CMU School of Drama

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Can Performance Art Fight Climate Change?

Theater - The Stranger: On October 2, a civic-minded performance group called Coltura is holding a funeral for gasoline. Actors outfitted in white leotards will play "gasoline ghosts," ethereal beings addicted to Texas tea. During performances, the ghosts haunt gas stations, waft smog into their nostrils, carry around gas nozzles with severed hoses, and otherwise clown around with carbon. They remind us that our love of oil lasts long after our own deaths. For the funeral, they'll carry a casket from the Space Needle all the way to downtown.


Jason Cohen said...

I find this whole concept of performance art really unique and interesting. The fun thing about performance art is that there is no true definition for what this thing is. I define it as theatrical art. That is still really vague, but I think it gives some context. People tend to associate advocating for a cause with performance art. I think that this is because the concept of performance art is so free spirited and hippie. I only think that this is kind of a thing. However, I think that when you decide to commit your art to advocating a message you need to put a lot of thought into what method of performance to best convey the message. Performance art is so loose that maybe it is not the right avenue. What about making art to make art? Do you always have to have a life-changing message? Just my thoughts.

Brennan Felbinger said...

Before reading the article, I was tempted to click because I thought I could easily respond to the question posed in the headlines; No, performance art really can't do much for climate change. In my eyes, the people who really need to be educated on climate change issues are the ones who wouldn't be watching performance art in the first place, or even attending the theatre in the first place. Sure, there are many people who are patrons of the arts who aren't aware of climate change issues or simply don't care, but I would suggest that the people who really need to hear arguments towards greener living are those that are innately more difficulty to reach in the first place, and part of the reason they lack the proper education in the first place is because of how remote they are. Unless the artists in the article are riding out into the deep south and displaying their performances in a fashion similar to that of a flash mob, I'm not that convinced.

Alex Talbot said...

I think that the idea of this performance art is really interesting and unique--and while I'm not sure that it will do huge amounts to make climate change progress, I think it will definitely raise awareness to a topic that desperately needs it. To me, climate change is an issue that needs huge thought this election--while Clinton has not been outspoken about climate change, her opponent has claimed that it is a hoax created by the Chinese to beat us in trade. It is insane to me that in this day and age climate change is not a hot campaign issue--even after report after report has come out discussing how screwed we are and how we need to start making huge changes in order to fix it. I am not nearly as outspoken and active as I could be (my hypocrisy is especially apparent considering I'm about to get onto a jet to go home for the weekend), but I definitely think that climate change needs serious action in order to make any significant change. Hopefully this performance art makes a small dent--I'm forever a fan of using art to spread a message and make a point, but despite that I think we really need to take a look at our planet and what we're doing to it.