prof. Dirk Baecker. Since 2010 she has been working at Kampnagel – Centre for Finer Arts in Hamburg. As a curator she is primarily responsible for cross-genre-formats and strategic partnerships. Since 2010 she has also worked as a guest lecturer for University of Hamburg, Theater Academy Hamburg, University of Witten/Herdecke and Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen. Gregor Zoch (DE) Gregor Zoch was born in 1988 in Peine/ Germany. In 2009 he started his studies at Hafen City University in Hamburg where he completed his bachelor degree in cultural studies and urbanism in 2013 under Rolf Lindner. During his studies he organised different projects dealing with arts in public spaces. After a first internship at Kampnagel – Centre for Finer Arts in Hamburg he worked as personal assistant to the artistic director Amelie Deuflhard (from 2013 - 2015). Since 2015 he has been working as a curator for performance and theatre as a member of the artistic team at Kampnagel.



LE QUAI Christian Mousseau Fernandez (FR) Academic background: Sociology Master’s applied to local development; Bachelor and Master’s in design and implementation of cultural projects. Professional Experience: Director of the theatre Le Quai d’Angers (2009-2014); Director of Cultural Affairs and theatre Saumur (2003-2009); Director of Cultural Affairs of the 1997 Douchy Mines (2003); Member of the steering committee of the research programme of the value and usefulness of culture, since 2011. NTIL - NEW THEATRE INSTITUTE OF LATVIA Zane Kreicberga (LV) Zane Kreicberga has been trained as theatre director at the Latvian Academy of Culture where she is currently lecturing theory and practice of contemporary theatre and theatre management. She is one of the founders and curators of the New Theatre Institute of Latvia (NTIL) and the International Festival of Contemporary Theatre “Homo Novus”. At NTIL Zane currently is developing activities in the framework of European project “IMAGINE 2020: Art and Climate Change”, which concerns artistic response on topical ecological, economical and political issues. Her interests of research include acting techniques, the role of theatre in social and political context. ROTTERDAMSE SCHOUWBURG Ellen Walraven (NL) Ellen Walraven is currently, and since 2013, Artistic and General Director of Rotterdamse Schouwburg ( City Theatre of Rotterdam, the Netherlands). She was dramaturge of Toneelgroep Amsterdam (2010); General and Artistic Director of Amsterdam Cultural Political Centre, De Balie, and Artistic Director of Informal European Theater Meeting in Utrecht (2004-2005). Among the various responsabilities she assumed in arts (in supervisory board, in advise, programmaking and in publications), Ellen Walraven has worked as dramaturge for different groups and was a member of theatre collectives. TRANSFORMA Luís Firmo (PT) Torres Vedras, Portugal. Cultural and Arts Manager and Curator, holds a Product Design Degree from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Lisbon (FBA-UL) and a Sculpture Graduation from AR.CO, Lisbon. Post-Graduated in Arts Management at National


Institute of Administration (INA) / Foundation CCB-FLAD, Lisbon, in Curatorial Studies at FBA-UL / Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and in International Cultural Relations at the Faculty of Humanities, Catholic University, Lisbon. Has developed diverse activity as creator, as trainer, as manager and as a curator and programmer of contemporary arts. Develops a continuous activity in the cultural sector, collaborating with various organizations, national and international, evaluating and/or facilitating the creation and implementation of projects of different nature (arts, design, architecture), and preferably features that integrate research into new forms of dialogue and intervention in the public space. Founder Member, Chairman and Director of Transforma.

OPEN DIALOGUES Jean Lambert-wild (FR) Author, actor, set designer and theatre director, Jean Lambert-wild was born in 1972 in Reunion island. In 1990, he started the writing and the theatrical creation of his “Hypogeum”. In 1997, he became associate artist at the Théâtre Granit- scène National of Belfort and founded the cooperative 326. From 2007 to 2014 he headed the Comédie de Caen - National Dramatic Center of Normandy; then, in 2015, the Theater of UnionNational Dramatic Center of Limousin and Academy of Dramatic Art of Limousin. His writing plays a major role in his artistic work, which combines tradition and innovation. The theatre he defends is in essence a multi-art “medium”, the place where codes from all artistic disciplines express themselves and create meaning. For each of his projects, he constitutes a phalanx of collaborators and place in the centre of his creations a network of different artistic, technic, scientific or academic skills in order to explore new perspectives for theatrical art and stage writing. ARTISTS SUMMER LABS Artúr van Balen (DE) Artúr van Balen is a Dutch-Hungarian conceptual artist, researcher and activist. Having studied philosophy, fine arts and ceramic design van Baleńs individual and collective work has been internationally exhibited at Victoria and Alberts Museum (Disobedient Objects Exhibition 2014, London), the Media Impact Festival for activist art (Moscow 2011 and 2013) and at the food art exhibition Eating by Design (Designmuseum Eindhoven 2012, Netherlands), amongst other notable venues. His sculptures—ranging from 10 meter high inflatables used at protests to delicate porcelain designs—reveal a fascination with the ephemeral and the state of transformation. This transformation can take many forms both physically through inflatables and biological processes as well as socially through



activism and engaging in social change. However, at the heart of everything van Balen does there is a touch of irony and play at work. Driss Ezzine de Blas (FR) Driss Ezzine-de-Blas is PhD in economy. His research activities also integrates ecology and sociology research methods. He is Principal Investigator at CIRAD ( where he leads various research projects on multi-criteria evaluation of development and conservation policies, including issues of equity and human development. Guillaume Gatteau (FR) Born in 1970, Guillaume Gatteau soon fell in love with theatre and words, learnt some philosophy and acting, and has continued until today as a regissor. He is happy in his own life but angry with some people that make the world crazy. Stijn Demeulenaere (BE) Stijn Demeulenaere is a sound-artist, a radio maker and searching musician. He holds degrees in sociology, cultural studies and studied radio at the RITS school of arts. Stijn was the curator and producer of the free form radio show ‘Radio Eliot’ on Radio Scorpio. He worked as an editor for Jan Fabre and worked as a journalist for the Belgian public radio stations Klara and Radio 1 and for the independent radio station Radio K Centrale in Bologna, Italy. He was a founding member of the improvisation collective Karen Eliot. In 2009 he started out as a sound artist, showing his first installation “SmallTalk” at the Burning Ice festival at Kaaitheater in Brussels. Stijn is attracted to sound because of its directness, it’s malleability, and it’s mystery. In sound he tries to unravel social structures, personal history and the unconscious imagination of people. He is currently working around the themes of the ruin of listening and the personal experiences of sound. Lately, Stijn has been increasingly involved with dance. He created the soundtracks for the dance pieces “As It Fell” by Marisa Cabal and Stav Yeini, and “Vartaloiden Kaupunki” by Veli Lehtovaara. Other collaborations included directors and video artists Ychaï Gassenbauer, Pierre van Heddegem and Visual Kitchen. His work was shown or played in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Portugal and the UK. In 2014-15, Stijn is artist in residence at Overtoon, (Brussels, BE) and associated artist with the Pianofabriek Arts Lab (Brussels, BE). Stijn lives and works in Brussels (BE). Laurence Mellinger (FR) I was born in Metz in 1972. I am a professional visual artist since 1999. I currently live and work in Mulhouse, east of France. Environnemental artist and designer, my research is centered around what binds Men to nature. To the question “ how to live in harmony with the world? “ I answer by various projects or works between artistic, ecological and


social fields : household objects, outdoor design, spaces, gardens, pictorial expression, installations, photographs, supervision of consultation project and collective creation with inhabitants for the transformation of their place of life. From this research a theme recurs : quality of live and its environment. The Media varies according inspiration and context, each activities rewarding the others. Since 1992, while following my studies, I teach drawing and achieved murals painting on order. Graduated from a Design art School and from Paris National School of Fine Arts, I have been affiliated at «the house of the artists» since 1999. Sónia Baptista (PT) Sónia Baptista was born in Lisbon in 1973. She completed the Contemporary Performers Course at Fórum Dança in 2000. Her training was complemented in numerous dance, music, theatre and video workshops. She obtained, with distinction, the degree of Master Researcher in Choreography and Performance from the University of Roehampton, London, U.K. In her work she explores and experiments with the languages of Dance, Music, Literature, Performance and Video. As performer and co-creator she collaborated with various artists and companyies, amongst them, Laurent Goldring, Patrícia Portela, Aldara Bizarro, Vera Mantero, Thomas Lehmann, Sílvia Real, Teatro Cão Solteiro and AADK. In 2001 she received the Ribeiro da Fonte Award for best newcomer in the Dance Field, from the Portuguese Ministry of Culture, for “Haikus” (her first piece), a series of short solos that were officially premiered at the Danças na Cidade Festival in 2002. In 2015 she premieres her new piece, “A Falha de onde a Luz”, at the Festival Cumplicidades in Lisbon, and writes a dramaturgic piece, “Peremptório Erro sem Dano”, about the work of the artist Pedro Tudela, premiering at END, in Coimbra (Portugal). Neil Callaghan (UK) Neil was born in Portsmouth, England and studied Theatre at Dartington College of Arts. He has been making performances since 2002 with various constellations of people. He works alone, in collaboration numerous others and for many dance and theatre companies including: Featherstonehaughs, Requardt&Rosenberg,Kazuko Hoki, Nicola Conibere, Dan Canham, Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods a.o. Along with other graduates from Dartington he was a co-founder of propeller performance, a company to set up to explore art, ecology, perception and orientation. He is interested in curating and creating contexts for things to happen. He is involved in an on-going collaboration with Simone Kenyon, with whom he has undertaken numerous projects, including facilitating the Imagine 2020 Summer Lab organised by Artsadmin.



Richard Houguez (UK) Richard Houguez is researching modes of hairdressing which engage in private and public symbols and wider social contexts of hair, with performances and collaborations. Richard is currently organising salons at Common House in Bethnal Green, around new forms of social cooperation, and the politics of the building’s users as a starting point. Other ongoing activities includes sustained pressure performances with Liberate Tate on oil sponsorship issues and working with Artsadmin’s Imagine 2020 team to produce the Imagine 2020, 2014 Summer Lab.


The IMAGINE 2020 - Art and Climate Change network members are: Artsadmin | Toynbee Studios 28, Commercial Street, London E1 6AB, United Kingdom T: +44 (0) 20 7247 5102 | F: +44 (0) 20 7247 5103 | Bunker Productions | Slomškova 7, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenija T/F: +386 1 231 4492 | M: +386 31 326 099 | Domaine d’O | 178 Rue de la Carriérasse, 34090 Montpellier, France T: +33 (0)4 67673100 | | Domaine d’O left the network in 2013 Domino | Ožujska 9, 1000 Zagreb, Croatia T: +385 1 3820019 | Kaaitheater | Akenkaai 2, 1000 Brussels, Belgium T: +32 (0)2 201 58 58 | F: +32 (0)2 201 59 65 | Kampnagel | Kampnagel Internationale Kulturfabrik GmbH Jarrestrasse 20, 22303 Hamburg, Germany | T: +49 40 270 949 89 | F: +49 40 270 949 11 | Le Quai | 17 rue de la Tannerie, BP 30114 49101 Angers, France cedex 02 T: +33 (0)2 44 01 22 22 | F: +33 (0)2 44 01 22 11 | LIFT | Institute of Contemporary Art, The Mall, SW1Y 5AH, United Kingdom T: +44 (0) 20 7093 6340 | F: +44 (0) 20 7093 1304 | New Theatre Institute of Latvia | Miera iela 39-2, LV 1001 Riga, Latvia T/F: +371 6 7228477 | Rotterdamse Schouwburg | Schouwburgplein 25, 3012CL Rotterdam, The Netherlands T: +31 10 404 41 11 | F: +31 10 413 24 04 | Transforma | Largo de Sto António, 24-26, 2560-632 Torres Vedras, Portugal T: +351 261 336 320 / 261 101 944 |

IMAGINE 2020 is funded with support from the European Union. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

About the Publisher ARTINSITE _ ArtinSite is an editorial project made by Transforma that produces magazines, books and catalogues based on eclectic approaches about contemporary culture. TRANSFORMA. Largo de Sto Ant贸nio, 24-26, 2560-632 Torres Vedras, Portugal T: +351 261 336 320 / 261 101 944 |

There is Nothing  

The network IMAGINE 2020 – Art and Climate Change proposes, among other things, to raise awareness about the question of climate change thro...

There is Nothing  

The network IMAGINE 2020 – Art and Climate Change proposes, among other things, to raise awareness about the question of climate change thro...