Today, Wednesday 18 May, We Are Lewisham, London Borough of Culture 2022 called for action on the climate emergency, with the launch of a commission program designed to inspire and shock people into action. The event included the unveiling of artist Dryden Goodwin’s Breathe:2022 produced by Invisible Dust, and a panel exploring how arts and culture can inspire climate action, with panelists including artist Dryden Goodwin; co-founder of Choked Up, Anjali Raman-Middleton and Kas Darley, artistic director of Teatro Vivo.
Throughout 2022, a series of art, performance, spoken word and dance events that will highlight critical issues, air pollution and the impact of climate change on communities racialized and working class people, the importance of sustainable living and the future of the earth for young people and generations to come. In a commitment to tackling the pressing environmental crisis in its London Borough of Culture programme, Lewisham has collaborated with many local organizations including Trinity Laban and Lewisham Music.
Launching the program will be artist Dryden Goodwin’s reimagining and extension of his seminal work Breathe 2012 a decade later as a landmark commission for Lewisham, London Borough of Culture, in collaboration with the science organization Invisible Dust and Imperial College London.
Breathe:2022 by Dryden Goodwin is a multi-faceted work combining more than 1,000 new drawings that will appear as still and moving images at sites near the heavily polluted South Circular Route from May 18 through December 2022. Related to the death of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah and the growing battle for climate justice, he connects this global health emergency to the daily lives of local Lewisham residents and activists.
Six people from across the borough testify to the effects of air pollution – and the power of activism – through their bodies and their breathing. Participants from local activist groups including Choked Up, Mums for Lungs, Clean Air for Catford and Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, Ella’s mother and founder of the Ella Roberta Family Foundation, as well as Goodwin’s son, now 15, and a younger schoolboy, were drawn by the Lewisham-based artist as they ‘fight to breathe’.
The Breathe:2022 designs will appear as large-scale zoetropic sequences of posters on railway bridges and the side of Catford’s Old Town Hall. The work will also be presented as still and moving images on a range of JCDecaux road signs, culminating in a large-scale projection animation of over 1,000 drawings in November 2022 to close out the programme. Appearing as a staged visual takeover of the borough over six months, beginning in the muffled underpasses of busy bridges, up to palisades and roadside buildings, and finally projected aloft – Breathe: 2022 asks us both to stay with the claustrophobia of ‘fighting for breath’ but start looking upwards and outwards, towards opportunities for community action and a clean air future for all.
Commissions also include Sun & Sea, the theatrical installation that stunned audiences at the 2019 Venice Biennale, earning its all-female creative team the coveted Golden Lion. The UK premiere will transform Albany’s main house with 13 singers and 10 tons of sand. A new performance, Hope 4 Justice, commissioned by Trinity Laban Conservatory of Music and Dance, will be co-created by composer ESKA, Young Person Poet Laureate Cecilia Knapp, choreographer Sarah Golding and will involve 1,000 young people from across the arrondissement.
Created by Deptford-based Sounds Like Chaos in partnership with Albany, Climate Home will be a new low-carbon creative space designed and built by young people in Lewisham, home to an eclectic program of climate-focused performances and events and led by young creatives. and local partners.
The climate emergency program will include the world premiere of a new site-specific project created by director, co-writer and Lewisham resident Melly Still with composer and co-writer Max Barton. The Gretchen Question is co-commissioned by the Albany for We Are Lewisham and produced by Fuel, and will be presented at Shipwright, a new theater on the grounds of the Master Shipwright’s House.
Meanwhile, Lewisham-based theater company Teatro Vivo have taken up residence in the heart of Lewisham Council as ‘change artists’ within the Climate Emergency Team. Connecting with residents and local groups across the borough on their environmental concerns and hopes for the future, their findings shaped a new performance for June 2022. Taking place on the streets of each of the borough’s 19 neighborhoods , it will feature a professional cast working alongside local community groups.
There will also be a new collaboration between visual artists Ackroyd & Harvey and performance poet Zena Edwards – and a first London release of Greek artist Andreas Angelidarkis’ installation Seawall.
Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, said: “The power of arts and culture to inspire change is immense and Breathe:2022 is a great example of this work in action.
“This exciting series of artworks tackles big issues that affect Lewisham residents and the wider community with impactful and creative installations that will encourage us all to reflect on the importance of a sustainable way of life.
“Throughout the year, art, performance, spoken word and dance events will give communities a voice, showing that culture is for everyone – and that is exactly what the London Borough of Culture program!”
Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, said: “Cities have a vital role to play in tackling air pollution and the climate emergency and it’s great to see Lewisham to take action and raise awareness of both dangers as part of their year as London Borough of Culture.These commissions will help highlight the devastating effects of air quality and climate change on the lives of Londoners, especially for already vulnerable communities.
Gavin Barlow, CEO and Artistic Director of the Albany, said: “It’s a fantastic program, bringing together acclaimed international pieces such as Sun & Sea and NEST Collective, as well as highlighting the grassroots activism that is taking place right here in our borough thanks to the involvement of local actors. school children, young people and creative people. The climate emergency affects us all and this is an opportunity to come together and draw attention to the positive actions that we can all do something to make a difference.”
Vicki Amedume, Albany’s Creative Director, said, “I’m so proud of the program we’ve been able to curate, with incredibly impactful pieces popping up across the borough. We believe culture and creativity can bring real change on urgent issues around social justice and the climate crisis.”
Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham, said; “”We are delighted to welcome Dryden Goodwin’s Breathe: 2022 here to Lewisham. This world-renowned art installation reminds us how important clean air is to our environment. This kick off kicks off our London culture borough on climate change and we have more events to come throughout the year.”
The Climate Emergency program is part of We Are Lewisham, London Borough of Culture 2022, presented by Lewisham Council and Albany.