Digital Residency

Jacob and Eddie’s digital residency has just started and is precisely two meetings in!

The project looks at models for the making and presentation of socially engaged and responsible work. Jacob’s current research is looking into the United Nations climate change and sustainable development goals mandates, both of which face looming deadlines of 2030. Both Jacob and Eddie are interested in (and are compelled to) address the climate crisis and both are from communities implicated in the problem and that could yet lead the way in finding solutions.

Eddie’s family are farmers in the west of Wales and make most of their income from milk and beef. Farmers in Wales and the UK supply a global industrialised food production system that is one of the causes of climate change. Her interest is to work over the long-term with farmers that she knows, who are friends, neighbours and relatives, to discuss new models for production. Farmers have not ignored the problem and many have sought to implement practical solutions on their own land. But, as the problem is systemic, there may have to be a wholesale re-thinking of the way in which we live.

Jacob talked in the second meeting of using the skills that they have both learned from decades of practice within dance and physical theatre to find ways of addressing climate change beyond the creation of content for productions and performances. Jacob is looking at residency models that bring artists together with communities, sustainable development sector leaders, activists and political leaders under the guidance of global Indigenous Elders, to collectively develop practical solutions, entrepreneurial, humanitarian and creative actions in response to 2 United Nations mandates.

The project has begun with a reading list that includes F.R Schumacher’s Small is beautiful and Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu. There are people to be met for what they hope are the beginnings of a long discussion. They will each produce notes, drawings, and writing and make one action that could help change the situation. The digital residency lasts until June 8th but already Eddie and Jacob sense that their discussions are the beginnings of a much longer and deeper engagement.

“Our subject was climate change and working digitally was an excellent way of avoiding preaching one thing and practising another, that is of hopping on board a long-haul flight to discuss the crisis of our times. It proved an excellent forum for research: we made a reading list and were able to discuss our findings quickly; conversations every two days or so developed our thinking; we were able to organise “special events” rapidly. One special event was a Skype conversation with Gareth Wyn Jones, who farms in the north of Wales. We discussed intensive farming, how older or native forms of farming can challenge it, and ways in which farmers can make enough income to live off the land.

We discussed how this project would change the terms of international art-making. Why should concerned and right-on artists fly the globe to meet each other? Should the touring model for Welsh theatre be scrapped? Do the issues we are discussing lead to making work that is “hyper-local” (it used to be that “local” was enough to describe events within a square mile)? How can the web make joining up square miles across the globe possible?” – Eddie Ladd

“I believe this is life-changing work. From looking at how much meat we eat in our everyday diets to scrutinising current economics around the development and presentation of ‘arts’, to limiting my consumption of fast fashion, to reducing my consumption of processed foods and products – this all has the potential to contribute something much greater to our communities and future generations.” – Jacob Boehme

Image credit: Dorine Blaise, Hywel Harris & Eddie Ladd

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