Sunday, June 4, 2017

Photo of the Day: Climate Change Performance Art in Times Square

I’m sure the event was scheduled weeks—perhaps months, maybe even a couple of years— ago, but “Holoscenes,” conducted late last week in Times Square, could not have been more timely, even urgent.

With his monumentally ignorant, petulant and environmentally reckless withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, Donald Trump, America’s first reality-TV President, amply demonstrated that single-page memos, let alone sober briefing books, were not enough to engage his gnat-like attention span. The only thing that might penetrate his mind now is performance art of the kind that curious tourists, residents and commuters were watching last week as part of the World Science Festival.

When I passed through the center of the Broadway theater district this past Friday night, my eyes were drawn to what you see here in this photo I took: a performance artist in the middle of a 12-ton aquarium-like sculpture. That artist was reading a newspaper, but over five hours, additional performers mimicked other everyday activities which humans take for granted—selling fruit, getting dressed, reading a paper, tuning a guitar—that would become anything but routine in a world of melting glaciers, higher sea levels, and worsening floods and droughts. (As seen here, the artist  reading the paper was trying to adapt to being submerged by water.)

Holoscenes” was presented as part of “Science in the Square,” a collection of exhibitions and demonstrations that coincided with the six-day World Science Festival in New York. Director Lars Jan injected the kind of visual appeal and flair that Trump must have come to appreciate during his involvement with The Apprentice.

Perhaps the President’s followers are suspicious of any avant-garde entertainment coming from Gotham. So be it. Instead, maybe the environmental movement could reach out to Red State residents who could testify to how climate change is affecting them right now, not in three years’ time (when Trump will surely be looking toward his re-election).

If even turning these potential voters is not enough, perhaps Trump can be persuaded by how climate change is affecting, even right now, the far-flung properties of his family-owned business empire (which—but of course!—he has insisted that he and his children need not give up, despite the spirit of conflict-of-interest laws and regulations).

In 2012, for instance, Hurricane Sandy breached the sea walls of homes near his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Palm Beach County had to deal with the aftermath. One more disaster of this kind and his family, like other businesses in the area, will, by necessity, foot the tax bills and/or cope with higher insurance expenses that may result.

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