marching on the inside

Today is the day of the big world-wide climate strike. I was going to join the march at Königsplatz here in Munich. I was running late and had got as far as getting my shoes on, when I felt my energy disappearing. I’m in the recovery position after a particularly nasty flu struck me down on the opening day of our Magdalena München KNOT festival, and although I’m well over the worst, I’m definitely still sick. If I do too much, my energy disappears suddenly as if a plug’s been pulled out. I guess I did too much last night – I went to a talk by Guerilla Girl “Käthe Kollwitz” at the Haus der Kunst and then had a catch-up with Tamiko Thiel. It was definitely worth it, but today my energy levels are very low. So I decided to take care of myself, and march on the inside. There are about 40,000 people on the march, so my absence won’t be noticed.

Bea and Andy running in La ParisienneThis flu is a Parisienne variety; I was there 10 days ago supporting Andy and her colleagues who were running/walking in La Parisienne, and three of us came down with the same virus on our return. The run was a good challenge for Andy and her colleagues but the whole event is disgustingly commercial and environmentally unfriendly. Everywhere synthetic t-shirts and branded plastic give-aways (should be called throw-aways), not to mention the carbon footprint of whatever percentage of the 25,000 participants had flown in to Paris (we took the train). Then there was the theme: the wild west. Cowgirls and Indians. Women were running in fake Indian feather head-dresses and face paint. WTF?? Hasn’t anybody told them that cultural appropriation is not funny, is not ok today, and never was ok?

Essentially an advertising and promotion exercise for the participating companies, the event also donates funds to breast cancer research, which is what inspired Andy to participate. I was curious to know just how much money actually does get given to medical research. This was quite difficult to find out as the website is only in French, and its charitable purposes are clearly not very important, with only a tiny mention buried deep within the FAQs. Eventually I found that in 2017, they donated €30,000, or approximately €1 per runner. If all the companies simply donated the funds that they spend on their tents, merchandise, travel and accommodation, branded clothing, silly costumes, and all the rest of it, this would add up to hundreds of times as much money, and be much more environmentally friendly. And we could still enjoy a community fun run without all the commercial trappings (and maybe less of the noise pollution – massively amplified nightclub music was broadcast at the start, end and strategic points along the seven-kilometre circuit).

Magdalena München KNOT Festival. Photo: Tom Hauzenberger
With Raquel Ro at Magdalena München KNOT Festival. Photo: Tom Hauzenberger

Anyway, I came back to Munich with this severe flu and went straight into our fourth Magdalena München event. I’m happy, and relieved, that despite my incapacitation everything went off pretty successfully. Again it has been difficult to reach audiences and workshop participants, this is a perennial problem for small arts projects in Munich’s over-saturated cultural landscape, but those who came were appreciative and the performances and workshops and talks all went well. It’s an intense time on the Magdalena circuit at the moment, with the festival O Levante! in Belo Horizonte, Brasil, happening simultaneously with ours, next week I’m off to the Internationales Frauen-Theater-Festival in Frankfurt, and after that I go to Magdalena Montpellier in France at the beginning of October. It’s unusual to have so many Magdalena festivals in such a short timeframe, but indicative of the continuing strong interest in and need for this network.

I have been wanting to write a post for some time, as the last months have been a very busy period for me; but I’m always so busy with my busy-ness that taking the time to reflect on and document what I’ve been doing falls to the bottom of the pile. There’s always a funding application or report to work on, the vacuuming and washing and balcony garden to take care of, phone calls to family, life admin … then comes the flu, and reminds me: slow down! STOP! It’s enough now!! I was invited to go to Graz, Austria today for the opening of the Machine Divas exhibition at Schaumbad Freies Atelier-Haus, part of the Styerischerherbst Festival. Of course I wanted to go – I love Graz, I love Eva Ursprung and the others I know there, and it’s always great to see an exhibition that includes my work along with other wonderful women artists whose work I admire. And I’m terrible at saying no to things. But I did. I listened to my body and I said, regretfully, no.

So here I am today, not on a train to Graz, not at Königsplatz with the climate strike, I’m writing this blog post and marching on the inside with millions of people around the world who care about the future. I’m modelling what we all need to do to help the planet: do less; travel less; say no; don’t buy what you don’t need; slow down; STOP.