Saturday, June 11, 2016

Over the Ruins of Amazonia: At the Frontiers of Climate Change

The indigenous population of the Amazon are key chess pieces in the current 'game' of climate change. Located mostly in Brazil but shared with neighbouring countries, and representing over half of the world's remaining rain forest (!!!), what happens in the contest between protectors of the Amazon rainforest - including activists, some scientists, some NGOs, and indigenous populations - and those neoliberal multinationals and government forces which would want to exploit it in the context of Brazil's emerging economy, will play a large role in determining to what extent irreversible damage is done to this particular pivotal area, and have a reverberating effect on similar conflicts. As with many contested sites: the battle-lines are increasingly clear, the stakes are global, and those defending the Amazon are in a position of increasing weakness against well-resourced, in a way unbeatable, global machine of capitalism. As hopeless as it is to struggle against this overwhelming force, it won't stop soon.

Brazil's 'coup' (parentheses only for technical definition reasons, I am happy to call it a coup) last month has not exactly helped the situation, although as architect Paolo Tavares points out in his comprehensive lecture, part of HAU's curated Brazil-focused program called The Sky is Already Falling, it's just another complicated political event in a long tradition of Brazilian political history. The leftist governments of the 1980s, he points out, actually accelerated the forced relocation of indigenous populations in the Amazon, in the name of forest clearing and cultivation. The impeachment will have an effect, and yes that would appear to be largely negative in terms of the aforementioned conflict, but it's not necessarily a large change from what was already occurring anyway. This is a bipartisan project of colonial violence propelled by capitalist interest.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Faki Epilogue: Ghosts in the Medika

Well, it's over. Over the 6 days of the festival, I saw all 26 shows except my compatriots When We First Met by Anything is Valid Dance Theatre (AU), a victim of an unexpected public holiday, and managed to review 20 of them at a rate of about 3-4 per day. If that doesn't seem like a lot, you have never written a review. Engaging with 3-4 shows a day, 3-4 entirely different realities in one gruelling evening, only to wipe the slate clean and begin again with the previous night's shows still ringing in your ears, is difficult. Not to mention talking with artists about their work and what you've written about it, getting to know them, and then not having the time to talk with them because you have to write about the new shows. Human interference is complex but, as I was reminded at Faki, it's part of living in a community. Along with sweeping, cooking, and mopping, making society is part of the work which must be done.

I became a kind of machine at Faki. Like a critical thought computer. If my writing seemed to take on the same rhythm each day that's why.

The art at Faki was revealing of some growing and continuing trends among artists in Europe. The tendency for 'emotional mining of the self' - exploiting and manipulating your own ontology for performance, was pushed to the extreme in some cases. Metaphors, once kind of important in art, were now uncool - much better to simply manipulate and intervene in reality. Collaborations seemed also to lose their power in comparison with the authentic power of first-person story.