Creative Rebellion: Arts and Culture Highlights from International Rebellion London
Email Arts & Culture Media Coordinator: Lorenzo.Belenguer.XR@protonmail.com
Phone Arts & Culture Media Coordinator: +447731425077 5. XR Art Blockers Photos courtesy of art blockers
XR Art Blockers are at the heart of Extinction Rebellion’s creative design. During the October Rebellion block printing stations were run by groups from across the UK at multiple sites. They transformed into mobile units once the police clearance kicked in, bringing beautiful patches and flags to protestors across London. Blocker Bridget Turgoose says: ‘We work tirelessly on the frontline of activism bringing colourful joy by printing rebellious garments whilst outreaching to the general public. Talking not only about the climate crisis science and solutions, but with our own personal journeys into Extinction Rebellion.”
Clive Russell, XR Arts Group co-founder adds: “Our design output is strictly non-commercial and dedicated to developing creativity. By allowing space for thought and reflection XR Art Group has re-invented the protest art space. Our ground-breaking Design Programme is now being used and developed worldwide – who knows what will happen next… “6. Red Rebel Brigade Red Rebel Brigade Courtesy of Guy Reece
Credit: Jaqueline Watson-Moule
Within many actions of this October’s protest, a sea of excitement is always bubbling amongst the crowd… Then emerge a group of druids dressed in blood red with their faces painted in white, advance to the space between the police and the protesters. They make no sounds, give no speech and open their hands towards the police who seem to not know whether to be amused or irritated. They are the Red Rebel Brigade. A group of performers founded by Doug Francisco as part of the Invisible Circus and now Extinction Rebellion.
See the Red Rebel Brigade doing what they do best: 7. Extinction March: Skeletons Rebellion & XR Bones Extinction Grief March. Photo by Anna Sherwin
XR Skeletons Rebellion are a demonstration of the endangered and extinct life forms created in the spirit of Do It Together, an acknowledgement of the mortal dangers we face as creatures on this planet. They invite you to grieve with them to demonstrate that it is not all over yet and our spirits are alive. They proved an invaluable force during the April International Rebellion – taking to the streets for haunting processions. They are made out of newspaper, piping and all types of found materials, shared skills, collaborative hands and patience. The XR Bones is a performance meets ritual piece about our disconnection as humans. With human bodies and the found skulls of animals, we invite a space for reconnection where we honour all life that has already become extinct.
On Saturday the 12th of October, XR Skeletons Rebellion joined a jazz-funeral street band, black horses and Painted Earth, along with XR Art Blockers’ beautiful flags. A short ceremony of grief to express a profound lament for Extinction through a unifying march followed by a funeral procession, where everybody was dressed in black, walking through the streets of London.
“Grief is subversive. Grief is not a negotiation with death; it is a courageous love letter to life”
Video of October’s march: 8. Landing Crew XR Landing Crew in front of magistrates court. Photo Credit: Lisa Roy
Landing Crew are a dance group who have based their performance on the movements of aircraft landing staff who bring an aircraft in from the runway to a standstill. It comes from an interest in the power of stillness, focus, slow movement and other forms of non-verbal communication, particularly in the context of high stakes, high energy, clamour and the space that this stillness and focus creates for performers and audiences to pause and take a breath with them. Through movement called semaphore they spell out words as a group i.e. EMERGENCY. With the help of Siobhan Davies who gave the Landing Crew her studios to rehearse.
Anne-Marie Culhane, an activist and artist, says: “Landing Crew came out of a performance we did at Climate Camp 2007 at Heathrow involving three performers where we wanted to find a creative way to be part of actions against the third runway. We have had very positive reactions. We have realised that Landing Crew can offer an imaginative and important support function.”9. SOS From the Kids & Families SOS from the kids. Photo Credit: Kat Vinton
‘SOS from the Kids’ is a call to act for the climate crisis now, written by 12 year old Simeon and his mum, and distributed as an easy to perform song. Sir David Attenborough wrote a letter to Simeon saying, “Thank you for all you are doing to help tackle the problem”
. A lot of teachers working with young people have been in contact with them, asking if their group can learn and perform the song, which is why they have made resources free to download from their website. They are an independent group who have joined many of the Extinction Rebellion events.
Youtube video of their demonstration in Trafalgar Square on Sunday the 13th of October 10. Culture Declares Emergency – Letters to the Earth Culture Declares Emergency. Photo credit: Katy Hill
Culture Declares Emergency is a growing international community of individuals and organisations from the Arts and Culture sector concerned about the dire state of the planet. It launched in London on 3rd April 2019, with over 600 having declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency, and this number continues to grow. Declarers include some of the UK’s best known venues including The Royal Court, Tate, HOME Manchester, Battersea Arts Centre, The Old Vic and The Roundhouse, as well as artist Sir Antony Gormley, director Katie Mitchell, actor Tamaryn Payne from Hollyoaks, and Peter Kosminsky, director of Wolf Hall and Secret State.
Kay Michael, theatre-maker and co-founder of Culture Declares Emergency hosted various readings of Letters To The Earth throughout Rebellion. This is a campaign that began in February this year, inviting the public to write a letter in response to the climate and ecological emergency and to share them in community, in protest and online. Actor Sir Mark Rylance read his letter ‘A Great Non-Conformity’, along with writer Joanna Pocock with ‘Nichollsia Borealis’ and XR spokesman Dr Rupert Read delivered his ‘A Daring Invitation’ at various occupied sites. 11. Life Music & the XR Drummers Samba XR. Photo credit: Michelle Healy
The XR Drummers have grown to a national movement. As Kimwei McCarthy, one of many Band Leaders/Maestros, says: “People came from all over the country to drum with us, with up to 100 members playing at once, or multiple bands moving London. The reaction of the public has been incredible! With applauses, being thanked, cheering, dancing and singing with us. What originated in Bristol last year has become a powerful force for Climate Justice.”
Other band leaders or Maestros as they are called, are Ben Camp (Salisbury), Jake Slocombe (Bristol), Alfie Ferguson (London), Jamie Cooper (London) and Bethan Jones (Bristol).
Pianos have also been in each camp with a daily supply of various forms of live music.12. Mural – Paint the streets campaign Photo credit: Jane Mutiny
Jane Mutiny, a visual artist, has painted a mural as part of Extinction Rebellion Public Art programme and invited by Village Underground in Holywell Lane, Hackney. As she says: “On the left side of the symbol are animals which are very near to extinction, the animals in the symbol are already extinct, and the right shows animals and plants thought to be gone, but are actually still out there in the wild.”
This middle section shows the passenger pigeon, an American species which famously went extinct due to extensive hunting in the late 1800s. Word had it that it was once so populous, flocks would fly over for hours at a time. On the right is the Round Island Burrowing Boa, from Mauritius, last seen in 1975. At the bottom is the Pyrenean Ibex, a goat from the mountains of Europe, which went extinct in 2000. Next is Spix’s Macaw, native to Brazil, this was last seen in the wild in 2000. There are a few in captivity, but the gene pool is not wide enough to repopulate the species in the wild. They are known as being ‘functionally extinct’.
It is important to clarify that all Extinction Rebellion street interventions are made using easy to clean painting materials like chalk, so the environment remains clean and intact afterwards. With the exception of murals, which are created with an invitation from the owners of the property. Notes to editors
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.About Extinction Rebellion:
Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.
Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.
Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:
- Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
- Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
- Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
| Extinction Rebellion in Numbers
|This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook
.About Rising Up!
Extinction Rebellion emerged from the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion while the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.
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