1 Click Away: Art as the medium for Environmental Action

Words by Paula Catalina Riofrío.

“Towers falling down” replayed one of the kids. “Things break all the time” said the other. “Waste, a lot of waste” said the tallest one. Those were the answers of the children attending 1 Click Away by Follow Through Collective, a participative workshop and performance that explores the themes of reusing, reducing and recycling the wrappings and boxes that come to our door almost every week. It left me wondering, how does it feel in the body to have too much, how does it feel in the body to have less?

I am at Upper Norwood Library on the second floor. It’s a study room with two black curtains and an uncovered lift. Follow Through Collective is on stage, but so are the audience. We are invited to help build a wall at the back and there are also red carpets for us to sit or lie on. Then the wall is torn down. Four movers on the floor pass used cardboard boxes to each other. It is very coordinated, upbeat, and repetitive. What is the outcome of the repetitive action of buying; the repetitive action of storing? The musician transitions us into another scene; with a looping machine and a laptop, she dilates the dancers movements, she bends time.

Get Britain moving says one of the boxes. Work hard says one of the dancer’s t-shirts. Have Fun, Make History. The last dancer wore a smiley Amazon T-shirt. Bodies are used as structures, bodies used as machines; chains of resourcing power. The movers walk with carton cubes and cuboids inbetween their legs and arms as they build a wall between us. The children whisper secretly, they play hide and seek. It seems a mystery to them how the boxes seem to float at the back.

Dancers balance the boxes and ask the little ones to join. They manage to balance as the wind blows from the speakers into the background. It becomes like a Chaplin movie or clown routine; the cardboards find themselves back to the floor. It ends with some of the dancers covered and masked in wrappings.

Greta Gauhe the Artistic Director of Follow Through Collective made me realise how borderless the formats of art are in the means of education. The workshop they ran after the performance was absolutely inspiring; it built a bridge in between the ideas experienced during those 40 minutes. The kids used the cardboard boxes to write, draw and recreate a new space. The impact of this abstract creative work can delve profoundly into the emotional and the rational cords of ourselves, in a way normal speech wouldn’t. I left the Library thinking about all the possible courageous things to do to reuse an abandoned space.