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Incontri artistici in spazi estremi. Solar di Ian McEwan e il progretto Cape Farewell

Bolchi, E. (2020) Incontri artistici in spazi estremi. Solar di Ian McEwan e il progretto Cape Farewell. In: Brazzelli, N. (ed.) Estremi confini. Spazi e narrazioni nella letteratura di lingua inglese. Di/Segni. Ledizioni, Milan, pp. 177-188. ISBN 9788855262187

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Cape Farewell is an international not-for-profit programme based in the UK which brings creatives, scientists and informers together to see global warming with their own eyes, with the aim to engage and inspire a sustainable future society and instigate a cultural response to the climate challenge. This chapter analyses two artistic experiences which stemmed from the Cape Farewell project: the one of the novelist Ian McEwan and the one of the choreographer Siobhan Davies, both members of the 2005 Cape Farewell Expedition to Spitsbergen, in the Svalbard, in the Artic Sea. While Davies’s response to her experience is a work embodying the idea of fragility of the body she had experienced in the Artic, McEwan writes a satirical and allegorical novel about a greedy and selfish Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Davies’s artistic work took the form of a projection titled Endangered Species, in which a ballerina dances inside a museum display case, wearing a costume made of long bending rods, suggesting the dramatic uneasiness of the body in the extreme spaces of the North Pole. The key element of McEwan’s novel, on the contrary, is irony, which is used to make fun of the Cape Farewell Expedition crew, and above all to depict the anti-hero Micheal Beard, who takes part to the Expedition but is actually shocked by the entire experience, insomuch as to imagine, while dreading to die from hypothermia, one of his colleagues proclaiming his obituary on TV by saying “He went to see global warming for himself”. Both works focus on the vulnerability and unsuitableness of the human body in extreme conditions, aiming at highlighting that it is time for humans to understand they do not belong to such spaces. To do this, both artists use the trope of metaphor: Davies makes use of the metaphor of the ‘endangered animal’ in a cage, out of place, while McEwan uses the metaphor of the boot room, which the crew is unable to keep tidy responsibly, concluding «How were they to save the earth […] when it was so much larger than the boot room?». Thanks to the use McEwan makes of irony, he manages to rise in the reader an awareness towards two great faults of humanity: egoism and incoherence, which are among the main causes of most environmental issues. Both artists present planet Earth as an autonomous ecosystem whose functioning does not depend on humans, but which humans must respect if they are to survive.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > Languages and Cultures > Italian
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
ID Code:90334


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