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creative time reports

Arctic ice melting

BILL MCKIBBEN: It’s a great pleasure to be here with you, Paul. Since we’re talking about art, it’s worth saying that at some level, we’re engaged in a kind of planet-scale performance art project right now and the question it raises is, what happens if you pour an enormous quantity of carbon dioxide into the upper atmosphere? What happens is that the way the planet looks in every dimension begins to change, quite quickly. Last summer, for instance, our joint art project melted the Arctic. Eighty percent of the summer sea ice that was in the Arctic that was there 40 years ago is now gone. If you go stick a pH strip in the ocean now it comes out a different color than it did 40 years ago because the ocean is 30 percent more acidic. We’re taking the big physical features of the planet and changing them in the most profound, dangerous and horrifying ways. And one of the reasons that we’re doing it, or that the fossil fuel industry is able to get away with it, is because we don’t notice: it’s happening just slowly enough that it takes concentration to see it happening. Not always. When the subways fill up with the Atlantic Ocean as they did last October, it’s pretty obvious.

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j. morgan puett

listen to this tidbit.

go see her home/school/complex(ity) mildred’s lane

1.   i ran across mildred’s lane surfing the internet for art a few years ago – no doubt needing a break from mothering. after i explored the website thoroughly, i knew it was on my list of places to visit. now, having listened to the interview between ms. puett and nato thompson, it has moved to the top of my list. her recent work is challenging the current thoughts about education and what we need to know living in the 21st century. i love the foundational thinking of mildred’s lane and how they view it as a work in progress. the mildred complex(ity) – a place designed to collectively create and discuss new pedagogical models of being in the world with regards to the environment, systems of labor, forms of dwelling, ethics and sociality.

2.   i have been reading claire bishop‘s book – artificial hell: participatory art and the politics of spectatorship where she argues that small gestures have a potentially liberating effect for many individuals. she traces the history of participatory art and then makes her own observations about what is happening today in that realm.

3.   a few weeks ago, i attended a particpatory project at southern exposure created by my friend valerie imus and her group a citizen’s labratory. there was a boy, maybe ten years old, helping the artist who had orchestrated three participatory sequences (involving the audience) exploring the themes of closeness, collectivism, constraint, togetherness, touching, working together, etc… seeing the boy there past bedtime was an inspiring thing for me – it is so rare to see children in the adult world. gallery space after bedtime is one example of where you don’t expect to see children. (on the streets during school hours is another example.) i admit that i too was there for a break from my life as a mother, but as soon as i saw this boy walk in and participate, i wished my daughters were there.

why am i bringing these things together here? because when i look at the topics that ms. puett is bringing to the table for discussion, i am inspired to keep doing what i am doing – keeping my children on the streets and at home instead of in school. when i read a book like ms. bishop’s i am inspired to continue to live as an example of how we might live differently. when i see a boy walk into a gathering like “seed the sensible” i am inspired to take my children everywhere, especially where they are not expected. i view this as a radical act.

from all three of them i draw inspiration to collaborate with my kids more and to interact with the world around us.