“Everything is political,” she says, “but art has ambiguity. It’s not dictating what you’re supposed to think or feel—it brings awareness of what it feels like to be alive now. Climate change is happening now.” – Karole Armitage
EcoBeat Staff – Art is a powerful tool that strikes deep emotional chords. That’s part of the reason why visionary choreographer, Karole Armitage created “On the Nature of Things”, a dance performance about climate change held in the New York City’s American Museum of Natural History. Armitage explains that the concept of a relationship, deeply woven in the choreography, is integral in making an emotional appeal regarding climate change. “Man and nature are in a love affair” she states, “and sometimes in relationships you have to make change to keep this going.” On the Nature of Things was performed on March 25th-27th amidst three stages in the Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life. The two most prominent dioramas featured? – polar bears and walruses – which emphasizes Armitage’s metaphor, “on thin ice”. The audience was able to freely move between the stages from all sides, immersing them in the story of climate change. To complement the dance and preside over the difficult marriage of art and science, was an original essay read aloud by Paul Ehrlich, the author of The Population Bomb (the classic though incorrect prediction of earth’s carrying capacity). Ehrlich initially inspired Armitage to delve deeper into the issue of climate change after she read his works.
Armitage is not the first artist to try and bridge the gap between discussion on climate change and art but she does something rather rare- she successfully combines interaction, emotion, art and science. One does hope though that On the Nature of Things does not simply preach to the choir, or appeal directly to those who are already well informed on the climate issue. The pieces appearance however, indicates that climate change is not just a scientific issue, but also a cultural one that is absolutely worth dancing for.