Controlled Burn artist Kōl on grieving mass exctinction and taking the long view of time.
Tell us about the work you’re performing at Controlled Burn. What’s it about?
My work at Controlled Burn, along with everything I’ve produced lately, is an outward expression of private experiences of grief and isolation in response to the state of life systems on Earth. My method of coping with the potential extinction of almost everything I love has been in taking the long, long view of time— thinking of cycles of catastrophic change and renewal. Did you know that the first and perhaps biggest mass extinction on earth was caused billions of years ago by newly evolved cyanobacteria flooding the atmosphere with a noxious gas produced as exhalation? The air was filled with a compound that was deathly toxic to the anaerobic microbes that almost exclusively populated the world at the time—and is the entire reason that life as we beautifully know it exists today—one big out-breath of Oxygen.
What motivates your work as an artist?
Coping, expression, communication.
Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production?
I am a writer and a theatrical designer of sound and video. I have also constructed multimedia installations and artworks and spent most of my life writing poetry instead of taking to people.
Have you been involved with 20% Theatre Company in the past?
I have contributed sound, video, and stagehand work to 20% Theatre. They are one of my favorite companies to work with 🙂
Which artists and/or performances have inspired you?
I know it’s a cop-out, but literally everyone in the queer arts community. Our resilience and good humor in the face of such BS all around us all the time is pretty rad.
What else are you working at the moment?
I’m working on a few shows and applying to grad schools.
Aside from your artistic work, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?
I enjoy collecting large stacks of books from the library and then playing the “can I read them all before the fines are larger than the sticker price” game. I also hang out with my cat, garden when it’s nice, and spend quiet time with friends puzzling and gaming.
Describe your pre-performance ritual if you have one.
My body gets really jittery with nerves, so I do a lot of stretching and wiggling around beforehand.
Kōl will be performing on Friday, February 14 @ 7:30pm at Controlled Burn: Queer Performance for a World on Fire.