An immersive performance experience designed and performed by the Ad Lib Collective for the 2018 Metropolis New Music Festival, Music for our Changing Climate asked listeners to consider what climate change sounds and feels like. One of our brilliant 2018 Writers-in-Residence, Piriye Altraide, was there and she captures her thoughts and musings on the concert below.
… an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.
It is a small room. We are drawn into something more intimate. Murmurs make soft layers in the background. A carpet of voices. Lights dim.
It is a small sin. We are drawn into something more imminent. Murmurs make soft prayers like background carpet. A prayer of voices. Did you read the news… this article…? Hearts dim.
The moments when they set up in the quiet are the eeriest. A total stillness overtakes us. The ice drips. We wait.
The moments they brutalise are the eeriest. What sort of hell is this? The moments they refuse to believe are the eeriest. The moments they refuse to see are the eeriest. The moments they refuse to listen are the eeriest. How can they not see? It is so obvious. How is it possible to dispute this? A total stillness overtakes me. The anger grips. We bristle. We despair. We resist. We block our minds. We pretend. We hide. We pray. The anger slips.
Unexpectedly, a quartet arrives. I think of the delicateness of birds. They play against the background sound of ice dripping into steel basins. Fast, slow, fast, slow. Sometimes a trotting gallop in a South-East Asian forest. The water could then be drippings in a cave.
Unexpectedly a listener arrives. I think of the delicateness of ribs. I think of the delicateness of hearts. I think of the delicateness of cracks. I think of how they have cracked so many. They play in the background of disaster. They play against the background of blood dripping into steel basins. Splashing against walls. Fast, slow, fast, slow. Sometimes a dragging of a young mahogany body against a black Australian bitumen road. The blood could now be drippings in a normalisation.
Or is it industrial? A leaking, abandoned building. Decay and a discarded dystopia. Bowed strings are used alongside the xylophone. They are like claws emanating from the player’s hands.
Or is it patriotic? A leaking, abandoned body. Decay and a current dystopia. Bowed backs are used alongside the favoured. They are like claws emanating from the players’ hands.
Now they are praying? Offering water to gods? Splashes of water. Then an introduction to a fire. Forest. Burning.
Now they are burning? An offering to water? Turning to water? An eye to God. When was the introduction to fire? Redemption. Redemption. Introduction to glory.
Sometimes the light shines on us.
“… More than anything elseeee…” she sings and a pause, timed perfectly with dripping, dripping, dripping.
I am thinking about sound effects: a bow pulled up against symbols to screech. Shells clinking and tinkering. Claps on wood. Tapping on saucepans.
The saxophone squeals and struggles.
We sit in a room.
We sit in a room waiting. A show goes forth. A woman sings in opera about the end of the world. The changing climate and the end of the world. In our room we know that we are already at the end of the world. In our room, the ideas room, the learning exchange room, the book room, the book club room, the room, The Swan Book: Aboriginal people are living in military occupation. Their homes are swamps and wastelands. A little girl is so traumatised she can’t speak. There are missing girls, gang rapes; there is petrol sniffing. “Set in the future,” the blurb says. This is not the future.
“How much does what white people consider dystopia and apocalypse, reflect the already existing realities for black people?” But we’re waiting, waiting on the world to chaaangeee…
The name is changed while the principle remains the same. Seasons change, mad things rearrange. “Mad things” still here; new faces, new changes— I see no changes… For the times, they are a-changing…
What is real change? There is not real change. The jury is out. Sitting.
We sit in a room and we wait. The key is to distract. Then distract from the distraction. “Time is running out.”
Time is running out. Time has always run out. Time… we were never counting time. There is no point in counting time. Sometimes the light shines on us.
Sometimes the light shines on us and people get angry. People get angry about a bringing to light. For some reason they have not noticed the dazzling lights shining on them, incessantly. They switch our small lights off.
ACT 2- PART…
“Rain, hail and shine: Australia’s crazy weather forecast,” the headlines buzz. I think of this the day my umbrella turns inside out no matter which way I turn. Many soils are groaning and heaving under the weight of mistreatment. Perhaps it may have been wise to listen to 70,000 years of land management expertise and advice.
But 70,000 years is not long enough to know enough, I guess?
Black girl surviving the end of the world: A government invests heavily in a police force to crack down on “African gang violence”. The only violence I see here is the one in your eyes. I read about police brutality, they are just children, and bile and vomit rise in my stomach. What sort of hell is this? The presence of hi-vis yellow on blue increases. In the shops I ensure to keep my arms visible. Products far from my bag. I have been profiled before.
For the times, they are a-changing, changing, changing…
ACT 2- PART…
We sit in a room and we wait.
Waiting on the world to change.
australia’s crazy weather forecast; opening the doors to
morning; mourning destruction of lands
not set foot on
almost thirty years
but your spirit lives there
but the knowledge of europe’s
sucking bone dry
sucking oil dry
what could have been
besides corruption, greed and
the poorest continent’s
everywhere but in its contents
why do we do this to ourselves?
green; I doubt it’s there