Visiting Scholar Talks Art, Climate Chaos Nov. 5

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The Ohio University College of Fine Arts Consortium for Historical and Critical Studies in the Arts will host visiting scholar Una Chaudhuri, who will explore art that encourages us to “take the climate personally.”

Chaudhuri is the inaugural speaker in the consortium’s first season, themed “Art in the Anthropocene.”

Her presentation  “Anthropo-Scenes: Staging (and Feeling) Climate Chaos,” is free and open to the public, 7 p.m., Thursday Nov. 5, in Glidden Recital Hall. It will be followed by an informal reception in the same location.

“The transformations [climate change] involves are so unpredictable–is not just natural, it’s also cultural,” said Chaudhuri. “It’s not just about scientific processes; it’s equally about values, ideology, cultural practices, dreams and desires. And all that, of course, is where art comes in.”

The pace and unpredictability of the phenomena we’ve been referring to as “climate change” makes that phrase seem almost euphemistic; recognizing that we are in an age of climate chaos calls us to a heightened sense of urgency and opens new areas for creative engagement.

By using many affective registers–beyond guilt, shame, fear, and anger–Chaudhuri means to realign our values, thoughts, and feelings with more realistic and resilient attitudes to the strange new world ahead.

Professor Una Chaudhuri is a pioneer in the field of “eco-theatre”— plays and performances that engage with the subjects of ecology and environment—and helped to launch that field when she guest-edited a special issue of Yale’s Theater journal in 1994.  Her introduction to that issue, entitled There Must be a Lot of Fish in that Lake: Theorizing a Theatre Ecology, is widely credited as a seminal contribution to the field.

Chaudhuri was also among the first scholars of drama and theatre to engage with another rapidly expanding new inter-disciplinary field, Animal Studies, and guest-edited a special issue of TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies on “Animals and Performance.”

In 2014, she published books in both these fields: an Animal Studies book entitled Animal Acts: Performing Species Today (co-edited with Holly Hughes) and an ecocriticism book entitled The Ecocide Project: Research Theatre and Climate Change (co-authored with Shonni Enelow).

Chaudhuri is currently a Collegiate Professor and Professor of English, Drama, and Environmental Studies at New York University. She also collaborates on creative projects, including the multi-platform intervention entitled Dear Climate, which has been presented in New York, Santa Barbara, Troy, Dublin, Abu Dhabi, and the Netherlands.

The recently created Consortium for Historical and Critical Studies in the Arts, consisting of scholars from the College of Fine Arts, aims to foster a dialogue among scholars and artists through performances, exhibitions, courses, guest speakers and artists.

The Climate Doesn't Love Me poster