Foreign Exchange. Paris

Art is the medium of the masses, the ability to express, connect, give context and reflect. Art is also the core of the freshest forms of resistance to the ecosystem degradation that seems to be a foundation of our modern Earth Society. This ‘creative resistance’, action-art that lives on the frontline in defence of Nature and affirmation of Life, was central to the non violent actions in Paris during COP21. A single part of this rising tide was our art exhibition/exposition/experience called Foreign Exchange.

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Our event poster

 

 

On Monday 07 December, a conversation between artivists from across the globe extending back to COP17 in Durban, unravelled itself as Foreign Exchange, hosted at the old Paris Electrical Distribution Center, known now as  La Générale.  Our host Emmanuel (group photo -bottom right), was perhaps the most integral character in this event coming together, facilitating behind the scene and screens. Our eternal thanks go to him and his team.

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Forex Team of Spontaneous Co-Creation

Under the umbrella of the Eroles Project and with support from GGG, many activists, artists and social movement activists from India, Bolivia, Peru, Sri Lanka and South Africa merged forces under the challenging set of circumstances that was post-Bataclan Paris, to create this immersive exhibit-experience by creating an environment that we, as People of the South, resonated with. The objective was to present our stories of resistance and projects in pursuit of Climate Justice, through a series of media, projects, art actions, installations and performances, not in an exhibitionist format for anthropological dissemination, but rather to say to our  northern Justice allies , ‘We are here too, with many of the solutions already in practice and part of our cultures. Listen to us’

 

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Elements and Elementals

 

“Unlike the Latin American left, the pathetic European version has lost all sense of what it means to do politics. It does not try to propose concrete solutions to problems, and is only able to take moral stances, in particular denouncing dictators and human rights violations in grandiloquent tones. The social democratic left follows the right with at best a few years delay and has no ideas of its own. The “radical” left often manages both to denounce Western governments in every possible way and to demand that those same governments intervene militarily around the globe to defend democracy. Their lack of political reflection makes them highly vulnerable to disinformation campaigns and to becoming passive cheerleaders of US-NATO wars. That left has no coherent program and would not know what to do even if a god put them into power.” – Jean Bricmont

The original concept for this event was drawn from Omer Shamir’s ‘North/South/East/West’ exhibition, an audio-visual exhibition held in XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX?? that documented Omer’s experiences in COP20, held in 2014 in Lima. We wanted to duplicate this immersive installation as one of the central pieces of Foreign Exchange, using the concept of Four Directions within La Generale’. This however did not happen despite many people collaborating, and instead, the central space was shared by all the exhibiting artists and used as theater for visual projections.

FOUR DIRECTIONS

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Remote mapping helped us design the event from various continents

 

Within the ground floor of La Générale, each artist curated their own space, using the space to platform and present the work they do, in a format that made sense to each artist.  Separate spaces/zones were allocated for each artist/project. The entire event was in fact a space, with people wandering, meeting and talking to the artists (most artists were present). The evening opened with a projection of Kai Losgott’s ‘Letters from the Sky’, expanded to become a free space to discover the presented projects and for ideas and connections to flow, before the  closing performances and a very special resistance-dance from Ecuador.

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Spaces to share our stories and forms of resistance
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Beehive Collective and their majestic detail and scale
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Casa del Pajaro Cantante
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Aqua Libre. Changing Lives with their music and beings

 

 

By gathering these people, projects and art actions under a single banner, we were hoping to share some of the unique ways that the South is dealing with climate change and the systemic failure/oppression of capitalism, while maintaining the thread of post Copenhagen COPs (and the associated storyworlds and narratives developed through this time). The connection to Lima’s COP20 and the Latin American solution toolbox in general, was highlighted, in the absence of the work mentioned above,through the international premier of Valie’s documentary, alnay , produced specifically for this event.

Picture plus Valie statement

The Lima connection was strengthened with TierrActiva, the core host collective from COP20’s alternative space (CasActiva) presenting two of their community houses as examples of solutions. Community is a key component in figuring out how to solve our (global) communal challenges. How we live together, treat each other and by extension ourselves, what we eat, why we gather and how we resolve our differences, are all key levers that were beautifully presented in the Casa Corner, where Casa Muyo (chochabamba ) and Casa de  Los Ningunos (La Paz) created a wonderful representation of their spaces in Boliva.

Angela quote…

Pictures Pictures

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Norka Paz, mural artist from Bolivia, created a display area and the wonderful Love Bombs installation

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Sri Lankan artist Deneth , who stepped in at the last minute to share her amazing art, ………………………………………………………… quote

One of the key art-actions that took place in Paris the day before this event was ‘Faith in Paris’, another project produced through the assistance of the G.G.G. Indian artists Shweta Batthad and Lalit v ,duplicated their Faith art action by burying Shweta in a custom designed coffin for three hours, to raise awareness over farmer suicides in India. During the Foreign Exchange event, footage of the burial action was broadcast to many farmers in India, as part of the Global South link-up this event provided. Footage of the burial and the book Shweta wrote in while being under ground were displayed, between Antropocene Radio and the Beehive Collectives’ installations.

Kai Losgott, South African artist who was in residency in Paris during this time, and whose COP17 documentary was screened, collaborated with Angus Joseph to produce the money-making table, an installation that asked people to consider value and what they thought was valuable and of course, tied the Foreign Exchange concept perfectly together.IMG-20151207-00443IMG-20151207-00436

The evening’s musical performance was curtousy of the incredible Aqua Libre (and friends), with the Yasunido’s completing the Lima connection with a rousing participatory performance of Zapatea, a  circular dance ritual strongly linked to the defense of the Yasuni National Park

raj and Caro………

 

(Disclaimer>> As citizens of the EarthShip, North and South are pretty directionless concepts. We are however, in the aspiringly transitioning world/Paris we have inherited, so these terms are being used to highlight that a global concern such as the degrading ecosystems and natural heritage can only be solved by All Citizens contributing, conversing and co-creating, as equal sovereign beings)

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Closing the ↪loop↩

Permaculture speaks of closing the loops connecting inputs to outputs, a representation of Natures ecosystemic patterning of systems and processes. Working with a project like ‘Faith in Paris‘, one sees real magic in the way objects and people come together in a fresh formation to produce a moment of magic that echoes through infinity, beyond time and space.
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We walked that morning
Past the Funerarium
To those woods behind the kitchen
And got on our knees,
to dig a hole.

 

The overarching themes of the Paris mission was the Death/Birth cycle! Of the Transformation, the Ascension from the Underworld. In producing the Faith in Paris action, we buried not only a body or a woman.

 

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On the night before the performance, we made a call-out for people from L’Annexe to join us

 

Into that dark place went our own fear of death. And symbolically the deaths of concepts like activism, protest and authority. And of paradigms like climate justice movement, patriarchy and self-importance. And from this process came the transformation, the chrysalis of what we were becoming, pinned down at the Cabaret\OpenMic event.

 

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The first loop we saw being closed, was the hole we had dug being used by the AntiCOP Kitchen crew as a compost pile. The beauty of this is that the decomposition process is what humans consider death, while nature sees it as a part of the regenerative cycle.

Into the death hole now went the old, the old food that once sustained the movement, sublimated, drawn into the underworld to begin its journey to the surface as life force for the NU season, the fresh sprouts of Hope that are obligated to maintain the role and complete the story once again.

Nothing was wasted, no energy was lost and the output (a hole in someone’s garden) became an input for the nutrient cycle. This is how nature works, complete in itself…. respecting all realms and the roles that all creatures involved act out, in their individual capacities.

 

And since then, we see evidence more of how the loops close beautifully. The hole was now filled with the hopes for the new season of growth. The garden was then rewarded nine days later when Ben and the garden gnomes placed a peace tree in the very same garden. The first signs of life were born in postWW2 Europe and cycled by nature defence ninjangels from Scotland to Paris.

 

And even more amazingly, the very vessel that hosted the burial received a flame of NU life, as the ISOJ team helped recover the coffin and transformed it into something new and beyond.

That the box itself, a symbol for our team of achieving the improbable and walking the fire of demonstrating faith in the process, that the symbol itself was transformed… Lies the beauty we sense sometimes when we are inside a fully functional forest, or watching the edge of the sea and its myriad of lifeforms across all kingdoms.

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Here, the ISOJ team send a direct message to the artists to let them know what plans have emerged for the coffin.

And so the ceremonies were completed, and the action of transformation initiated. Through the magic of a community bound by love, respect, support and the vision of a NU world, a small team managed to start a motion, a movement that echoes beyond the confines of the moment. The first push against the Ocean, to start the Tide.

We placed faith in ourselves, in our friends and in Paris. That somehow, we could do the impossible, find where our fears lived and go dig a hole there, to bury ourselves, to know our fears. And to emerge as heroes from the Underworld, only to move beyond this, to return to the Journey, having faith in Faith.

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Picture Gallery HERE

Foreign Exchange Event

Shweta’s ‘Faith’ Online Community 

 

All pictures by Raj Goody, @minimal_mystic, except the first picture, ‘stolen’ from the Internet….

The SoundTrack includes:

spacetocombineandreallign