Something To Consider
Closing Night Extravaganza

Sunday, August 12, 2007
8:30pm, The Symphony Barn

Philly Markowitz

Something to Consider is an exercise in cognitive dissonance created by experiencing two radically different approaches to questions about nature, culture, and agriculture.

Two simulataneous events will vie for your attention in The Symphony Barn on this final evening of the festival:

• On smaller screens off-stage, you will see Our Daily Bread, a visually stunning (and virtually silent) documentary about industrial agriculture from Austrian filmmaker Nikolaus Geyrhalter.

• On the main stage, Afrobeat band Mr. Something Something will offer their energizing mix of danceable beats and progressive eco-political lyrics with improvised contributions from their accompanying dancer and performance painter, and visuals created by a live video mixer.

While your mind will be asked to reflect on the forces that are subverting the natural world as we know it, life-affirming music and dance will move your body and soul.

A million years of human evolution has imprinted in our DNA the need to interact with and respond to our natural environment for our very survival. Ten thousand years of agriculture has taught us how to nurture the earth or suffer the consequences. In the past 100 years, the collision of agriculture with industrial capitalism has virtually eliminated the skills and knowledge of our ancestors, who watched the sky, felt the soil, smelled fruit for ripeness, and tracked or shepherded animals for food. With this new model, we humans are no longer at the whims of a fickle and unpredictable nature, for we have created something to replace it: the factory farm.

Our Daily Bread affords us an intimate look at the world of industrial agriculture. Visually reminiscent of Koyanasqaatsi (the ground-breaking 1982 film which examined ‘life out of balance’ as created by 20th century industrialization), Our Daily Bread offers stunning and startling images of the fields, greenhouses, processing plants, ponds and slaughterhouses where the bulk of our food is produced in the industrial world.

This is a world of perpetual summer, where spring comes in the form of synthetic fertiliser or a quick squirt from an insemination gun. Summer is created year-round by 24-hour flourescent lighting, and autumn comes when fruit is mechanically shaken from the trees and vacuumed from the ground. There is no winter, although there is the regular ‘season’ of sterilization, where the environment is chemically scoured and readied for the next round of über-growth.

This is also a world of monoculture, where plants and animals have been bred away from their natural variety and vigour for sameness and hardiness to withstand the rigours of industrial handling. Few human hands touch the food in Our Daily Bread. Instead there are endless miles of conveyor belts on which plants are jostled, animals are sexed, milked and slaughtered, and workers (de-sensitized to their surreal environments) assume the rhythm of machines.

Over and over, Geyrhalter leaves us to ponder images from a world where farms look like hospitals, computer mainframes or prisons. Dystopic sci-fi film images spring to mind. Is our 21st century food raised in spaces first imagined by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis or Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odessey? Or worse yet, in the drifting space-pod greenhouses of Silent Running or the cannibal factory of Soylent Green?

You may be shocked, angered, saddened or spurred into action by what you see. Regardless, the terrible beauty of Our Daily Bread will leave you asking many questions about the food you eat and the world we live in.
To provide one possible answer to those questions, we offer the spontaneous and energetic performance of Mr. Something Something on the main stage. The Toronto-based Afrobeat band has been entertaining and informing audiences across the country for the past 4 years with its passionate, positive and danceable music.

Aside from wildly energized and unpredictable live shows, the band is becoming increasingly well known for its green politics and environmental activism. The band is playing a number of eco-dates in 2007, performing at organic farms, eco-villages, CSAs and co-housing projects to highlight communities that are taking steps toward sustainability and smaller ecological footprints. ‘It is our intent to educate ourselves to a better and more sustainable lifestyle,’ says frontman Johan Hultqvist. ‘Hopefully this will inspire others to do the same.’

For this performance, Mr. Something Something will be joined by their dancer and performance painter, plus a live video re-mixer who will blend images to create a live video projection on the fly.

Control or spontenaiety? Sterility or creativity? Monoculture or variety? Something to Consider: the choice is yours.

Contact: (519) 369-3692