Is it art or we dump it?

Interviews during Perspectives Festival

Along with messages, ideas and emotions do art festivals leave behind something more, something more tangible as well? We interviewed Yael Rasooly from “Paper Cut” and Rosa Matthis from “Wasteland” to find out their view on it.

And we asked that ourselves about Perspectives. We had many other questions that might also be going through your head when going to a play, such as how much money was used for setting up the festival and how much has the city gained financially from it but we settled on the material output that the festival doesn’t seem to touch at all on and that is the environmental footprint left behind by the festival.

Looking on the webpage of Perspectives, other than shuttle buses and links to ride share websites (which we at grrrrr definitely appreciate to see) we couldn’t find any other commitments when it comes to managing having a few extra thousand people coming through Saarbrücken. Not a dedicated environmental management strategy or commitments to reduce demand for energy use or alternatives such as solar/wind generators nor “choosing to provide local, seasonal, chemical-free, healthy and sustainably-produced food” as done by other festivals following the “recipe” of the not-for-profit A Greener Festival.

So we settled on touching on this perspective of Perspectives, that of the artists performing in the festival and their relation to either creating or trying to diminish waste. A different perspective for sure than the simple, cold numbers that not many people can relate to. The human, personal perspective and most of all the non judgmental one towards this topic of waste. For this reason we didn’t ask the different actors about hard, cold facts but let them tell their story. We then picked up from them certain principles that if applied on a larger scale could have a great impact.

Less is more

Yael Rasooly performing “Paper Cut” in the evening of the 19th of May received us for an interview just two hours after having stepped off the train in Saarbrücken some time in the morning of the same day. Her entire cinematic one person theater show fits in two suitcases including the table and all of the characters that are brought to life by Yael. It’s not surprising that paper plays an important role in “Paper Cut” with most of the characters being brought to life through this medium. Something Yael found by lucky chance as being limited by her budget and resources.

She noticed she can do allot with one medium if she focuses on getting the most out of this limitation. In the play she does everything with paper from having the characters move along in their paper bodies to swallowing it, ripping it and coming close to burning it in a tension filled scene. We got the feeling that someone with very little props managed to bring a wonderful rollercoaster of emotions to those who came in search of that. And we got the feeling that either chance or conscious commitment pay of. Even if it’s after years of work and sustained effort.

And maybe it was this commitment not to use too much, not to go over the top with big screen displays and other sorts of projectors, cameras and LCD displays that makes her say “it hurts” to see waste. It was actually one of the first things we heard her saying when we found her preparing her show. Someone was cutting light filters to size which creates waste that she will never get the chance to revive in any of her plays which other than paper also feature broken dolls, broken instruments, etc. Maybe this sort of management of a festival that sees waste with pain could bring a new perspective to Perspectives.

Make waste famous

Next we interviewed Rosa Matthis who performs in “Wasteland”, a balancing performance with a message. She “talks of transformation of places and time”, “it’s about taking in consideration the space around you and it’s a show that has quite a special rhythm, it’s slow and it’s on purpose, it’s about taking your time and to look a bit around you.” She takes unused and desolate locations and makes them visible not as a moral lesson or story but to simply point it out to others who might otherwise go past it and not pay attention to it. She thinks it’s important that people are aware of their environment.

During Perspectives though the location allocated to her was a park. Is that because maybe in Saarbrücken there is no such wasteland? She takes it lightly, in good spirit and mentions another festival in Dijon where as well her show was performed in a space still in use in the center of the city. One of the organizers there mentioned “this is a place that didn’t even exist but now you performed here and people pass by they will have a memory about this, you leave a trace. And this to me is something beautiful.” And although like the play, Perspectives is also something to remember and the shows create a lasting effect on the audience the discussion on waste was not brought up in any way and this material background has been truly been put out of sight.

We look forward to an edition of the festival where waste is not put aside but becomes a focus, a main character just like in “Wasteland”. We look forward to an online section with either their commitments to use less, to support local and bio (such as the Green section of Latitude Festival) or to simply make the inputs and outputs of the festival more visible. Anything is possible if one has the right approach as Meegan Jones, author of Sustainable Event Management: A Practical Guide, and Director of Green Shoot Pacific metions: “One of my best achievements has been diverting 92% of waste away from landfill at Latitude Festival”.

The artists assured us the organizers care enough for that to happen. In the words of Rosa “they also take this risk, we do it together. (her show was canceled because of the weather). But than I have to say that as an artist at the festival it’s really nice, it’s working very well, a very nice atmosphere. They care about our (the artists’) needs.”

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