Sailing towards a New Horizon
Ahoy, dear reader!
We are about to set sail for my third blog of the New Horizons Leadership Programme. I am searching for a new horizon, where a sustainable circus sector would be a fact of the present, not a dream in the future. My last blogs can be read here. Will you join me on this adventure?
Very well! Welcome onboard.
When I am not part of the NHLP, I am working as an artist, creator and core crew member in the contemporary circus company Acting for Climate. Our aim is very clearly stated as wanting to use art to inspire people to act for a more sustainable future. We have a lot of different projects running parallely, yet what connects them is this search for sustainability both thematically and practically. We collaborate with climate scientists, we tour by sail, by train, and by bike, we dumpster dive and create collectively, and we want to create networks of artists, scientists and activists that want to work creatively with climate change.
I have always wondered why some people want to separate their political self from their artistic, professional or personal self, like circus artists not wanting to create political art. Political wishes are, after all, based on your values. Why would you like to separate your values from your everyday life?
Personally, I believe that everything is political, and that we often underestimate the impact of making clear political choices in our everyday life, and as leaders and co-creators of the culture field (or whatever other field you are part of).
When it comes to the art sector, there is so much we can do on the merely practical level that has a political impact. When you decide to tour by train, and not plane, you can actually calculate how much less CO2 you emit into the atmosphere. When you choose a director that is not the white, straight, cis-man age 50+ that everyone else is working with, you are actively supporting a diversity of voices in the field. When you start thinking about diversity and accessibility, you can find new representation.
Climate change is inevitably a crisis of culture. It is the result of a culture whose norms encourage us to pursue paths that literally destroy the earth we are walking on.
Scientist, system analytic and environmentalist idol Donella Meadows defined leverage points for system change. It describes where an action will have the biggest impact to change the world. If you know what a teeterboard is, you know that jumping as far out as possible will give you the most force. In the same way, Meadows made a model for where an action will have the biggest impact.
In the one end of “least impact”, one finds changes like taxes. On the very other end with the biggest impact (or the edge of the teeterboard!), is the power to transcend paradigms and change the very values our society is built upon. You know what is the good thing about that for us working in the art field? The fact that that is the very thing we are dealing with.
Art affects people in a different way than pure science and facts does. As performers, we lend our bodies to the audience to experience a different set of values or a change of values. It can be love, or insanity (or both!). It can be a manifestation of ecological collapse. It can be to live in a moment of utopia. Performing is the trust to be part of someone's dreams, emotions and imagination for a moment, and a gift to treat with care.
"Climate change is inevitably a crisis of culture. It is the result of a culture whose norms encourage us to pursue paths that literally destroy the earth we are walking on."
You are invited to join this journey as a passenger. If you, however, would like to try steering the ship and pulling the ropes as well, I have a task for you. In my last post, I shared what sustainability means for me. Since you are still with me, I believe you also care.
I have some questions, and invite you to write down what you find and share your answers with me or with a friend:
What inspires you to work with climate change, nature and sustainability?
What is sustainability for you?
Without any boundaries or limitations (economically, personally etc) - how can you create art on the foundation of this?
What are your different circles of influence (your company, your local training space, your friends, the Norwegian Arts Council etc)?
What are the challenges of art practice of today when it comes to sustainability?
What could we do about these challenges? How can you use your circles of influence for a positive change?
How do we connect across borders and genres for artistic environmental action?
What gives you hope?
And with hope, dear readers, I will end my official voyage with the New Horizons Leadership Program. Thanks to the generosity, wisdom and of Lina, Typhaine, Elena, Mara and the rest of BNCN, and the whole beautiful and brave crew of DYNAMO, I’m excited to set sail for yet new horizons.
PS: If you would like to know more about Acting for Climate and how we work with these topics, I recommend a Facebook live (filmed at DYNAMO!) we did a little while back as a starting point.
PPS: If you want your daily motivation of why we need to be radical, I read this.
All images: courtesy Emma Langmoen
Published on: 18. June 2021
NHLP has been made possible with the support of Nordisk Kulturfond and Nordic culture Point, Nordic Council of Ministers, and Lund Municipality