Visual art, film and interdisciplinary conversations between the sciences and the arts dominate the programme of this event, which focuses on climate change and the environment. Presented for the second year running, the main intention of this unique symposium is to probe the connections between scientific discourse and artistic production in an attempt to refine the expression of issues of climate change through artistic work. The symposium comprises art exhibitions, film screenings, a cartoon workshop, presentations by keynote speakers and panel discussions.
There is a growing consciousness of the abuse wrought on our natural environment. Whether it has been pure greed, mis-management, carelessness or at best, ignorance, the lack of sensitivity towards our only home has come back to haunt us. The arts are well placed to develop a consciousness of habits and destructive behaviour: visually arresting, charged with metaphor and symbol, visual arts and performance have the power to move, startle and deepen one’s consciousness.
On Friday evening, Professor Mark New, Pro Vice-Chancellor at UCT and Director of the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI), will deliver the keynote address followed by the opening of two exhibitions, Facing the Climate and EKDUO.
Facing the Climate is conceptualised by the Swedish Institute and is a group show curated by Ann-Marie Tully. The exhibition comprises climate themed cartoons by five Swedish artists with the climate related artworks of five South African cartoonists, taking a sharp look at issues of climate change.
EKDUO, an Ancient Greek expression that translates as “to put off the body, the clothing of the soul”, looks at processes of transformation and change. Artist Simon Max Bannister explains: “Each of us long to ‘shed our skin’, to be rid of the excess, the old and the past. All life must change its skin or die.” Using recycled plastic as his main material, Bannister’s subject is the snake, noting that by “observing the snake’s transformation we get some insight into its behaviour, and thus start a process of transformation within ourselves.”
The opening rounds up with the screening of The Age of Stupid which stars Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name of the Father, The Usual Suspects) as a man living in the devastated future world of 2055, looking back at old footage from our time and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance? The film by multi-award-winning documentary director Franny Armstrong and Oscar-winning producer John Battsek was called “Bold, supremely provocative and hugely important”, by The Telegraph. ABC Australia said of the internationally acclaimed film “So tightly constructed and dynamic you leave the cinema energised rather than terrified… hits home like a hammer blow” and the LA Times said “Think ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, but with a personality”.
Saturday brings together a range of speakers and the screening of short films. In the first panel Penny Price (Climate Adaptation, Climate Change and Biodiversity Directorate in the Western Cape) and Joseph Darron (Climate System Analysis Group) are joined by Ann-Marie Tully (University of Johannesburg) and Kai Lossgott (independent curator, artist and environmental activist). Panelists will reflect on the ‘state of the art’ of their respective disciplines.
These presentations will be followed by the screening of a selection of short films on climate change from the series, Letters from the Sky, curated by Kai Lossgott. Arts writer Alex Dodd commented in an article in Art South Africa: “Like the Occupy movement, the shared vision of environmental justice (in Letters from the Sky) transcends geography and nationalism and, in this sense, captures the unfolding transnational zeitgeist of the twenty-first century.” The panelists mentioned above will then be asked to comment on the films, leading to a discussion with the audience on efficacy, impact and urgency in the dissemination of information around issues of climate.
A similar format follows with the second panel, comprising architect Tom Sanya (UCT), environmental artist Simon Max Bannister, Sarah Ward (City of Cape Town’s, Energy and Climate Change Division) and Warren Nebe (Director of the Drama for Life Programme at Wits University).
The Hot Water Symposium also comprises a workshop and the screenings of several other films, including Stories of the Future by Xolelwa Nhlabatsi. This film traces the work of Johannesburg’s Drama For Life Company who used performance interventions at the 2011 COP17, focusing on environmental sustainability, the severe effects of climate change on the individual, as well as our global survival into the future. Ann-Marie Tulley and Tony Grogan will lead a unique workshop in working with drawing and cartoons as mechanisms for giving shape and form to issues of climate change and environmental awareness.
Hot Water runs from Friday 28 to Saturday 29 September at UCT’s Hiddingh Campus. This dynamic and thought-provoking symposium is free of charge and open to all, but booking is essential. Refreshments will be served. The full programme will be available from Friday 14 September. For more information and booking, please contact the GIPCA office on +27 21 480 7156 or firstname.lastname@example.org.