“It’s our cultural climate that is responsible for climate change, so the real change we need to be working on is cultural,” says Dylan McGarry who will be holding an Earth Forum workshop at the Hot Water conference, which runs from Friday to Sunday in Cape Town.
The conference serves as a meeting place for scientists and artists to look at what needs to be said and what the most effective way of saying this would be.
The arts are well placed to develop our consciousness of habits and destructive behaviour because good art can be a mechanism for empathy, compassion and aware-ness. Good art makes us pause to consider and debate, and visually arresting art – charged with metaphors and symbols – stops us in our tracks, moves us, startles us and deepens our consciousness.
In addition to panel discussions, the conference will feature performances and artworks on exhibition to serve as points of discussion.
On Friday evening, choreo-grapher Tossie van Tonder presents the premiere of her newest work, The End, in which compost is arranged and rearranged towards an alchemy of hope and survival.
Virginia MacKenny, winner of the 2011 Donald Gordon Creative Arts Award, will talk about and present her specially commissioned exhibition, Threshold, and Brendhan Dickerson will present Complicit.
Dickerson’s performance installation on Friday night is a larger-than-life-sized, fully articulated, swimming polar bear fire-sculpture, weaving back and forth along a cable, six metres overhead, paddling and desperately searching for a chunk of ice.
Mbali Vilakazi will deliver a poetry performance, while Simon Max Bannister’s work will be exhibited in the Hiddingh Hall, Orange Street, during the weekend.
The conference’s opening address on Friday will be delivered by environmental attorney and author Cormac Cullinan and the entire weekend is aimed at deepening our understanding of the notion of art and climate change as we approach Cop 17.
People attending conferences or workshops do so with their own concerns, but the Earth Forum workshop on Saturday has two aims. The first is to enhance a person’s capacity to imagine and the second is to develop the capacity to empathise with another person.
“We have to use our imagination to experience what the other person is feeling,” said McGarry.
The intention is not so much to bring about an agreement as to explore what it means to live on this Earth.
“Imagination is at the heart of all change. Any social movement or activity, whether developing a new movement in environmental activism or planning your day, starts with an inner movement,” says McGarry.
“The idea is to foster this inner movement in every person, not as an isolated and self-serving incident, but connected to the social world and natural world around us.”
Delegates to the conference will take part in the Earth Forum workshop on Saturday afternoon.“Traditionally in art we see people making objects to gain atten-tion. We’re looking for connective aesthetics, ways to connect with the world, to give new life to the static form and our imaginations allow us to do that,” said McGarry