A Multitude of Drops emerges from numerous projects and experiences around artistic responses to the climate crisis, and encompasses both pieces initiated and created by me in collaboration with several others, and projects where I have been invited on board as collaborator or consultant. The climate crisis is a global phenomenon, but extremely local in expression, and a complex of socio-political, economic and lifestyle issues rather than merely an environmental one. The series attempts to address this complexity, universality and specificity
Water – in its many guises – is perhaps how we most often encounter the crisis. Water scarcity is staring much of humanity in the face, even as tsunamis, cyclones, floods, and rising sea levels bombard us. Water gives life, and also takes it away – and this is our starting point for every collaboration. Each project in the series builds bridges between the Sundarbans mangrove forests in south Bengal, India – an area where the impact of the climate crisis is already seen and experienced alarmingly on a daily basis – and other parts of the world. The series also proposes a different perspective on artistic ownership: each iteration adds co-creators and stakeholders to a growing and overlapping collective, encouraging responsibility to ourselves and others, as well as to the ecologies that support us and the planet we call home.
Rivers of Memory
The Earth Is Wet
“The river is mother. The river is life. You have known her by many names. She roams far and sees much – prayer, ritual, love, sorrow, exploitation, devastation. She remembers every cruelty and kindness. She has been harnessed and subjugated for gain. But she remembers. And now she is full of fury.”
The Journey – research and development
Role: International Artist Consultant
Lead Artists: Ruth Stringer and Sara Lewis (Wales)
Supported by Arts Council Wales and Wales National Lottery Fund
The Journey researches the Taff River in the Rhondda Cynon Taff Valleys, and relates it to wider stories of rivers, in myth, history and situations across the world. Theatre designer Ruth Stringer and writer Sara Lewis invited me on board to gain some perspective on the significance of the Ganges in ritual and culture, and on the changes happening in the Sundarbans. This r&d is a first step towards a potential site-specific performance.
Visit the webpage…
Rivers of Memory – performance piece
December 2020 | Buffer Fringe Festival, Cyprus
Role: Concept and Direction
Collaborators: Lav Kanoi, Amlan Chaudhuri
Co-produced by Buffer Fringe Festival, Cyprus and Ranan, India
Rivers of Memory is a performance piece created entirely via Zoom with a group of Cypriot performers during the lockdown phase of the COVID19 pandemic. Moving fluidly between the Sundarbans and Cyprus, the piece was commissioned by the Buffer Fringe Festival. Developed over three months of weekly discussions and workshops, the actual piece was created in six days.
Visit production page…
“The Cyprus Buffer Zone…Greeks on one side, Turks on the other, and wildlife thriving in the middle!
Ecological protection incomplete, peace uncertain, conservation collateral.”
“We begin with a lighthouse that sits on the (future) coast path of Wales. The lighthouse is connected via the magic of global data systems to a town in Bangladesh called Chittagong, a port city on the eastern edge of the Bay of Bengal, opposite the mouth of the Meghna river and on a latitude with the Sundarban region. When the tide rises in Chittagong, the lighthouse in Wales flashes a warning to alert us to the risks the Bay of Bengal faces imminently from sea level rise, and to remind us that the storm will come to us in Wales too.”
Impermanent Land – research and development project
September 2020 to January 2021
Project Initiator: Alison Neighbour (UK)
Collaborators: Vikram Iyengar (India), Ken Eklund (USA)
Supported by Pervasive Media Studios, UK
This project is part of the development of The (Future) Wales Coast Path, conceived by Alison Neighbour in response to flood map predictions of rising sea levels and displacement of people in Wales in the near future. The project is in collaboration with partners in countries where sea level rise is already proving a daily and devastating reality.
Three time zones, three hundred and sixty tides, and a chess game with the sea. How do we connect across time and place to imagine the future? Three interconnected, overlapping journeys beginning at a proposed meeting at a yet non-existent lighthouse in Wales, developing discussions, challenges, and collaborative artworks that emerge in response to our fears and hopes around the future of our impermanent land as sea levels rise.
Read our blog
Watch our presentation
Browse the project Miro Board
Water Bodies – dance-film
June 2021 | Everything Change (Wales, Bangladesh, online)
Role: Concept, Choreography, Performance
Collaborators: Kunal Chakraborty, Amlan Chaudhuri
Commissioned by Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea & The Cultural Institute of Swansea University Fringe Festival, Wales
Water Bodies was commissioned by Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea University for ‘Everything Change’ (10 to 19 June 2021) – a series of discussions and events exploring the roles creativity, adaptive thinking and storytelling can play in overcoming the challenges of climate and ecological crises. The film served as an opening provocation for the panel on ‘Changing Water’, where I was also a panelist.
Visit production page…
Watch ‘Everything Change’ sessions…
The challenge now is more one of the imagination than application – how might we as individuals, communities, nations, a species, imagine a different future for ourselves and our children? How might creative thinking – across the arts, sciences, business, law, policy, activism and education – help shape that imaginative revolution and make it feel not just vital, but possible?
This guidebook explores the connection offered by the ocean between the island of Sagar in the Indian Sundarbans, and the Gwent Levels in South Wales, from walks and conversations undertaken in the intertidal space of both places in 2022. It is not a guide in the traditional sense – it has no answers, no “must see” sites, but it suggests avenues for exploring memories of the past, the immediacy of the present, and the possibilities of the future. It offers an exploration of intertidal space across cultural and geographic divides, and hosts conversations about loss and hope, through the stories that are carried by the changing tides. Most importantly, it invites us to consider where we go from here and what we can learn from each other as more land becomes sea.
~ Alison Neighbour
Inter/Tidal – community workshops and exchanges
Project Initiator: Alison Neighbour (UK)
Collaborators (India): Amlan Chaudhuri, Debashree Bhattacharya, Kunal Chakraborty, Prarthana Hazra
Supported by Wales Arts International
Following on from the Impermanent Land research project, Alison Neighbour invited me to collaborate with her on Inter/Tidal. This was another project under ‘The (Future) Wales Coast Path’, Alison’s series of creative events and installations about our relationship to land and water. The idea was to develop community based workshops and exchanges in Wales and the Sundarbans. The intention and challenge was to build a personal connection between the two communities, inspired by local cultures and responses as well as empirical information from tidal data streams.
For this project, I invited four artists to imagine a range of workshops for student groups: Amlan Chaudhuri (theatre), Debashree Bhattacharya (dance), Kunal Chakraborty (film and photography), Prarthana Hazra (visual art and craft). With the help and advice of Dr. Sugata Hazra of the School of Oceanographic Studies at Jadvapur University, Calcutta, we identified a group of schools in the island of Sagar to work with. We conducted the workshops in July 2022 exploring local ideas and relationships to land and water, perhaps learning far more than we were teaching. The student’s creations – photos, film, postcards – were digitised and sent as gifts to the communities in Wales. We subsequently connected these two very different communities via a Slack group where they regularly responded to provocations through photographs, texts and videos taken in their own contexts. Many of these feature in the two guidebooks that we put together as the project’s legacy – Inter/Tidal Vol.1 : The Space Between Present and Future, and Inter/Tidal Vol. 2: Where Gangasagar Meets Môr Hafren. The project closed in October 2022 with a lantern walk in Wales and a torch walk in Sagar – parallel rituals connecting cultures and geographies at two ends of the earth.
Read more on Inter/Tidal here
Watch the film documenting the Sagar experience
Watch the film documenting the Wales experience
The Earth Is Wet– performance intervention
Project Initiator: Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata
Collaborators: Mira Hirtz (Germany, UK)
Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata invited me to work with Mira Hirtz, one of the curators of ‘Critical Zones: in search of common ground’ – an exhibition that was presented by the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata in association with the Indian Museum, Kolkata at one of the museum galleries. The intention was to develop a series of artistic interventions to activate the space of the exhibition for visitors. Mira and I created a series of verbal / written prompts for exhibition visitors to respond to and interact with. Many of these invited the visitors to leave their own thoughts and trails written on the gallery floors with chalk – traces that would wear out and be replaced by others over a six week period.
The Earth Is Wet was the closing performance event of the exhibition on 2 April 2023. A solo performative intervention and invitation devised and presented by me, it responded to the themes, sensibilities, and artworks within the exhibition. It explored the fragile spaces and relationships between life and not-life, human and non-human, solid earth and ephemeral ether. How do we read, how do we see, how do we receive, how do we share, how do we experience with and for each other this common ground we all inhabit?
Read more on the exhibition here