07.01.20

INTERVIEW: LUKE CASSERLY AND SHANNA-MAY BREEN

An Interview with the Artists

After a successful departure as part of the 2019 Dublin Fringe Festival, Luke Casserly and Shanna-May Breen, the artists behind PLASTIC: A STREETVIEW, return to Science Gallery Dublin with a workshop in January and a live offsite performance in February. FIVE TINY PLASTIC MOMENTS and MOULD INTO SHAPE invite us to unearth our relationship to the material of plastic and immerse ourselves in an important and pressing dialogue. 

1. In 2020, you’re working with Science Gallery Dublin on two projects MOULD INTO SHAPE and FIVE TINY PLASTIC MOMENTS, what should attendees expect from these events and how do the two projects connect to one another?
As part of the creation of Mould Into Shape, we visit Killiney on a regular basis to collect pieces of tactile plastic that wash up on the beach there. From here, we begin the process of archiving each item, before presenting it (via sound) to the listener on the train. Archival is an important part of our process with the project, and so when Science Gallery approached us about hosting a workshop, we thought it would be interesting to get a group of people together and invite them to assemble their own archives. In the workshop, we will focus on the performative potential of each participant’s personal archive of five plastic objects. Those taking part can expect a blend of science, theatre and fizzy new starting points.

2. Do you think art plays a significant role in spreading awareness of the climate crisis?
It does. Both in the work itself, and the process behind it. During the premiere of Mould Into Shape in 2019, for example, we decided to print only one poster and keep our marketing campaign for the project completely digital. Small gestures can be powerful and disarming. Inviting people to think about the environment through the lens of performance is subversive in a way, and catches people off-guard.

3. What are your primary objectives behind MOULD INTO SHAPE? 
To create a performance that explores our relationship with plastic in Ireland through sound. One of our primary objectives is to bring the audience from the city centre to a performance site that is directly impacted by the material. We want to present the listener with a series of starting points, which tease out the idea that our human connection with the material is imperative, and vital to managing our relationship with it moving forward.

4. Is there a particular reason you decided to make the performance interactive and participatory rather than passive?
It was important for us that the audience was central to the overall image and not removed from it in any way. Our work is devised, meaning it is primarily borne from conversations, interviews, found material, etc. As a result, the work tends to be personal and intimate, because it’s about people and their relationship with something. We also feel that our national conversation about plastic is urgent and so we like the idea of the performance involving a group moving and taking a journey together. 

5. How do you think participatory interactive pieces differ from the experience of seeing a physical artwork focused on the climate crisis? 
As with any live performance, the audience is crucial. I think it’s a surprising, and surreal experience in a way, that unfolds and brings you somewhere you didn’t perhaps expect. The live aspect of the work is the defining feature though and offers the audience something they wouldn’t find in a gallery.

6. Why did you select Killiney Beach as the site to explore?
We wanted to bring an audience to a site directly impacted by plastic, and Killiney Beach had received a lot of attention over the last few years with all of the plastic waste washing up there. There’s also a rich history in the area of people who swim in the sea and do the beach clean there regularly. We had the opportunity to meet lots of locals during the making of the piece, and it was very special to hear people’s experiences first-hand. We also love the arresting view that can be seen as you approach the beach on the DART. There is a glistening vista that can be seen just after you emerge from the tunnel before Killiney Station - it’s powerful stuff. 

7. What would you like participants to take away from FIVE TINY PLASTIC MOMENTS?
We would like to explore new ways of thinking and creating when it comes to environmental art. We hope participants will take some exciting new perspectives away from the day, and find inspiration to tell stories in inventive and exciting new ways moving forward.

8. Why do you think Ireland has such a strong national relationship with plastic and what are the ways in which we can unearth this reliance?
We have a global problem with consumption, specifically when it comes to plastic. We believe it’s important to focus on the human connection we have with it but at the end of the day, the material is vital to so many industries. It’s about getting to the heart of how we look at the material so we can revolutionise how we think about it and how we manage it as a society. Finding ways to spark people’s imaginations is the key to unearthing how we manage the material. 

9. Do you think that alternative materials to plastic can be uncovered through projects like FIVE TINY PLASTIC MOMENTS and MOULD INTO SHAPE? 
It depends. I think with projects like Mould Into Shape and Five Tiny Plastic Moments, we can encourage people to look at things differently by offering them a viewpoint of the material they may not have had previously. We’re not scientists- we are the collectors of material (from both experts, and those with lived experience) which then gets devised into a performance. We’d like to think the work is a catalyst for some kind of change, or new thought- whether that is finding an alternative material to plastic, we’re not sure. 

10. Can you reveal any plans in the pipeline for 2020?
We are busy with plans for our next creation that will premiere in 2020. We can’t reveal specific details just yet, but the project will focus on our human connection with trees, which feels like an appropriate departure following our immersion in the world of plastic over the last few months. 

Photo credit: Fergal Styles.

 

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