Global artistic exchange takes place thanks to the Climate Portals Project

Global artistic exchange takes place thanks to the Climate Portals Project

Published: October 25, 2021

Artists from across the conservatoire are creatively connecting with portals all over the world as they use the power of the performing arts to engage with the climate debate as part of the Climate Portals project.

As Glasgow prepares to host the UN Conference of Parties (COP26), the Climate Portals project allows artists the time and space to make intimate and meaningful connections with people they would otherwise never have the chance to meet.

The portal, a ten-foot, golden shipping container located on the RCS Renfrew Street campus, is one of many scattered around the world, each with a life-sized screen and livestream link to connect the portals.

Climate Portals is an ambitious arts collaboration between the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Shared_Studios, HarrisonParrott and Scottish Ballet, and funded by the British Council as one of its Creative Commissions.

Throughout September, artists have been engaging with the project using performance with examples including a choral tribute from an RCS artist and her family, singing to audiences in Kigali, Rwanda and Mexico City, poetry recitals inspired by climate change, new music created from instruments people might consider as waste and an intimate production of Macbeth that explores ecology, gender politics and modern slavery.

An overview of the exciting, eclectic Artistic Exchange programme is detailed below. There is a series of events also open to the public to book to visit the Climate Portal and you can see what’s on and book on our dedicated Climate Portals Festival webpage.  

Dorothee Nys (Bachelor of Education student)

A cappella performance by three women, co-written around climate change and women’s perspectives. The work will be created by participants in the portal facilitated by Dorothee and then performed to an audience in Bamako, Mali.

Kaiya Bartholomew (BA Contemporary Performance Practice student)

Singing, specifically intergenerational singing, forms foundational moments of resilience in many cultures, countries and individual lives; faith, mourning, collectivism and the birth of new people, living things and ideas can all be marked through song. These things also make up this moment of climate crisis and, through this performance, Kaiya Bartholomew hopes to connect with singers and listeners in building a way to lean into these troubling times and look to the future. 

Accompanied by female members of her family, Kaiya will perform a collection of choral and harmonised songs that explore the climate or are calls for action, be that climate action, celebratory unity, or community support and resilience in times of adversity. 

Kaiya and her family will perform this work to an audience in Kigali, Rwanda and Mexico City, Mexico.

Julienne Restall and Sophie Suliman (BA Contemporary Performance Practice student)

Landfill is students Sophie Suliman and Julienne Restall’s take on consumerism and waste in the West. By connecting to the Global South, they comment on the ‘throw-away’ nature of capitalist society and its disconnection from the environment and impact on the climate. By stockpiling wasted materials from plastics to building waste, which would typically be sent to landfills, they highlight the excessive culture of the indulgent, consumerist lifestyle.

This work will be made in conjunction with participants in Rwanda.

As performers, their aim is to engage in an open dialogue with their southern counterparts to encourage viewers to consider how their habits can contribute to a healthier relationship with Mother Earth.

Stasi Schaeffer, director

Conversation and Questions on Nature and Love

Storytelling and narrative are the tools humans use to carve the world into meaning and understand our place within it. And yet, as humanity faces its most crucial moment in history – the real possibility of extinction – we have no story to guide us through and unite us. Despair at the enormity of the crisis and the lack of narrative to comprehend it leaves us paralysed. How can we rewrite the story of humankind’s relationship with nature from one of exploitation and destruction to one of love and harmony, and most importantly, hope? What would our restoration story – a love story between humans and the natural world – look likeThis new composition will be performed to an audience in Erbil, Bamako, Gaza and Nakivale all on the same day.

Teresa Horn, graduate

 Teresa will perform original poems relating to the climate crisis to an audience of poets around the world. This is an exchange of ideas about how to articulate the feelings of the climate crisis in a poetic form.

Teresa has met with and exchanged her collection with poets in Nakivale and Gaza.

J Simon van der Walt and guests

Over the course of 12 hours, RCS Head of MMus, Simon has invited guests in Glasow to improvise with participants in each of the portals we are connecting to around the world. This exchange will be an opportunity for musicians to meet and play together across continents who otherwise would never have the chance to meet.

Simon and the improvisers in Glasgow will meeting and playing with musicians in Mexico, Iraq, Rwanda, Uganda, Gaza and Mali.

Joana Carvahlas, MMus student

Joana created a new musical performance using the things we see as waste. With music being created from plastic, this performance asks questions about how we might reuse and repurpose the materials we have created.

This work will be performed to an audience in Erbil, Iraq.

Pictured: Joana Carvahlas

Laura Gonzalez, Athenaeum Research Fellow

‘Breath at the end of the world’ is an intimate performative intervention that considers what we can we do to make the unbreathable breathable again. How will we adapt to the new life conditions in the atmosphere around us? What will our breathing feel and sound like? How will we react to our own and others’ breathlessness? Through sound and an encounter with the artist, participants are invited to experience their breath and think about the idea of habitat at the end of the world. The event is meditative, an act of communal consideration and awareness.

Laura will meet with participants in Nakivale, Uganda.

Connor Bristow, Bachelor of Music student

 ‘Meditation on the Trees (A Breath of Life)’ is a musical meditation about our vitally important trees. The work is a largely improvisatory piece that looks to explore the idea of trees and their importance to life. The piece is performed on the flute, an instrument that relies completely on the magnificent air that our trees give to us.

Lawrence Boothman, MFA Directing Classical and Contemporary Text student

I think our country sinks beneath the yoke;

It weeps, it bleeds; and each new day a gash

Is added to her wounds.”

This performance is an intimate production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth that explores ecology, gender politics, modern slavery, and what it is to be an Unwoman (a term used by author Margaret Atwood in her novel The Handmaid’s Tale).

In this extract from the play (Act IV Scene III), Malcolm has fled from Scotland in fear for her life. Macduff comes to bring her back and help defend their native country from Macbeth’s tyranny.

The intimate performance of Macbeth will be performed to an audience in Nakivale and Erbil.

Tom McFadyen

Tom MacFadyen’s recent art relies heavily on nature, and this has brought his attention to the emergency it faces. His craft has spurred an active engagement with nature particularly within his surrounding urban environment. Combining this with his love for data bending – the art of distorting a file’s data to produce glitch like results – Tom’s piece explores a unique format of visual storytelling.

Tom’s work will be performed to an audience in Gaza.

Seán Talbot, BA Contemporary Performance Practice student

Student Artist Seán Talbot invited audiences across the globe to join him on an intimate coffee date. On the menu: a chat about coffee, how you like it, where you buy it, and its social and global impact. What do sustainability and climate change mean for coffee trade? Will that affect your cuppa?

Sean has shared a coffee with participants in Gaza in advance of the Climate Portals Festival.

Sara Cook, MA Chamber Music student

Sara Cook has created conversations around natural landscapes to remind us of nature’s places that need protecting and preserving. These conversations transcend language barriers, connecting us globally through our natural world. Using her cello, Sara improvises based on conservation and improvisational movement from participants.

Sara’s work will be performed to an audience in Gaza.

Sinéad Hargan, graduate

“We can move with the sea if we like

Caithness sits in the far north of Scotland with sea to the north and sea to the east of it, it is a place that has a rich heritage of fisher folk and seafarers, and a place that has been dramatically impacted over the last century by declining fish numbers and big industry fishing. It is now becoming a powerhouse of renewable energy with onshore and offshore windfarms and the Pentland Firth’s tidal turbine – the world’s largest tidal energy array.

Working with teenagers from Caithness, Sinéad Hargan presents a film and performance that explores our relationship to and dependency on the sea and the possible futures of Scottish seas.

Sinéad is currently the Caithness Artist in Residence as part of the Highland Culture Collective, a 15-month residency with a focus on the environment and coastlines of Caithness. Sinéad works in live performance, movement, sound, and film. Deeply rooted in her practice is the desire to explore our relationship with the earth in the midst of spiralling ecological devastation and to use our surroundings as inspiration for finding new ways of being in the world – for more hopeful futures. On this residency she will be using the methodologies of co-designing, co-creating and collaborating with communities so that the work is participatory, inclusive of many voices and is rooted in the communities that live in the far north of Scotland.

Sinéad will perform to audiences in Gaza and Rwanda.

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