How art and choreographic objects can be used as a catalyst for environmental change: specifically, in relation to the plastic pollution crisis.

Bonnie, A. S. (2021) How art and choreographic objects can be used as a catalyst for environmental change: specifically, in relation to the plastic pollution crisis. Masters theses, University of Chichester.

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Art allows people to relate to vast and often unfathomable concepts by engaging the heart and the senses. Art can break down big issues into small, digestible pieces. Art compels thought, helps us feel and process emotion, starts conversation and sparks creativity. Artists can say difficult things to people through their medium, messages that might not go down as easily if they were conveyed only through words. Art also allows artists to communicate with speakers of other languages. An observer’s reaction to art can translate into caring, determination, and action.
Moyer, 2017 [online]

In this paper, I will be reflecting upon how dance can be used as a catalyst for environmental change, in relation to the plastic pollution crisis. Plastic Pollution has been expressed through many different art forms, profiling powerful ways of communicating the issue and playing a significant role in society to express points of view politically, economically, socially, culturally, and environmentally. ‘Art can break down big issues into small digestible pieces’ (Moyer, 2017). Moyer articulates my rationale for this project and my personal feeling towards the global crisis, as well as my desire to explore the capacity of art to contribute to the relief effort through shifting opinions. Through making a work for public consumption I aimed to present the damaging effects of plastic pollution, from a creative perspective. With the objective that audiences might be more open to listening and being educated on the topic, when facing facts through an artistic experience. This will hopefully result in a physical change, no matter how small. Even if only one person decided to make a change because of the impact of my work, that’s one person more than yesterday. With issues as urgent as the plastic crisis, there is added immediacy for art forms to respond in support of people who want their governments to act; public messages can and will get disheartening. (White, 2020 [online])
The climate crisis is a priority for Arts Council England, and therefore the topic I am exploring is current and relevant in the professional sector. They state in their guidelines that ‘The climate crisis and environmental degradation is one of the most significant challenges facing us all. The cultural sector has taken major steps to reduce its carbon footprint and more than ever artists and organisations are engaging with climate-related themes’ (Arts Council England, 2021).
I want my installation work Open Your Eyes to be something that I could develop in the future and potentially take to different events as a means of highlighting the issues and influencing change. The topic of Plastic Pollution also has the possibility of attracting funders/ promotors to support my work, therefore this adds more relevancy and a need for this work to exist in the professional sector, to make change happen.

In his article What the World Needs Now is Art, Sweet Art, Bill McKibben, author and environmentalist, stresses that though we know about climate change ‘It hasn’t registered in our gut; it isn’t part of our culture.’ ([2005, online]) McKibben suggests that as humans we are aware of how the planet is deteriorating and how we are contributing towards the climate crisis, yet some people don’t feel the need to help unless they are being faced with a problem themselves. For example, they might watch the news and see the forest fires in Australia and hear that the thickness of the Arctic Ice has decreased by 40% since the 1960s, yet they will continue to leave plastic waste on the beaches and rubbish in their local parks (McKibben, 2005[online]). Mckibben mentions how, ‘When something is happening everywhere all at once, it threatens constantly to become backdrop, context, instead of event.’ (Mckibben, 2005 [online). The idea of ‘backdrop context’ which Mckibben mentions is something which I have explored in my own choreographic process. I will discuss this further in chapter 2.

The research questions which I will be asking throughout this project are:

• How have chorographers previously used topics surrounding environmental issues to encourage change?
• Why should art be used more to highlight environmental issues?
• Can art portray the plastic pollution crisis with greater impact than a written document/source?
• Do members of the public listen more when they learn about the problem through art? Does an image/video/painting/dance performance create more of an honest insight into the issue?

In chapter 1, I will be researching dance and the environment. The writing will home in on research carried out by theorists and dance practitioners who have previously made links to the importance of dance as an artform to spark change when discussing political and economic issues. I will use the writings of Alexandra Kolb, Frank Möller, Bill McKibben and Stacey Prickett to inform my research, as well as installations by Bright Ugochukwu Eke and other artworks to inspire the creation of my own work. I will also refer to choreographers who have previously created statement art, including Loyd Newson’s work with DV8 Physical Theatre, Davalois Fearon, Jody Sperling and Lynn Neuman.

In chapter 2, I will refer to my own practice as research, including references to my chorographic influences and a breakdown of tasks used to inspire the creation of Open Your Eyes, my installation work. The orchestration of the theory in chapter 2 will be developed within a practical context and therefore there will be more attention focused on the methodologies used within the choreographic process. I will reflect on how field work and outdoor explorations contributed to my practice as research, as a way of connecting with different elements of the outdoors. I will get my audience members to fill out a questionnaire, after experiencing my work, as a way of tracking if the installation/experience was effective/if it educated the audience in any way/if it evoked change/if the audience could see this work being performed in a specific site/to a specific audience and to ask them to provide any additional comments or feedback for future development.

Publication Type: Theses (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Dance, Environment, Performance, Plastic, Pollution
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Divisions: Academic Areas > Department of Dance
Student Research > Masters
Depositing User: Janet Carter
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2023 14:48
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2023 14:48

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