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Lost Matter

2022-ongoing, One-to-one performance ritual

An act of intimate reflection, a collective mourning, and a recognition of the capitalism-caused climate crisis, colonization, and exploitation of people, land and resources. Visitors are invited to an infinity shadow dance one person at a time. A sound poem accompanies the ritual: a chorus of mournings about what we lose daily. Andrea’s back is there to be uncovered from the earth and written on with river water to receive their mourning onto the skin.

While the mourning that Lost Matter wants to hold space encompasses all forms of loss –individual and personal, or collective and societal– the act has been born out of a profound sensation of solastalgia. Solastalgia is place-based anguish, a reversed form of nostalgia: the homesickness we feel in (rather than for) our own home (Glenn Albrecht 2019, p.38). Solastalgia has been felt for many centuries by many cultures: a depleted landscape where biodiversity is diminished can cause a sense of solastalgia. Elyne Mitchell (1946, p.4) pointed out that exploitative practices such as large-scale agriculture and colonization have contributed to an endemic disconnect between humans and the planet. Recent ecosystem distress and climate chaos have intensified the desolation people experience in response to environmental phenomena beyond our control, such as wildfires, flooding, drought, and volcanic eruptions. Invasive and irreversible human interventions such as land clearing, overfishing, deforestation, destructive mining, and more increase pressure on the natural world, people, and non-humans. It brings forth an irreversible loss of home environments, which causes existential angst about this process. However, research indicates that solastalgia can have an adaptive function when it leads people to seek comfort collectively. Like other climate-related emotions, when attended through acts that allow for reflective emotion, this can induce growth and resilience.

The first Lost Matter ritual took place in Quebec, Canada, a country where, through the insisting efforts of First Nations and environmental activists, a river can have legal personhood, being accepted as an entity with a right to live, evolve naturally, and have its natural cycles. The Mutuhekau Shipu (Magpie River) in the Québec province of Canada has nine legal rights granted in February 2021 after the local municipality of Minganie and the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit passed joint resolutions. These rights include the right to flow, maintain its biodiversity and take legal action, with the last right being crucial to safeguarding the river from potential industrial projects. The initiative is part of a global, Indigenous-led campaign echoing the Rights of Nature (RoN) movement, which aims to recognize that rivers and ecosystems are not simply resources for humans to exploit but entities with intrinsic value and the right to exist.


The second ritual in Ancona, Italy, came when new UNESCO data highlighted the accelerated melting of glaciers in World Heritage sites, with one-third condemned to disappear by 2050, regardless of efforts to limit temperature increases. A significant challenge now is to save the other two-thirds by limiting the rise in global temperatures to not exceed 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial period. The study shows that the glaciers have been retreating at an accelerated rate since 2000 due to CO2 emissions, and are currently losing 58 billion tons of ice annually and are responsible for nearly 5% of observed global sea-level rise. Half of humanity depends directly or indirectly on glaciers as their water source for domestic use, agriculture, and power. Glaciers are also pillars of biodiversity, feeding many ecosystems. (Source: UNESCO)

The third ritual in Aosta, Italy, follows a year of water crisis in the Aosta Valley. The climate changes taking place are of such magnitude and occur so rapidly that the mechanism by which nature itself provides and purifies water is in danger of becoming insufficient. The 2022 Aosta Valley water crisis is generated by a meteorological contingency, but it well represents the climate crisis in the coming years. Low rainfall, combined with the anomalous rise in temperatures and the resulting state of the Alps' mountain glaciers, are causing worsening conditions in irrigation and drinking water supplies in the region. These conditions are common and serious in many regions and in the Po River basin in particular.  This calls for drawing up intervention plans to reorganise the region's water supply and make citizens aware of the need to adopt appropriate behaviour to avoid wastage. (Source: Regione Autonoma Valle d'Aoste)

The fourth ritual occurred in Hamar, Norway, acknowledging the climate hypocrisy of the country's global fossil fuel expansion plans. Climate activists are pressuring the Norwegian government to oppose the development of a controversial new oilfield in the North Sea and aggressive new oil and gas exploration around the world. (Source: Climate Home News)

Presented at

  • Langage Plus, Alma, QC (CA) on the occasion of Rencontre internationale d'art performance / RIAP presented by Le Lieu, centre en art actuel, August 25, 2022

  • Mole Vanvitelliana, Ancona (IT) on the occasion of Cinematica Festival Natura Naturans, October 28, 2022

  • Cittadella dei Giovani, Aosta (IT) on the occasion of T*Danse Festival, May 5, 2023

  • Kunstbanken senter for samtidskunst, Hamar (NO), October 2023

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