Extinction Rebellion (XR) announce Events and Exhibition programme at Edinburgh Fringe venue Summerhall

Monster Chetwynd and Esther Teichmann
‘Wrestling a wittchetty grub’ 2018, Fantasie Photostudio 

Lower Galleries 1 & 2, Summerhall, 1 Summerhall, Edinburgh EH9 1PL
Press preview; 1-6pm Wednesday 24th July and all day Thursday 25th July 
Private view; 18.30-20.30 Wednesday 24th July 

  • Extinction Rebellion announce extensive programme of visual art, installation, film, theatre, spoken word, poetry, live art, performance, workshops, talks and more at Edinburgh Festival Fringe venue Summerhall. 
  • Contributors include; Turner Prize nominee Monster Chetwynd, Oceanallover, UNFIX Festival, Gabrielle Gillot, the Dark Mountain Project and Extinction Rebellion activists from across the UK
  • A series of non-violent artistic direct actions – ‘Transformances’ – will take place throughout the festival around the city of Edinburgh. 

As the global climate and ecological crisis grows ever more urgent and governments continue to drag their heels, Extinction Rebellion will demonstrate how art can challenge society’s culture of denial and engage people on a visceral level to create a collective sense of solidarity to avert the impending climate catastrophe. 

Summerhall commented, “Summerhall invited XR to be a part of its Festival programme this year, because it recognises that climate change (global warming) and biodiversity destruction affects us all and we have reached a point of crisis. XR have miraculously managed to place this on the political agenda and Summerhall believes in the power of the arts to make the world a better place. This programme is a reflection of our joint desires.” 

This month long residency in Summerhall’s Lower Galleries will combine an exhibition of visual art and installations with an evening programme of events, films, live art and performance, plus a series of workshops, to encourage public engagement with Extinction Rebellion’s three demands; that the government tells the truth on the climate and ecological emergency, that the government acts now to reduce biodiversity loss and commits to net zero carbon emissions by 2025, and to create a Citizens Assembly to oversee the changes. Creating a space where people can feel safe to engage with the scary reality of the climate crisis is central to this residency, with XR volunteers in the galleries at all times to answer questions and offer support. 

Tackling themes such as biodiversity loss, species extinction, climate grief, our reliance on fossil fuels and a growing public resistance to these practices, the exhibition features Gabrielle Gillot’s immersive ‘Safe Haven’ installation, sculpture from Samantha Boyes, an audio installation from Martin Disley, an XR actions and people photo series from Lauren McGlynn (XR Scotland’s photographer) and much much more. (full listings below)

“We are delighted to be part of the iconic cultural space of Summerhall in that it offers a channel for people to engage with XR’s three demands in a completely different space to a roadblock or a camp. We are really hoping to reach people who haven’t engaged with us before, who are curious about what we are saying. Historically, art has always had a central role in society, crystallising a culture’s concerns and reflecting back its potential for change. We hope this exhibition and live event programme will do just that. There will be something for everyone.” – Natalie Taylor, co-curator and artist.

The schedule of performances and workshops is extensive, with events taking place every evening (except Sundays) after 8pm. In the spirit of XR, equal space has been given to internationally recognised and emerging performers – from Monster Chetwynd, 2012 Turner Prize nominee, to Saul Kenrick, a student and XR activist inspired to write his first play. Collaborative pieces will be created with Earth Ensemble, a collective of actors, writers, poets, and musicians who came together after the London rebellion to create theatre that engages people directly and shines a light on our current climate emergency. Two days of visceral live performance will be curated by Glasgow’s ecological festival UNFIX plus performances from Dumfries and Galloway’s Oceanallover and The Dark Mountain Project. 

The XR Summerhall Residency will come to a close on the 31st August with a day of workshops and collaborative performance from Turner Prize nominee Monster Chetwynd, who dedicates this day to the awareness of insects and weaving consideration of them into our day to day lives.

In addition to the events and installations at Summerhall, XR Edinburgh will be curating “Transformances”, a parallel lineup of transformative direct actions and  performances elsewhere across the city, in which everyone in attendance will be part of the action.

“Transformances is about creating the conditions for systemic change. By engaging members of the public in performances in which they are participants, not passive spectators, we hope to mobilize them as actors for good in the global drama that’s happening right now.

We no longer have the luxury of remaining passive. In the ecological emergency, no-one is a spectator. To deal with an unprecedented global predicament of climate breakdown and ecological collapse, we desperately need as many people as possible to become engaged, active, disobedient citizens.”
 – Robert Alcock, Transformances coordinator 

The full programme will be available on the Extinction Rebellion Scotland and Summerhall websites and daily updates will be posted on Extinction Rebellion Scotland/ Edinburgh social channels. 

Notes to Editors 

The daytime exhibition will act as both a reflective and provocative space for visitors to consider XR’s three demands. Through visual art, film, and photographic documentation of XR Scotland’s actions to date, visitors are invited to consider their own response to the climate and ecological emergency with which XR engages.

Around 80 activists, artists, performers and programmers from across the UK and beyond put forward submissions to be part of the Summerhall residency in response to an open call. The featured artists from across the UK were selected in part due to their confrontation of critical issues of our time, including oil industry dominance, the illogical cult of prepping, i.e stockpiling food in advance of food shortages, plastic pollution, over industrialisation of the food industry, critical point of ice-cap melting, and the impact of the shipping industry on marine life. Members of the public are warmly invited to come and see for themselves how XR Scotland creates a welcoming environment to engage with these issues.

The lineup includes;
Monster Chetwynd: participatory workshops, and finale performance. In Monster’s words she “will dedicate this day to the awareness of insects and weaving consideration to them into our day to day lives.“ 31st Aug at 8.45 pm for public performance.

Gabrielle Gillot: 2019 Edinburgh College of Art graduate, Gabrielle’s powerful immersive installation ‘Safe Haven’ questions the logic of prepping for an apocalyptic future.

Samantha Boyes‘Gluttony – If Animals Foraged in a Fucked up World’ – a visceral sculpture addressing the plunder of other cultures/species; where unbelievable reality abruptly forces one to reassess what is true.

Polly Thelwall: creating unconscious undercurrents in human experience into material form.

Martin Disley: audio immersive installation addressing noise pollution and biodiversity loss in the mind of the listener.

Sarah GittinsWitness, 2019 – print on extinction and human grief for extinct species

Sally Price: ‘Slick’, an installation made of plastic, aims to remind people of where plastic comes from, its origin in the oil industry, and to bring back the reality of that source to these items. 

Mary Walters: ‘Ice: Glacial Narratives’ Inspired by the disappearance of ice from Arctic regions. Recent travels in Svalbard gave her an opportunity to see the drama of the melting of sea ice. 

Lauren McGlynn‘XR Scotland: Actions & People’ photography exhibition 

Barbara Beyeruntitled – sculpture recycling London building rubble to create Chinese symbols of ‘man’ and ‘mountain’.

Elliot Hurst, Office – XR working office space with updated information on a weekly basis.

Paige BowesPower to the peaceful – Extinction Rebellion demands on burlap

Ian NewtonThere is no time / Like the present – Carving Westmoreland slate outside Summerhall, which was formed from volcanic ash and metamorphosed by heat and pressure over 450 million years ago.This particular piece of slate is fragile with a tendency to split. A challenge that is difficult but also appropriate to the words; difficult but not impossible.

Gavin MacGregor – And again, should we wash upon, Loch Awe shore … found object sculptural assemblage. Archaeology, Scottish prehistory, the anthropocene, deep time, imagined futures and Loch Awe.  I am a creative archaeologist who has specialised in Scottish prehistory.

Natalie TaylorBirds and Bees, RED LIST – This graphic painting created using mica dust, gum arabic, and human tears, presents the viewer with an image of our mortality selected from thousands of wild species becoming extinct on a daily basis. The painting shows creatures previously regularly seen in the UK, such as the Turtle Dove, and the Common Cuckoo, which have now entered the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Evening programme lineup of artists – 

Matthew Todd – ‘The Truth About Superheroes’ – a one hour journey into the stories our cultures tell through popular culture about who gets to be a hero and who doesn’t and why only we can save the Earth now from theatrical stand-up and the award-winning Editor-at-Large of Attitude magazine. 

Saul Kenrick – ‘Jenny Feather and the Powers that Be’ – a short play imaging a future if we fail to follow the XR demands by student and XR activist Saul Kenrick. 

Oceanallover – Oceanallover are a company specialising in making performative work that challenges conventional presentation of theatre, presenting some elements of recent work drawing attention to the issues inherent in our consumer culture and to highlight the great importance of establishing a balance between human demand and the living economy of our planet.  http://oceanallover.co.uk/ 

Earth Ensemble – Your Planet Needs You – a collective of actors, writers, poets and musicians offering a new way of collaborating that puts XR’s aims into direct action (includes John Farndon and Stephanie Martin) – also part of the Transformances programme – cluster of short guerrilla events. 

UNFIX Festival – UNFIX is an evolving festival of ecological performance, dance, music, film and discussion which seeks to contribute to the waking up of humanity in an age of climate change, massive inequality and crazy consumerism. Paul Michael Henry of UNFIX will be curating two days of live performance. 

Dougie Strang of The Dark Mountain Project – part conversation part performance exploring what happens when we stop pretending everything is fine, and begin to recognise that the world we’ve known is now on fire

Take One Action Film Festival – includes two evening screenings of ‘This Changes Everything’ and ‘Fractured Land’ followed by audience discussion

Tamsin Omond – This Bitch Can Heal (play) and Tell The Truth (workshop) 

Tom Bailey aka Mechanimal – theatre workshop exploring meeting other species through the human body

Rebellious Singers, led by Jane Lewis – singing and song-writing workshops for the rebellion et al.