Floe is a multi-pronged project about climate instability: vanishing polar ice, rising sea levels, extreme weather, forced migration, the tension between denial and evidence, and adaptation and resilience. Both a performance work and a projection for ART on the MART, Floe embodies the fragmentation of our global conversation on climate change as it veers from anti-science conspiracy theories to the very real and urgent impacts of global warming.
Floe |ART on theMART screened nightly April-June 2022 on Chicago's Riverwalk.
The stage work premiered in January 2020 at Wisconsin Union Theater at UW-Madison, involving a community cast who performed their own responses to climate change in pop-up performances and grad students from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies as audience guides, narrating their scripted climate research.
Watch on the Art Institute of Chicago's Earth Day 2021 webpage: two mini-films, Floe scenes re-imagined and captured at Chicago's lakefront in February 2021.
Note from the Director, Carrie Hanson:
Floe fits into a set of The Seldoms’ repertory about environmental issues, and is our second project about global warming. In building Floe, we talked with Madison, WI locals about the floods of August 2018, and we heard from UW Nelson Institute for the Environment climate scientist Dan Vimont that the new normal is change — we can expect that CO2 levels will rise, again and again. Early on, we talked with University of Texas-Austin marine biologists about their research in the Arctic at the Beaufort Sea Lagoon and learning from Inupiat locals whose lives change as the sea ice changes. We traveled to Houston to hear stories of Hurricane Harvey and the unprecedented rainfall and flooding. As we listened to these accounts of Harvey especially, one truth emerged: the body itself is the center of gravity in this human-caused climate crisis. In these extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change, the experience is located essentially and acutely at the level of body: survivors vividly recall the physical exertion and trauma—paddling for hours to make rescues, pulling down flood-damaged dry wall, and over a year later, still triggered by the sound of rain. We set out to make Floe because we believe that the fluent and articulate body is a powerful means to convey what is at stake in our warming world, and is a way to understand our culpability, fragility, and mandate. We thank all of those people for sharing their experiences and expertise, and we aim to carry those stories forward as best we can, perhaps revealing something about this climate emergency that statistics cannot express.
Choreography & Direction:
Performance & movement
Deandra Alaba (AotM)
Solomon Bowser (stage work)
Philip Elson (stage work)
Text & Additional Direction:
Sound Design & Composition
Set / Visual Design:
Lighting Design & Technical Direction
Jeff Hancock (stage work)
Maria Pinto (AotM)
Assistant Lighting Design & Stage Management: Nicholas Valdivia
Additional sound sources:
Houston Interviews: voices of Margaret Jelinek Lewis and David Lewis, Paul Middendorf, Janice Rubin, Stephanie Thomas; “The New Arctic” video (excerpt) by Marine Science Institute, University of Texas-Austin, voice of Ken Dunton, MSI faculty and Arctic researcher; World Ocean Radio, Ocean Literacy podcast, voice of host Peter Neill