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Miwa Matreyek Showcases Climate Grief in a New Light

Dire climate changes are exacerbating the mental health effects of global warming. Miwa decides to visualize the narrative by channeling the viewers emotional state and taking them on a conscious journey.

MDC Live Arts hosted the live performance of Infinitely Yours & Myth and Infrastructure over the weekend and it brought a new wave of emotions about the current climate crisis we're dealing with, worldwide. Miwa explored the true definition of climate grief by creating two one-of-a-kind performances that makes invisible worlds now visible for her viewers to interpret. Her visuals often weave the narrative of conflict we face between humanity and nature. Myth & Infrastructure conjure scenes with light and shadow in the most dreamlike way, allowing her to create her own world and then interact with her imagination. This piece mixes recorded music and projected animation as she uses her body and different shapes like traversing ocean scapes, cityscapes, and dreamscapes to create a narrative. This stunning adaption on climate grief first premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, and has become a huge talking point in the art world.

Miwa's mind is beautifully unique, and it shows as she's able to successfully create a realm that breaks the barrier between reality and the subconscious. Her creativity doesn't stop there, as she continues her performance art with Infinitely Yours. Premiering in January 2020, she gave MDC Live Arts a sneak peak of what's to come, and it was mind-altering. Through this piece, she creates a call-to-action on our climate crisis. The catastrophic visibility on climate change paired with scientific reports can not only have a damaging effect on us physically, but mentally as well, especially for young people. Young activist are sounding the alarm on environmental issues, and we couldn't help but think of them as we watched Miwa show us what could happen in Infinitely Yours if we don't make changes in our daily lives.

  • Isra Hirsi is a 16-year-old social and climate activist. The daughter of Rep. Ilhan Omar, she began her journey to call out policymakers after hearing about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan in 2014.

  • Greta Thunberg is a 16-year-old household name after she began her climate strikes in 2018. She's even delivered a speech to world leaders at the United Nations this year.

  • Autumn Peltier was only 8-years-old when she saw a sign warning the water was toxic at a reservation ceremony. Now 15, she has also spoke to the United Nations about the importance of water conservation and water access.

  • Helena Gualinga reigns from the Ecuadorian Amazon, and at just 17-years-old, she's been fighting big oil companies. Her voice rings loud to us, especially in the time of the recent fires and deforestation in the Amazon.

These are just some of the young heroes that ran across our minds as Infinitely Yours showcased multiple landscapes filled with plastic, as Miwa's emotional, visual plea for her audience to change their habits flashed before our eyes. The room was silent and completely submerged while taking in the woman drowning in a plastic filled ocean. Fish being tangled in a trawling net. Earth being drilled relentlessly for oil. Our precious world engulfed with trash.

You couldn't take your eyes off of the screen, even if you wanted to. Without saying a word, Miwa made sure to get the point across. You could feel her pain as she stood in the middle of the world, while we drilled into her for oil, blood spilling from her heart. Earth's heart. She cradled a baby, who cried out for cleaner air. In a way, the child was crying out for change, and who are we to not take action for the future generations? After the two visuals were completed, the audience burst into applause and sentiment, as Miwa emerged from behind the screen. She bowed in gratitude, and sat down to talk about what we just witnessed. As she answered questions on both pieces, one audience member just wanted to show gratitude.

"I want to comment on how your work made me feel. Responsible. Guilty. I think that it showed where we're going and what could happen if we don't change. But, at the same time, there was a moment where we had a chance to make it better. Make it right. So, thank you. This was incredible work to make me feel like this. I hope that more people see this a large scale, because it's going to move people to fix it and to not let this happen."

Another audience member wanted to know what inspired Miwa to create something like this. She responded that the recent headlines over the years about climate issues prompted her to speak out about it in a new way.

It's about the overall climate grief for me. It's really overwhelming to think about. My grief is really real, and I think this piece came from that in trying to show the different layers of it all. We should be thinking about making better choices about how we live our lives and reducing the impact that we make. I'm hoping that my art, showcasing the work, and having these discussions, as well as student outreach and engagement, that it sparks something within us all to make changes. I would love to continue to be apart of this important conversation.

If by chance you were unable to make it to the MDC Live Art show, you'll have more opportunity in 2020 when it officially debuts. Be apart of the change and move forward in life with a positive intent to help future generations not live in a world they can barely breath in.

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