Thursday, September 26, 2013

How do we negotiate the Anthropocene?

Tomorrow, September 27, 2013 at 6:30pm
21 Ludlow, St.. NYC NY

I am very pleased to share the stage tomorrow night with esteemed colleagues:
Garry Golden, professional Futurist, moderates a panel that includes Aviva Rahmani, Peter Fend, Eve Mosher and Susan Goethel Campbell
The new IPCC group completed its first of three international meetings yesterday. The final report is due for publication on Halloween 2014. It is already being critiqued for soft-pedaling the danger and challenges of climate change. As with the Soviets beginning drilling in the Arctic, despite the Greenpeace resistance, China is continuing to build coal plants & the US is fracking like crazy. It is going to be very hard to turn around this ship. The argument is that soft-pedaling alarms no one, so there is more chance of dialog. That looks like appeasement from here. I am back in NYC from Maine, trying to negotiate a terrain of deadlines to contribute what I can to the broader conversation. It is a bright shiny Fall day in NYC and this is exhausting but optimistic work. For a couple decades, I've taken the approach that as performance artists, endurance events that require artists to sustain difficulty, makes us into avatars of the earth as we know it: trying really really hard to survive with tools that are old.
This encaustic painting over a Google Earth view of the Wolf River for the Fish Story project, is about fish habitat in Memphis, TN. It interprets how periodic flooding from tributaries of the Mississippi River could affect suburban residences of the outskirts of Memphis but open new channels for fish passage. (Rahmani 2013)

Panel Discussion: Changing Environments
Aviva Rahmani will join Peter Fend, Eve Mosher, Susan Goethals Campbell, and Moderator Gary Golden for the Artist and Scientist Panel
Friday, September 27th at 6:30pm.
21 Ludlow Street
New York, NY 10002 (LES)
Hours: Thursday-Sunday,12-6 PM
Subway: F to East Broadway

The CENTRAL BOOKING panel is going to be an awesome group. What I find most intriguing is that the moderator, Garry Golden, is a futurist. I hope that means our discussion will look forward realistically rather than more woe-is-me-ism or pollyannaism. I understand there's still a ton of education to be done. But I also think those of us in the field really need to hear about concrete, transdisciplinary tools at this point.  This is going to be a dry run for me, for the SER presentation. Both will synopsize the science behind Trigger Point Theory for the first time.- Aviva Rahmani

SER2013 World Conference on Ecological Restoration: 
Reflections on the Past, Directions for the Future
Aviva Rahmani will present "Trigger Point Theory; 
an idea model for large landscape restoration in the Anthropocene"
Tuesday October 8th 10:30am-12:30pm  
Session 1.02 Restoration Ecology at Large Scales II
Chaired by Dawn R. Magness
Hall of Ideas F
Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center
Madison Wisconsin

"Triggering Change: A call to Action." published in Issue 48 Vol. 24, Spring/Summer 2013 of Public Art Review can be viewed online: 

"Fish Story Memphis; Memphis is the center of the world" will be published  

online for the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.  

Here is more information on the event tomorrow night:

Panel Discussion: Changing Environments

Admission: $5

As part of CENTRAL BOOKING’s ongoing panel series delving into the confluence of art and science, we are pleased to present the accompanying discussion to the exhibition Un/Natural Occurrences. Comprised of members from the arts and sciences communities, the panel will discuss issues regarding the changing state of both the global and local environment. Gary Golden, professional Futurist, moderates a panel that includes Aviva Rahmani, Peter Fend, Eve Mosher and Susan Goethel Campbell in our newly opened OffLINE event space of the gallery.

Un/Natural Occurrences features the work of 25 artists and collaborators. These are artists who are searching for more than the obvious in either bringing to light past and current indiscretions, warning against a catastrophic future if unheeded, working with the scientific community on possible solutions and sometimes just telling it like it is. We view this exhibition as a bookend to Natural Histories, which launched CENTRAL BOOKING’s initial space in 2009.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pocketbooks and Fish

Yesterday, my assistant, Daisy Morton found this slightly battered black and white print from 1969:

The score and another shot of this work are on my website.
On my FB page I wrote, "In 1969, I was the director & founder of the American Ritual Theatre in So. Calif. and this was a shot by Fred Lonidier of my performance work, "The Pocketpiece Piece," with Claudia Bader, Barbara Zakarian and myself in Claus Von Wendel's studio, Del Mar, CA. Unearthed by assiduous archival excavation thanks to Daisy Morton." 

That discovery wasn't the whole story.

  • After studying this image, I realized this performance version (one of many in Universities & colleges thruout Calif I performed then) was performed in the UCSD Art Gallery that same year. It was in that same period, that Pauline Oliveros & other faculty from the Music & Art Dept.'s asked me to start a Dance Dept there and John Stuart, the then provost, secretly threatened me with arrest if I was ever on campus again, because of my anti-war and pro-feminist speeches at rallies. I also created "Synapse Reality" and "Meat Piece" at this time. When Stuart threatened me, Newton Harrison urged me to go Angela Davis's route publicizing what happened and I did try by going to Stanley Grinstein in LA but I couldn't rally the support or my own conviction (I was 24 and somewhat naive). It was shortly afterwards that I met Allan Kaprow and started at Cal Arts, following another path in the woods.
  • I may have taken a different path forward after Stuart's threat, but this image and that performance bear on Fish Story and my current PhD writing because both are about layering unexpected data to discover new knowledge. In the case of the fish, what we need to pat attention to in our layering is not just the loss of the taxa, but all the small decisions globally and personally that result in this loss. What I layered in "The Pocketbook Piece," was the data on rape, divorce and trivia associated with a lipstick, an official paper in the unedited contents of a woman's secret recesses of her pocketbook. What I sought to layer in Fish Story, was the bioregional and international context and relationship to water of built infrastructure, radioactivity and fracking in the world. What I am attempting to layer in my dissertation, are all the ways we can address those systemic horrors.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Stockholm syndrome- dodging the connections between sexism, ageism and speciesism

The 90 previous posts on this blog were about fish in Memphis, TN.   As my time has been consumed with completing my PhD dissertation recently, I'm focused on the larger systemic problems that contextualize our relationships to other taxa and species, like fish.

Apparently, the world just dodged a bullet over Syria. The most interesting part of the last week about that dodge was that perhaps the world doesn't want "strong men" anymore. We all just want peace. And yet, most of us haven't quite let go of our fantasies that we can have it all- or be connected to someone who does. That is what I want to write about in tis post. Not the having but the fate of the have nots and the glimmer of hope I have tonight that all is not lost.

Other people have a human partner. I have my dissertation and my cat.

The following are some notes that won't go into my dissertation on the relationships between Stockholm Syndrome, sexism, ageism and speciesism. Stockholm Syndrome, refers to the empathy evoked for bank robbers in 1973 when they captured employees.

As the dominant species, it's interesting to consider all the ways, as a culture, we have come to identify with the captors of this culture, whom are more powerful than the dying cultures and species that are collateral damage of the Anthropocene.

I would say the "bank robbers" these days are the large corporatized banks bank rolling extractive industries at the expense of Indigenous Peoples, people of color, women and other animals, many of whom are just fodder for a greedy few humans. That may be critiqued as classist, even, socialist. I don't intend it that way. The robbers I have in mind have simply taken greed and selfishness to an extreme. I accept that a measure of dominance and hierarchy is natural to most human species. Just not to the extent we see it operating today.

Yesterday, I wrote on FB in response to a recent article on Feminism and advancing the careers of young Western academic women:

"Ageism is a very serious problem for men and women and terrible for the economy because so much skill & wisdom is tied up with older people. This article is excellent for women up to the age of 35. It ignores the darkest side of the feminist mystique, which is how both men and women deal with ageism in relation to women. The competition not only with sexist standards from men but the often poisonous competition from other women who discount anyone, for example from the baby boomer generation is devastating. This is too complex a problem to address in a comment but it is not only totally ignored in this article but implicitly, women over child-bearing age have been utterly erased by the content because they are irrelevant and inimical to it. However, I promise you, every woman struggling today with the implications of being young, and attractive while ignoring how sexism is tied up with ageism will struggle twice as much tomorrow with the professional implications of being old and unattractive. Thank goodness for Diana Nyad."

The article I referenced, from the Chronicle for Higher Education, was:

This morning in the ecodialog, artist- educator Beverly Naidus posted links to two recent articles on racism:

My response was:

"Thank you for bringing these articles to our attention. I almost wrote a post yesterday on racism, sexism, ageism and the environment that might have over-lapped some of these points. It was on my mind because of an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, which I linked on my FB page. I've also been writing about racism in my dissertation and refer to some of the same information about Yellowstone referenced in the Sun article. It's difficult for me to take time to write at length here about this now because of my disseration but I do think it's a critical issue.

In Memphis, for Fish Story, I worked very hard to engage the inner city and found it very challenging. Memphis is interesting about racism because the demographic is so blatantly physicalized. However, I think it is very hard for most people to see the connections, no matter how blatant, between environmental ethics and environmental damage because the connection between social data & hard science is often subtle and complex. These articles do a good job of making those connections. 

I've tried to reference these points in my diss. writing, without making it the main focus, only because there are so many related ideas I reference. One of the points I do try to make clearly, however, is over assumed patterns of dominance that are very intractable. As I referenced on my FB page, the painful dynamics of competition (generally) are rarely honestly confronted. I think that plays powerfully into a discourse on racism/ sexism/ ageism. I believe there is a privileging in our society of a very narrow, narcissistic view of the acceptable messenger for critical ideas: white, thin, youngish, preferably male or male identified. I reference that as Stockholm Syndrome."

It is almost 4:AM now in Maine, where I'm writing the end of my final draft for my dissertation. Earlier,  I was corresponding with one of my diss advisors, about the context for my thinking. I wrote about my thinking:

" (I argue that) ... the Anthropocene is a closed system model in which "nature" doesn't stand a chance. ... If it's true that the Anthropocene is a closed system, we need to erase one set of information and do the work of introducing another set of information to change the entropic nature of the system we've created."

The erasure I'd like to see, is the notion that humans, and top dog humans at that, are entitled to the center of the world. Only because in the end, that doesn't even work for the top dogs. With the suggestion that the world may not have to go to WW III to control Assad, that none of us can stomach one more strong man, there is hope for all the other dysfunctions in life.

And with that, I'll return to my diss writing and then to sleep. I am now writing my conclusion, the discussion of what makes a complex adaptive model to effect trigger point theory as aesthetic activism in the Anthropocene.