BASCE creative jam

1st of June 2021, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. CEST

Join us on the 1st of June for an afternoon of creative workshops and the chance to contribute to our online exhibition in the autumn of 2021! The Benelux Association for the Study of Culture and Environment (BASCE) welcomes all scholars, students, artists, writers, and anyone with an interest in creative methods and the environment to take part in this virtual event. We will work together to produce creative responses to Anthropocene realities. Spread out over four different workshops, we will experiment with creative methods to approach environmental themes, for example through provocative graphic design and speculative storytelling.

We will begin the afternoon with an interactive lecture on creative methods in the Anthropocene by Groningen-based artists Olivia D’Cruz and Marina Sulima. They will share some of their fascinating multimedia work on how the earth responds to mining, and start off a discussion on how artistic and creative methods can respond to complex contemporary realities such as biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, deforestation, and global warming. Olivia and Marina will give us some starting points for the rest of the workshops and get us thinking about how experimenting with creative methods can help us find new ways of representing these issues, and taking action against them.

After this first session, we will split into four breakout rooms for the workshops. The workshops will run concurrently over two sessions, so there will be the opportunity to participate in two out of four. The workshops will introduce various different themes and practices, such as ‘writing utopia,’ deep time futures, ‘writing with water,’ and subvertising/activist poster-making. The workshops will be led by expert hosts, who will provide context and prompts to start off the exercise, providing inspiration for participants to generate their own projects – for example a poem, a virtual poster, or a story. Participants will be invited to develop their projects  after the event and to contribute what they produce to an online exhibition which BASCE will be launching this autumn. The exhibition will bring together environmental work from artists, scholars, writers, as well as others, providing a platform for forging creative methods in the Anthropocene.

Programme

13:00-13:15 Opening words

13:15-14:00 Lecture Creating Response-ability through Art – Olivia D’Cruz and Marina Sulima

14:00-14:15 Small Break, but the room stays open for casual conversation

14:15-15:45 Workshops Round 1

15:45-16:00 Small Break, main room stays open for chitchat

16:00-17:30 Workshops Round 2

17:30-17:45 Closing Words

Lecture – Creating Response-ability through Art

Olivia D’Cruz (India) and Marina Sulima (Moldova) are a duo based in Groningen. They are interested in ecology and they tell stories about the rights of humans and non-humans through the combination of fiction and documentary. They work with video, animation, drawing and sculpture, and are fans of cooking and collaboration.  

Through drawing, animation and film they try to respond to ecological issues, such as the destruction of the habitat of a crocodile or the effects of mining-induced earthquakes on a landscape. They will talk about their approach to making artistic works by using speculative fiction. At the end of the talk they will share some exercises to respond artistically to specific situations of climate crises.

Workshops

1. Writing with Water

During this workshop, Rosanne van der Voet, Creative Writing PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield, will lead some writing exercises on the theme of writing with water, specifically in the context of low-lying coastal areas such as the Netherlands. She will begin the workshop by introducing some of her own work on developing a non-anthropocentric writing style which seeks to make complex environmental issues material on the page. Using some photographic prompts, she will then invite participants to produce some written content of any genre (poetry/short story/nonfiction/hybrid) trying to inhabit the qualities of water and some specific marine-dwelling animals. Participants will be invited to share some of their thoughts and to continue working on their writing after the workshop so it may be submitted for the online exhibition later this year.

2. Exploring Deep Time

In this workshop Laura op de Beke, principal investigator of the project Playing with Deep Time, will prepare participants for a journey into the deep future. We start by familiarizing ourselves with a number of starting locations, or case studies: the Svalbard seed vault, nuclear waste repositories like the one near Olkiluoto in Finland, and the 10.000 year clock of the long now. After that our paths will diverge. Using techniques from speculative fiction and role-play, and with the help of painting and hypertext software, the challenge is to find our way through eons of growth, decay and transformation; and to come back from our journey with more understanding of the ethical responsibilities we owe to the beings of the future, than when we first set out. 

3. Writing Utopia

In this workshop, David Lombard, PhD candidate in American literary studies and the environmental humanities at the University of Liège and the KU Leuven, will break down the genre of utopia into its essential parts. Drawing on examples from literature and visual arts, he will address the spatial and temporal assumptions of the genre, as well as its narratological conventions (epistolary style, fictional ethnography). He will also illustrate the variety of subgenres in utopian writing (e.g. solarpunk, post-apocalyptic fiction) and touch on some of the more complex aspects of the genre, for example its relationship with dystopia, and its politics of creative destruction. Equipped with this knowledge, participants will then be invited to put all these pieces together again in ways that speak to their personal hopes and concerns for the future, or in search of forms that challenge mainstream, Western, conceptions of ideal societies. This output may take any form the participants are comfortable with, and the workshop will provide plenty of examples for inspiration. 

4. Subvertising and activist poster making

In this workshop participants will be invited by Kevin ten Thij to turn the language of advertising against those who use it to pollute our visual environments, fabricate materialist desires, and stimulate rampant consumerism. Subvertising involves the creation of spoofs or parodies of corporate advertisements that expose these corporations for their politically and environmentally destructive behavior. With corporations like Shell developing more sophisticated, greenwashing facades, revealing the hypocrisy behind their public campaigns is becoming more important than ever. In this workshop we’ll cover aspects like visual rhetoric, sloganeering, and the situational context of ads, and how to tactically mobilize them for a more just, and sustainable world.

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