Decolonizing transformations through ‘right relations’ – article published

Back in 2017 and 2018 I interviewed artists and knowledge keepers in Canada BC about the power and potential of art and story in contributing to equitable and sustainable transformations. Back home I shared my experiences with my two colleagues Irmelin Gram-Hanssen and Nicole Schafenacker and we saw there were commonalities with their research but also open questions that we wanted to explore together.

Below you find the result of this exploration with them. This article was just published with the title “Decolonizing transformations through ‘right relations'”. It is part of a special Feature: On the ‘How’ of transformation: Integrative approaches to Sustainability. You can access it with the following link: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11625-021-00960-9.pdf.

In it we highlight the intimate connections between climate change and colonization and argue that decolonization will be an integral part of equitable and just transformations toward sustainability. We engage with the idea of ‘right relations’ as a way of decolonizing transformations research and practice and offer four characteristics for transformations researchers to embody: listening deeply, self-reflexivity, creating space and being in action. While we acknowledge the acute need for decolonizing relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and societies in particular, we extent the idea of ‘right relations’ to all people and all places in an effort to co-create a decolonized humanity.

I am so very thankful and grateful for the insights I received to how we might engage in sustainable and equitable transformations. 

Art and artists at the European Climate Change Adaptation conference

For the 4th European Climate Change Adaptation conference which took place in Lisbon between 28 and 30 May 2019, I curated and organised an art program. It consisted of a live performance, two exhibitions, and a children’s choir concert.

The conference opened with a live music and video performance by Tone Bjordam and Marten Scheffer. They performed a new work specially composed for the conference, built upon a recent article co-authored by Scheffer entitled Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene. This art and science collaboration aimed to provide the audience with a multi-sensory experience showcasing a transdisciplinary approach to the climate challenge.

 

 

 

 

An exhibition of Tone Bjordam’s paintings, inspired by different biotopes, was hosted at the conference. The drive behind the Norwegian artist’s practice is to create a space for reflection around processes in nature, and to achieve an in-depth understanding and a sense of feeling connected with nature around us. Bjordam has a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from Oslo National Academy of the Arts and her work has been on display in numerous countries around the world. Bjordam is particularly interested in finding ways to communicate science through art, especially the wonder that drives science.

 

 

 

 

ECCA also hosted an exhibition of work from young artists. Entitled Art for Change, it is the result of a collaboration between Artistic Secondary School Antonio Arroio, Lisbon and the Art for Adaptation project. More than 80 students of grades 11 and 12 engaged with climate change through transformative learning approaches, by approaching change as an experiment, and through climate fiction.

 

 

 

 

Their artworks reflect their newly gained insights and critical thinking about the subject (Check out the supporting website created by the students to read about the rational behind the artworks). The exhibition integrated posters produced with silk print and stencil techniques, and objects which aim to question, highlight and reflect different aspects of climate change. Art for Change aims to empower young people to explore new climate narratives and solutions, help to visualise the connection between global climate change and our daily actions, and reflect on the implications of individual and collective change towards more sustainable forms of living.

 

 

 

 

Finally, the conference closed with a musical performance by the children’s choir of Santo Amaro de Oeiras, Lisbon. This choir participated in 2012 in the Global Rockstar competition, promoted by the United Nations, winning the first place with the song “My blue planet” and representing Portugal at the Rio+20 Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The choir has taken part in recordings and performances with several international artists, including Mara Abrantes, Suzy Paula, Secret Lie, and Lemm Project.

 

 

 

 

 

ART FOR ADAPTATION @ ECCA2019

I am excited to curate the art program at this year’s European Climate Change Adaptation conference (ECCA) to be hosted in Lisbon from 28–31 May 2019. A program of thought-provoking art, including visual art and music is being developed exploring alternative ways of communicating and engaging people in the complexities of climate change.

Some highlights of the Art Program:

The conference will open with a live music and video performance by Tone Bjordam and Marten Scheffer. They will perform a new work specially composed for the conference, built upon a recent article co-authored by Scheffer entitled Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene. This art and science collaboration aims to provide the audience with a multi-sensory experience showcasing a transdisciplinary approach to the climate challenge.

An exhibition of Tone Bjordam’s paintings, inspired by different biotopes, will be hosted at the conference. The drive behind the Norwegian artist’s practice is to create a space for reflection around processes in nature, and to achieve an in-depth understanding and a sense of feeling connected with nature around us. Bjordam has a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from Oslo National Academy of the Arts and her work has been on display in numerous countries around the world. Bjordam is particularly interested in finding ways to communicate science through art, especially the wonder that drives science.

Marten Scheffer is interested in unraveling the mechanisms that determine the stability and resilience of complex systems. Although much of his work has focused on ecosystems, he also worked with a range of scientists from other disciplines to address issues of stability and shifts in natural and social systems. With the help of a Spinoza award and an ERC advanced grant he founded SparcS and now works on finding generic early warning signals for critical transitions. He also co-founded the South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability Studies (SARAS) and is currently a distinguished professor in ecology and mathematical biology at Wageningen University.

ECCA will also host an exhibition of work from young artists. Entitled Art For Change, it is the result of a collaboration between Artistic Secondary School Antonio Arroio, Lisbon and project Art for Adaptation. 80 eleventh and twelvth-grade students engaged with climate change through transformative learning approaches, by approaching change as an experiment, and through climate fiction. Their artworks reflect their newly gained insights and critical thinking about the subject. The exhibition integrates posters produced with silk print and stencil techniques, and objects which aim to question, highlight and reflect different aspects of climate change. Art For Change aims to empower young people to explore new climate narratives and solutions, help to visualise the connection between global climate change and our daily actions, and reflect on the implications of individual and collective change towards more sustainable forms of living.

Parallel to the scientific program, conference participants are invited to the Art Room, where short films and videos on climate change will be shown.

Finally, the conference will close with a musical performance by the children’s choir of Santo Amaro de Oeiras, Lisbon. This choir participated in 2012 in the Global Rockstar competition, promoted by the United Nations, winning the first place with the song “My blue planet” and representing Portugal at the Rio+20 Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The choir has taken part in recordings and performances with several international artists, including Mara Abrantes, Suzy Paula, Michael Jackson, Secret Lie, and Lemm Project.