UK artist Stephen Turner, whose work “often involves spending long periods in odd abandoned places, noting the changes in the relationship between people and the natural environment,” will soon take up residence in a solar-powered floating egg in the estuary of the River Beaulieu in Hampshire, UK. An energy efficient, self-sustaining work space and a laboratory for studying the life of a tidal creek, the Exbury Egg is “an intervention in the landscape at a key moment when climate change is already creating new shorelines and habitats.” Three years in the making, the egg emerged from a collaboration between partners from architecture, art, engineering and design backgrounds. The project includes education and engagement programs that will start during the construction phase and continue throughout Turner’s period of occupation until April 2014.
Like the slow food movement, which is promoted as an alternative to fast food, I feel we should start a “slow art movement” as an antidote to artistic endeavors driven by commercial pressures. The fact that Turner will immerse himself in a specific environment, and give himself ample time to respond to what he sees and hears and experiences there, will no doubt lead to a deep understanding of the place and its occupants, and to a sophisticated response to it. In my world of making theatre, taking time is a luxury most of us can’t afford. Plays are rehearsed over the course of three or four weeks then put up for another few weeks and then it’s over. The exploration time is short, the product consumed quickly, and although great works emerge from that model, something definitely gets lost. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating for everything to be done at a snail’s pace. But it would be useful to have the opportunity to slow down sometimes. I have a feeling that what gets lost in “fast art,” and fast life in general, is exactly what we need to reinvest in if we hope to meet the challenges of climate change with a modest amount of dignity.
Chantal Bilodeau is a playwright and translator whose work focuses on the intersection of science, policy, art, and climate change. She is the Artistic Director of The Arctic Cycle – an organization created to support the writing, development and production of eight plays that look at the social and environmental changes taking place in the eight countries of the Arctic – and the founder of the blog and international network Artists & Climate Change. She is a co-organizer of Climate Change Theatre Action, a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays presented in support of the United Nations COP meetings.