At first glance, you might have thought that activism, arts and permaculture would make the strangest of bedfellows, but don’t let any preconceived notions cloud your judgement. The imaginative people behind ArtsAdmin are laying on a fortnight of activities which will demonstrate how effortlessly these subjects can work together. Under the name of Two Degrees , and with the recent quote by George Monbiot acting as a kind of frame of reference – ‘We have to stop treating climate change as an urgent issue, we have to start treating it as an international emergency” – the week long series of performances, activities, exhibitions and installations will have one thing in common; our relationship with the environment and the impact of climate change.
I chatted recently with ArtsAdmin, in their beautiful and unexpectedly peaceful surroundings (well, they are on Commercial Road!) of Toynbee Studios (also the setting of many of the forthcoming events). They explained that even the title of the festival is apposite. ‘Two Degrees’ is in reference to the reports that global temperatures are set to rise by that amount in around 40 years. A relatively ‘small’ rise such as this could lead to catastrophic changes on our planet.
While the message is serious, many performances will be light hearted, and all will be engaging. A case in point, the ‘set list’ reads thus;
“A reconstructed airplane serves real airline food delivered from City Airport; permaculturists and artists lead a foraging exploration of the City; a crowd of Londoners, an artist and a water dowser trace the course of a great London river; radical temporary transformations of lunchtime London; an artist-activist family confess to past flights they have taken; climate change cabaret; an urban-rural walk to City Farm; a bicycle-powered DJ set (run by good friends of Amelia’s Magazine; Magnificent Revolution) and a filmed rural idyll accompanied by passenger jet noise form Two Degrees”
Personally, I like the sound of the climate change cabaret. It’s about time that cabaret branched out a little, don’t you think? Speaking of avant-garde performances, a particular highlight of the week will be C.R.A.S.H. A Postcapitalist A-Z, a collaboration between ArtsAdmin and the fantastically named collective that is The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination. While it is difficult to predict exactly what will occur, (it’s best just to come down to the City of London to watch), C.R.A.S.H will be creating a phantasmagorical world where “Eight postcapitalist commissions transform lunchtime in the City including the very last opportunity to purchase a real woman, a soup kitchen distributing bowls of gold soup to City workers, a lone cyclist pedalling a field kitchen around the Square Mile, a forum of bankers, ex-bankers, climate activists, artists and others confessing their capitalist tendencies, and a café of equivalence where a bowl of food costs the same as a banker’s daily salary in parallel with food costs in the developing world.” I believe it is safe to say; brace yourself!
Elsewhere, the issue of airline travel is of course, a pertinent topic in an event that is engaging in dialogue about climate change. At Toynbee Studios, it will be dealt with in an unexpectedly humorous way. In an activity that Dada would be proud of, the artist Richard DeDomenici (and his cabin crew) will be serving out helpings of airplane food, in its airline style packaging. Just in case you didn’t think that this was authentic enough, your meal will be served as you sit in a recycled airplane interior, which Two Degrees hasten to add, also includes in flight entertainment. For any of you who would pitch up just because you like the taste of airline meals (someone has to…?) there is a deeper meaning behind this. DeDomenici is responding to a recent quote by chef Marcus Wareing about British pub food, which he declares being of poor quality, so much so that for a proper meal, “you would be better off getting on a plane”. Now, I would disagree with chef Wareing on both counts. Has he never eaten at The Eagle? Moreover, it is an irresponsible comment to make, one which highlights the ease in which we get on and off flights, almost as if they were trains. So, rather than getting on a plane, you can experience all the wonders of a flight (but without the guilt of actually flying). Hurrah!
If you are anything like me; a bit of a hippy with a nerdish fondness for maps and discovering secret, ancient rivers, ( I’ll admit that there are very few of us around!) then you will especially enjoy the outing that Two Degrees have planned. The artist Amy Sharrock will be leading a walk which she describes as her response to global concerns. This will come in the form of an excursion from Islington to the Southbank, tracing the lines of the ancient, and lost Walbrook River. Not obscure enough for you? Did I mention that any participants will be dressed in blue and tied together to resemble water molecules?
All of the events can be booked online at www.artsadmin.co.uk. It promises to be a thought-provoking and engaging week. Knowing ArtsAdmin and the people behind this event, however out of left field the performances may be, the message will be central: we are running out of time in which to save the planet, and the time in which to act is now.
- EcoMag open entry project for artists, illustrators & designers
- Interference: Art for Activism at Artsadmin
- Brixton makes transition
- Climate Change Conversations, Lift Festival
- Heart Shaped Shades and a giant LOVE shaped Laser