What can climate activists teach artists?
This lecture explores the creative practices that emerge from long-term climate protests, focusing upon a three-year anti-fracking campaign in Lancashire, UK. The protest, led mostly by older women who were new to activism, took place on the side of a busy road. At this roadside, petrocapitalism driven by global corporate power came into sharp encounter with the local goings-on of a semi-rural community, and the resulting campaign grew from simple political action into a new kind of organisation of collective life. Drawing on my time spent filming with the protestors over the course of the three years, I describe how this place-embedded campaign created new forms of community interaction and new relations to the natural environment. At the same time, the radical activities undertaken by a group of ordinary women suggest new ways for developing a creative practice that is meaningfully inclusive and attentive to people, place and the environment. In this talk, I discuss how close engagement with real-life situations, such as this campaign, can teach us to create work that is grounded in lived experience, and moves beyond generalities in responding to the crises of our times.
Rebecca Birch is an artist and researcher working with video, live broadcast, narrative performance and socially engaged practice, across solo and collaborative projects. Her work is concerned with entangle-ments of people, place and nature, and is interdisciplinary and collaborative in approach. She engages with disciplines as diverse as geology, climate science and lichenology, but primarily, with people, and my work is made through spending time with people, in places. She has exhibited widely, recent solo exhibitions include Waino Aaltonen Museum, Finland, Grundy Art Gallery, UK, and ICA, Lon-don. Birch is the recipient of a number of awards and residencies including The Banff Centre, Canada, CCA Creative Lab, Glasgow, and LUX Associate Artists Programme. She also collaborates with the art-ist Rob Smith as co-director of Field Broadcast, an artist-led live broadcast platform, www.fieldbroadcast.org and with Leah Capaldi, George Charman and Adam Knight, as Tracking-shot, a research project exploring frontier spaces www.trackingshot.net. Rebecca Birch is currently Visiting Scholar at Oslo School of Environmental Humanities, University of Oslo. Prior to coming to Oslo, she was Lecturer in Fine Art at Lancaster University, UK and completed my practice-based PhD in 2019. For more information: www.rebeccabirch.net
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Photo Credit: Rebecca Birch: Still from Undermine 2020